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Continental Reviews Road Bike Tires

Continental Gatorskin Review

November 6, 2018

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Continental Gatorskin Review

Continental Gatorskin
4.64

Summary

Based on the Continental Gatorskin’s popularity among cyclists, if you’re looking for a road tire you can ride in a wide variety of conditions, and that delivers proven puncture protection and won’t break the bank, it makes sense to try it out and see if it works for your riding conditions. Based on online feedback and our own experience, though, some competitors might offer better puncture resistance, as well as  faster rolling.

Pros

  • One of the most popular all-season tires available
  • Low price compared to many competitors
  • Solid puncture protection
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Unique ‘reptilian’ tread pattern
  • Attractive (to some) sidewall coloring due to DuraSkin fabric

Cons

  • Not all riders find it meets their puncture protection needs
  • Some riders also report higher rolling resistance than competing models (even those from Continental)
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In this Continental Gatorskin review, we’ll take a detailed look at each of the models in the lineup, as well as popular competitors, to help keep you in-the-know.

The Continental Gatorskin is a premium all-season road tire designed to deliver excellent puncture protection, extremely long service life, unsurpassed durability, and a unique ‘reptilian’ tread pattern that’s said to “eat up those miles,” whether you’re commuting, touring, or seriously training.

Like many other models from the company, the tire is available in wire bead and folding versions across a wide variety of sizes. It also features a wear-optimized tread compound, a proprietary PolyX Breaker puncture protection insert, and DuraSkin polyamide fabric for added sidewall protection.

Combined with its advertised low rolling resistance and superior cornering in any condition, it’s no surprise that the Continental Gatorskin has been a top-ranking choice for years among road cyclists of all stripes.

Here, we’ve pulled together essential details from the manufacturer, third-party online resources, as well as our firsthand experience to help you decide whether or not it’s worthy of mounting on your bike’s rims.

Taking a Closer Look at Continental Gatorskin Models & Specs

Continental’s PolyX Breaker—found in each of their Gatorskin versions, as well as many other models—consists of tightly woven polyester fibers placed in a crosswise pattern. This achieves a high fabric density (otherwise known as threads per inch) to resist extreme punctures but doesn’t negatively impact rolling resistance.

Related: How Bike Tires Are Made

Similarly, the polyamide fabric in their DuraSkin technology not only dramatically boosts puncture resistance but also delivers uniquely-colored sidewalls that (we think) look great on a variety of setups.

Standard Gatorskin

The standard Gatorskin features a unique dual ‘teardrop’ tread design, inside of which is Continental’s unique reptilian pattern. Each small teardrop sits directly above and to the inside of an identical larger teardrop.

45-degree angle of Continental Gatorskin clincher bike tire mounted to rim showing sidewall and tread pattern
The Gatorskin’s reptile-like side tread pattern and slick center have been a favorite among cyclists for years. Credit: Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

The Gatorskin is available in seven different models (26”, 650b, 27”, and 700C) weighing between 270 g and 420 g each. Only one rubber compound is used.

Because the Gatorskin is such a popular tire, you’ll find it for sale through a variety of popular online retailers like Amazon, Chain Reaction Cycles, REI, Performance Bike, Competitive Cyclist, and Bike Tires Direct (to name just a handful) for between $30 and $46. In general, we found that folding and wire bead models were priced about the same.

Quick Facts
ManufacturerContinental
ModelGatorskin
CategoryRoad, All-Season
Sizes Available 26 x 1 1/8, 650 x 23C, 27 x 1 ¼; 700 x 23C, 25C, 28C, and 32C
Third-Party Pricing$30 – $46
Weight 270 – 420 g
Pressure Range85 – 120 PSI (5.9 – 8.3 bar)
Rubber CompoundSingle
Threads Per Inch180 TPI (3-ply)
OriginGermany

Gator Hardshell

Advertised as the “armored reptile,” Continental’s Gator Hardshell tire is geared squarely toward commuters.

It features the same pattern and wear-optimized tread compound, long service life, and PolyX Breaker as the Gatorskin. But, this wider breaker is layered on top of Continental’s DuraSkin fabric, which, together—dubbed Hardshell technology—is said to offer ‘flagship’ puncture protection.

45-degree angle of Continental Gator Hardshell clincher bike tire mounted to rim showing sidewall and tread pattern
Except for its Hardshell technology for additional puncture protection, Continental’s Gator Hardshell features most of the same benefits as the standard Gatorskin. Credit: Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

The Gator Hardshell is also available in the widest range of sizes among Continental’s Gator-themed tires, including 26”, 650b, 27”, and 700C.

Quick Facts
ModelGator Hardshell
CategoryRoad, All-Season
Sizes Available 26 x 1 1/8, 650 x 23C, 27 x 1 ¼; 700 x 23C, 25C, 28C, 32C; 28 x 22 mm, 25 mm
Third-Party Pricing$36 – $70
Weight 280 – 300 g
Pressure Range115 – 170 PSI (5.9 – 8.3 bar)
Rubber CompoundSingle
Threads Per Inch180 TPI (3-ply)

Sprinter Gatorskin

The third model is the Sprinter Gatorskin, a tough tubular tire that’s said to provide big volume for better comfort and grip on less-than-stellar roads. It also features Continental’s SafetySystem anti-puncture breaker belt built into the casing.

45-degree angle of Continental Sprinter Gatorskin tubular bike tire mounted to rim showing sidewall and tread pattern
The Sprinter Gatorskin is a tubular model with a different tread pattern—and much higher price—than the Gatorskin or Gator Hardshell. Credit: Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

The Sprinter Gatorskin is only available in two sizes and doesn’t weigh a whole lot less than the Gator Hardshell, although it can reach pressures of up to 170 PSI for minimal rolling resistance. As is typically the case with tubular tires, though, it’s also the most expensive in Continental’s Gator lineup.

Quick Facts
ModelSprinter Gatorskin
CategoryRoad, All-Season, Tubular
Sizes Available 700 x 18C, 23C, 25C, 28C, 32C, 35C, 47C
Third-Party Pricing$50 – $70
Weight 280 – 300 g
Pressure Range115 – 170 PSI (5.9 – 8.3 bar)
Rubber CompoundSingle
Threads Per Inch180 TPI (3-ply)

Based on Their Continental Gatorskin Reviews, Customers Seem (Mostly) Pleased

Between many of the retailers mentioned earlier, we encountered more than 3,500 combined online Continental Gatorskin customer reviews, as well as for the Gator Hardshell bike tires, as of this writing.

And overall, riders seemed to give it an average rating of about 4.6 stars based on the following common feedback:

ComplimentsComplaints
 

·      Superior puncture protection

·      Light weight and low rolling resistance, especially considering its size and thickness

·      Comfortable ride

·      Solid handling

 

 

·      High price

·      Sidewall issues (specifically, that it unexpectedly blew out after very little time)

·      Less puncture protection than expected

·      Sluggish

Comparatively, the Sprinter Gatorskin rated slightly lower overall, with an average rating of about 4.4 stars. Many customer reviews referenced the same compliments, although more than one reported meaningfully lower mileage than Continental’s non-tubular Gator versions.

My Experience Riding Continental Gatorskins

After moving to the Denver, Colorado area and experiencing goat head thorns for the first time, I swiftly embarked on a mission to find the ultimate puncture-resistant tire. As a result, I tested the Gatorskin for a few hundred miles along the way.

In a nutshell, I loved the grip provided by the minimal tread pattern, the tire’s suppleness, and its relatively low rolling resistance. And of course, I found that just about anything touched by Continental is of high quality.

However, for the conditions where I ride, I’ve experienced much better puncture resistance with the company’s Grand Prix 4-Season tire. At 230 to 320 grams, the GP is also lighter than most Gatorskin models and delivers a much denser 330 TPI (3-ply as well).

If you’re looking for a little extra traction during the off-season months, the Grand Prix features a similar interior reptilian tread pattern as the Gatorskin. However, the pattern is much larger overall, with extra detail added.

side-by-side outlines showing the similarities and differences between the Continental Gatorskin and Grand Prix All-Season clincher bike tires
Here, we can see side-by-side outlines of Continental’s Grand Prix 4-Season (left) and Gatorskin (right). Both feature the company’s unique ‘reptilian’ tread pattern, although the Gatorskin boasts less tread for improved rolling resistance. Underneath the rubber, you’ll also find the company’s PolyX Breaker for maximum puncture resistance. ©TreadBikely

Popular Bike Tires in the Same Category as the Continental Gatorskin

Continental Ultra Sport II

In addition to the GP 4-Season, Continental’s Ultra Sport II is another popular tire competing with Gatorskin, which features a blocky, triangular tread pattern on its extreme sides.

As the name suggests, this model is more sport-oriented than the Gatorskin and marketed as an all-around training tire. It comes in a wide variety of sizes, four color options, 180 threads per inch, 120 max PSI, and weighs between 240 g and 430 g.

Related: Visual Guide to Bike Tires

Third-party pricing is meaningfully lower at between $14 and $30.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus

Schwalbe manufactures three Marathon Plus models, which range in price between $47 and $62. For the money, you’ll get a great deal of flat prevention—dubbed SmartGuard “Flat-Less” technology—and low rolling resistance, despite the tire’s beefiness.

Speaking of which, the 67 TPI Marathon Plusses fall anywhere between 480 g and 1,350 g, which is obviously much more substantial than the other models listed here. They can also run lower pressures between 30 and 100 PSI.

Schwalbe Durano

Schwalbe’s Durano tires feature the same 67 TPI as the Marathon Plusses but are much more svelte at between 225 g and 530 g.

Four models are available, all of which feature SmartGuard and RaceGuard (a double layer of nylon fabric) technologies, come in different colors, and are ideal for high-mileage, wet-weather use. Prices range between $32 and $43.

Bontrager Hard Case

Bontrager (owned by Trek Bikes) only makes a handful of sizes between 700 x 23C and 32C in the Hard Case tire, which features a unique x-shaped tread pattern designed for year-round use.

The Hard Case is only available with a wire bead, 120 max PSI, 60 TPI (much lower than the Gatorskin’s 180), and a weight between 360 g and 475 g. The price is $45.

Bontrager R3

This tire uses this same Hard Case technology as the previous model but also features an entirely slick tread pattern, and Aero Wing bead to cut down on drag, 120 TPI, 125 PSI max pressure, and a meaningfully lower weight between 175 g and 290 g.

Goodyear Eagle All-Season

The newest addition is Goodyear’s Eagle All-Season tire, which was launched in April 2018.

It’s available in 700 x 25C, 28C, 30C, and 32C models, features a dynamic Silica4 compound, weighs between 300 g and 377 g, and can be inflated to between 50 and 110 PSI.

It’s the only tubeless compatible model here, although, at between $63 and $75 per tire, riders will pay a premium for it.

What’s Your Future With the Continental Gatorskin Tire?

Whether we’re talking about a review for the Continental Gatorskin or any other bike tire, TreadBikely’s goal is to help you achieve a better cycling setup that delivers maximum value—not to instruct you how to spend your money from the get-go.

With this said, based on our firsthand experience riding them for several hundred miles, along with feedback from thousands of other riders and dozens of third-party websites, it seems like Continental’s Gatorskins are a great place to start if you’re looking for maximum puncture protection, combined with minimum rolling resistance.

And if you’re not satisfied with their performance, the good news is that most retailers offer refund policies that can help you get your money back.

Just make sure to explore all of your options, though, since no tire will work perfectly (or even well) in all situations. Also, that some competitors are lighter, less expensive, or more puncture resistant, depending on the factors most important to you.

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Derek is an avid cyclist with more than two decades of experience in the sport, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys all types, including road, MTB, cyclocross/gravel, commuting, and touring. When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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