Continental Kryptotal Front 2.4 Review
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Continental Kryptotal Front 2.4
$63.70 at Amazon
$62.48 at Amazon
|$60.74 at Backcountry|
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|$70 List||$70 List|
|Pros||Reasonable price (for trail casing), excellent cornering traction, offered in multiple casings for different uses||Fair price (for trail casing), offered in multiple casings for different uses, good braking traction||Great cornering and braking traction, fair price, long tread life, supportive sidewalls, work in a wide range of conditions||Great cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widths||Reasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tire|
|Cons||Difficult installation process, heavy-ish for a "trail" tire||Challenging set up process, heavy for "trail" casing||Tread may be too aggressive for some riders/locations, a little heavy||Moderate weight, not the fastest rolling||Moderate braking traction, firmer rubber compound|
|Bottom Line||A durable front tire for aggressive trail riding that carves corners with the best of 'em||A durable rear tire suited for aggressive trail riding in a range of conditions||An aggressive tire with excellent cornering traction, braking bite, and above-average durability||Specialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great value||A versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bike|
|Rating Categories||Continental Kryptot...||Continental Kryptot...||Vittoria Mazza||Specialized Butcher...||Specialized Elimina...|
|Pedaling Traction (20%)|
|Braking Traction (20%)|
|Rolling Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Continental Kryptot...||Continental Kryptot...||Vittoria Mazza||Specialized Butcher...||Specialized Elimina...|
|Size tested||27.5" x 2.4"||27.5" x 2.4"||29" x 2.4"||29" x 2.6"||29" x 2.3"|
|Weight as tested||1012g (27.5)||1046g (27.5)||1090g||1123g||945g|
|Front, Rear, or Both||Front||Rear||Front, Both||Front, Both||Rear|
|Casing Tested||Trail||Trail||Trail||GRID Trail||GRID Trail|
|Compound Tested||Endurance||Endurance||4C Graphene 2.0||Gripton T9||Gripton T7|
|Tread Count (TPI)||60||60||120||60||60|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Continental is a well-known tire manufacturer, creating high-performance treads for two and four-wheeled vehicles alike. In cycling, their line of road bike tires is legendary, however, in years past their mountain bike tires have fallen short of the standard set by designs and compounds from the likes of Maxxis, Schwalbe, and Specialized. In the spring of 2022, Continental released a completely refreshed line of compounds, casings, and tread designs that were piloted to success at the highest level of the sport. Several world cup DH podiums indicate that the Continental might be on to something with their revamped product line. Outside of the course tape and at a much slower speed of riding, our testers found the new Kryptotal tread designs to impress in a range of conditions. Continental makes this tire in three casings (trail, enduro, downhill) and three tread compounds (endurance, soft, super soft), and we tested the trail casing with the endurance compound.
In conversation about the tire, many friends asked if it was just another Maxxis knock-off, alluding to the idea that sometimes manufacturers come out with "new" front and rear tires that look heavily inspired by Maxxis' flagship models. While the Kryptotal Re does look similar to a DHR II, the Kryptotal Fr is its own beast (though a little reminiscent of a Magic Mary or Maxxis Assegai).
The Kryptotal Fr provides excellent hold and grip when drawing lines through a corner, and is better than many other tires we've tested. Testers agreed that previous generations of Continental mountain bike tires tended to feel squirmy and unsupportive in corners, which seemed to be a combination of both sidewall and tread design. It was clear after a few corners that the Kryptotal resolves all of these issues and excels in providing support and impressive grip in all types of directional changes on the bike.
Continental has several new models in their lineup, with the Kryptotal intended as the all-arounder for aggressive riding in mixed terrain and conditions. Despite its do-it-all intentions, it has a relatively aggressive tread design with tall, stout side knobs and similarly tall and aggressive tread in the center and intermediate zones. At times it felt like one could do no wrong when leaning the bike over with the Kryptotal Fr at the helm. In high-speed, loose, off-camber sweepers the trail casing sidewall (the lightest casing they offer) stood strong while its side knobs offered assurance that the corner could be ridden with more entrance speed on the next lap. Lower speeds and moderate lean angles felt similarly comfortable as the tire rolls nicely on edge.
The Kryptotal Fr is designed as a front tire and intended to be paired with the rear-specific Kryptotal Re on the rear. We rode this matched setup for the duration of our test period, so we can't directly comment on this tire's performance as a rear tire where pedaling traction is of utmost importance.
We would speculate that it would probably work very well as a rear tire where its aggressive tread design could provide impressive traction while climbing in mixed and loose conditions. As a front tire, while climbing up high gradient, loose, and technical sections of trail we found the Kryptotal Fr to have predictable tracking and grip under power. This tire also carried excellent momentum over roots and rocks that might hold onto a smaller tire.
The Kryptotal Fr had no issues decelerating while navigating brake-smoking, steep and rugged sections of trail. On one particular trail featuring a high-speed jump that lands into a steep chicane, this tire tracked and slowed through mixed dusty slough with aplomb. In moist soil conditions, we found this tire to shed soil with ease, and provide a similarly predictable amount of braking traction in a wide range of conditions.
Just a quick look at the Kryptotal Fr's tread, and it's clear that braking traction and control were of high importance in the design process. The lugs are tall, generously siped, and spaced just far enough apart to allow them all to bite into the trail surface when the brakes are applied. Whether riding steeps in loose, dusty conditions or out in the slop after a rainstorm, the Kryptotal Fr provided the confidence to ride hard knowing that we would be able to slow down in a controlled manner.
The rolling resistance of the Kryptotal Fr was not horrible considering the size of the lugs and width. Continental says that the endurance compound achieves "…a high durability in combination with good rolling resistance…" and we would agree that this tire was faster rolling than expected, although a tire this burly might not be our first choice for long asphalt pedals across town.
Given its aggressive trail riding intentions, the Kryptotal Fr and other tires like are inherently a bit slower rolling than XC-oriented options. This has a lot to do with the height and spacing of the tread lugs and is also influenced by the weight. Despite being the Trail casing being the lightest that Continental offers, this tire is still a bit heavier than similar options. Weight on the outside of your wheel, known as rotational weight, is more noticeable than on other parts of the bike, and when ridden back to back with lighter tires, can give the bike a slightly lethargic feel on the climbs or when accelerating. For most riders who prioritize cornering grip and braking traction, that's a tradeoff they are willing to accept.
Our endurance compound Kryptotal Fr showed little signs of wear after many hours of riding in a variety of soil types and conditions. Lugs showed few signs of tearing and the Trail sidewall held through multiple laps of rocky trails that have vanquished heavier casing sidewalls. This tire is promising for riders with the set it and forget it attitude about bike maintenance; the endurance compound tread is sure to last many hours of riding before lugs start scuffing or tearing, which some soft compounds from other manufacturers have shown after a single ride.
The Trail casing is the lightest offered, and it is only available in the firmest compound that Continental refers to as Endurance. This firmer rubber should be the hardest-wearing and longest-lasting of the options, yet we still found it to provide great grip in a wide range of conditions. While the Trail casing isn't quite as robust as the Enduro or Downhill casings that are also offered, it proved to be quite durable, handling everything we threw at it. The other casings are said to be even tougher, and they also weigh a bit more and cost more as well. That said, if you're doing gravity riding or you're super tough on tires, it might be a better option. The Enduro and Downhill casing tires also come with softer rubber compounds.
For one tester, this tire as well as its counterpart, the Kryptotal Re, were a nightmare to install. For another, there was little to complain about. For the former tester, the tire took multiple attempts and a few different techniques to seat on a Santa Cruz Reserve 30 rim, which is not an uncommon rim to see in a shop or on a trail.
At a time when many of the higher-rated tires we test seat easily with a floor pump, to encounter a tire that showed no signs of seating with a compressor was demoralizing. Eventually, we had to use some straps to cinch the tread down to the rim and get the sidewall to pop. Once it was seated we had no issues with it leaking or burping on the trail. With little online evidence of this being a widespread issue, we were tempted to question whether our experience was just a singular incident. However, on one ride a tester ran into a quasi-celebrity world cup bicycle mechanic who had tried the same casing tires out and remarked that they were "the worst tires he's ever installed", but agreed that once mounted were not problematic and performed very well.
This tire is a great value compared to other tires in its class and price point. While it wasn't the easiest to set up, it does have distinct ride characteristics that put it in competition with the best aggressive trail tires on the market. While we have steered people away from older models of Continental tires, we feel the new Kryptotal models are well worth the money, particularly the Trail casing versions that are among the least expensive tires we have tested.
The Kryptotal Fr has excellent cornering traction, and the endurance compound provides great grip without sacrificing longevity at a reasonable price. Our experience with its installation is our only real gripe for this otherwise stellar new aggressive trail riding tire from Continental.
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