Continental Bike Tire Review- Three Things To Know About Black Chili Compound


Continental’s proprietary blend of rubbers grabbed the cycling world’s attention a couple of years ago, if for no other reason than the marketing genius of its name.

Black Chili Compound?

Brilliant!

Great stuff!

Excellent technology!

Hey, wait… I need to pull my head out of the vortex of persuasive product labeling.

But There’s Substance To This Continental Black Chili Compound

The developmental engineers in the ‘polymer and raw materials’ labs at Continental came up with a blend of synthetic and natural rubbers which outperformed previous rubbers in three important categories.

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1). The Rolling Resistance Of The Continental Bike Tire

Black Chili Compound is reported to reduce it by 26%. In a previous post I reported that rolling resistance consumed about 20% of the cyclist’s energy when riding at 21.7mph. That was between 34 to 54 watts, depending on the rider. If Continental’s claim is correct, the cyclist needs about 12 watts less to maintain the same speed just by riding on Black Chili tires.

Before my cycling life revolved around my Powertap, wattages were semi-meaningless to me. Now that I’m tormented on just about every training ride by how many watts I’m generating, I know that there is a significant difference between 300 watts and 312 watts in regards to effort.

There have been many a workout when putting out that extra 12 watts seems Herculean. When a cyclist is ‘on the rivet’ (close to maximum effort for a given interval) every 10 watts can be an achievement.

As an aside, if I were to load my bike up with every product that purports to save energy (26% savings in rolling resistance…, 17% savings with these aero bars…, 2.3% savings with these ceramic bearings…etc.) I may eventually save more energy than I’m expending. Maybe I could hook myself up to the grid and sell my surplus energy to the power company.

Small Molecules Fill The Gaps Better

2). Continental Bike Tire Grip

Continental states that the grip-ability of the tire is improved by 30%. This claim may be explained by the nature of ‘nanotechnology’.

Nanotechnology is all the rage these days. Its roughly defined as technology involving the smallest layer of molecules at which there is symmetrical size.

Think of it like trying to pave a road using only one layer of gravel. If the gravel was limited to little rocks the size of peas the road be very smooth and would have a lot of surface area for tires to grip. If the road was constructed of a single layer of gravel consisting of some marble-sized gravel, some baseball-sized gravel, and some tangerine-sized gravel there would be more gaps between the rocks.

If you reverse the concept and think of the tire’s rubber molecules as being ‘smoother’, you can understand how a layer of smaller, symmetrically sized rubber molecules would have more surface area in contact with the road.

Presto- more adhesion, resulting in increased grip!

At least that’s how my less-than-nimble mind perceives it.

The claim: 30% greater grip.

3). Continental Bike Tire Tread Life

Another Continental claim is that tire wear is reduced by 5%.

Once again…smaller, symmetrical rubber molecules have more surface area touching each other than rubber molecules of various sizes. The result is that they adhere to each other better and you shed fewer of them as you go down the road.

Continental claims 5% fewer.

So, if you trust that Continental bike tire engineers have successfully harnessed nanotechnology (as I do), then tires composed of Black Chili Compound should be added to your cycling menu.

And if you’d like to cash in on some deep discounts on ‘all things Continental’, you’d do well to check out what’s listed at Bike Nashbar.

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