Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

After a bit of a confusing kick off to their tubeless ready offerings in 2012, Continental’s been steadily expanding the options across their entire range. That’s not to say the naming scheme is any better, unfortunately. Tires are offered in a variety of casing options, including a proper UST, the tubeless ready “Protection” versions, and everything else that’s not officially tubeless. That includes their “Protection Apex” models, which will see more options later in 2015. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Considering the performance of the Mountain King, though, those naming issues can be forgiven. When the leaves became too much for the lower profile X-King or Race King tires (or similarly hardpacked summery tires from other brands), I mounted the Mountain King Revolution tires last fall. Yes, that’s fall of 2013. They immediately provided the grip needed on our autumn leaf covered trails and carried themselves well all through the winter, too. They were so good, I kept them on all summer and have been spending more time on them again now that we’re in the midst of another winter.

But grip is only part of the story. There’s some interesting character traits worth considering…

UPDATED: Widths measurements added.

Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

First things first, the weigh in: My 29 x 2.2 Mountain King Protection tires came in at 708g and 750g. Not superlight, but respectable for a big knobbed aggressive all-mountain tire.

Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

Now, back to the casing. To make their tires “tubeless ready”, Continental uses a UST-style bead and an additional protection ply running from bead to bead. Not only does this make for a tougher tire all the way around, but that layer creates a bigger barrier to air permeation. It’s not the same as the butyl liner that makes UST models airtight, but by definition “tubeless ready” requires sealant to hold air.

Side note: Continental’s rep Brett Hahn says UST will not be sold in North America in 2015 and beyond due to lack of demand.

REVO SEALANT

continental-RTR-tubeless-tire-sealant-for-mountain-bikes01

To test their tubeless readiness, I started out with Continental’s Revo Sealant. I actually tried the sealant several times before putting it in the MKs reviewed here. The pic above shows it on the Rocky Mountain Element 29er’s Race King tires…which we struggled to get it to hold air well and it ended up pooling and thickening into a glob.

After trying it on several other tires, various rims and tapes and multiple configurations, I ended up with a set of Sun-Ringle Black Flag wheels to test and brand new bottles of Revo Sealant and new Mountain King Protection tires. So, brand new everything that would be part of creating a tubeless system, and the Sun-Ringle wheels use Stan’s NoTubes licensed rim profiles and had factory installed brand new Stan’s NoTubes tape. If ever there were a perfect setup for perfect performance, this should be it. Sadly, I still had trouble getting the sealant to work well. It didn’t pool up quite as bad as the pic above, but it just didn’t seem to hold air for very long, necessitating mid-ride fill ups.

As much as I love Brett and Conti’s PR folks, I simply can’t recommend the sealant when others work much better for me. Conti does not recommend mixing it with Stan’s sealant because the respective ingredients won’t play nice, but I’ve added Orange Seal to the tire and seen immediately better results. Not perfect, mind you, but I think that’s better explained as part of the tire review…

MOUNTAIN KING PROTECTION

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UPDATE: As the commenters have noted, yes, these run a bit narrower than the 2.2 moniker implies. Mounted to a Sun-Ringle Black Flag Pro SL rim (24mm outside width), they measured a hair over 2″ wide at the widest part of the casing. The side knobs spread to about 2.1″.

Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

Since the casing relies on a coated nylon fabric to reduce permeability, there’s no claim to it being airtight. That’s the case with any tubeless-ready tire, so no complaints there. But, compared to other tubeless-ready tires I’ve used, these seem to be a bit more porous. Or, at least more prone to air leakage. I quantify this in two ways: One, they lost air more quickly than others I’ve used. Two, the sealant (any sealant, not just Revo) inside seemed to dry up more quickly than in other tires.

With more frequent sealant injections, they’re fine, though, and here’s why I’m OK with that: Because these tires rip!

Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

The knobs are tall and big, so they bite into everything. They’re widely spaced, so they shed muck and mud quickly. And they’re made of Continental’s premium Black Chili rubber compound, so they’re grippy on the harder stuff, too. It’s a great combo of four season, all conditions performance that proves a few more grams of rotational weight are more than made up for by the additional cornering speed afforded by the traction.

The side knobs are closely packed, which means continuous grip in the corners. While there’s open space between them and center knobs, there’s no odd transition from straight to cornering. For me, that added a lot of confidence on all levels of turns, especially those with changing radii from the entrance to the exit. Or just whipping the bike about on loose or uneven terrain. They are a bit noisy on ultrahard pack or when riding the road to the trail, but for anything else, they seemed efficient enough. Braking is solid and predictable, too.

Continental Mountain King 2 tubeless ready protection mountain bike tires review and actual weights

The upside to the deflation issues I had was that the tire was routinely (um, very routinely) run at diminishing pressures. That’s an upside only because it meant harsher testing conditions. On more than one ride I simply tired of pumping it up and let it get hit-the-rim low before stopping each time. That put the sidewalls under a lot of compression and bending, twisting and folding forces, and this is what they look like after many months of riding…pretty dang good.

The Protection casing is a comparatively rigid casing, adding a lot of support to the sidewall. When fully deflated, it can retain it’s generally round shape on a lightweight bike, not giving away its flatness until you start rolling it outta the garage. I initially thought this might detract from its suppleness, and it probably does a bit, but on the trail with adequately low pressures, it still hugged all the nooks and crannies. Honestly, I didn’t notice any undue harshness from the casing.

What I did notice was the lack of wear and tear on the sidewall. I had no tears, rips or other issues during the past 16 months of testing. Considering how much these tires were ridden in an ultra low or near flat condition, the minimal thread showing now is impressive.

Keeping in mind I’m often testing several tires and complete bikes at a time and no one set of tires gets 100% of my miles at any given time, tread wear has been very impressive. My terrain is mostly hard-ish packed clay and dirt, lots of roots and some rocks (more rocks when riding in Asheville/Pisgah). I haven’t been shearing them across Moab-style rockscapes. So far, all knobs are present and accounted for and in good condition. I had a chance to ride these out west on California’s dry, packed orange dirt and it took me a bit to get used to, but they worked pretty well. It could just be what I’m used to, but these felt better on typical East Coast terrain.

Big picture: Continental’s Mountain King Protection tires are a superb all-around ripper available in 2.2 and 2.4 widths and all three tire diameters. If you don’t mind adding sealant a little more frequently, these should last you a good long time and, by providing killer traction, help you last a good long time.

Conti-Online.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. I run these and love them. 2.4 in front, 2.2 in rear – they have great grip, are reasonably light and have a very predictable shape for turn in. No complaints and a couple hundred miles into them already.

  2. Running a 26″ 2.2 version up front for over a year now. I absolutely love it! They hold air with sealant very well. I plan on replacing mine with 2.4 after upgrading the wheels to a rider rim.

  3. This season I had two mountain king 2.4 ust tires. I pinched threw the middle of both tires. Replaced them with the protection type right after. I believe the Black chili compound helped Prevent pinch flats. I Love conti’s Black Chili compound. I rode baron 2.3s twice. My DH bike has a KAISER 2.4 in front. Don’t buy anything that’s not the higher level compound its not worth the money.

  4. This season I had two 2.4 UST mountain kings pinch threw the middle of the tire. I immediately purchased the 2.4 protection type. I believe the Black chili compound help prevent pinch flats. Black Chili is the best. My DH bike has KAISER 2.4 in front. I have ridden two sets of baron 2.3s. Don’t buy anything else but BLACK CHILI TYPE tires!! anything else is not worth savings.

  5. My biggest problem with the mountain kings in particular and continental tires in general is they seem to have a very small volume in relation to their size rating. The 2.2s seem as small or slightly smaller than most 2.1s and the 2.4s barely compare to more 2.3s. The protection sidewall is great for the weight and the black chili compound definitely hooks up but mount a pair of 2.2s on any Trail bike and they just look dinky.

  6. Agree with @druandnotu, Conti’s do seem to run smaller for their size… or being German, is it the case of everyone else being too big and Conti being spot on? Either way, love Conti rubber and as mentioned above, they are a good weight, very predictable and grip very, very well.

  7. Hmmm, I mounted the MK II Protextion 29 x 2.2 onto a rear Stans Arch pretty easy using Continental Sealant as well , seemed to take a couple days / rides to set since then fine and beat it hard on rocky terrain as well. Also have been using the Sealant in my Front Nobby Nic seems to be working OK will keep an eye. I had an issue about 18 months ago with a MK II Protection, sidewall “gave out / buldge” spoke to our Conti rep, said I wasn’t the only one and that they had made some adjusments in the molds / manufaturing. Not sure if that is true but no problem yet. Is a good all around gripper, a bit “square” i.e. you need to use the edge nobs and the transition to them is a bit square.

  8. I’m running the 29×2.4″ Protection Mountain King on the front. I’ve never run another tire that had a sidewall which showed so much thread after a year of riding. It’s terrible, you can visibly see the Orange Sealant on the side of the tire, the sidewalls are soaking wet. These are the most porous sidewalls I’ve ever seen. I like how they roll and grip, but terrible sidewalls that end up looking more like Levi’s with all the thread showing. I won’t be buying Conti’s again.

  9. Ran this tire in the 29×2.2 on the rear for the 2013 season. Very disappointing. It didn’t handle anywhere near the 29×2.2 Xking I ran on the front. The lack of transition knobs between the center and edge treads meant it washed out a lot. And most surprising, climbing traction was poor. Looking at all those center knobs, one would think tracking would be great, but I would often spin it out on steeper climbs. (I’m 220lbs and was running dual suspension, it should never have spun out!)

  10. Now that I’ve finally dropped Specialized and it’s tires I know what riding a good tire is,and these Mountaing Kings are some serious tires.
    Too bad for their sizes….a 2.4 MK is pretty far from being a true 2.4..more like a 2.2 Specialized Purgatory/Ground Control. Continental likes to cheat about their sizes…whatever.

  11. Continental make great tyres in terms of grip and rolling, but they suffer from two things – ropey tubeless conversion (as described in the review) and sidewalls that deform, leaving a wobble in the tyre.

    Also – they recommend this – not sure if your reviewer did this preparation, but it might help the porousness

  12. I’ve ran MK Protection 2.2 rear and RQ 2.2 Protection front for a bit more than a year with homebrew tubeless sealant: apart some weeping on the sidewalls no problems what so ever: more than 7k quilometres without a single flat, amazing grip without much of a drag.
    Shame I had to toss them in the bin while they still had a decent tread to run, as BOTH tyres have deformed BADLY with time. The RQ on the front was the most affected by this problem and had enough tread for a few thousand more quilometres but it was so badly deformed it was a risk.

  13. With the style of tire and the stated issues you’ve experienced, I would recommend a Bontrager XR4. A very aggressive tire that gives traction for days and if you purchase the TLR casing, they hold air as well as a car tire. Recent Bontrager tires are some of the most durable and best performing tires I’ve used in a long time.

  14. This review mirrors my experiences exactly – fantastic tire but not really tubeless compatible. Interesting thing for me was doing a dunk test: the bead/rim interface was totally airtight, the pressure loss was through the sidewall. I figure this is why they are so light; they don’t have a proper sidewall.
    For east coast riding they last and last, traction in most conditions I encounter is on par with Hans Dampf, but unlike HD contis last more than one ride. I’ve had trail kings last the better part of a season.

  15. Many months of riding and the tire still has “hair” on some of its knobs? hmmm… Anyways, I really like conti tires for both road and mtb. The black chilly does seem to make a difference.

  16. I have the Conti race sport x-king, love the tire and interestingly enough, haven’t had any trouble mounting it tubeless with stan’s sealant and wtb rims. No sidewall trouble despite the lack of protection either, though I have never had tire troubles.

  17. Ran the X-King 2.2 and Race King 2.2 last season, and learned the hard way that Conti tires only like Conti sealant. Luckily when I approached my local H2 rep, he totally understood my frustration and warrantied the pair to try again.

    Once set up properly, they showed an extensive amount of sidewall wear, not to mention the constant wet “puddles”.

    I really wanted to like the Conti MTB tires, because they make a killer road tire. But I won’t be using them next season.

  18. Anyone experiencing rubber chunking or knobs ripping off? I had a Trail King I loved, but it lasted less than 10 rides. I’m wondering if this issue has been resolved (others I know had similar issues)

    P

  19. To balance neg comments here about sealing Conti tires, I have run a MKII 2.4 up front and a X-King 2.4 rear (both 27.5) for the whole 2013 season or trail riding in the Northwest. They mounted and sealed without any problem using Stan’s sealant and a floor pump and they have not leaked or oozed a single drop of sealant since. Just added a bit through half-way through the season because of normal drying and have not noticed any pressure loss.

  20. @P

    I ran trail kings and mountain kings, both 2.2 and 29er. Trail king knobs wore down much much faster. I’m happy with the mountsin king though.

  21. Mr. P – Second that, we stopped carrying and riding these and the X-kings around here (northern colorado) because we have the right type of rocky terrain to tear the corner knobs (and a sizable chunk of surrounding rubber) really easily. If they fixed that with this version I would give it another shot.

  22. Just mounted a Mountain King 2.2 and a 2.4 on my new wide carbon wheels.
    Had some problem first having them seated with a floor pump but used an inner tube, waited a night and then the seated easily tubeless. After two days they’re still holding 40 PSI and I haven’t put sealant yet!

  23. I currently run MK II 2.2 Racesport 2.2 on the front and Race King 2.2 ProTection on the rear of my Sling-Shot Fold-Tech MTB. I usually do 16-20 miles a day of commuting, on a route that includes roads, trails and urban areas. I also used a Race King 2.2 on the front (summer tire; the MK is my Winter front tire), and X-King ProTection on the rear. In the Past I’ve used Ritchey Z-max WCS tires and some others – bontrager, Schwalbe, etc.
    Ah, and my rims are Stan’s too – Crest and arch EX.

    I have to say that my experience with the Revo sealant (I got it for free) was way better and very different than the reviewer. On each and every continental I’ve used it with, it sealed very well. I actually seated the MK II without sealant and added it only after the initial inflation and deflation; I had no problem. No sidewall leaks, no need to add any other sealant (I did manage to mix Stan’s and Revo once, but only as an emergency, since one is latex-based and one is Ammonia-based). My experience was very positive, apart from the horrible smell of the Revo sealant (of course you don’t smell it while riding. Only while adding sealant!). So for me it worked very well.

  24. If you are using tubes, they are fine. But they lose a lot of air when you run them tubeless. It’s either the bead is not sealing well or the sidewalls are porous. I’m disappointed with them. Never happened to my Schwalbes or Maxxis.

  25. The compound of the Continental tires are different from Schwalbe and Maxxis. Continental it’s more porous. With Continental tires it’s highly recommended that before the installation of the tire on the rim, sealant it’s applied through all the inside of the tire with for example a paint brush (it’s what I use). Then install the tire on the rim, inflate the tire to the recommended pressure (I go until 45 psi for the tire to seat well onto the rim), remove the air from the tire, remove the core of the valve, insert the recommended amount of sealant throughout the valve, install the core of the valve, inflate again the tire to the recommended pressure (I go to around 35 psi, before the ride I set up the pressure to my needs), shake the wheel several times, put the wheel to roll, install the wheel on the bike, and it’s done. It works for me … I change tires quite often on my bike … Continental, Schwalbe, Maxxis, Mavic, Vittoria, Specialized. Hope this will help.

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