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Continental Mountain King ProTection 2.6 Review

A fast-rolling cross country tire that falters when ridden hard, especially in mixed conditions.
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Price:  $70 List | Check Price at Amazon
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Pros:  Fast-rolling, easy to install
Cons:  Poor braking performance, vague cornering abilities, not meant for aggressive riding
Manufacturer:   Continental
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 18, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#18 of 18
  • Cornering - 25% 5
  • Pedaling Traction - 20% 6
  • Braking Traction - 20% 5
  • Rolling Resistance - 15% 8
  • Longevity - 15% 7
  • Installation - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Continental Mountain King ProTection is a reliable cross country/light trail tire best suited for the rear wheel. Don't be fooled by the Mountain King name, this tire has received major updates in 2018 and this isn't the same old Mountain King. We tested the 2.6-inch version and found it posted decent scores in most performance metrics. While this tire didn't stand out as fantastic in any one area, it is a serviceable rear tire that offers great protection, rolls fast, and installs incredibly easy. At $70, it is a little difficult to recommend the Mountain King over some tried and true classics, but it could still be a great option for the light to mid-duty trail rider in dry climates.

Those unfamiliar with Continental nomenclature should know ProTection is a layer of protection to provide cut and puncture resistance.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Fast-rolling, easy to installEXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front and rear, dual compound increases longevityExcellent cornering, unbeatable traction, durable supportive sidewallsExcellent cornering, reasonable weight for size, good braking traction, durableVersatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rolling
Cons Poor braking performance, vague cornering abilities, not meant for aggressive ridingNot awesome on hardpack, high rolling resistance, moderately expensive, requires good techniqueVery heavy, expensiveHigher rolling resistance, expensive-ishNot the best braking traction
Bottom Line A fast-rolling cross country tire that falters when ridden hard, especially in mixed conditions.The Minion DHF is one of the most popular tires ever, and for good reason.Maxxis' new Assegai is a big and burly DH tire that inspires confidence with outstanding traction.The DHR II is an aggressive rear trail tire that is worthy of the Maxxis Minion name.The Aggressor is an excellent do-it-all rear tire for any kind of riding.
Rating Categories Mountain King ProTection 2.6 Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO Maxxis Assegai Maxxis Minion DHR II Maxxis Aggressor 2.3 EXO
Cornering (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
Pedaling Traction (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Braking Traction (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Rolling Resistance (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
8
Longevity (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Installation (5%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Specs Mountain King... Maxxis Minion DHF... Maxxis Assegai Maxxis Minion DHR II Maxxis Aggressor...
Size tested 27.5" x 2.6" 27.5" x 2.3" 27.5" x 2.5" 27.5" x 2.4" 27.5" x 2.3"
Weight as tested 835g 870g 1303g 917g 885g
Front, Rear, or Both Front, Both Front, Both Both Rear Rear
Casing Tested Protection EXO EXO EXO EXO
Compound Tested Black Chili Maxx Terra 3C MaxxGrip 3C Maxx Terra Dual
Bead Folding Foldable Foldable Foldable Foldable
Tread Count (TPI) 180 60 60 60 60

Our Analysis and Test Results

We were not overly impressed with the Mountain King in any performance metric. That said, it never performed especially poorly either. This is a relatively well-rounded and versatile tire that could work for the right rider. Unfortunately for Continental, this tire gets somewhat buried in the middle of the pack among test tires.

Performance Comparison



The Mountain King has low-profile shoulder knobs that detract from cornering abilities.
The Mountain King has low-profile shoulder knobs that detract from cornering abilities.

Cornering


The Mountain King delivers mediocre cornering abilities. It was a little difficult to control at times and when you introduce any elements of moisture, things get wonky in a hurry. It performed well-enough on the rear as a fun, drifty, tire, but we do not recommend running this as a front tire.

The Mountain King has a vague feel to it when working through the bends. The Continental Trail King has a similar tread profile but has a better pattern on the shoulder. The lugs aren't significantly larger on the Trail King but they have better placement, a superior shape, and a slightly more squared-off feel.

Back to the Mountain King. We found this tire corners well-enough on hardpack and loamy trail surfaces. If you really start to lean into this tire, it is going to break away on you. This isn't built for railing corners and smashing through off-camber sections of trail. In wet conditions, things get worse, this tire just isn't designed for this setting. Roots are particularly problematic.

The Mountain King could be a serviceable rear tire for those who like to drift and slide corners. That said, these riders are probably pushing hard enough where they may reach for a more aggressive option.

This tire is best suited for the rear wheel and works best on hardpack  buff  trails.
This tire is best suited for the rear wheel and works best on hardpack, buff, trails.

Pedal Traction


When grinding uphill, the Mountain King works reasonably well. Spinning away on tame singletrack or fire road is fine. In these mellow situations, this Continental tire goes beautifully unnoticed.

On steeper sections of trail, things can get a little tricky. This tire works fine on looser punches, but it requires some attention. You really need to pay attention to weight distribution or the Mountain King will spin out on you and cost some valuable energy. If you are yanking up on the bars for power and find yourself too far forward, this tire will not bail you out. Instead, you need to actively think about giving an adequate amount of weight to the rear wheel.

Attempting to work your way up slick rocks and roots is ugly. You need to be really smart about weight distribution and not pedaling too hard. If you try and hit the gas happen to be too far forward on the bike. The rear wheel spins very easily.

Braking bite is mediocre  the center lugs are not siped and are quite low profile.
Braking bite is mediocre, the center lugs are not siped and are quite low profile.

Braking Traction


The Mountain King delivers mediocre braking bite. We would never say this tire brakes particularly well. It functions better on hardpack and rock compared to looser or damp surfaces.

When its time to shut down the speed, the shorter tread blocks don't provide adequate bite. The Mountain King is not a semi-slick tire, but it has a similar feel when hammering on the brakes. The tire just doesn't grab the soil like a more aggressive tire would. Tires like the Maxxis Minion DHR or WTB Trail Boss are much more effective at controlling speed.

The one redeeming factor is the larger volume in these tires. The more generous width creates a larger footprint which means more rubber dragging across the ground and slightly better braking. If this were a 2.2-inch or 2.4-inch tire, braking power would be even less impressive.

On rock and hardpack, the Mountain King brakes okay. On looser technical surfaces, the tire slides and slips around easily under braking loads. When the trail gets wet, things get wonky in a hurry.

This tire rolls smooth and holds speed effectively.
This tire rolls smooth and holds speed effectively.

Rolling Resistance


The Mountain King delivers impressive rolling speed. In fact, we found this to be one of the stronger attributes of this tire. We ran it on both the front and the rear and enjoyed smooth rolling speed with little resistance.

If you live and ride on buff trails, this tire could be a viable option. This is particularly true if you won't be riding too aggressively. The high rolling speed/low rolling resistance makes for efficient use of rider energy and helps you hold speed more effectively.

If your trails are not buff and smooth, be warned. Any rolling speed you gain with the Mountain King could be quickly lost by sliding around and spinning out if pushing hard into corners, braking hard, or hammering up steep and loose sections of trail.

This tire looked great after testing  we wore off the little tire hairs  but the tread looked fine.
This tire looked great after testing, we wore off the little tire hairs, but the tread looked fine.

Longevity


Throughout testing, we observed very few signs of wear on our test tires.

When trying to gather information about the braking abilities of this tire, we put a small amount of wear onto the center tread. We think the Mountain King should have a reasonably long lifespan.

Installation


The Mountain King installed onto our 30mm test rim with zero trouble. We used a floor pump with a tubeless booster chamber and seated it on the very first try.

Tubeless floor pumps are great but they sometimes require additional or supplemental pumps to get the bead to fully seat. This can be a frantic and tiring operation. The Mountain King is one of the few tires that needed no extra encouragement, the bead snapped on in one attempt at about 35 PSI. This is a valuable attribute that can save you some major headaches. We have a hunch that some riders may be able to set this tire up with a normal floor pump.

Best Applications


The Mountain King is best suited for cross country or light trail duties. The fast-rolling, low profile tread pattern is great for carrying speed on smooth terrain and conserving your valuable energy. Riders who ride a lot of hardpack flow trails might like this tire.

Aggressive riders will want to look elsewhere. This could be an okay rear tire, but we feel there are better options at a similar price.

The Mountain King works  but there are better options.
The Mountain King works, but there are better options.

Value


At $70, the Mountain King ProTection is an average value. $70 is about average for a high-end mountain bike tire these days. The problem for the Mountain King is that the performance is average at best.

Unless you perfectly match the description in our Best Application section. We think you could do much better.

Conclusion


The Continental Mountain King is a serviceable tire best suited for the rear wheel. Rolling speed is impressive, but cornering, pedaling traction, and braking power are only mediocre. This tire could be a decent option for the right rider who leans towards the cross country application and rides on a lot of smoother, hardpack, surfaces. Everyone else would probably be better off considering other options.

Other Versions


The Mountain King is available in all major wheel sizes.

In addition to the 2.6-inch version we tested, it is also available in a 2.3-inch width.


Pat Donahue