Although they give a lovely ride when they’re up, we’ve not been overly impressed by the practicalities of tubeless tyres so far, but these new Conti’s may have cracked it.
They’ve actually been making tubeless tyres for nearly as long as pioneers Michelin, but this is the first time they’ve moved off their own Rigida rim system to the now universally accepted UST spec.
At 720g it’s not the lightest tyre around, but then you get a full 2.1″ width and we’ve had real puncture issues with lighter tyres like Panaracer’s new TrailBlaster. We started liking it the minute we tried to fit it, as rather than the usual 20 minute f’ ing and blinding fight, they slipped on smoothly and easily without even needing tyre levers. Then even more startlingly they started inflating first time without any frenzied pump pushing (for those with no tubeless experience such helpfullness is unheard of) and continued without even a squeak or leak right up to sealing overpressure.
The tread pattern itself is well established with small, multi-faceted but reasonably tall knobs on a rounded carcass. It won’t shove you along like a big paddle tread but it hooks up impressively in most conditions, rolls fast and quiet, and will tilt into corners and slide out again in a very controlled manner. We started at around 30 psi which noticeable improved traction on wet rooty evenings, and we found ourselves constantly carving round inside lines underneath other riders much to their disgust and our amusement. All those little knobs mean in-line tracking isn’t rock solid but you’ll soon get used to fetching back controlled slides with a tweak of the bars.
Thanks to a faulty valve (Rolf in a Mavic CrossMax because we lost the Mavic one when we punctured the TrailBlaster in the p*ssing rain in the Peak) we gradually lost pressure through the ride, but the tyre remained impressively stable. We had regular root thumps on the rim under power, but traction assumed comedy levels of vertical grip even on wet rock and roots and it still didn’t feel that sluggish on the hardpack.
There are still potential ‘puncture on the trail, have to bung in a tube’ issues with the Conti – although it hasn’t punctured yet – but it’s definitely cracked all the fitting and inflating problems we’ve had with every other tyre. Plus it’s got an excellent proven all rounder tread that only gets enhanced with the supple tubeless ride feel.
Verdict: Fast rolling, grippy and silky smooth absorbtion of trail chatter enhaces the ride of every bike we stuck them on. We’ll let you know how we get on with punctures etc in the long term but so far it’s easily the best tubeless tyre we’ve tested for British conditions. It’s even a few quid cheaper than the competition.