It’s no secret that Continental have been developing a new line of Gravity mountain bike tires, with Continental Atherton’s Jim Monro and Continental Nukeproof’s Ronan Dunne both spotted racing the sharpied-out prototypes at Snowshoe DH World Cup at the back end of last season. Continental are now lifting the lid on the new range which comprises no fewer than five tread patterns, with three new casing constructions and three new rubber compounds to choose from.
The new Continental Xynotal, Argotal, Kryptotal (front and rear-specific) and Hydrotal are replacing Conti’s long-standing gravity tires. Say goodbye to the Mud King, Der Kaiser Projekt and Der Baron Projekt; they are no longer in production.
In addition to Continental’s DH racing teams, it was Gee and Dan Atherton who also played a huge role in developing the new range over the last three years, and much of the testing was carried out at Dan’s Dyfi Bike Park in North Wales. Fitting then, that Continental should invite the international media to Dyfi for a first ride on the Kryptotal mixed-conditions tire. You can read our first ride review of the Kryptotal Front and Rear 29″ x 2.4″ SuperSoft DH Casing tires here, or keep reading for a complete breakdown of the new Gravity Range.
Continental’s New Gravity Range of Mountain Bike Tires
Between them, Continental’s five new tread patterns should, theoretically, excel in everything from dry, hard-pack conditions, right through to wetter-the-better full-on muddy conditions, and cover every kind of trail condition one might encounter between those two extremes. They are as follows:
- Continental Xynotal, suited to hard-pack terrain, where the ground is dry and compacted
- Continental Kryptotal (front and rear-specific); the all-rounder, developed for mixed dry-moist conditions
- Continental Argotal, an intermediate tire suited to loose or loamy conditions where the ground is moist or wet
- Continental Hydrotal, created for the wettest, muddiest conditions
All are available in the 2.4″ width option for 27.5″ and 29″ wheels, while the Kryptotal Rear and Argotal tires are additionally offered in a 2.6″ width.
Along with the new tread patterns come three casing options and three compound options, though, as you might imagine, there aren’t infinite possibilities here. The SuperSoft compound is currently limited to the downhill casing tires, for example, though that could change very soon.
Continental’s nomenclature, or more specifically, the symbols printed on the tires’ hot patch, are a little less intuitive than some brand’s tire naming systems. WTB, for example, simply state on the side wall whether the tire is “fast rolling” or “high grip” in relation to the rubber compound used, while they state either “light” or “tough” in relation to the casing construction. Granted, WTB offer just two compounds and two casings, while Continental are offering three compounds and three casings.
While the hot patch is pretty cool, and does make the tire standout nicely, it’s hard to tell what exactly the tire is from the symbols unless you’ve memorized what they mean. It’s not really an issue, though; it’s all spelled out for you on the packaging. You should be able to pick which tire is best for you by asking, “What terrain am I riding?”, and “What bike am I riding it on?”.
Let’s get a closer look at those new treads.
The Argotal is Continental’s dry conditions specialist. The centre tread area, made up of alternating twin and triplet blocks, has very pronounced ramps for promoting rolling efficiency. At the edge, in-line shoulder knobs finish up very close to the edge of the center blocks, said to deliver predictable cornering, allowing the tire to roll onto its edge seamlessly.
All together, the tread presents a large surface area to the ground to demand as much grip as possible from compacted, dry terrain, while the knobs’ siping presents additional edges against which braking forces can be applied.
The Xynotal is available in 27.5″ x 2.4″ and 29″ x 2.4″, in Trail Casing with the Endurance Compound, Enduro Casing with the Soft Compound, Downhill Casing with the Soft Compound, and Downhill Casing with the SuperSoft Compound.
The Kryptotal is the only tire in the new gravity range to get a front- and rear-specific tread pattern, designed to be the most versatile tires of the range that perform well across a range of different conditions from dry to moist soils. More pronounced ramping at the center tread of the rear tire is said to give it improved rolling efficiency over the front tire.
The Kryptotal Front tire is available in 27.5″ x 2.4″ and 29″ x 2.4″, in Trail Casing with the Endurance Compound, Enduro Casing with the Soft Compound, and Downhill Casing with the SuperSoft Compound (read or first ride review of the latter here).
While the rear gets two variations of the twin-block arrangement at its center, the front tire gets alternation twin- and triplet blocks, the latter of which are said to help with front tire-specific maneuvers such as cornering.
The Kryptotal Rear is available in 29″ and 27.5″, both with 2.4″ and 2.6″ options to choose from. Get them in Trail Casing with the Endurance Compound and Enduro Casing with the Soft Compound. The Downhill Casing versions of the Kryptotal Rear are only available in the 2.4″ width, with the Soft or SuperSoft Compound.
Even though Continental are launching the new Gravity Range with 40 tires, it did strike us that there could be some missing; an Enduro Casing tire with the SuperSoft compound. On this point, Alexander Hänke, the Product Manager responsible, had this to say, “With Launching our Gravity Range we start with a very wide and deep portfolio from the beginning. In this whole development process we created extensive toolbox with which we are able to come up with new combinations in the future. Enduro Casing with SuperSoft seems to be a very nice opportunity that we are actively looking into at the moment”. Keep your eyes peeled, folks.
The Argotal is tagged as Continental’ “intermediate conditions” tire, suited to loose, loamy trails that are moist or wet. Its knobs are taller than those seen on the Kryptotal and Xynotal tires, helping to dig into soft top soil to find grip on harder terrain below. Its shoulder knobs are reinforced to resist folding when cornering aggressively. All of the knobs are well-spaced to help mud clear out of the gaps, maintaining those deep valleys between blocks.
The Argotal is available in 27.5″ and 29″ with 2.4″ and 2.6″ widths to choose from. Get it in the Trail Casing with the Endurance Compound, and the Enduro Casing with the Soft Compound. The Downhill Casing options for the Argotal are limited to the 2.4″ width, available in Soft and SuperSoft Compounds.
The Hydrotal is Continental’s dedicated mud tire, with a super aggressive tread pattern and very tall knobs optimized to dig even deeper into sloppy mud. The tread sees edges everywhere, in every direction, in a bid to promote grip in all directions. Again, the knobs are very well spaced to promote self-cleaning.
The Hydrotal is available in 27.5″ x 2.4″ and 29″ x 2.4″, only in the Downhill Casing with the SuperSoft Compound.
Continental’s Gravity Tire Casing Constructions
All of Continental’s new Gravity tires are made up of a 110 TPI casing material, chosen for its suppleness. The most robust casing is of course the Downhill Casing, weighing a claimed 1,290g in 29″ x 2.4″. It’s 2-Ply, with an additional 2 layers of fabric added underneath the tread area to create 6 layers of fabric here, with 4 layers of fabric at the side walls. On top of that, it gets an new Apex insert extending from the foldable Aramid bead bead up the side wall to protect against snake bit punctures and air loss via burping. On the outside of the carcass, a cross-woven chafer material is added to protect the tire and rim area.
In the middle-ground is the Enduro Casing, with a claimed weight of 1,125g for the 29″ x 2.4″ tire. This one is 1-ply, with an with an additional layer of fabric added underneath the tread area to create 3 layers of fabric here, with 2 layers of carcass material at the side walls. On top of that, extending from the bead right up to the edge of the center tread area is another layer of cross-woven fabric added to fend off cuts and slashes at the side walls. This one also gets the Apex insert and chafer textile on the outside.
The lightest casing in Continental’s new Gravity Range is the Trail Casing, weighing a claimed 1,040g in 29″ x 2.4″. It is very similar to the Enduro Casing in its carcass construction, but lacks the Apex insert.
What about the compounds, I hear you say. Well, we don’t have much info to share on those. We did ask Continental for the Shore A ratings; this was their reply:
“Shore Hardness is a component that we do not discuss around our tires, simply based on the fact that Shore hardness is a parameter for a standardized test specimen that can be determined repeatedly. On a “real” tire, however, we have influencing factors such as the geometry of the studs, the influence of the carcass and even the influence of the pressure in the tire. Also, shore hardness is only part of the truth when we talk about compound performance. A very soft compound does not necessarily have to generate high levels of grip, other physical parameters such as rebound and e-modulus also play an important role.However, we know that it is generally accepted to equate the hardness of a compound with performance parameters. For this reason we have decided on the nomenclature SuperSoft, Soft and Endurance Compound” – Alexander Hänke, Product Management Bicycle Tires | Mountain Bike.
What is the actual weight of these tires?
Continental’s claimed weights for the new Gravity Range are impressively light. I mean, 1,290g for a Downhill Casing 29″ x 2.4″… that’s seriously impressive. Compare it to Schwalbe’s Big Betty 29″ x 2.4” Super Gravity tire that weighs 1415g, or the 29″ x 2.4″ WTB Judge, Tough, Fast Rolling, that weighs a claimed 1,427g. So far, we are in receipt of just three of a possible forty tires, so there is little we can do in the way of verification. Our European Tech Editor Cory, weighed the following:
|Tire||Claimed Weight||Actual Weight|
|Continental Kryptotal Rear, 29″ x 2.6″, Trail, Endurance||1,200g||1,253g|
|Continental Argotal 29″ x 2.4″ Trail Endurance||1,040g||1,079g|
|Continental Argotal 29″ x 2.6″ Enduro Soft||1,275g||1,347g|
So, all of the tires we have in our hands weigh in a fair bit heavier than Continental’s claimed weights. We will update this table when we take delivery of the Kryptotal Front and Hydrotal tires on their way to us in Scotland.
Pricing & Availability
Continental’s new Gravity Range tires have a starting retail price of 59,95 €. Price will vary dependent on model and variant.