The Race King is a cross-country race tyre that’s been proven at the highest level. Unlike the SuperSonic version we tested a few years back, the ProTection line offers good puncture protection throughout the tyre at the expense of weight.
The Race King ProTections are UST tubeless-ready, meaning they do require liquid sealant to hold air (Continental recommends using its own sealant). The beads are a secure fit and snap securely into place with little hassle. At first we experienced leaky sidewalls, however laying the aired wheels on a bucket overnight to disperse the sealant saw the issue disappear.
In dry hardback conditions, low rolling resistance and reliable grip are two key attributes of the Race Kings. The rounded tread profile and grippy Black Chili compound give no unnerving edge between knobs when cornering, and offer good grip on a variety of surfaces, giving you the confidence to tip the bike into turns.
At 57.25mm wide on Stan's No Tubes Race rims, it’s a large volume 2.2in tyre. The benefits of this are additional comfort and control compared to skinnier race tyres, and the larger footprint aids the shallow tread in rougher terrain.
Not surprisingly, the low profile tread is overwhelmed in overly loose and muddy conditions, although it does clear mud respectfully well. If you're using it as a trail tyre, we’d suggest putting a more aggressive tyre on the front to improve all-conditions traction.
The ProTection sidewall feels firm, with a spring to the casing under hand, similar to that of a thicker freeride tyre. This sidewall adds greater resistance to dreaded punctures, but also allows you to run lower pressures than what's possible with superlight tyres, providing greater stability and less sidewall squirm.
The Race King ProTection comes in two sizes – we weighed two of each size, and found some discrepancy. The 26 x 2.2in tyres weighed 594g and 564g (falling either side of the claimed weight of 580g), and the 29 x 2.2in tyres weighed 664g and 668g (both higher than the 645g claimed weight). Even discounting these differences, the ProTection isn't a super light tyre. Given its extra stability and flat resistance though, we feel the additional security of the ProTection is well worth the extra weight.
Its durability has been good, we haven’t experienced any punctures, and the tread is in great condition after a length of time that would have softer, race-day tyres shredded.
The negative? All this performance does come at a price, and it's one that is befitting of the 'King' part of the tyre's name.