Continental GatorSkin Tyres Review

When I bought my second Continental GatorSkin from Goldcross the sales guy rolled his eyes and said, “Have fun getting it on!” I could only guess at what he meant because my turbid memories of installing the first tyre didn’t include any lingering shades of trauma. I wrote it off as another example of a Goldcross staffer who didn’t know what he was on about.

Of course, I seriously underestimated the staff and, one rim profile being slightly different from another, I was about to discover just how hard installing a new tyre could be. There was many a curse and even the hint of petulant throwing of my (now bent) tyre levers across the workshop.

Once on, the Continental GatorSkins looked smick, especially now I had front and back matching, with the carbon black on top and brown side-webbing (not shown in Continental’s photo below). At 28mm these guys are just about perfect for fixie riding. I’ve run skinny-arse road racing tyres on my fixie (of the 22-23mm variety) and I’ve run some chunky-arse 38mm tyres and really it’s somewhere in between that the perfect tyre for fixies can be found. For most frames a 28mm is just about the biggest you’ll comfortably fit, and that extra size over the skinny racer tyre gives you some comfort and puncture resistance that is vital when you’re commuting or fucking up your first fixie tricks.

Continental GatorSkin cut-away diag from Conti website

The GatorSkin has a puncture resistant membrane in the tyre, the kind that is almost ubiquitously claimed by manufacturers to offer the best puncture protection money can buy. I’ve had a pretty good run with punctures on these tyres, probably only holing out twice since I got them, both times from pinch flats. My gumby riding style, less than perfect tyre pressure and a tendency to forget I’m not on my MTB combine for the occasional roadside tube swap. A can report that the tyres stretch a little with age and they were easier to get on and off than they originally were, but still get some expletives ready or you wont get the job properly finished. I’m yet to puncture these fellas. I’ve had some glass in them but running a hand along the tyre as I roll has dislodged any glass before it could bite through the tyre. I’m running standard tubes with no Slime or similar product so I’d reckon  I’ve had a good run for city riding. Luck or tyre, who knows?

Continental GatorSkin on the Mojo.

The Conti GatorSkins roll very nicely. There is very little in the way of tread and that no doubt helps, though it also comes down to thread count and rubber compounds in some way that I wont pretend to understand. I can tell you that compound is an important as tread when it comes to wet weather grip and these tyres haven’t let me down there. I always feel confident riding these guys in almost any conditions. I joined some mates on their Spit run the other day and racing these guys along  the gravel and sand of the Spit paths was a little hairy at times, especially since they were all on mountain bikes and I was determined to bust their arses, but I never really got seriously out of shape. (I’ll have to do an article on inappropriate uses of a fixies one day because I’m sure we’ve all taken our bikes places and done things they weren’t build for. I’m up for suggestions if you’ve done something particularly stupid.)

I’ve put about 1,000 kims into my Continental GatorSkins so far and they’re good for at least that many more.

There are quite a few fixie specific tyres on the market these day. None are being made by a manufacturer with a lineage and R&D department to rival Continental’s. Sure, it’s nice that these fixie tyres come in a range of colours that bring out the highlights in your eyes and if you’re treating them as a disposable items (read: you love your skiddies) then maybe one of these cheap fixie tyres is good for you. If you want a good hard-wearing lightweight  dependable tyre then give the Continental GatorSkin a go. They’re about $50 each and they’re tight, right and light.

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