Continental’s Race King tyre is designed for cross-country racing with an extreme focus on low weight and high speed, making it at home on either the World Cup circuit or local XC race.
Compared to the previous version of the tyre, it has a re-engineered casing, improved tread pattern and is 35g lighter.
Continental Race King BlackChili Protection 29 x 2.2in details
The Race King has a low profile tread pattern consisting of small rectangular blocks tightly arranged in the centre, to help reduce rolling resistance, with a line of tightly-packed shoulder knobs for cornering bite.
The tyre uses the German company’s highest performance rubber compound dubbed BlackChili, and its ProTection technology adds extra plies (layers of fabric) to the sidewall for cut resistance.
Continental offers a wide range of size, casing and tread options, too. My test tyre is the Protection version with beefed-up sidewalls, and tipped the scales at an extremely feathery 626g.
The RaceSport version forgoes the added sidewall protection and loses another 70g, if outright lightness is a priority.
- Using as a front or rear tyre
- Most conditions, except gloopy mud
- Pairing with a burlier front tyre for improved grip
Continental Race King BlackChili Protection 29 x 2.2in performance
The low weight combined with the shallow tread design ensures this is a supremely rapid tyre right off the bat. Its tread pattern and rubber compound mean it works well when mounted on the front or rear, with reassuring levels of traction even when tackling technical trails.
The multiple rows of triangular blocks across the Race King’s rounded profile – when mounted to DT Swiss’s XR 1501 control wheels – encourage adventurous lean angles, although the tyre doesn’t bite into loose dirt as aggressively as less speed-focused options, thanks to the shallow tread block profile.
However, in most scenarios it lets you push the pace through the bends and is a smooth ride over chattery imperfections.
The Black Chili compound offers a nice balance between a low wear rate and good grip in a range of conditions, but soft mud and wet roots push the tyre to its limits fairly quickly.
And, because it doesn’t take a lot of mud for the Race King’s closely packed tread pattern to clog up, it’s limited to drier trails rather than deep winter mud plugging.
The beefed up ProTection sidewalls give the casing good support at lower pressures and it handles encounters with rocks well. I didn’t tear or cut the tyre during the test period.
Tubeless installation was easy on my DT Swiss XR1501 control wheels and no air loss was detected from day to day. Long-term durability and wear rate is has been good, too.
Continental Race King BlackChili Protection 29 x 2.2in bottom line
An extremely fast tyre with low rolling resistance and good grip in a wide range of conditions, bar extreme mud, and decent durability, too.
How we tested
We pitted 10 of the best cross-country-style tyres against each other to find out which we think is worth your time and money.
- Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR tyre
- Maxxis Ardent EXO TR 29 x 2.25in
- Maxxis Crossmark II EXO TR
- Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo TLE 29 x 2.25in
- Schwalbe Rocket Ron Super Ground SpeedGrip
- Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed 29 x 2.25i
- Specialized Ground Control
- Vittoria Barzo TNT tyre
- WTB Ranger TCS Light Fast Rolling