CONTINENTAL CONTACT SPEED REFLEX TYRES
26x2.0 675g (ea) £34.99 Long Term (5 month) Test
The Continental Contact Speed Reflex Tyres are a super-fast, compliant design available in a refreshingly broad range of sizes, from 20inch to 700c. Not quite a slick in the most pedantic sense, if you count the “micro diamond” tread pattern, which extends bead to bead and theoretically improves puncture protection and permits bottle type dynamos. There’s a lot to like if you want to blast along on your commute, or weekend tour. However, there’s some trade off when it comes to puncture resistance and durability.
Cons: Good, rather than great, puncture protection.
These feature 180tpi casings and skin wall sidewalls, which give a clear indication of their ride persona, straight off. That micro diamond tread pattern is also borrowed from the German marques’ Competition World Tour Tubular. Skin walls are supple and, in this instance, contributes to the aren’t the default for commuting, since they are more prone to damage than gum walls. A reflective sidewall is another small but welcome touch.
Calls for a more sympathetic riding style and keener eye on pressures-especially if you’re heavy and/or going the dynamo route. 45-58psi is the recommended pressure range for the 2.0. Talking of sizes, ours were the 26x2.0 but there are 26x1.6, 26x1.3 for older mountain bikes earning their keep on the tarmac. Running 700c? Well, being picky, I’d like a 35mm but 28, 32, 37 and 42mm covers most bases. There are also 27.5 and 20inch options. Puncture resistance is another important consideration when choosing a commuter tyre. The Sped Reflex rate 4, out of 7 and this boils down to their tread compound and Kevlar layers beneath the tread.
Some beads can fight back. The Speed Reflex were a little fiddly to begin with, requiring a couple of resin tyre levers
to mount to a very ordinary mtb touring hoop but given a few weeks, they become more compliant and I’ve only needed a single lever to start/scoop the final section of bed home. Either way, you’d be going some to get a pinch flat.
Ride Quality 4.5/5
The speed reflex certainly live up to their moniker. Now, shod with the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Double Defence Tyres my Univega is perky and engaging on metalled roads. However, the Speed Reflex brought things up a few notches.
Little efforts’ required to bring them up to speed and I’ve been able to cruise along comfortably, all day at 18-20mph, with some in reserve. These qualities are equally welcome when chasing through town, weaving around holes, opening car doors and similar hazards.
By the ane token, they hug the asphalt like a leach and really inspire confidence-even run at 58psi and in the wet. The same story along the lanes and backroads, although in terms of pressure 50-55 proved my sweet spot, especially with moderately laden low-slung trailer en tow.
Their big sections deliver a magic carpet ride quality, the sort that smooths out washboard tarmac and unavoidable/unexpected bigger bumps. Pushed along wet 1in7s at 30mph, they’ve never once lost their bite, or missed a beat, even when morale and concentration have been flagging.
Manhole covers and similar ironworks call for a bit of caution, especially when the rains break after a prolonged dry spell but negotiated sensibly, I’ve not had any unwelcome surprises.
These qualities also lend themselves to lightweight/weekend touring. They will also tackle dry, hardpack surprisingly capably but we’re talking quick cut throughs, not unmade roads/gravel, here.
Puncture Resistance/Durability 3/5
Puncture resistance is dependable but as the rating suggests, good, rather than great. For the first 1,500miles, no issues-glass, flints and similar sharps made no impression whatsoever, although it’s important to state this was during a predominately dry spell. 1,000 in more changeable conditions have seen three punctures-all flints that had worked their way into the tyre’s shoulder-to rear, one up the front.
All three required a drop of superglue to plug the holes. A reminder of some vulnerability but comparable with other soft compound tyres I’ve run long term and in similar contexts. Wear has been moderate. Some suggested they’ve had 3,500 from a rear, 5000 up front. 2,500 Spring/Summer miles, wear is localised-along the centre-strip-where I’d expect, given their profile. There’s been no issue with cuts, or similar vulnerability to date and I’ve not been overly vigilant when it comes to brushing casings down, either.
£34.99 is competitive compared with other commuter tyres. Schwalbe’s long running Kojak comes in at £41.49 features a similar standard of puncture protection and offered in a similarly generous range of sizes. Tioga City Slicker are another model, old as the proverbial hills but still very relevant. Less supple than the Continental, they’re still swift and dependable. They’re also £10 cheaper. Maxxis Roamer are available in 700x42, 26x1.6 and 20x1.6. More limited than the others here and closer to the Tioga City slickers (albeit with a puncture repellant belt). However, if the sizes suit, £25 apiece is quite a saving on a commuter/working bike. If you were prepared to trade some speed for durability, and 700x42, 700x38, 700x35 and 26x1.75 were a match, Vee Tire Co Zilent MK2 tyres are quick, compliant and very dependable.
Bottom line, if you are looking to go like the clappers, want a really supple, grippy ride and can tolerate some loss of puncture resistance, the Continental Contact Speed Reflex should be high on your list. That said, I’d pair them with puncture resistant tubes during the darker months and stick with hub, rather than bottle dynamos.