Continental is one of the most recognisable and trusted
tyre brands in the cycling world, and if you’re in the market for a new
tyre for your road bike, the German company offers a wide range of choices
to meet different requirements and price points.
Continental categorises its tyres into winter/training/commute, sportive,
race/triathlon and time trial/sprint tri, but there’s a lot of overlap in
the range, as you can see from the graphic below. It’s a good place to
start if you’re not sure which tyre is right for you. It also handily
groups the tyres by price, with premium, performance and sport.
The latest announcement from Continental was the release of more
tubeless-ready tyres, with
two offerings for the burgeoning gravel scene, the Terra Trail and the
Terra Speed. As the names suggest, the Terra Trail is a knobbly for
primarily off-road use, while the Terra Speed is an all-rounder with a
lighter tread so it'll be quick on the road too.
The more off-road-specific of the two new tyres, the 40mm-wide Terra
Trail is Available in 650B (440g) and 700C (460g). The tread pattern has
smaller centre section knobs with larger shoulder knobs that Continental
says is designed to be used across a multitude of terrains, from tarmac,
gravel, muddy trails and other surfaces.
The lighter-treaded Terra Speed is available in 35mm and 40mm widths, in
both 700C and 650B wheel sizes. Claimed weights are:
650B 35mm: 390g
650B 40mm: 400g
700C 35mm: 400g
700C 40mm: 420g
Continental says the lighter tread of the Terra Speed reduces the rolling
resistance compared to the Terra Trail, and recommends it for rides and
races in dry, dusty and loose conditions.
Continental's big news at the end of last year was the
introduction of a successor to the Grand Prix 4000 S II, unsurprisingly
named the Grand Prix 5000. Not only has Continental replaced
arguably the most successful clincher tyre of all time, but they've
finally produced a tubeless version.
The tubeless GP 5000 is available in 25, 28 and 32mm widths, plus a 28mm
wide 650B version. Our samples of the 25mm versions weighed an average of
302g each; we've seen reliable reports of 295g samples too. That's heavier
than some comparable tubeless-ready tyres (a 25mm Schwalbe Pro One weighs
about 255g) because Continental has gone for a fully tubeless construction
with an airtight rubber layer on the inside.
In theory that means sealant isn't required, but Continental recommend
you use 30-60ml of sealant to protect against punctures. Everything else
being equal that extra layer also means increased rolling resistance, but
it seems everything else is far from equal. According to Jarno Bierman at
tubeless GP 5000 has very low rolling resistance, second only to the
Vittoria Corsa Speed Open TLR, which has thinner tread.
Continental's not saying exactly what wizardry of rubber formulations and
carcass construction has been wrought to achieve this, but it's impressive
as hell, especially when you consider that the improvement over the
clincher version of the GP 5000 is 17% — Conti only claims 5% — and the
tubeless GP 5000 therefore has over 30% less rolling resistance than the
GP 4000 S II.
Tubeless standards and compatibility are still in a state of flux, so
some tyres and rims go together more easily than others. Continental says
it did extensive testing on a wide range of rims to ensure the GP 5000
works as well as can be possibly expected, and our testing so far confirms
they've got it right at least as far as Mavic wheels are concerned. Jump
to the eight-minute mark in Dave Arthur's installation video and you
can see that a GP 5000 goes up on a Mavic wheel with just a track pump.
All in all, the Grand Prix 5000 Tubeless is an extremely impressive
Continental's clinchers are extremely popular, both with riders who
choose them for their own bikes, and with bike manufacturers who spec them
from entry-level bikes right up to superbikes with hefty four-figure price
Continental's headline claims for the new Grand Prix 5000: 12% better
rolling resistance than the GP4000S II, 20% increased puncture resistance,
improved grip and comfort, and 10g less weight for the 25mm version. In
addition, Continental says the Black Chilli tread compound has been
refined to improve its balance of rolling resistance and grip, the Vectran
anti-puncture strip under the tread has been tweaked and the new tyre
comes in a 32mm version as well as the 23, 25, 28mm widths of the GP 4000,
and 25mm and 28mm widths in 650B.
The GP5000 boasts two new features: Lazer Grip texturing on the shoulder
of the tread and Active Comfort Technology. Lazer Grip is a slight
roughening of the tread intended to improve cornering grip, while Active
Comfort is an elastomer embedded in the tyre to damp vibrations.
Bierman's rolling resistance tests, the GP 5000 outperforms the GP
4000S II by almost 20%, so Continental's actually being modest in their
claims there. Dave Arthur reports that they ride very similarly to the GP
4000S II; look out for a full review soon.
Conti's lightest clincher at 150g in the 23mm version, the Supersonic's
smooth tread and very lightweight construction made it the fastest-rolling
tyre in the stable until Continental kicked the chair out from under it
with the GP 5000. There's no built-in puncture protection and tread wear
is rapid because there's just not much tread there in the first place.
This is a tyre to pair with the lightest inner tubes you can find for time
trials and other short events. As Conti themselves say "Riders should
weigh up the compromises that they are willing to take before selecting
this tyre". Available in 20mm and 23mm widths.
This pairing was designed for racing duties. It combines two different
width tyres, a 22mm Attack on the front, and a wider 24mm Force on the
back, which also utilises Vectran puncture protection for added toughness.
You can buy them as a pair for £99.95 or individually for £54.95.
The Attack and Force are also available in a tubular version costing
£129.95 for the pair and combines a 22mm front tyre with a 24mm rear tyre.
This is one of the company’s most popular high-end road tyres and has a
lot of fans, you’ll always hear people recommend it in any conversation
about buying new tyres. It's been replaced as the pinnacle of
Continental's range by the GP5000, but it's still around, still very, very
good and now significantly cheaper than before.
It’s intended as a race tyre but a Vectran puncture breaker and Black
Chilli rubber compound provide good all-round performance away from the
race circuit. It comes in a wide range of widths from 20mm all the way up
to 28mm, the latter weighing a claimed 260g.
"Out on the road they feel extremely smooth and fast," said Dave Atkinson
in his review of the 28mm version. "Continental's Black Chilli rubber is
predictable in both the wet and dry. I've used these tyres for everything
up to a 300km cross-country day trip and I've never found them to be
wanting for grip,' he adds. Read
the review here.
If you want a slightly tougher and more durable tyre than the GP4000, the
4 Season is the tyre for you. Conti has manufactured the tyre with two
Vectran anti-puncture strips and added a DuraSkin anti-tear fabric to
boost its toughness and longevity, it’s a tyre for conquering the cobbles
and thanks to a Max Grip Silica compound, wet winter roads as well. It’s
available in four widths from 23 up to 32mm making it a good all-rounder.
The GT stands for Grand Tour, this is a tyre designed to do survive UK
sportives, but any long ride where you want reliability without
sacrificing performance is where this tyre shines. Continental has
combined the toughness of its Gator Hardshell tyre and the performance of
the GP4000S and its Black Chilli compound. There’s a wider PolyX Breaker
to protect against punctures and extra sidewall thickness provides added
reinforcement. It comes in just two 700c widths, 25 and 28mm, and a 26x1in
The Grand Prix is the original tyre, the one that spawned the GP4000 S
II, but Continental has kept it in the range and at £30 it’s one of the
cheapest tyres to utilise the company’s Black Chilli rubber compound. It
comes in 23, 25 and 28mm widths and is a good road race tyre. You'll
sometimes see a Grand Prix SL listed as spec on bikes. Don't get too
excited, this is just a Grand Prix with a silver label instead of yellow
for bikes with more subdued colour schemes.
Based on the Grand Prix but given a brown sidewall and retro label, this
is the tyre to choose for a retro build. The tread pattern has actually
been taken from a tyre Continental produced back in 1982 but still
features the latest Black Chill compound and PolyX Breaker for avoiding
If you want a supremely tough tyre for commuting and city riding,
Continental’s Gator Hardshell is a tyre with plenty of protection. It uses
a 3-ply casing with an extra layer of Polyamide protection, a wider PolyX
anti-puncture belt under the tread and down the sidewall, and a Duraskin
anti-tear mesh on the outside of the casing, all to produce a tyre that
can withstand the rigours of daily commuting. Available in widths from
23mm to 32mm and choice of rigid or folding bead, the latter being the
lighter, but more costly, option.
A popular training tyre, the Gatorskin is designed to be a reliable and
hard-wearing tyre for going the distance and preventing punctures. It’s
made with a Duraskin cut-resistant layer that stretches from bead to bead,
features a PolyX Breaker for stopping thorns and glasses cutting through
the carcass, and uses a natural rubber tread. A full range of width
options from 23mm up to 32mm is available, with folding slightly cheaper
rigid bead versions.
The first of Continental’s performance line tyres, the Grand Sport Race
swaps the expensive Black Chilli compound for a newer PureGrip compound
that the company developed to keep the price more reasonable, and at £30
it’s an attractive price. It uses a folding bead to keep the weight down,
and new NyTech puncture belt and comes in 23 to 32mm width options. It’s
also available in three versions using different casing builds, Light,
Race and Extra, aimed at competition, sportives and heavy duty use
"They roll well too, to the extent that it's possible to judge such
things without a lab available. I don't know that they'd be my first
choice for racing, but they wouldn't really hold you back much if you did
decide to press them into such service, and for general road riding or
commuting they are just fine. I used them on the club chaingang as racing
didn't really happen for me this year, and I had no complaints in terms of
speed," said Jez Ash in his review. You can read
the review here.
This is a tyre you’ll see on a quite a lot of new road bikes as it’s
popular with bike brands wanting to offer a quality tyre without a big
price tag. It’s billed as a trainer and entry level tyre using
Continental’s PureGrip compound and a supple 180 TPI (threads per inch)
casing. It’s available in 23, 25, 28 and 32mm widths and rigid and folding
This is a tyre designed to be tough enough for the most demanding
commuters, bicycle messengers and fixie riders. It uses the same tread
pattern as the more expensive Grand Prix tyre with a thick elastomer belt
under the tread to provide a high level of puncture protection, and a
robust casing with added sidewall durability. Built to survive anything,
it comes in 23, 25, 28mm, 27 x 1 1/8in and 27 x 1 1/4in widths with rigid
or folding beads.
So far we’ve focused on clincher tyres as that’s the most popular choice
with road.cc readers, but Continental produces a raft of tubular tyres,
tyres that glue directly onto the rim.
The Attack and Force employ the same basic idea of a narrower front tyre
and wider more reinforced rear tyre as the clincher version of the same
name but step down to 22mm at the front and 24mm at the rear.
Continental is one of the most popular tyres in the professional peloton,
and while the pros get the special Pro Ltd version, this is essentially
the tyre that has been riding to multiple race victories, including the
2016 Tour de France at the hands of Chris Froome. Handmade in Germany with
a Black Chilli compound and four layers of puncture protection, and
available in 19, 22 and 25mm widths, these are race-ready tyres.
The tubular version of the popular GP4000 clincher, on which this tyre is
actually modelled with the same Black Chill tread compound and Vectran
puncture protection. Is only sold in 22mm width, though.
A tyre designed solely for short road races and criteriums, the Sprinter
uses a nylon puncture protection breaker and is handmade in Germany using
the German company’s Black Chilli compound with an additional nylon
‘safety system’ puncture belt.
The most expensive tyre in the Continental range, this is a tyre produced
for the velodrome and represents the company’s pinnacle of hand sewn
tubular tyres. Features the same Black Chilli compound as the road focused
tyres but a 220 TPI carcass with two aramid plies provides a recommended
inflation of 170psi.
A tubular tyre designed for time trial events, hence the name, this one
is favoured by some of the top professional cycling teams from BMC to
Movistar. It’s a 19mm width to maximise aerodynamic efficiency and the
0.7mm tread rubber minimises weight, yet Continental is confident the tyre
will last a full British club time trial programme. Available in 19, 22
and 25mm widths.
This is Continental’s most affordable tubular tyre. It’s intended for
training rides rather than competition events, and the cost is kept down
because it’s made in Asia rather than Germany.
Brett's 2010 review: "There aren’t too many tubulars out there that
are cheaper than the Continental Giro. Sure, you can find some, but this
is certainly at the budget end of the market and it’s billed as an
‘inexpensive training tubular’. Bear that in mind and don’t go expecting a
top level racing performance. But as an off-season run-around, it’s fine."
The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.