Continental's new Gator Hardshell road clinchers promise to be an excellent choice for high-mileage training where longevity and flat-resistance are of top priority.
DuraSkin polyamide mesh running from bead to bead helps fend off cuts from glass and metal debris while an additional Poly-X breaker strip under the entire width of the tread (the Ultra Gatorskin's half-width belt protects only the crown) prevents punctures from smaller bits – even when cornering. Adding even more armor against flats is the extra-thick tread rubber, which also extends the tyre longevity.
As befitting its tough-as-nails role, the Gator Hardshell is offered in the common 700x23c casing size but also wider 25mm and 28mm versions to better suit typical early spring road conditions. Our 700x25c wire-bead test tires weigh in at a reasonable 340g apiece; the 28mm version adds another 45g.
Suggested retail price is a tad expensive at US$54.95/US$59.99 for wire/folding versions but if it manage to fulfill its promise of extra-long wear and flat-proof running without overly sacrificing performance, it may still prove economical over the long run.
Riders seeking the Gator Hardshell's available casing volume but needing quite the same level of protection can instead opt for Continental's standard Grand Prix model, which is available in a race-ready 22mm width but also in more versatile 24mm and even 28mm sizes for a comfortable ride and float over nasty road conditions – provided your frame has enough clearance to fit.
Continental's proven Black Chili rubber compound promises excellent cornering, drive and braking grip along with a fast roll while a Poly-X breaker belt under the tread helps prevent punctures.
Our 700x28c wire-bead testers weigh 345g each while a more performance-bent 24mm folding set is a substantially lighter 240g apiece. Suggested retail price is US$54.95 for the folding version.