Continental Cross King ProTection Tire
Continental has taken the mountain bike X-King Protection tire, re-badged it the Cross King Protection, (still for mountain), and redesigned the tire from the inside out: revamping the Black Chili compound, using a lighter, more flexible material in the 3-ply 180 tpi casing for the ProTection feature, and updating and optimizing the tread pattern. The tubeless bead was modified as was the mold of the tire, creating a wider "mouth" to the tire, with the two changes resulting in and easier tubeless mounting and faster, more effective seal. Special attention was also made across the whole mountain bike tire series for their offerings to be true to the listed size. The end result is a lighter weight, more flexible tire with improved grip, traction, and overall performance that includes puncture protection. The Cross King Protection is now one of the most versatile mountain tires for fast conditions of any terrain, with grip that is hard to believe until you ride it, and extremely low rolling resistance for a knobby tire.
If we look from the outside in, reversing Conti's process, we start with the rubber and the tread pattern. First, BlackChili isn't just a uniform rubber. Each and every category of tire carrying the BlackChili logo has it's own compound recipe, engineered for the needs of the expected rider and conditions. On the mountain side, each model also gets its own mixture to enhance grip, rolling speed, puncture protection, wear, etc. Continental creates and refines special synthetic rubbers along with proven natural rubber to result in a high-performance mixture, then adds tiny soot particles, which in turn are optimized in shape and surface properties. The complex compound technology is so sensitive and proprietary that tires with BlackChili Compound are produced exclusively in their Korbach, Germany plant. The end rubber and tread vary for the requirements of the tire, but there are some characteristics that are somewhat universal. The particles actually help to create a lightweight density that serve to protect against wear, stop or seal small punctures, while increasing tread wear capability.
For the new Cross King, the tread pattern itself features slightly shorter knobs, with pretty much the same pattern , edge, and angles, but with groups more closely spaced, so more knobs in total around the circumference of the tire. This results in fewer contact voids and more opportunity to grip. It also results in more speed, as you'd expect, but you may not expect more grip and traction, especially not on hardpack or loosepack, which the Cross King delivers. Why? With the lower pressures associated with tubeless use, more actual tire rubber is applied in the footprint to the terrain. The deformity of the tire increases the usable friction zone. The knobs have more ability to do their job, and are enhanced by the incredible potential of the BlackChili compound used in the Cross King. The result is greater confidence, especially at speed or in more aggressive cornering angles, where you can feel the improved deflection and conformity. Many of Conti's sponsored XC riders are opting for either a 2.3" Cross King up front with a new 2.2" Race King in the rear, or two Cross Kings, with the 2.2" in the rear.
The casing is a 3-ply, 180tpi system that is amazingly supple for a ProTection level tire. The lighter, more flexible sidewall protection still delivers high-level resistance to cuts, impacts, abrasion, etc. Again, this allows the tire to react and conform to the terrain better without the rider being concerned about flats or blowouts. The improvement of the newer, flatter tubeless bead is also enhanced by the sidewall and casing suppleness. What does a wider "mouth" refer to? You know when you open up a tire and the bead sit close to each other- inward? That is a more closed mouth. When you open it up the beads naturally are further away, that is a more open mouth. This pertains to both the overall shape of the tire and how it sets up on the rim. Tires with a naturally open mouth seal and seat more easily when mounting tubeless, and create a better overall shape for the tire on the rim- less bulbous, even on a narrower rim. Which raises the next point. Continental has optimized the tread and volume of each tire size for specific internal rim widths, and that is listed on the sidewall of each tire. Keeping the rim/tire combination size appropriate will result in best performance. As part of that specification, and some frank admissions that some of their tires varied too far from the listed size in the past, the new TruSize standards direct that the tire be within 1-2mm of listed size with the proper rim and inflation.
Continental only makes changes to products when they feel they can make serious improvements or recognize an issue. We feel this generational change was a bit overdue, but now that it is here, we are both impressed and pleasantly surprised. Riders who take the trails as often as possible will truly appreciate the quality, longevity and improved overall performance of the Cross King and be grateful that the tubeless set-up has improved. The ideal conditions for the Cross King are still fast hardpack, loose over hard, and firm dirt, but it can handle much more, even reasonably nasty mud at lower pressures, making it the versatile, improved tire Continental set out to create. Enjoy!
- X King becomes Cross King, re-designed from the inside out to be faster, offer more grip and control, and increased terrain/conditions versatility
- Re-engineered, tire-specific BlackChili rubber compound reduces rolling resistance; improves puncture protection, grip, traction
- Similar tread design to X King, but now optimized with more sets per tire circumference, lower profile favored for larger footprint of lower pressure set-up
- New ProTection construction features more pliant Cordura for reduced weight, better durability, deflection and conformity at lower pressures
- Flatter, better angled tubeless bead and wider tire mouth make tubeless mount, seat, and seal easier, faster, more effective
- TrueSize sizing convention means tires measure as listed (+/- 1-2mm)
- 3-ply, 180 tpi updated casing increases overall tire suppleness
- Suggested rim width-specific range for each tire size molded into sidewall
- Listed size / psi range / weight :
- 27.5 x 2.3" / 40-54 psi / 710g
- 27.5 x 2.6" / 29-44 psi / 790g
- 29 x 2.2" / 44-58 psi / 640g
- 29 x 2.3" / 44-54 psi / 755g
- Color: Black
- Made in Germany