Continental Trail King 27.5 x 2.4″ Tires

Fresh rubber!

Fresh rubber!

I love Continental Trail Kings in the 26″ x 2.4″ format. I’ll go so far as to say they are the only tire I’ll use on my 26″ bikes because they are so tall they provide amazing roll through our rough tech that typifies South Shore mountain biking on Vancouver Island. The large volume makes ’em very comfy and they’ve got a nice surefooted knob pattern making us smile while riding through slick conditions we get every winter. So far we’ve worn through a few sets and they’ve setup tubeless easy and been 100% reliable no matter how hard they are plowed through sharp SW desert rocks on regular trips to Sedona and Moab. The downside is they are ~1000-1200g each [higher for UST].

Another super easy tubeless setup...

Another super easy tubeless setup…

Sharon rolled through last season on 650B x 2.35″ Schwalbe Hans Damfs then switched to her 26er bike with fat Trail Kings for the winter. She immediately loved how stable and confidence inspiring the Continental tires were. Personally I really like the Hans Damfs because they roll fast, provide loads of grip and they are ~450g lighter each than the 26er Trail Kings we ride. For Sharon the peace of mind of the TK’s is worth a weight penatly since she’ll charge lines she might walk if she doubts her machine.

So we ordered up some of 27.5 x 2.4″ TK’s for her 650B bike. We got the Black Chilli version, but not the UST model so they were only 1000g. That’s about 250g extra per wheel vs. the Schwalbes.

Trail Kings are like old friends...

Trail Kings are like old friends…

Tubeless setup was very easy as I’ve come to expect for these tires. Just pop them on the rim with some yellow tape, 2.5 scoops of Stan’s and a 1 CO2 cartridge to seat the bead. Done!

No sealant left...

No sealant left…

Looking in her old tires there was just a puddle of dirty water left where her Stan’s used to be. That’s a good reminder to refresh sealant at the start of each new season.

Presents for me! :)

Presents for me! :)

Sharon also installed a Race Face Turbine Cinch crank on her 650B bike because she wanted a smaller chainring than the 30T that’s the low limit of a SRAM XO1 crank. Since I did the Schwalbe tires and I was looking to upgrade the Deore cranks on my Krampus I got her cast offs. I’ll put them to good use. :)

Stanimal!

Stanimal!

I pulled my largest Stanimal yet out of Sharon’s rear tire. It was quite a beast!

Surly Knard Tire Review

Surly Knard 29 x 3" tires...

Surly Knard 29 x 3″ tires…

I’ve spent a couple years riding a pair of 120tpi Surly Knard 29 x 3″ tires. I use them mostly for bikepacking although I have rocked my Surly Krampus on trail rides now and again. The tread is now starting to show some wear, but for non-technical riding they’ll keep rolling another season or two. So far only 2 flats and both were before I went tubeless.

Setting the Knards up tubeless on some Rabbit Hole rims was easy using the split tube method. They have been 100% reliable with no flats and I can leave them 2 weeks+ without adding air.

For non-technical riding [ie. logging roads] I’ve found the Knard to be an excellent tire. It rolls quickly, provides solid traction and its big volume floats over loose terrain with ease. Even when I have encountered snow and mud on non-techy rides I have liked how the Knards worked for me. If you are forced to ride 100kms of pavement on a tour you will not hate life on these tires.

Lots of small knobs...

Lots of small knobs…

Where the Knards have shown their limits is in challenging technical riding. For me the biggest issue has been loose dirt/gravel especially on off camber trails. The front Knard just doesn’t have the side knobs to grab into the trail and keep the bike tracking straight which means you either go really slow or your front tire washes out and you crash. :(

The very tall and wide [for normal MTB rubber] 29 x 3″ tire smooths out rough terrain, keeps you rolling fast and floats through softer conditions with speed as well and control. Despite the extra weight you can moving around I find the Knards let me move up and down just as fast as skinnier tires. The large volume also makes riding a rigid bike quite pleasant on all but the most broken ground.

Knard in a Fox Float 34 fork...

Knard in a Fox Float 34 fork…

Wanting a slacker front end I have mounted a Fox Float 34 fork on my Krampus and jammed the Surly Knard + Rabbit Hole rim combo in there. It requires the removal of a small amount of the fork brace to fit this big tire inside.

I have used Knards on skinny Stan’s Flow rims and 50mm Surly Rabbit Hole rims. If I was starting over today I’d build up a set of 35mm carbon Light Bicycle rims for my Krampus to get a nice blend of stiffness, lightweight and wide enough rims to support the 3″ tire.

All in all I think Surly’s first 29+ tire is a great option for bike touring and non-technical riding. I just bought a lightly used set of 120 tpi Knards from a rider on MTBR.com so I’ll have some Knards to keep me going for another few years of bikepacking.

Enjoy some moist trail riding on my Surly Krampus...

Enjoy some moist trail riding on my Surly Krampus…