Continental is the second German manufacturer in the test field alongside Schwalbe, but bicycle tires only make up a small part of the huge automotive group’s business. Nevertheless, Continental have a long tradition of making bicycle tires. Models like the Kaiser and rubber such as the BlackChili Compound have garnered almost legendary status amongst riders. All BlackChili Compound tires are hand made in Germany. Unfortunately, we couldn’t test the heavy-duty Downhill Apex casing thoroughly enough due to the lack of availability of most of the models in the range.

Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The best eMTB tire – … and why there’s actually no such thing


The guys and girls at Continental pay careful attention to weight. ProTection Apex, designed for demanding trails, is the lightest casing amongst the competition. The other carcasses in Continental’s range are also among the lightest in their categories. However, some Continental carcasses require significantly more tubeless sealant than we’re used to, similar to WTB.


The ProTection carcass is Continental’s tire construction for all-round use. A two-ply casing on the sidewalls overlaps an additional layer under the centre tread to form its main structure. An additional layer of puncture protection spans the tire from bead to bead. In terms of weight and rolling resistance, the ProTection carcass leads the way, tied pretty much neck and neck with Kenda’s ATC construction. However, in terms of pinch flat protection, you’ll find it somewhat wanting. If you’re running Continental ProTection tires, you’ll have to watch out for sharp objects when you’re travelling at higher speeds, with protection similar to Schwalbe’s lightweight SnakeSkin TLE carcass.

ProTection Apex

ProTection Apex is Continental’s second-heaviest carcass. Contrary to common misconception, the Apex carcass (without “ProTection”) is actually Continental’s most durable, pure downhill carcass. Instead, ProTection Apex is specifically designed for use on rough trails. The carcass is made up of two layers of protective fabric that overlap under the tread to add additional protection. As with the construction of the ProTection carcass, a layer of cut-resistant fabric spans the casing from bead to bead. For further reinforcement, Continental rely on an Apex insert sandwiched between the layers of the sidewall, offering increased cornering stability and puncture protection. However, this construction left us wanting more puncture protection on the trail than it could offer. Pinch flats are a common occurrence with ProTection Apex on rocky trails and a rider weight of 85 kg.

Rubber compound

Continental do not give their customers much choice when it comes to rubber compounds. Their high-end mountain bike tires use the BlackChili Compound, which has a different composition depending on the tire. On some low-end models of the Trail King or Mountain King, Continental also use their harder PureGrip blend.


PureGrip isn’t quite what the name says. Anyone looking for grippy mountain bike tires from Continental should definitely go for the BlackChili compound instead. The PureGrip compound offers low rolling resistance and durability above all else. In wet conditions, it can’t generate enough grip on the front wheel whether you’re braking or cornering. It can make for a good rear wheel option for long rides in dry and warm conditions if you want to be quicker up the climbs and increase your range.

BlackChili Compound

Continental will tell you more about the manufacturing process and basic ingredients of their BlackChili compound than the properties of the rubber itself. Depending on the tire and its application, BlackChili differs in its composition with regards to grip, rolling resistance and durability. Continental use BlackChili rubber on some of their road bike tires, but this has completely different properties to the soft rubber used for their downhill tire, Der Kaiser. However, the same tire with the same carcass always has the same BlackChili compound, so you can’t combine the same tread with a softer compound on the front and harder compound on the rear wheel.

Tread pattern

You have to be a bit careful with Continental’s tread patterns as different tire widths of the same model, sometimes get a completely different tread pattern. The best example of this is Der Baron which looks very different in the 2.6″ width and 2.4” version. You won’t find any front or rear wheel specific tires in Continental’s portfolio either. However, you’ll still be able to combine a grippy tire up front with a fast rolling tire on the rear.

Der Kaiser 2.4 Projekt

Like to ride Park? Then the Der Kaiser 2.4 Projekt is just the Continental tire for you. The super-wide shoulder knobs are so well supported that they avoid any sort of folding or squirming entirely. Thanks to the angled centre knobs, it also rolls really fast on hard ground as you head for the next jump while the centre tread can still generate enough braking traction on technical descents. Even when you’re on the brakes and approaching a berm sideways, the centre knobs will quickly get the rear wheel back on track. Transitioning from the centre to the shoulder knobs feels similar to the MAXXIS Minion DHR II and requires some skill to lean over onto the tread quickly. The shoulder knobs also grip well on soft ground thanks to thanks to the pronounced inner edge, providing a lot of traction on natural trails.

Der Baron 2.4 Projekt

The Der Baron 2.4 Projekt is Continental’s tire for natural trails. With its open tread pattern, mud hasn’t got a chance. It feels much more at home on soft forest loam than on hard ground. Here, the compact centre knobs offer a direct feel, but unfortunately, the shoulder knobs suffer through berms or on rock slabs where they feel a little vague. You’ll also notice the open tread pattern when it comes to rolling resistance, which is why we only recommend it for the front for maximum grip and traction. It also didn’t wow us quite like the Der Kaiser while braking. However, rolling the tire from the centre to the shoulder knobs is noticeably easier with a smooth transition between the two.

Der Baron 2.6 Projekt

Continental are actually a little late to the plus-size party with their Der Baron 2.6. As the latest addition to the family, it’s appeared on the scene almost as the hype has worn off. Although it’s got the same name as the Der Baron 2.4 Projekt, there isn’t much resemblance between the two. The tread profile is a lot shallower and Continental have added an additional row of small centre knobs. The shoulder knobs have also been changed to form an alternating pattern of outward and inward knobs allowing for an easier transition when cornering. It feels like you use the entire surface of the Der Baron’s tread, providing a lot of traction on dry, hard ground. The handling is astoundingly precise for such a large volume tire, but it can’t offer the same amount of grip as its original namesake on natural trails.

Trail King

The Trail King is Continental’s all-round tire. For demanding trails, we could just about imagine running it on the rear wheel. The standout feature of the Trail King is the relatively flat and widely spaced centre knobs combined with much larger and more closely spaced shoulder knobs. The profile of the Trail King is very round and is correspondingly easy to lean into a corner, similar to Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf. However, its small knobs will never be able to dig into off-camber sections very well. You also have to very careful on the brakes to avoid sliding out. That does mean that it rolls excellently on any surface, but despite the widely spaced centre tread, it doesn’t shed mud well and suddenly loses grip as it clogs up.

Mountain King

Continental developed the Mountain King for marathon riders, but it can also be used as an even faster rolling alternative to the Trail King on the rear of your eMTB. When we say rear wheel, we mean rear wheel: the Mountain King should never find its way to the front of your bike. Above all, the Mountain King likes dry, hard soil where it offers direct handling and a lot of precision. However, the minimal shoulder knobs will quickly get overwhelmed by open, grassy corners and higher speeds. If you’re going slow in wet conditions, it offers more traction on the brakes than the Trail King and also has better self-cleaning properties. Puncture protection and cushioning are sadly not the strengths of these 2.3″ tires.

Our recommendations

Grip (f/r): Der Kaiser 2.4 Projekt, BlackChili, ProTection Apex – Der Kaiser 2.4 Projekt, BlackChili, ProTection Apex
All-round (f/r): Der Baron 2.4 Projekt, BlackChili, ProTection Apex – Trail King, BlackChili ProTection Apex
Fast rolling (f/r): Trail King, BlackChili ProTection Apex – Trail King, BlackChili ProTection Apex

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Our big E-MOUNTAINBIKE group test at a glance

Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The best eMTB tire – … and why there’s actually no such thing

All the models in test

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl