My Trek DS (Dual-Sport) 8.3 has served me well over the last couple of years. It’s quick enough for road riding but stable enough for light trail riding. Though not a mountain bike or a road bike, it’s versatility has proven useful as a great “take one bike” ride. I could go on, but this post is not about my bike, but the tire upgrade I just did. (FYI, I also upgraded the tires on Sandy’s Specialized Ariel DS bike, with the same Conti’s but we’ll stick with my bike for the purpose of this article)
I’ll start with a little background (aka, why I decided upgraded tires were needed). Last fall, Sandy and I rode some trails in Lubbock, and though my bike performed beautifully, the tires didn’t fare so well. Uphill climbs on gravel were tough due to slipping, and the 38mm tires were just thin enough to make a really good “plow” in anything very soft (sand or deep gravel). And although Sandy made it through unscathed, I had 2 flats by the end of our ride because of the evil little cacti that somehow seemed to be able to hide right in my path. (I also went through a third tube the next day because apparently, I had not gotten all of the thorns out of my rear tire). At this point, I decided that more durable. trail-ready tires were definitely going to be my next upgrade.
Since were are headed to Palo Duro Canyon State Park with Jonathan, Rusty, and Michelle in a few days, and trail riding is on the agenda, this upgrade got upgraded to priority.
My original plan was to buy a second set of wheels to hold my new tires so that I could easily switch between trail and road setups. After a little research, pricing things out, and since a new mountain bike might cause undue marital stress, I opted for just tires this time around. 🙂
My friend Rusty has been speaking highly of Continental’s GatorSkin tires, but sadly those are only available as road tires. I did, however, find that Continential makes the AT Ride tire that has similar puncture protection (just not branded GatorSkin) and in a 700x42mm size that is perfect for the upgrade that I wanted to do. (Thanks Rusty!) I ordered 4 of them, and 4 new Kenda tubes (since we were getting a larger tire). NOTE: The AT Ride comes in a folded or a wire bead version. I ordered the folded version, for easier storage later if needed.
Changing the tires and tubes on both bikes only took about an hour, and was a breeze. I love the look of this tire! The tread pattern says, “yeah, I bite!” and the sidewall design/lettering is sweet! (Hey, I’m a designer… esthetics are important to me!). One small negative to note: although they are bigger than the 38mm tires I am replacing, the specified 42mm might be stretching it. I would estimate, closer to 40mm, but I won’t split hairs. (I have seen other reviews stating the same thing. I might reach out to Continental at some point, and see what their stance on this is).
I’ll have more to allow on the performance aspects of the AT’s after our rides at Palo Duro, but Sandy and I did get to take a quick test spin out at our “home” state park, Palmetto SP. We rode on gravel, sand, and even some mud. The AT’s held a firm line and did not get squirrely in the soft stuff. Uphill grip (although not very much to test it on) seemed much improved. They also rode well and did not cause any noticeable “drag” on the pavement, or the wooden boardwalks.
So, my first impression of the Continental AT Ride is definitely a thumbs up. I’ll put them through their paces this weekend at Palo Duro, and will have a full run-down next week. Till then, ride hard (and stay upright)!