Continental have recently done a major overhaul of their gravity tyre offering. The range they offer now is almost overwhelming. Four new names, five new tread patterns, three casings, and three rubber compounds. It’s a lot to get your head around. To try and simplify things, let's run through the tread patterns, which will help you narrow your choice down to match how dry or wet your riding conditions are. For hardpack conditions you start with the Xynotal tread pattern; mixed terrain is the Kryptotal (front and rear specific tread pattern); the Argotal is for loose terrain; and the Hydrotal is for mud. Got it? We’re just getting started. The Xynotal, Kryptotal and Argotal are all offered in Trail, Enduro, Downhill, or Downhill Supersoft casings (the Hydrotal is only offered in DH super soft). Oh, and then you choose how hard or soft you like your rubber: Endurance (harder); Soft (softer than Endurance); or Supersoft (pretty self-explanatory). Still with me? If you like Subway and getting your Sub just the way you like it, then you’ll be in tyre heaven. For all that choice, width wise, the Kryptotal Re is 2.4” or 2.6”, everything else is 2.4”, and that’s it. Everything is available in 29” or 27.5”.
Ok, so you have lots of variants to choose from. No, I did not test every variant. As much as I love new tyres, I have other things to do with my summer. I’ve been riding the Kryptotal Fr (Front) and Kryptotal Re (Rear) in the Enduro Casing, with the Soft compound, in a 2.4” width, this summer. This probably represents a fairly middle of the road option across the board. The tread pattern on the Kryptotal Fr has a 2-3-2 pattern down the centre, whereas the Re has a consistent 2-2-2 pattern. The Enduro casing has three layers of 110 tpi thread count and weighed in at 1125 gm
Out of the box, the tyres actually just look great. I didn’t know I was so attuned to what a quality tyre felt like, but these are that. The finish on the tyres is top notch. The graphics are perfect and there is a unique kind of embossed pattern in the side walls and in between the lugs. It screams German precision and quality. Getting them mounted up on my WheelWorks wheels was pretty tough, I’m going to be honest. Were these the hardest tyres I’ve ever had to mount? No, but it would be getting close. The casing is incredibly stiff. Just getting them on the rim felt like I was going to break tyre levers or damage my rims. Thankfully, that was all in my head, but it took a LOT longer to get them on than any other tyre I’ve used in the past. Once they were on, they sealed up nicely.
Visually, you can see that these tyres mean business - the lugs are tall and on the front there are generous gaps to help with mud clearance, enabling the tyre to really dig in. Out on the trail I have been really happy with the Kryptotals. The 2.4” width is spot on for trail riding and gives you plenty of rubber for when things get just a bit squirrelly. Having spent a fair bit of time recently on lighter, faster rolling tyres, coming on to the Kryptotals felt like I had traction in spades, and I always felt in control. I could push and push and it would always seem to hold. When heavy braking occurred, it would always hook up strong and this really made me feel confident riding them. I really noticed how, on a few favourite turns, I would try to push through and stay off the brakes, and the Kryptotal held the line incredibly well. Occasionally, I was actually surprised that I didn’t lose the front end, and was left thinking, ‘huh, I rode out of that?!’ with a great big smile across my face. This really helps with confidence and keeping your fingers off the brakes; holding your speed through the corners.
After a summer of riding, I’m happy to say the tyres still look great. The side walls are in great condition, and I haven’t had a single puncture, tear, or burps. If you’ve been a fan of Maxxis Assegai’s or DHR’s then I think you’ll find the Kryptotal to be right up your alley. I’ve been really impressed with these and will be leaving them on my bike for as long as I can. They gave me great confidence to push hard into corners and control when navigating heavy braking down steep descents.
I also was able to spend a small amount of time on the Xynotal tyre too. This one is not offered as front or rear specific and, at a distance, it looks incredibly similar to the Kryptotal Fr. So similar it was a little like one of those ‘spot the difference’ cartoons but, after a bit more of a careful inspection, the Xynotal’s tread pattern is slightly closer together. On the part of the pattern where there are ‘2’ centre lugs, the Xynotal groups these closer together, whereas the Kryptotal keeps these further apart – presumably this helps the Kryptotal with mud clearance and hooking up in looser conditions (which is what it is targeted to do.) The Xynotal’s lugs are also considerably more bevelled down at the leading edge which should help reduce rolling resistance. All in all the Xynotal is theoretically designed for more hard pack conditions and may help the rider retain a bit more speed. On the trail, I found it really hard to tell the difference between the two - aside from generally feeling that the Kryptotal just had a bit more ‘bite’ to it. If I noticed it anywhere, it was on steep chutes under heavy braking. The Kryptotal just seemed to be able to hold traction for that fraction longer. This is all pretty arbitrary really, as it’s hardly a controlled test, but if hardpack conditions are where you ride, the Xynotal would do the job perfectly. As an all-rounder, I’d probably err towards the Kryptotal - and I like the front and rear specific options it gives.
The fact that the new Continental range is offered in so many variations of patterns, compounds and sidewalls is slightly overwhelming at first, but it means you can find a tyre that perfectly suits your riding style. Pricing varies across the range, depending on your variant. The Kryptotal’s and the Xynotal come in at $148 each.
Distributed by Worralls l RRP: $148ea
Reviewed by Lance Pilbrow