Although bicycle tires currently make up only a small part of their business, German automotive supplier Continental has a long tradition in cycling: if you’ve been riding mountain bikes for a while, you’ll know some of their iconic tires like “Der Kaiser”, and their “BlackChili” rubber compound. For the new season, Continental are freshening up their portfolio, replacing some of their legendary (and perhaps outdated) tires with brand new ones.

Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The Best Mountain Bike Tire – We had them all!


For their new mtb line-up, Continental have developed three casings called Trail, Enduro and DH, which are symbolized with three hexagons. The more of the three hexagons are coloured in, the more robust the casing – and the heavier the tire. All three casings are tubeless-ready and approved for ebikes.


While the Trail casing relies on a similar structure to the Enduro variant, with three layers in the centre and two in the sidewalls, it employs a coarser 60 TPI material. The trail version also features an additional fabric layer to prevent cuts but doesn’t come with the Apex insert in the sidewalls. The Trail casing is primarily intended for bikes with 140 to 170 mm travel.


The Enduro casing employs a 110 TPI fabric too, albeit with three layers in the centre and two in the sidewalls. While this makes it just half as thick as the DH casing, an additional fabric layer should protect the sidewalls against cuts, while Continental’s Apex insert provides good stability. Tires with Enduro casing are primarily intended for bikes with 140 to 170 mm travel.


For the DH casing, Continental rely on a 110 TPI fabric, combining 6 plies under the centre tread and 4 plies in the sidewalls. For further reinforcement, there’s an Apex insert sandwiched between the layers of the sidewall, offering increased cornering stability and rim protection. Continental’s tires with DH casing are primarily intended for bikes with 170 to 200 mm travel.

Rubber compound

Continental offer three rubber compound options: Endurance, Soft and Supersoft, which are all associated with a specific casing. Tires with Trail casings are available in the Endurance compound, Enduro-casing tires in the Soft compound and DH models both in the Soft and Supersoft compound. The compound is symbolized by pictograms that follow the same system as the casing icons: the more the icon is coloured in, the softer the rubber compound. As the names of the compounds and the combinations with the casings suggest, the Supersoft compound should offer the most grip and highest rolling resistance while the Soft compound strikes a good balance between the two. Finally, the Endurance compound has the lowest rolling resistance but also offers the least grip.

Tread pattern

The new Continental tires can be recognised by the diamond-shaped pattern on the sidewall. Instead of a whole lot of lettering, all you get is the cryptic model name and three symbols to describe the intended use, casing and rubber compound, along with the Continental logo. They are classified according to the trail conditions: Xynotal for hard subsoil, Kryptotal for mixed conditions, Argotal for loose subsoil and Hydrotal for mud.


According to Conti, the Argotal is particularly suited to loose terrain, reaching its full potential on soft forest loam and dry dusty trails. The open tread should ensure good self-cleaning properties, while the reinforced side lugs are supposed to increase cornering stability and traction.


The Hydrotal was designed for wet and muddy conditions. It has an open tread pattern that is meant to improve the self-cleaning properties of the tire, along with reinforced side lugs designed to ensure better cornering stability. The tires are specifically aimed at downhill racing and are therefore only available with the DH casing and Supersoft rubber compound.

Kryptotal FR

The tread pattern of the Kryptotal FR is optimised for front-wheel specific demands and should therefore ensure good stability, control and responsiveness.

Kryptotal RE

The Kryptotal RE is designed as a rear-specific tire which Conti recommends for mixed conditions. It uses a mix of differently sized knobs and spacings, which should strike a good balance between rolling resistance and traction, thus providing excellent braking power, grip and stability.


The Xynotal was developed for hardpack and rocky terrain. The beveled lugs should offer minimal rolling resistance while ensuring permanent contact with the ground. Moreover, the large knob surface and deep siping should provide a large contact patch on hard surfaces.

Our recommendations

Enduro – full throttle (f/r): Kryptotal FR, Super Soft, DH / Kryptotal RE, Super Soft, DH
Trail – all-round (f/r): Kryptotal FR, Super Soft, DH / Kryptotal RE, Soft, DH
Trail – fast rolling (f/r): Kryptotal FR, Soft, Enduro / Xynotal, Soft, Enduro

For more information head to

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Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The Best Mountain Bike Tire – We had them all!

All the tested brands

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Words: Photos: Peter Walker, Moonhead Media