Continental have taken elements of their fantastic Trail King mountain bike tyre (formerly known as the Rubber Queen) and injected them into the wholly revamped Mountain King for 2011.
The previous version's predictable-handling but flex-prone triangular knobs have been swapped for a more conventional block pattern. Two rows of alternating four- and six-sided knobs run down the centre, while the burly shoulder is expected to provide surer grip at more aggressive cornering angles.
Riders who regularly find themselves in sloppy conditions also have a new option in the Continental Mud King, built with very tall and openly spaced knobs on an earth-slicing 2.3in casing. The dual-ply casing is reinforced with Continental's rubber-infused Apex sidewalls to help ward off pinch flats.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the new X-King (say, 'cross king'), built with much shorter and relatively tightly packed knobs for a faster roll on mixed terrain. Side knobs are still relatively well reinforced for predictable cornering grip and the 2.4in size should make it popular with trail bike users.
The new Continental X-King pairs a short and fast-rolling centre tread with stouter side knobs for marathon racing
One big change for all Continental off-road tyres is the new casing styles. Riders who like the secure bead fit of true UST tyres (which Continental will continue to offer) but want lighter weight can now opt for Race Sport with its UST-compatible bead but a much thinner casing that requires sealant to be airtight.
Continental's new Race Sport casings are tubeless-ready with a UST bead but just a thin interior sidewall coating that requires minimal sealant
Alternatively, ProTection-equipped tyres will feature a bead-to-bead layer of rubber-coated nylon that reportedly increases puncture resistance by 30 percent over the previous edition while also coming in 25 percent lighter. Continental say the extra layer also lends a more damped feel to the tyre for a less bouncy ride.
Maxxis have their own fast-rolling, short-knob offering for 2011 with the new Ikon, whose knob layout is roughly similar to Continental's X-King but with even shorter knobs for more dedicated speed.
Maxxis aim the new Ikon at racers looking for rolling speed above all else
While Continental infuse the X-King with their strangely fast-yet-grippy-yet-durable Black Chili compound, Maxxis use their more complex 3C Triple Compound Technology to lend a more solid foundation to each knob under power and when at extreme lean angles.
Also coming from Maxxis for 2011 is the 29er-specific Beaver, built for messier conditions with its more open knob layout, taller tread blocks, and dual-compound rubber.
Maxxis's new Beaver is purpose-built for 29ers with a fast-rolling, open tread design and dual-compound rubber
Panaracer continue to build on their collection of Cedric Gracia signature tyres with the addition of the CG Soft Condition and CG All Condition models. Riders familiar with Panaracer's range will quickly see some elements of the Fire XC Pro and Cinder – two of the company's most popular designs – in the Soft Condition model, with its regularly spaced square blocks and slightly squared-off profile.
Panaracer say the CG Soft Conditions' tapered knobs will dig into softer ground and easily shed mud, yet the siped tops will also tend to spread out on harder surfaces for good grip. The All Condition, on the other hand, uses more conventional siped rectangular knobs and a nearly solid shoulder.
Panaracer's new CG Soft Condition is designed for soft, loose or muddy conditions where the tall knobs can really dig into the ground
Both use Panaracer's Combo Compound rubber, which uses a soft base to let the knobs adapt a bit to varying terrain but a harder cap for durability – the opposite of what most other manufacturers use.
Big-wheeler fans will also be happy to see Panaracer add 29x2.1in and 29x2.25in sizes of their CG XC tyre, too.
Panaracer have added a 29x2.25in version of their versatile CG XC tyre for 2011
Michelin's off-road range is mostly carryover with the exception of the revamped Wild Race'r, which now features more openly spaced and shallow square- and triangular-shaped centre knobs paired with a more heavily reinforced triangular shoulder tread. According to Michelin, the new layout retains the old design's tenacious grip on hardpack but adds more versatility when there's some loose material on top.
Michelin's new Wild Race'R replaces the old Dry tread design for hardpacked trails
Hutchinson's off-road range includes the new Cougar, built with a styrene-infused rubber compound that supposedly adds puncture resistance without having to resort to a separate belt. The stout, angular blocks are slightly pared-down in the centre to retain some straight-line speed but kept at full-height on the shoulders for a more confident feel when cornering in loose conditions.
The new Hutchinson Cougar is designed to offer tenacious cornering grip in both dry and wet conditions but also a reasonably fast roll
Hutchinson have also revamped their Tubeless Ready cyclo-cross tyres with the same stretch-proof carbon fibre bead used in their Road Tubeless models. Though admittedly harder to install, Hutchinson say the new bead will allow for much lower operating pressures than before, hopefully making them a more viable alternative to full-blown tubulars.
Hutchinson have revised their tubeless ready cyclo-cross tyres with the same carbon fibre bead as their Road Tubeless range
Speaking of tubulars, Hutchinson tubies have long been a popular choice in the ProTour but consumers have only been able to purchase the Carbon Comp model in years past. Hutchinson will now offer the same exact tyres supplied to the teams in limited quanitities to the public – sans model designation and all – but they'll come at a hefty price of US$500 a pair. But hey, Hutchinson will toss in two tubes of glue for free.
Hutchinson now offer the same tubular tyres as their sponsored Pro Tour teams run, but in very limited quantities
You won't need any glue – or air, for that matter – for Hutchinson's new Serenity tyre system, though. Instead of a standard inner tube or even an airtight tubeless casing, Serenity uses a foam insert that never needs to be inflated and can't go flat. Though heavier and slower rolling than a standard setup, Hutchinson claim it's similar to running 50psi and the insert will last up to 30,000km.
New road offerings from Vittoria include the Corsa Evo SC tubular and Diamante Pro Pista. The Corsa Evo SC uses the same 320tpi casing as the standard Corsa Evo CX but with a more traditional file tread and natural-coloured sidewalls option.
Fancy a more traditional look? Vittoria's new handmade Corsa Evo SC sports a tan sidewall
The Diamante Pro Pista clincher, on the other hand, is intended solely for indoor or outdoor track use with a 220tpi casing, 145psi recommended operating pressure and just 150g of weight in a 700x23c size.
The new Vittoria Diamante Pro Pista is aimed at indoor or outdoor track riding