Riding Continental

Over the last few years, I have ridden exclusively with Specialized Armadillo tires on my road bikes. Due to the city riding, my size, and propensity to bunny hop glass, pot holes, manhole covers, road kill, and the like, they were the only tires that would live up to the abuse I throw down on the rubber. Before those I was forever fixing flats, and it seemed that every bike ride involved one stop to fix a flat, but after I had these magical, albeit hard tires, my rides flat changing exploits were fewer and fewer. I was in love.

Just as in life, the cycling world is always offering the greener side in terms of product. “Try this…it is just like this only 3 micrograms lighter and a coefficient of 0.2% stiffer than the competition, but it will turn Mont Blanc into an ant hill.”I am usually impervious to these claims, and fend them off like Il Pirata (RIP) and doping control, but when some new Continental Gator Hardshells arrived at my shack, I shod the armadillos and mounted up the gators. That sounds like some sort of wild Saturday night in the south.

I have had chance to ride both the folding kevlar bead (size 23) and non folding steel bead (size 25) varieties that came to my home that day. I have the folders on my road bike and the Gators with the wire up their spine on my city bike. I figured that they would both do well on their respective machines. Although the overall feel of the tires was a bit softer than I was used to. I think some folks in the industry would call that soft feeling “supple” which comes about through the 170 threads in each inch of casing of the tire versus the 120 tpi of the armadillo tires. I guess those 50 threads really make a difference. At this point in my time riding the tires, I would say that they fall between the feel of VIttoria Open Corsas and the Armadillos that I was so dedicated to. A bit of a mental adjustment, some play with the tire pressure, and confidence in my new tire choice helped me get used to the feel of the new tires.

While traveling through my short time on the tires in every type of condition from mixed rock/gravel surfaces of “Up Sate Pennsylvania” to the potholed streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, these tires have so far, with all knuckles wrapping on wood, not flatted even once, which I am grateful for. The Gator Hardshell moniker was earned by applying not only a bead-to-bead layer of DuraSkin™ (polyamide fabric), but also, a Kevlar® reinforced layer on the tire, making the tire a triple threat to road bits dead set on ruining your day.

These tires are billed as the “kilometer king” because of the profusion of high mileage stories floating around about these tires. Some people even speak of these tires existing in a league of their own, or even amongst no other tire. I am not totally sold on that, but I also do not have the professed miles into these tires as some other folks do.

My dearth of miles does not justify an in depth review at this time, because I feel that tires really need to be ridden for a long time through many experiences to determine if they are empirically better or different than the other tires that they have ridden, so keep an eye out for more reviews of these tires as time continues on.


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