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NEW SHOES FOR YOUR SLED: How Tires Make A Difference On Your Bike

When mountain bikers refresh or build their bike, they spend hours debating what drivetrain parts should be used, what saddle will feel the best. The debate regarding grips can go for weeks. (Admit it, you’ve done this yourself!) Often, though, tires are an afterthought. People fail to think about the reality that their bike’s tires are THE contact with the ground. They control how you interact with the trail . . . the terrain. Every other component on your bike can be “the best,” but if your tires are sub-par, have the wrong tread pattern or rubber composition, your bike cannot provide you with top-notch performance.

So, where do you start? There are SO many brands. There are tons of tread designs. Rubber composition can be an utter mystery. Plus, tires cost a bundle & you can practically watch them wear with each ride that you take! What the heck? So, many of you wander into Mojo & just grab a Maxxis tire. Your friends use them & they seem to be happy with Maxxis’ performance.

Enter Continental’s new line of tires. Their tires represent the pinnacle of today’s performance; they offer a wide variety of choices – in treads, casings & durometers – that will help you choose the exact pair of shoes for your bike. Usually these decisions can be daunting: how do you know what tires your bike really needs? To help you make those choices, Continental has created a series of icons that walk you through a decision process that teaches you how to choose tires specifically for YOUR needs. I negotiated this process (I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first), to see what Continental advised for my new Ibis Osso.

On the trail, these new tires ROCKED! They railed the corners & clung to the trail base, even in the loosest chat. The sidewalls were extremely tough, yet compliant . . . providing loads of trail feel. I blasted rock gardens with no mercy, to test puncture resistance. No damage! Seriously, these tires are the bomb. I am stoked & plan to use them on my Mega Hard Tail build.

Here’s how Conti’s system works:

Step 1, Choose Your Terrain: There are four terrain choices from which you can choose:

  1. Hardpack trails use the XYNOTAL tread pattern.

  2. Mixed surface trails use the KRYPTOTAL tread pattern.

  3. Trails with loose conditions call for the ARGOTAL treads.

  4. Muddy conditions call for the insanely lugged HYDRTAL tread pattern.

Once you’ve decided what kind of tread pattern you need for the terrain you frequent, you move to step two, where you choose the tire’s rubber compound. Remember that the softer a compound is, the slower it will roll. Conversely, the firmer that a compound is, the more rapidly it will move down the trail.

  1. Super Soft: This compound is likely what would work best in dry conditions. Softer compound rolls a bit slower (& wears faster), so it’s a durometer that you’re likely to use rarely. DH or Enduro riders could use this tacky rubber in competitive environments.

  2. Soft: This compound is a great choice for daily riding & is a balance between grippiness, rolling speed & wear time. It’s grippy enough to push in hard riding. It rolls decently. It lasts longer than the Super Soft compound.

  3. Endurance: This is Continental’s firmest durometer rubber. This means that it’s less likely to rail corners with the confidence of the other two choices. But, it will roll much faster & it will last considerably longer, too. Weekend warriors, trail riders & XC riders, this is the choice you’ll enjoy.

The next choice directly relates to the type of riding that you plan to do.

  1. Downhill: If you plan to race downhill, this is the tire for you.

  2. Enduro: This tire is built for Enduro racing & all mountain riding.

  3. Trail: This tire is built for trail riding & XC riders.

Your final choice focuses on the tire casing that you’ll need for the way that you ride. Keep in mind that the tougher a casing is, the heavier a tire will be. Once again, the choices are easy, not esoteric or technical:

  1. Downhill: Because this casing is designed for DH racing/riding, it will be extremely tough & thick. It’s made to take the abuse of blasting rock gardens head-on.

  2. Enduro: This casing is designed for hard riding on tough trails. Its medium-thickness design means that it will roll fast enough to keep the fun happening, but it also offers protection from most of the sharp tire-killers in the trail.

  3. Trail: If you like to go exploring on your bike & don’t ride to “shred” of “blitz” a trail, this is your casing. Trail casings roll fast. They’re light. But, they still give you enough protection to avoid most of the sharp obstacles in the trail.

Four simple steps are all that you need to choose the tire combo that’s best for you. There’s no mystery or second guessing. Continental provides the performance you need & they package it in a way that helps even beginners understand what tire is best for them. For my new Ibis Osso, I followed this process & chose the following tires:

Front Tire: 2.6” Argotal, Soft (I almost chose Super Soft, but opted for a longer wearing tire), Enduro, Enduro

Rear Tire: 2.4” Kryptotal, Soft, Enduro, Enduro

Swing by Mojo Cycling to check out our selection of Conti tires & make your own choices. By the way, they’re currently 20% off if you buy a pair! *While supplies last.*

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