At the recent IceBike show, Continental gave me a sneaky look at this unnamed prototype gravel tyre. Not many details were forthcoming but I’ve since managed to tease a little out of the brand, and it looks like a promising sign of things to come.
What we know about the new gravel tyre
The tyre in question looks like it’s aiming to be a bit of an all-rounder. The central tread blocks are tightly spaced and low in profile, which should mean they roll fairly quickly.
The shoulder tread is made up of three rows of blocks, which get progressively larger and more widely spaced as you move to the outside edge of the tread area. These should provide some bite in dirt or actual gravel.
Continental product manager Jan-Niklas Jünger described this as “a design in progress”, so it’s entirely possible that the final version will look different.
The tyre on show was a size 700x40mm example, which will apparently weigh around 440g. Other sizes will be available too and, critically, all the new gravel tyres will be tubeless compatible.
Continental has confirmed that the new gravel tyres will officially launch later this year. Further spec details and pricing is still to be confirmed.
IceBike isn’t the only place this new tyre has put in a sneaky appearance. Eagle-eyed ‘grammers might have spotted a pair of mystery Contis fitted to a rather lovely Canyon Grail CF SLX in Katusha colours, which Canyon product manager Chris Gundlach posted back in December.
It’s hard to make out, but these appear to be the same tyre Chris Gundlach / Instagram
Why is this news?
Continental has historically been quite conservative when it comes to jumping on bike industry bandwagons.
While others rushed to bring road tubeless options to market, Conti’ took its time and finally launched the GP 5000 TL late last year as part of an update to its flagship road clincher.
The GP 5000 range replaces the immensely successful GP4000 S II — one of the best all-round road tyres on the market — so it was significant that Conti’ felt ready to go tubeless with such a key product.
The GP4000S II was one of the best all-round road tyres ever made Ben Delaney / Immediate Media
Similarly, Continental has hitherto declined to embrace gravel riding as a discipline, producing just a handful of cyclocross focussed conventional clinchers. Gravel-specific tubeless rubber is a new departure and it’s one we’re going to watch closely.
What do you think of Continental’s gravel tyre prototype? Let us know in the comments below.