Tis the season of hedge cutting, well it was when I (Dave) first started to venture out on the highways and byways around PBK towers on the new Continental Gator Hardshells. I received a pair long before they arrived at PBK for general sale and was looking forward to trying them out.

A new favourite winter tyre?

A new favourite winter tyre?

These are Continental’s all new updated version of the very popular and successful Gatorskin tyres. So how have they improved the original Gatorskins? With an all-new weave to the fibres that make up the tyre casing, a good lot of rubber and with the usual added puncture resistant Duraskin layer, these tyres are as tough as Mr T with a cement hat on. Yeah, That tough!

I’ve been using them on my every day work horse bike, the Kona Paddy wagon. This bike not only does the daily commute, but at the weekends doubles up as the bike used for good solid training rides.

We are based up in the not so sunny north of England and we’ve had it all this winter; floods, snow and the lovely local farmers hedge cutting. Yep, the tyres have had a nice bit of abuse and I can happily report that so far they’ve stood up to all that nature and the farmers have thrown at them. No punctures what so ever (touch wood). Nice and tough, just as they say on the box.

Handmade Quality

Handmade Quality

I could go on here about all the technology that’s in the tyre, the different layers and the way they are made, but really all that doesn’t matter if the tyre doesn’t do its job well. So I’m sure you want to know the basics starting with what the ride quality is like. Obviously they’re not going to be as fast as an out and out race tyre, but they are a very comfortable fast training/commuting tyre. They stick to the road really well and as long as you stick to the guide lines and take in to consideration the weather conditions you’ll have no worries. So no pumping in 120psi on a miserable wet cold icy day or you may come a cropper, but that can be said for any type of tyre.

With the amount of rubber and other goodies that are packed in to the tyre, they soak up a lot of road noise along the way and glide over the road. They give a great reassuring feel when diving in to corners to, sticking to the bends with ease.

A good sign for a tyre, or in-fact any other piece of bike kit is when you forget that it’s there, leaving it to just get on with its job. The Continentals did this to perfection.

I’ve so far put a healthy amount of miles on them and they are still looking pretty fresh with limited signs of wear. You would think they should be a bit rough around the edges after all the floods and snow, especially as the roads often resemble gravel tracks.

Tread - no major signs of wear

Tread - no major signs of wear

All in all I’ve been pleased with the tyres, no quibbles with them at all. Weight wise, they are what you would expect from a good quality winter tyre at 310g, but they roll a lot faster and lighter than this. The grip is great and as for keeping those foreign objects from squiring inner tubes and ruining your ride, they do that with bells on!

For the tech minded of you out there, here is the blurb on how Continental have improved the Gatorskin:

After extensive market research, feedback from commuters all over the world showed us that a new type of tyre was in demand. Our Gatorskin race bike tyre had filled a gap for hardcore commuters, but they wanted more; MORE casing; MORE breaker; MORE protection…

Taking the Gatorskin as our base, we’ve added a third Polyamide layer in the sidewall to make a unique 3-ply casing for the Gator Hardshell.

We’ve also added a wider Poly-X anti puncture breaker belt under the tread which extends down into the shoulder area for wider coverage.

Add this to the Duraskin anti-tear mesh on the outside of the casing and you are presented with a tougher commuter which is also fast.

Stars: an honest 5 [rating:5/5]

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