Continental Mountain King Cyclocross
Continental Mountain King Cyclocross
By Tim Granshaw
Review of the Continental Mountain King Cyclocross tyres
The Mountain King Cyclocross, Continental’s cyclocross mud tyre offering, is a derivative of Continental’s much-loved Mountain King mountain bike tyre.
The tread is undoubtedly the most aggressive of the Continental cyclocross line, with quite widely spaced center knobs and aggressive side knobs. Our tested model also featured Continental’s Black Chili rubber compound, which is both extremely grippy and long wearing. Although the tyre has a relatively low 60TPI casing, the soft rubber and a tall profile allowed us to run low pressures in our latex tubes over bumpy grass and mud terrain. After three weeks of 10-13 hours a week in mixed conditions we saw very little wear; both tyres still had moulding nubs visible. We found the Continentals to be an impressive tyre in a broad array of conditions, only let down in sticky mud and wet pavement…
Pavement (2 out of 5): The Mountain King shows impressive speed on pavement for a mud tyre. The centre knobs are more closely spaced than the Challenge Limus, Schwalbe Rocket Ron, or Clement PDX. The tyre also corners well in the dry; the Chili rubber compound helps the aggressive sideknobs grab the asphalt with little squirm. The tyre is much less certain in the wet. The tyre’s square profile, with no transitionary tread between the center and side knobs, is harder to get on edge in soggy weather. We had the tyre break loose a couple of times at relatively low speeds in extremely wet conditions; as speed increased or pavement dried, grip improved.
Hardpack and dry grass (4 out of 5): The Mountain King grips tenaciously in dry conditions, both under braking and acceleration, and diving into corners. The tall side treads, aggressive centre, and Chili rubber compound kept squirreliness in check at even the most aggressive lean angles. The tyre is quite stiff with a 3 ply, 60 thread per inch per ply construction. With pressure in the 45-50 psi recommended range, we did find the tyre jostled us a little in hard pack mixed with roots rather than floating over the bumps like some higher-volume, higher thread count intermediate tyres. Airing down to 35-40 psi with latex tubes improved this considerably. The tyre continued to impress as a fast design particularly in hardpack.
Wet grass (5 out of 5): The tyre is at its most confident in wet grass. The grip is some of the best we’ve seen from a ‘cross tyre with little or no slip. When combined with the fast rolling straight line qualities of the tyre, the Continental Mountain King is hard to beat in these conditions.
Sodden grass and light mud (3 out of 5): For a mud tyre, the alternating pattern centre knobs are quite closely spaced. When the mud gets slightly sticky, particularly when mixed with grass, we found the tyre was reluctant to clean. The centre treads packed up at low speeds: Although the tyre’s grip was not severely affected, the additional weight of a packed tyre through slow speed technical sections was draining. As speed picked up over 20 kph, the tyres cleaned quickly. The large sideknobs continued to inspire confidence when conditions became a little dicey, showing consistent cornering and sidehill performance with no surprises.
Mud (4 out of 5): As the mud becomes wetter and the grass disappears, the Continental gets better and better. The scooped chevrons in the centre of the tyre dig aggressively through slop, finding traction where we through there was none. We still encountered some slight tread packing, but the tyre’s traction seem unaffected. Cornering stayed reliable with the soft rubber compound and squared tread design coming into their own here. A slightly more supple sidewall would have helped over some of the hidden roots in deep mud, but the depth of the tyre combined with the sidewall toughness also ensured no flats throughout our testing period.
The Continental Mountain King is an excellent counterpart to the other two cyclocross tyres we’re testing from Continental, the Speed King and CycloXKing. These two tyres, designed for hard pack and intermediate conditions respectively are an excellent complement to this more mud-specific design. We would prefer slightly better cleaning in sticky mud and a more confident tyre on wet pavement, but in just about all conditions the Continental was unrelentingly grippy, durable, and fast. A fine intermediate and heavy mud tyre.
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