The Der Kaiser Projekt’s issues started when we tried to inflate it. While all other brands’ tyres seated effortlessly on our DT Swiss test wheels, the Kaiser’s bead fitted very loosely, resulting in a tricky installation. This often left us resorting to an Airshot tubeless inflator. Worse, when aggressively cutting the rear wheel into a gravel bank at 25psi, it popped off the rim completely. This was the only tyre on test to do this.
This could have been a freak incident, but it seems that the bead fits too loosely on the rim for reliable tubeless running. We could have gone up in pressures to prevent this, but even at 23/25psi, Continental’s six-ply casing feels distinctly wooden and harsh over bumpy ground.
We back-to-back tested over a mat of roots against Schwalbe’s Magic Mary, which has a similarly hefty carcass, and that felt far more compliant. The Conty’s overly stiff casing made our fresh fork feel six months overdue a service.
Happily, it does grip really well. The BlackChili compound, while not the softest around, sticks to wet rocks tenaciously. The aggressive yet well-rounded tread pattern offers superb, predictable cornering grip in all but the claggiest mud, and braking grip on steep, loose ground is genuinely exceptional.
On the other hand, it came dead last in our rolling resistance test and we can’t forgive that wooden yet floppy casing.