Continental Der Kaiser DH Tire Review
Der Kaiser means “The Emperor” a sovereign ruler of great power and rank. One ruling an empire. Think about that. These being DH specific tires, that’s a huge claim and it also conjures up a lot of characteristics you’d expect to benefit from. So let’s see how they did…
DESIGN & FUNCTION
The thing that appealed to me with the Continental DKs was the aggressive looking tread, the reported 1,000 gram weight (1190 actual) and that they work well in a lot of conditions. They also have a striking sidewall design and graphics. Something about German design, they always pull it off nicely.
The DKs come in 26 x 2.5 size. They are true to size and have a fair amount of volume to them. Noticeably bigger than the Maxxis Minions in a similar size. They’d actually be more comparable to the 2.7 width in the Minions. They are available with a wire bead only but I was able to run them tubeless with Mavic 823 rims and Stan’s sealant. They went on with a little coaxing with a little help of water around the bead. I used a compressor to inflate them and they seated almost immediately with the customary shake and bake. They stayed aired up really well and I rarely had to check the tire pressure. I ran them at about 25 psi and I never experienced a flat in the 5 months I had them on my bike (I weigh 165 geared up).
The blocky tread pattern is DH inspired with big center blocks and ample spacing in between. This allows dirt/debris/mud to get in between the blocks where they easily get dispersed, letting the big sticky blocks do their job holding you on your line. Being bigger and sticky, they also throw up more dirt and debris when riding. I noticed I’d always be dirtier when riding these tires compared to others.
Where these tires shined for me was on hard packed with loose and sandy DG trails. They were gummy and sticky and were more confident-inspiring than the 2.5 minions Super Tacky. On rocks and rough terrain, they would wrap themselves around little cracks and splinters in the rocks and provide a noticeably quiet ride. The compound is so soft that you can literally pull up on the rubber leftover dingleberries and it’d stretch and slowly reshape (kind of like taffy with memory).
These tires do grip really well. BUT, they come with a big tradeoff. Compared to Minion tires, they felt sluggish and slow, as though the tire needed more air. I loved how they gripped but in sections where the trail flattens out some or where I might have to pedal up a little, I found myself having to pedal harder to get through those sections. I ended up pulling off the rear tire and ran a Minion 3C in the rear. This became a nice combination for me and I ran it this way for about the last 2 months.
GOOD: Soft compound. Grippy and tracks predictably. Works well in a lot of conditions.
BAD: Expensive at $75 retail per tire. Weight is closer to 1200g and not 1,000 as reported. Slow and sluggish, not a fast tire. Wears quickly.
Reviewed by Qwan Pham