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.
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.
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.