It’s not every day we come across a mountain bike tire, let alone a 29er one, that weighs under 500 grams. On the other hand, we didn’t get to test too often slick tires, or at least having minute knobs, that resembled a fish’s scales. That’s why we were so eager to review the Continental Speed King Race Sport version, although the 29×2.2 tire that tips the scale at 460 grams and has an 180TPI casing is a tantalizing product itself.
You’ll have to sweat a bit before you’ll fit the tires on the wheels because the Speed Kings are ridiculously thin, being easy to mistake for a sheet of paper. Of course, they are foldable, a feat which saves a lot of grams, and if you thought they puncture asap, think again. With a big baloon, and inflated to a 2.5bar pressure, we had no problem running them, but we did keep an eye out for sharp objects. After all, the best puncture protection is prevention.
Being narrower than their size implies, since they lack knobs, handling is influenced a great deal, becoming sluggish mostly due to the change in angles that derives from this. On tarmac, the rolling speed is excellent, just like on dirt roads, or uneven trails, as long as they are dry. Grip can turn into an issue when cornering tightly on dusty surfaces or sandy ones, and surely becomes one when things turn wet. Rely on your skills to avoid crashing, becasue the tires won’t help you this time.
The Speed King is a tire perfect for light cross-country competitions, mostly those that take place in plain forests, and also for riding on asphalt. So, forget about the manufacturer’s recommandation regarding actual mountain biking, especially given that sharp rocks can damage the side walls of the tire. Only as long as you keep to the above mentioned surfaces, will you get to enjoy these tires to their fullest.