The tyres in this review are 2.4 Rubber Queen (RQ) in Continental's most advanced, grippy and expensive compound,black chili.
I should point out at the very start of the review that these tyres went on to a bike used mainly for downhill, yet, according to Continental, these tyres are designed for freeride/all mountain use. Where do you draw the line between freeride/all mountain and downhill? I would certainly have difficulty answering that, yet it is important to consider when reading the rest of this review.
First of all, the tyres come up large compared to Maxxis. Or, as is more likely the case, Maxxis are smaller than their size suggests. Basically the 2.4 RQ is easily comparable to a 2.5 Maxxis so bear this in mind when purchasing.
They create a nice rounded profile with a tread suitable for medium to loose packed dirt. The ones mounted on my bike claimed to be 820g per tyre, so pretty light. They certainly felt it when riding having come from 2.5 dual-ply maxxis minion/high roller combo. As I am sure many of you will already know, reducing rolling weight makes a much larger difference than a comparable weight saving in any other place on the bike.
The grip provided by the RQs was great. Yes, they tended to clog up a bit when it got really muddy but no more than any other dry tyre. On their designated surface of loose and hard pack I cannot fault them. Quick rolling, yet they provided consistent support through corners, over rocks and roots. If they did slide, it was predictable and easy to control.
As previously mentioned, their weight allowed for acceleration, speed and a lightness that I had not experienced before.
And that's where the good feelings end.
Punctures, punctures, punctures. More than I have ever experienced from any tyre previously or since. For clarity, I ran these with tubes, inflated to 30-35psi (in line with Continental's advice of higher than normal). A weeks riding holiday resulted in at least one puncture everyday, with a maximum of five in one day. Now I would say I am neither particularly hard on tyres, nor the smoothest rider out there. I suffer the very occasional puncture, like most people and having now swapped back to Maxxis, I have not punctured in a year of racing and riding. Take from that what you will.
The amount of punctures I suffered made riding my bike a pretty tiresome experience at times. You can have the best tyre in the world but if you spend so much time off the bike trying to fix the punctures, it just doesn't make it worth it. Now, you could argue that I was using the tyres outside of their designated use and to be honest, I perhaps was. This is where my point about the blurred line between all mountain/freeride and downhill comes in. At what point should you stop using such a tyre? It should be noted that I suffered punctures on tracks I would have been perfectly happy taking an all mountain hardtail down.
Price may be an influential factor when deciding on these tyres too. They are expensive in comparison with tyres from other manufactures. From what I have heard, this may be negated by the Black Chili compound which is supposed to last longer than other compounds, enabling you to run the same tyres without having to change them so often. I cannot comment on this as I got rid of them after only a few weeks.
For downhill, I cannot advise strongly enough against these tyres. For all mountain use, if you are a smooth rider then maybe give the UST versions with a thicker sidewall a shot. Based purely on my past experience I would never put these tyres on a bike again, I just can't see the point when they suck enjoyment out of biking!
Disclaimer: If you run these on an all mountain bike and have no trouble, great! I currently run single-ply tyres on my hardtail and have had no problem with them so maybe it was just the type of riding I was subjecting the RQs too that caused them to be so useless. Who knows?