Continental has heavy cruisers and touring motorcycles in mind with one of its newest tires, the ContiTour. As such, the German company determined which characteristics riders of these types of bikes need most and concluded that durability, consistency and effortless handling were high on the list.
So the ContiTour tires feature MileagePlus Technology, a compound designed to extend life while retaining positive handling characteristics over time. The company utilizes a new tread pattern also, created to improve drainage in wet conditions while leaving a solid band of rubber down the very center of the rear tire to enhance longevity. There are 15-inch and 16-inch fitments currently for the rear ContiTour tires and 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21-inch fitments for the front.
Rigorous testing prior to launch saw developers take prototype, hand-cut reference tires through an intensive development cycle. This includes wet handling tests in different water heights and through a variety of different types of corners. Elements like mechanical grip, grip limits, stability during acceleration and other characteristics are observed during these evaluations then the tires are subjected to similar tests in dry conditions. After that compound properties are assessed in high speed tests and longevity is apprised on a wide variety of different motorcycles.
The ContiTour takes over for the Milestone, which has been in Continental’s Custom/Touring line for a number of years now. The new tread pattern and updated compound are the major advancements in the segment, though riders that prefer the tread of the Milestone should check out the new, white-walled ContiLegend. It take the tread pattern of the Milestone and employs the MileagePlus compound technology.
Extending out further, these new tires and the technologies employed in their construction represent the first stage of Continental’s broader Vision Zero goals. Vision Zero is a company philosophy aimed at fostering conditions in which there are zero traffic fatalities, zero injuries and, at the furthest end of the spectrum, zero accidents. Since much of road safety depends on the effectiveness of the point at which rubber meets the road, Continental envisions its tires as the first step toward achieving Vision Zero.
So the ContiTours have a significant role to fill. We wanted to know how these new hoops perform for ourselves and Continental was happy to oblige. Riders Domain Contributing Editor Wes Hawkins headed to the island of Majorca to gather some impressions on the moment the rubber actually hit the road.
Hawkins climbed his way through the mountains aboard one of Harley’s heavy weight touring rigs, an Electra Glide, and immediately felt connected to the road.
“I don’t normally ride bikes this big, but the tire made this bike feel very manageable and easy to handle. I never had a concern of having enough grip or sticking to the road no matter what the road conditions were.”
The skies were clear for the duration of the test, so unfortunately there was no chance to put the new tread pattern through its paces in wet conditions. But the route did include plenty of tight, winding road in addition to areas where a cautious approach was necessary. This allowed Hawkins to get a sense of the character of the ContiTour rubber during lower speed and evasive maneuvers, some of the trickiest situations when rolling on a nearly 900-pound machine.
“On some of the less maintained roads I found the tire very surprising. It didn’t wander at all and while I was being cautious with the conditions it gave me no reason to doubt it’s integrity or performance. On some of the tighter switchback roads we’d sometimes get a baseball sized rock or two in the road and I was able to avoid those without any issues at all.”
The tires proved equally adept when the road was clear and the going was smooth.
“I felt confident in the corners. The profile of this tire felt right. It didn’t unexpectedly fall over but when you wanted to lay it over it was ready and willing. It held it’s line all the way through a turn and found center very quickly and easily when you were ready.”
With handling prowess receiving high marks and a connected feel to the road immediately present, how did Hawkins feel about the ContiTour overall?
“I definitely feel like this is a huge move in the right direction for Continental. There are a few great tires to choose from in this category of riding. Do I think this new tire is leaps and bounds ahead of those other tires? No, but I do think this tire will compete with the other leaders in this market. There are two main concerns for touring riders and those are handling and longevity. We didn’t have the chance to test the mileage so we’ll have to trust Continental on that but during this ride I found absolutely no issues with handling.”
Longevity testing clearly will require more time on the tires, but the initial impressions are positive that Continental has a real heavyweight-touring player on its hands with the new ContiTour.