Thought I would drop a first ride impression for the Conti Race King Protection 2.2.
I have a series of rides on gravel planned as I prep for Wilmington Whiteface and later Leadville. I had been planning to run the Thunder Burt 2.25 on the rear but figured since I had the time I would give the Conti a go since I was able to pick one up at a decent price on sale. I’ve been intrigued by the tire in part by the results for it posted on Bicyclerollingresistance.com
The tire weighed in 578gm and mounted sure easily onto my Enve M525 wheel. I planned to use it on the rear and keep by regular Racing Ray 2.25 front tire. I put in two ounces of Stan’s sealant.
The ride I planned was a 61 mile loop with roughly 5350ft of climbing. Some of these roads are part of the Mohican 100. The majority of the gravel ranging from pea size and choppy to fairly smooth. Some paved sections connected some of the gravel sections including a fast rolling section near the end.
I normally ride the loop on a Trek Checkpoint that has 38 Gravel King SK’s mounted on Enve G23s. I have 4 exact matched rides on the Checkpoint plus numerous other rides when the 61 mile loop was part of a longer ride. I had never ridden this loop on an XC bike.
My bike is a Trek Supercaliber with Enve M525, an Enve cockpit, and carbon Innerbarends (same ones Keegan used on FKT on White Rim). I rode it fully locked out on the climbs and most of the flats, but opened it up on all the descents and where it gets rough. It has a dropper, so I did use it on the descent to get lower and more aero. I’m about 157 lbs at the moment and had a USWE with a 2 liter bladder filled, as well as regular CO2, mini pump, plugs, and some gels/chews/bars along. I ran the front tire at 20 psi and rear at 21 psi, about 2 psi higher than what I would run on single track.
Initially impression as I rode on asphalt to the first gravel section was that the Race King was quiet with minimal buzz or humm. I had taken a set of Nobby Nic’s off the bike a week earlier and the difference was night and day. As I hit the first big climb of the day it hooked up well and I had no slippage all day long except for one very brief super steep section where I stood up and had the smallest slip as I power up the incline. Throughout the ride the tire combination felt fast and never draggy. I had several long stretches where I was using the aero Innerbarends and holding 21 - 23 mph comfortably (slight tailwind).
Descending was fantastic and where I noticed the biggest difference compared to the Checkpoint. With the Supercaliber I was able to bomb every descent, not worry about any potholes, and then brake late as I came up to intersections. There are a few fast sweeping corners and I had no issues, but I’m certain than superior bike handlers could push the tires further. For me they were not a limiter.
The biggest surprise came at the end of the ride once I looked at matched rides in Strava. I had beaten my fastest time on the Checkpoint by about 2 min’s, with the total ride time being 4 hours and 8 mins vs my best on the Checkpoint at 4 hours and 10 mins, very close but still faster. I was expecting to have been significantly slower given heavier bike by about 4lb. I did have slightly higher NP of 217 vs 211 for the ride, so that was a factor. Average speed was 14.6mph on the SC and 14.5mph on the Checkpoint. Someone smarter than me can probably calculate out the 4lb bike weight difference and how much that impacted NP, but regardless I find the result impressive. The other rides I did on that loop on the Checkpoint were all slower in the 4:15 - 4:17 range.
I think I’ve found a new favorite rear tire for this type of terrain. I will try the Race King on some single track in the next while as well just to see how it hooks up there. I might also try riding the loop with the Thunder Burt on the rear. Given the length of the loop it would be interesting to see if I see any differences on it. It also raises the question of whether I should try the loop on my Air 9 RDO HT with the same tire combo. That bike is within about 0.5 lbs of the Checkpoint.
Bottomline, the Conti Race King Protection 2.2 is fast.