We really rate the Kaiser on the rear
The latest Continental Der Kaiser, like Conti’s other latest premium MTB tyres, uses different construction technologies in its 4-ply casing.
Tread pattern is unchanged, and the rubber’s still the fabled Black Chili formula, with a ton of grip and rolling speed, considering softness. The uniform tread has continuous, wedge-shaped shoulder blocks and a faster rolling centre. ‘ProTection Apex’ construction sees extra nylon under the tread and a rubber sidewall protector to prevent pinch flats.
The brand’s redesign aims to ensure tubeless set up is as air tight as rivals, and also address how its thicker MTB casings can feel a bit stiff.
For better sealing, the folding beads are thicker/flatter at the rim well interface, and also more uniform. This Kaiser inflated and sealed first time (unlike before), but the new bead is tougher to fit with bare hands, which might make a trailside repair more difficult.
A benefit of the new casing is much improved suppleness, so sidewalls and crown now conform to terrain as well as the best other brands, with a well-damped, slurpy feel that really irons out vibration.
I’ve always experienced excellent wear life with Black Chili (Conti claims it’s more dense than other sticky rubber blends) and that it wears out in a very uniform way, rather than peeling or shredding layers or knobs. This holds true, although lifespan is now marginally, rather than significantly, better than Maxxis when watching your tyres disappear during chairlift riding. Conti had plenty room to move in this department though, and I’ll take the smoother ride.
The Kaiser is pretty heavy but rolls well considering, and very resistant to cuts and damage. It’s also predictable braking, and rails corners consistently with excellent edge hold. Black Chili rubber always had good friction, but this new tyre is better again over chattery roots and rocks, since it feels like you’re running about 5psi less than previously, which helps contour terrain and edges. This makes it better in the wet too.
Overall Kaiser grip levels can’t compete with a tyre like a meatier Maxxis Assegai or Schwalbe Magic Mary if you prefer a massive-knobbed, 2.5in-ish, grip monster up front though, and Conti doesn’t really have anything for me in it’s line up currently in this regard either.
I really rate the Kaiser on the rear, but it’s best in blown-out Alpine and summer UK conditions, since the tread’s a bit too low profile to really cut into loose stuff in mixed or wet conditions.