Aimed at the Enduro / Free Ride market, Continental's Der Baron Projekts are a dry to soft conditions tyre, with a generous volume, and increased contact area in these 2.6" versions. They are capable, consistent tyre for most conditions as long as it’s not very wet, or deep mud.
Built using B+ ProTection - Tubeless Easy 4-ply reinforced casing that has additional layer made from nylon to add extra puncture resistance, and an increased rubber sidewall area above the bead, which minimises low-pressure puncturing. Black Chili compound is used for the tread.
I ran them front and back, and despite the larger volume and open tread pattern they don’t ride as slowly and tractor like as might be expected. If anything the medium height blocks are in contact with the ground often enough, and not too tall to make a squirmy feel. The 2.6" tested actually has an extra central block between the offset central pattern compared to the 2.4" profile.
The tyre is an open and widely spaced pattern, with lower tread blocks that are siped to assist in shedding dirt and loam. The pattern is capable across a lot of types of terrain, and feels very consistent when pushed into corners, but lacks a more aggressive side edge block to be able to really rail into corners - at times, in damp or wet trail conditions it was a little nervous feeling as a front tyre, but a little more confident as a rear tyre.
I could run these at low pressures - around 20psi - and get that tractor like grip in intermediate conditions, but harder trails felt better with a little more air, so give better support. The Continental site recommends 29psi. The 2.6" volume is noticeable, and adds that element of increased comfort, but doesn't wander into the fat size tyre and the associated drag or sluggish feel.
The combination of large carcass and medium-sized blocks combines to provide plenty of cushioning and a confident grip in looser, drier loam or soil - there isn't the sort of digging in of more aggressive tyres, but there is a large contact area and connected feel. At times, if the dirt was looser and deeper, they’d be some compromise in the grip when climbing, but seated climbing was almost always solid.
Out of the saddle climbing was mostly ok, but a slight tendency on roots to slide when the larger gaps in the blocks lined up, but no more than most. If it was damp, or wet from rain, they really lack enough edge to dig in. To be fair, they are rated to be dry, all round, loose, wet and into mud – I wasn't convinced on their mud capabilities, with them clogging at times.
They’ve shrugged off sandstone and local flint, with no damage to the sidewalls, admittedly it only takes one unlucky knock and a tyre is totalled - but they strike a nice balance between burly and too weak sidewalls. Mounting them was pretty straightforward - on 35mm internal rims and some 32mm, they went up with a track pump and seated easily. They’ve also held their shape and haven’t got any misformed areas on the side walls, and are, in all, well-finished tyres.
I think they work well as a predominately dry conditions tyre. The mud label is a bit misleading, as they just don't have the block height to dig in, but do offer plenty of grip in mixed loamy type trails, and the extra cushioning makes them really comfortable for longer rides, but also for rougher trails.
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