The Continental Sport Contact II is an almost slick touring bike tire that looks a bit like their top of the line Competition tubular road bike tire. I've been digging into Continental's touring bike tires and, together with the expensive Top Contact II, this should be their fastest touring bike tire. The Sport Contact comes with a hard wearing tread compound, 3/180 TPI casing, and a double layer of Safety System anti-puncture material under the tread.
The tread pattern of the Sport Contact isn't the typical tread pattern you'd expect from a touring bike tire. Because the "micro-diamonds" have a height of just 0.5 mm, I expect the tread in the center of the tire to wear down quickly resulting in a slick center part of the tire. This doesn't mean the tire is fully worn. I feel it should have had at least two tread wear indicators as the thickness measurements (see below) indicate this tire should have close to 2.5 mm of rubber to wear down before the tire needs to be changed.
|Model||Sport Contact II|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||520 grams|
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 60 psi / 4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||520 grams|
|Measured Weight||479 grams|
|Measured Width||36 mm|
|Measured Height||34 mm|
|Tread Depth||0.5 mm|
|Total Tire Thickness Center||4.2 mm|
|Total Tire Thickness Sidewall||1.00 mm|
Specified weight of the Sport Contact II 37-622 is 520 grams; my sample comes in at a much lower 479 grams which is a nice bonus. At 36 mm wide, the measured width comes in very close to the rated 37 mm. The measured height is 34 mm. Both these measurements are average values for 37-622 rated tires.
As previously noted, the micro-diamonds have a height of 0.5 mm. Tire life should be much higher than the tread indicates as the total thickness of the tire at the center of the tread is 4.2 mm. Most other touring bike tires without thick anti-puncture layers come in at a thickness of 4 - 5 mm, this means the usable tread to wear down is quite similar to tires with a more conventional tread pattern. Thickness of the sidewall is 1.0 mm (including micro-diamonds)
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 Tour 28 (170 gr butyl)|
|Rolling Resistance 90 psi / 6 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 75 psi / 5 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 60 psi / 4 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 45 psi / 3 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 30 psi / 2 Bar||
|Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load|
In the rolling resistance test, the Sport Contact performs very strong for a medium priced tire. Rolling resistance is actually lower than the much more expensive Continental Top Contact II (read review). Compared to the current top performers in the touring bike class (Vittoria Hyper (read review) and Schwalbe Supreme (read review)), the Sport Contact gets outperformed by 10 to 20 % at pressures over 60 psi / 4 bars.
When we look at the performance at lower air pressures, the relative performance of the Sport Contact improves. At an air pressure of 45 psi, it performs nearly equal to the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme and it's even able to get a bit closer to the Vittoria Voyager Hyper. Both those tires are much more expensive so if you're looking for fast tires that don't break the bank, these are excellent.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||13|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||5|
|Puncture Factor Tread *||55|
|Puncture Factor Sidewall *||5|
|* Puncture Factor = Puncture Resistance * Total Tire Thickness
Puncture Factor provides a more realistic puncture resistance score for touring tires
With a score of 13 points in the tread puncture test, performance is decent but a bit lower than the Conti Top Contact. It does outperform the very fast Vittoria Voyager Hyper by 1 point. In the sidewall puncture test, performance is very average as well with a score of 5 points.
Puncture Factor, which gives a better indication of the puncture resistance of touring bike tires as it also takes tire thickness into consideration, comes in at 55 points. 55 points means it slots right in between the fast Voyager Hyper (40 pt) and Schwalbe Marathon Supreme (75 pt). The Conti Top Contact also performs better in this test with a score of 70 points.
If you're looking for a fast touring bike tire with reasonable puncture resistance, the Continental Sport Contact II is a great value for money tire. With the micro-diamond tread pattern, it doesn't resemble a classic touring bike tire. After measuring the total thickness of the tire, tire-life should be comparable to other touring bike tires, but keep in mind it's hard to see if the tire needs to be replaced as it doesn't have tread wear indicators.
It would have been nice if a lighter folding (premium) version was available as well as that could make it a real contender for the top spot in the touring bike section. Still, the wire bead Sport Contact II is a great tire for its price.
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