The Mountain King
I have been using Continental tires for many years, first using the ubiquitous Vertical, and lately what I consider their predecessor, the Mountain King.
Continental has created a whole plethora of varieties and sizes of the Mountain King. They make a Protection (tough sidewalls), a Supersonic (lightweight), a UST (tubeless) and a normal version in 26 x 2.2 and 26 x 2.4 sizes, and a normal version in the 26 x 2.0, 29 x 2.2 and 29 x 2.4 sizes.
I have used the normal version of the Mountain King 2.4 on my 29er for almost a year, and I have been very satisfied with them, except for their weak sidewalls that on occasion can be prone to tears and punctures, so the Protection version had piqued my interest. I would really like to see them in the UST and Protection versions for 29er’s, but Continental currently has no plans on the table for that.
The Protection and Supersonic versions of the Mountain Kings are handmade in Germany, and are comprised of the Black Chili compound.
The Black Chili compound is a new tread mixture, which blends newly developed synthetic rubbers with proven natural rubber. They contain ‘nano’ (10 nanometer) sized rubber particles that have surface properties optimized for use in bicycle tires. These smaller particles enable the tire tread to deform around surface objects more quickly, improving grip. They also form a tighter bond with each other, thus improving compound strength for improved tread life, and less chances for lugs to rip, and tear. The way in which these particles interact with each other also lowers rolling resistance. That sounds like a mouthful of marketing mumbo jumbo!
Therefore, does the Black Chili work? The tires do feel much stickier, and more conformable to rocks, and seem to wear slower, but I would be hard pressed to tell if they roll better with such a very knobby tire.