Initial Review: Continental’s X-King 2.2 and 2.4 ProTection tires

Boxfresh Continental X-King 2.2 ProTection

Claiming to combine cross country speed with trail-ready grip and a cut-resistant tubeless ready casing, the Continental  X-King ProTection is targeted at everything from burly race courses to ‘big day out’ all-mountain bikes.  We’ve had the chance to ride the tire in everything from sandy desert trails to high-mountain loam–and even a bit of mud–and come away impressed.  Hit the jump for the skinny.

Note the scrub-resistant ProTection texturing

Now built in Germany (earlier Asian-made versions were notorious for jettisoning knobs- yet improbably holding air), the X-King uses Conti’s fast-rolling but grippy Black Chili compound and is available in 2.2in and 2.4in widths.  Their 2.1in and 2.3in mounted widths are in line with other tires of the same claimed size (and far closer to nominal than Continentals of old).

At 620g and 688g the ProTection versions are running about 50g apiece over their claimed weights.  While this may put some riders off the tires, lighter versions are available and the ProTection casing has proved very cut-resistant.  Low rolling resistance makes the Continentals ride lighter than their weight would suggest.

The meatier 2.4in version

And with its widely-spaced knobs, the X-King has little right rolling as well as it does.  The tires’ speed and lack of thrum are impressive and immediately noticeable.  Just as impressive is the tires’ predictable handling when pushed hard.  The design provides plenty of communication when at the limits of traction, allowing the rider to approach that boundary without overstepping.  Broad-bases have kept the X-King’s shoulder knobs from getting squirmy as they’ve worn.

Fast and confidence-inspiring in most conditions, the Continentals’ somewhat hard rubber and stiff casing is only apparent on rocky steps and wet roots.  The payoff is above-average durability and removing a few psi easily addresses the issue.  A true all-around tire in the vein of their classic Vertical, the $65 X-King ProTection is a return to form for Continental.

marc

www.conti-online.com

After roughly 200mi hard rear wheel use. The front is still looking fresh.

Comments

bc - 10/25/12 - 9:16am

I use the race kings and chunks get taken out all the time. never saw anything like it on any tire…

Igor - 10/25/12 - 9:36am

The same was happening with my MK I supersonics. The one on the front is fine, but in the back was just thorn apart.

APSBiker - 10/25/12 - 9:36am

Wow, for a 200 mile tire (!) that rear is looking really chewed up. I have some tires with over 500 miles of use that seem way closer to new than those look.

That pic, and my experience with what must have been an Asian-produced X-King (sliced in the first half mile of a ride where I’ve never had issues before), aren’t giving me any reason to use the X-King ever again.

Erik - 10/25/12 - 10:22am

Ditto on the knobs falling out on the X-kings and MK2. Oddly enough my TK is still like new front and rear.

Quickie - 10/25/12 - 10:35am

A buddy used them and loved a smaller version of the tire. The rear looked pretty ragged like the picture, but he rocked it. Seems like it is better to use it as a front and pair it with something more durable in the rear. The alternative is to say f@wk it, tell the wife she is eating Ramen during riding season, and replace as needed.

gringo - 10/25/12 - 10:42am

judging by the pic I guess the editor is riding these like they were free..( read: skiding though every corner)…?

Marc - 10/25/12 - 10:45am

All,

A couple of notes on wear:
* While the shoulder knobs may look ragged, they’re still performing well- something that’s not often the case. The center tread is holding up well, as evidenced by the fact that the extremely shallow mid-block grooves are still in good shape.
* My local riding terrain is extremely hard on tires- especially rear tires. The sandstone and decomposed granite often has softer tires looking worse in 50 miles- the Contis are holding up relatively well. In gentler areas, this tire would looking much fresher.

BC & Erik,
Check the country of origin on the tires that were losing knobs. My first (Thai?) X-King lost almost a half-dozen knobs in the first 50 miles. According to a local shop, Conti has been replacing these under warranty.

marc

Marc - 10/25/12 - 10:47am

Gringo,

As a wise rider once told me: Skids are for kids. Anyone who rides with me knows that I very rarely lock up a tire- it’s bad form and bad for the trails. I do corner hard, though, and our local terrain is pretty hard on tires.

marc

AdamD - 10/25/12 - 11:26am

Marc,

Can you tell us where you are testing? That rear looks like one ride on a tire here in UT. A week in Moab is enough to finish a new tire.

Erik - 10/25/12 - 11:45am

They were the Black Chili compound and those are always made in Germany. The reason I got the two tires was because I was so impress with the Trail Kings. Also, I do have a Thai made X-king that’s not as grippy as the German made one, but the tires actually held up well.

kurti_sc - 10/25/12 - 11:50am

i’ve been using the new, german-made X King as a front tire with a Race King on the rear. It’s been quite a combination. Marc is spot on with the predictability of this tire. I can easily push it and the feedback is clear. I’m no tester, but I ride a lot and it’s easy to notice that I can carry more speed through a turn and carve wider than I normally would. The confidence factor is good.
This has been true on trails in the southeast ranging from buff hardpack to loose forest soil with lots of roots, rocks and short ups. It hasn’t rained a whole lot, so I can’t speak to the muddly, clingy clay we get. It’s seen some of that and done fair, but I haven’t put these tires through the nasty, greasy stuff yet.
One note on size / volume. If you want more volume, you should consider the 2.4 option for these. The 2.2 version is okay, but only just. The Race King 2.2 is a bit wider for some reason.
-kurti_sc

Josh - 10/25/12 - 12:05pm

Am I the only one that noticed the article didn’t specify whether these were the 26″ or the 29″ version? Maybe I missed it.

I have used up a set of these earlier this season (the black Chili Protection 29″ 2.2 version) and overall liked the tire, but I did have some issues. While racing, I took a hard hit coming down a rock ledge on the front tire a few weeks after mounting it up, and it caused the tread to separate the from casing, creating a huge wobble and ruining a tire that had maybe 100 miles. Not sure if that was a just a fluke impact, but I’ve not had that happen to me before and read about a similar issue at the mtbr forums with the same tire.

I noticed the rear tire was wearing out rather quickly (rocky trails here eat up tires pretty fast). Seeing that, I moved it to the front in the hopes to get a bit more life out of it. I would not class this tire tread as durable, but is still longer lasting than the Schwalbes I’ve used. Running Snakeskin Racing Ralphs in the rear, I’ll typically kill all the tread on them in about 6 weeks. The X-King tread was on track to be dead after about 9 weeks (when I say dead, mean no longer usable and waaay more worn out than the pics above). I’ve found I get a significantly longer lifespan from the Maxxis Ikons as a rear (even taking into account they eventually bubble out 3-4 months).

The 2.2 Protections weighed in at about 700 grams each on my scale – fairly heavy. They did roll well (but not like a Renegade or Ikon), and cornering and mud clearing was nice. For XC use, it’s a bit heavy and durability is a big question mark for me given my experience so far. Would only consider running this as a front for nastier XC trails or all day Epics. Also noticed the protection casing seems to be stiffer / less supper than the Maxxis EXO or Schwalbe Snakeskin casings.

My $0.02.

possumrider - 10/25/12 - 12:10pm

Like the Trail King very fast roll, good grip in the corners, but wear is a factor. Rode the 2.4 X King last winter, great tire very sticky, good roll, when pushed hard, I could get a little bounce/roll, but over all loved the added volume and agressive tread! Race Kings work well in the hard pack but seam to load up in the sticky stuff. Local market is filling up with Racing Rons, Knobby nics, yet the Trail King and X King remain my go to treads for our east coast terrain. By the way, I used to run Ignitors, loved them. yet the grip and sidewalls were no match for the Conti’s at this price point, four out of five stars, and a great value.
possum out

Oderus - 10/25/12 - 2:49pm

These tires are awesome……….for about 2 rides. Then they go to shiite. I loved the way they rolled, cornerd, soaked up bumps. I didn’t care for the way they just up and decided to ejecting treads like little rubber escape pods. I’ll never buy this tire again. For as long as Conti has been making tires, it’s amazing that they could let their quality control slip that bad.

Samuel J. Greear - 10/25/12 - 3:25pm

I would like to echo Josh’s statement that these are less supple than the Schwalbe Snakeskin casings. Being less supple and also undersized makes for a lot rougher ride per gram, I cannot recommend these — the Schwalbe’s are worth the price premium.

Charlie - 10/25/12 - 8:58pm

Marc rides in New Mexico and having ridden with him a few times can testify that he is a proper bad-ass on a bike. Our main riding areas have terrain that is one of the following: Moab-ish sandstone, Rocky Mountain alpine style, decomposed granite areas, and limestone intensive “ledgy” type trails.

I can also attest to the fact that I haven’t yet found a tire for our terrain that gives me the amount of traction that I want, and lasts long enough to be considered a durable tire- it just isn’t possible. The harder rubber tires are nice and hold up pretty well, but don’t give me the traction I have come to demand from the tires I ride.

If the most important thing to you is a tire that lasts, then you can bet you won’t want to try (or pay for) too many of the high-end tires (like the X-king) that get reviewed.

RC46 - 10/25/12 - 9:06pm

I own these in the 29×2.2 protection
Rear tire is taking a beating. Tearing off the tops of the knobs. Took a few good rides to show any wear at all and then the rear started sheading knob tips very quickly
I’ve had them for 8 weeks now. They see about 6hrs of hard fast riding / racing per week on rocky terrain
They are not supple in anyway. After unpacking them they spring into shape and stand up like a wire bead tire. They are decently abrasion resistant. They have a sort of plasticky feel
They are also undersized. The 2.2 measures approx 1.95-2.00 at 30psi and the 2.4′s measure 2.20
I run them at 19-20psi. I’m 150lbs
They are fast and grip is acceptable
Even with the complaints I have listed. I will still buy them again.
I will likely have a fresh set in the next 6-8 weeks and another in early spring. I’ve tried lots of tires and these work well for me.
I don’t like the squirm that I feel with a schwalbe. Or the thin sidewall /air loss problems. I don’t feel I should have to add more stans to keep a racing Ralph aired up. And I don’t like the price of the Ralph’s

Badidea - 10/26/12 - 2:19am

Tore a knob off in two rides…not cool

JB - 10/28/12 - 11:40am

Would these make a good rear tire with a Trail King 2.4 protection front, both run tubeless on a UST rim with stans?

I’m currently running Nevegal 2.35 front / Slant 6 2.35 rear, everything from XC to rocky nasty trail to a couple Highland days (on the easier stuff). The front sticks great but is SLOW on XC, and the rear seems relatively fast but doesn’t have the grip for technical climbs and fast descents. Looking for something a little faster in the front and a little grippier in the rear without adding a ton of weight.

BeerBellies - 10/30/12 - 1:42am

I ran tubeless (Stans) Mk1 X-king UST on my front and Speedking UST rear for a good 1 year mainly on hard packed, gravel XC trails. The USTs were a b$@h to mount and after an almost severed thumb and 5 (Five) skewers later, they went on the trails without much fuss. A bit on the heavy side of things but they roll and gripped pretty well. Knobs show wear after some 40miles of fairly flat trails. Not the grippiest on rocky decents, still prefer the Kenda and Maxxis rubbers which I replaced these with earlier this year.

Marc - 11/01/12 - 10:47pm

JB,

We’re working on it! I’d like to try a bunch of different combinations- probably both 2.2s or both 2.4s with the X King in the rear to start.

marc

Barry - 05/15/13 - 10:33am

Marc,
Bought these tires a few months ago, 29 x 2.2 Protection, to put on this spring as an all-around [race and XC] tire. Mounted them up this past weekend. It’s been four days now and the sidewalls have not yet sealed [two cups / 4-oz Stan's]. I lose about 3 psi during an hour of riding. I’ve tried the shaking and laying on the sidewalls and all the normal things one does to seal a tire. Even over-pressurized to 45-50 psi in an attempt to drive the sealant thru the sidewalls. The beads sealed rather quickly, but the sidewalls haven’t. Heck, I’ve even gotten lowly $20 IRC Mythos to seal up in a day or so.
With a 12-hr race coming up this weekend, I have zero trust in this tires and will have to purchase something else. Did a bit of reading on the web and seems there are many other angry folks out there who have the same issue. I don’t believe it’s a ‘mold release’ issue, as some have speculated…
-Barry

Matt - 06/15/13 - 5:28am

Guys just get some Trail Kings/ Rubber Queens (same tyre under different names) they are the grippiest tyres for general tyres you can buy, they corner on rails , grip like shit on a blanket in the wet and are reasonably quick rolling. Ive run a pair of them for a year and half nearly and they are only about 3/4 of the way worn. I ride about 40mi a week every week so they do last.

javier - 10/07/13 - 4:22pm

I recently purchased the x-king 2.2 protection and think their great. I had the S-Works Fast Trak which came on my Specialized Epic 29er and tore the side on a rock garden. The S-Works Fast Trak are only about 6 months old as the bike is new. These tires feel much stiffer and the sidewall is much, much harder. Their very fast and I feel much more confident on the turns vs. the S-Works Fast Trak. I’ve only had them a month and only put about 100 miles on them but they look like new. The trails I ride on aren’t that hard on tires (except for the rock garden). I’ll post back once I’ve had them a few months and over 300 miles. So far I recommend them.

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