Continental's latest DH racing tire is named Rammstein, and it represents a new push by the German manufacture to re-energize its off road tire program. Continental head of marketing Joerg Malcherek freely admits that their high-end tires weren’t good enough and he has pushed everyone at Continental to work hard to change that. A big part of that change has been working closely with Continental's sponsored athletes, and the Rammstein is the direct result of working with the Atherton family. In a recent PB feature, we toured the factory and captured some of the passion that Continental puts into itshandmade tires. In this continuing feature, we travel with the engineers for a first ride on the tires that may bring Continental its first World Cup DH podium. Meet the Rammstein.
The brief the the Athertons gave Continental's designers was to create a mixed conditions tyre. Something to place in the range that the High Roller fills for Maxxis. It took a couple of years to get from the initial meeting and discussions to the final version of the Rammstein.
Inside the Rammstein Tire
Continental used DNA from it existing Kaiser and Baron tires as reference points to begin the Ramstein project. Continental settled on a 2.4-inch width and there are no plans right now to offer any other sizes (although we think a smaller, enduro-friendly version could be great). The casing will only be in their heavy duty DH-flavour, with a two-ply carcass which is sturdy enough to go tubeless if you're so inclined. As for rubber compound? Well, they weren't saying much, just that like their other downhill tires it will be in the Black Chili Compound, which is designed to both be grippy and fast-rolling, and if it follows that path, we'd expect them to last pretty well too. When pushed on the compound issue, they explain that they felt a lot of people were confused by tire compounds, so they opted to keep things simple and offer the single option. Poking the tread, we'd take a guess that at least some of it is around the 40A mark, near Maxxis Supertacky/SlowReezay territory. Projected weight is 1100g per tire.
Looking at the Rammstein's tread, there are two things that are very noticeable - the consistent tread design of the edging knobs and the channel between the centre and side tread.
Many tyre companies are going down the route of using square-edged tread patterns, but as far as we know, Continental are one of the few who use a single style of block for the side tread. Specialized does something similar with its Butcher tyres, but the Rammstein has a much more substantial profile and the edges are at right angles to the centre. A consistent row of side blocks should mean that the tire will feel predictable when leaned onto its side, and that channel means you should be able to feel when you move from the centre tread to the side tread. Reportedly, when the tire is drifting, it should move in a single direction as the edging blocks are at a right angle to the wheel and thus should not deflect the tire off line.
To try the Rammsteins, we stole one of the Nicolai team DH bikes and hit the DH trails at Thale and Schulenbach bikeparks - two testing grounds near the Continental factory. It had been raining on and off through the day, leaving the ground conditions a bit strange. Soil was at a midpoint between loam and clay - soft, but surprisingly slippery if we pushed too hard. What we were blown away with was how quickly we could start pushing these tyres hard. They do what the Conti engineers said they would do – feel consistent.
Pinkbike First Impression:
Testing a tyre over two days can only tell you so much about it. The fact that it rained on both those days means we can’t tell you for sure what this tyre will feel like in the dry, or how well it will last. For us, predictable is the one word that describes this tyre. There are plenty of good downhill tyres out there that offer a shedload of grip, but we can’t think of another one that lets you explore the limits of grip this comfortably. We are properly impressed with the Rammstein and can’t wait to spend more time with it in the wider range of conditions that this tyre was designed for. - Matt Wragg