Continental Gator Hardshell Tires

By Patrick Engleman

Over the last few years, I have ridden exclusively with flat protection tires on my road bikes. Due to the city riding, my size, and propensity to bunny hop glass, pot holes, manhole covers, roadkill, and the like, they were the only tires that would live up to the abuse I throw down on the rubber. Before those, I was forever fixing flats, and it seemed that every bike ride involved one stop to fix a flat. After I had these magical, albeit hard tires, my ride’s flat changing adventures were fewer and fewer. I was in love.

I have had the chance to ride both the folding kevlar bead (size 23) and non-folding steel bead (size 25) Continental Gator Hardshell varieties. I have the folders on my road bike and the Gators with the wire up their spine on my city bike. I figured that they would both do well on their respective machines. Although the overall feel of the tires was a bit softer than I was used to. I think some folks in the industry would call that soft feeling “supple” which comes about through the 170 threads in each inch of casing of the tire versus the 120 tpi of the tires I usually ride. I guess those 50 threads really make a difference. At this point in my time riding the tires, I would say that they fall between the feel of Vittoria Open Corsas and the Armadillos that I was so dedicated to. A bit of a mental adjustment, some play with the tire pressure, and confidence in my new tire choice helped me get used to the feel of the new tires.

While traveling through my short time on the tires in every type of condition from mixed rock/gravel surfaces of “Upsate Pennsylvania” to the potholed streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, these tires have so far, with all knuckles wrapping on wood, not flatted even once, for which I am grateful. The Gator Hardshell moniker was earned by applying not only a bead-to-bead layer of DuraSkin™ (polyamide fabric), but also, a Kevlar® reinforced layer on the tire, making the tire a triple threat to road bits dead set on ruining your day.

They are billed as the “kilometer king” because of the profusion of high mileage stories floating around. Some people even speak of these tires existing in a league of their own, amongst no other tire. I am not totally sold on that, but I also do not have the professed miles into these tires as some other folks do.

Pat Engleman is a native of North Eastern Pennsylvania but he has been living in Philadelphia for the last twenty years. Cycling was his way to get to different skateboarding spots in his small hometown, but that has blossomed to a full blown passion that has grown into racing, advocacy work, trail building, bicycle retail and event promotion. His most recent work has been in the development of the annual Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo and of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League,