Tire Test - Continental Ultra Sport II

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Continental Ultra Sport II road bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

Today I'm testing Continentals cheapest road bike tire: the Ultra Sport II. The Ultra Sport is quite a popular tire in the lowest price class. Not only because of its low price but also because it's available in lots of different colors and sizes. I'm testing the Ultra Sport II 700 x 25C folding version. A wire bead version is available as well which costs even less. The Ultra Sport has a 3/180 carcass, Conti's PureGrip compound, but no hi-tech puncture resistance layer.

Check Continental Ultra Sport II Prices at Amazon.com

It seems like Continental saved some money by skipping the extra layer of puncture resistance material that most other all-round tires have. No puncture resistance layer helps achieve a lower rolling resistance at the cost of lower puncture resistance. The other low-end tires I have tested up to now are the Vittoria Zaffiro (review), which has a decent rolling resistance but low puncture resistance. And the Schwalbe Lugano (review), which has a decent puncture resistance, but a very high rolling resistance.

The trade-off between rolling resistance and puncture resistance will always exist, a stronger tire will have a higher rolling resistance. Although the use of a better design and better performing materials helps, tire cost will go up as well. Let's see how Continentals lowest priced tire performs in our rolling resistance and puncture resistance tests

Manufacturer Specifications
Brand Continental
Model Ultra Sport II
Year 2015
Tire Type Tubetype (clincher)
Supplied By Bought in store
New or Used New
Mileage 0 km
Price Range Low
Price Amazon.com
Part number 0150011
TPI 3/180
Compound PureGrip
Bead Folding
ETRTO 25-622
Size Inch 28"
Width 25
Specified Weight 260 grams
Max Pressure 120
Made In China
Available Sizes 32-630 (27x1 1/4)
28-630 (27x1 1/8)
23-622 (700x23C)
25-622 (700x25C)
28-622 (700x28C)
32-622 (700x32C)

Test Results

Continental Ultra Sport II road bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

Size and Weight Measurements

Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622x17C, Pressure: 100 psi / 6.9 bar)
Specified Weight 260 grams
Measured Weight 267 grams
Measured Width 26 mm
Measured Height 24 mm
Total Tire Thickness Center 3 mm
Total Tire Thickness Sidewall 0.7 mm

Specified weight of the folding Ultra Sport 700 x 25C is 260 grams. My sample comes in at 267 grams, which is slightly over the specified weight. The measured width and height on a 17C wheel is 26 mm and 24 mm respectively. These are both average values for a 25C road bike tires.

Rolling Resistance Test Results

Rolling Resistance Test Results (Speed: 29 kmh / 18 mph / 8 m/s, Load: 42.5 kg / 417 N)
Inner Tube Conti Race28 (100gr butyl)
Rolling Resistance 140 psi / 9.7 Bar Not Tested
CRR: Not Tested
Rolling Resistance 120 psi / 8.3 Bar 14.3 Watts
CRR: 0.00429
Rolling Resistance 100 PSI / 6.9 Bar 14.8 Watts
CRR: 0.00444
Rolling Resistance 80 PSI / 5.5 Bar 16.4 Watts
CRR: 0.00492
Rolling Resistance 60 PSI / 4.1 Bar 18.9 Watts
CRR: 0.00567
Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load

When taking its low price into consideration, rolling resistance is good. The Ultra Sport is able to outperform the Vittoria Zaffiro and comes very close to the slightly more expensive Continental Grand Prix (review). At an air pressure of 120 psi, rolling resistance of the Ultra Sport is only 0.3 watts higher when compared to the Grand Prix. At the lower air pressure of 80 psi, the advantage of the Grand Prix increases to 0.5 watts.

The Vittoria Zaffiro had a decent rolling resistance at a very high air pressure. At lower air pressures, rolling resistance of the Zaffiro skyrocketed. The Ultra Sport, on the other hand, has a much better rolling resistance curve. Resulting in a decent rolling resistance even at the very low air pressure of 60 psi.

Puncture Resistance Test Results

Puncture Resistance Test Results (higher is better)
Puncture Resistance Tread 10
Puncture Resistance Sidewall 4

As expected -because the puncture resistance layer has been omitted, tread puncture resistance is low. With a score of 10 points, it scores just as low as the Vittoria Zaffiro.

Sidewall puncture resistance is 4 points; this is an average score as most other road bike tires without reinforced sidewalls score 4 - 5 points on this test.


Continental Ultra Sport II road bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

If you're looking for a cheap tire with decent rolling resistance, the Continental Ultra Sport II is the way to go. The Ultra Sport can hold its own in the rolling resistance test. Even at lower air pressures, it's able to score very close to more expensive tires. The trade-off is that puncture resistance is below average because an extra layer of puncture resistance material has been omitted.

If you want cheap tires and don't care about puncture resistance, the Ultra Sports are perfect. If you're willing to spend slightly more, the Continental Grand Prix (review) or Vittoria Rubino Pro (review) are still my price/performance recommendations. Those tires have a slightly lower weight, lower rolling resistance, and a much better puncture resistance at a slightly higher price.

Check Continental Ultra Sport II Prices at Amazon.com

RATING: 3 / 5


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