With absolutely no pretence at off-road ability, you may wonder why we have a review of Continental’s Road Attack 2 in Overland. It’s simple really; the mountains of Europe provide some stunning scenery and we enjoy riding through them on sinuous black-top.
With only a week spare to explore northern Luxembourg, I thought rather than build and break camp every day, I’d base myself in one spot and ride each morning in a hedonistic haze. So I put on a pair of Road Attack 2s and am very glad I did.
The OED defines revolutionary as ‘dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation’ and a few tweaks to a product can never be that, yet it’s a word I still want to associate with these tyres and particularly one feature they posess. As descriptive prose the ‘traction skin’ nomenclature is certainly accurate, as straight out of the box these tyres really grip. There isn’t any need for a 100 mile run-in as the mould release agent wears off, because these tyres don’t have anyway. Instead, the surface of the tyre has a grainy finish which permits grip from the off and the other special ingredient (Black Chili) means it warms incredibly quickly too.
The Road Attack 2 is a pure road tyre but one with a profile and carcass construction that enables really easy ‘roll-in’ to bends. It inspires confidence, tracks beautifully regardless of the surface and really feels planted especially under braking. You might think I’m gushing and you may be right, but the communication I feel I have with the road is not like anything I’ve felt before on a street bike using street tyres. The perception is one of visualising the tyre contact patch actually shaping itself over every micro-irregularity on the ground and holding on, limpet-like. It’s a very odd sensation initially, but the marketing blurb says that the ‘skin’ ‘optimises mechanical adhesion’ and I certainly can’t disagree.
The profile means this adhesive contact patch doesn’t diminish through bends either, which unfortunately means that my gear lever and brake pedal have now been chamfered somewhat, as achievable lean angles can essentially be whatever you want them to be if that’s your thing. I won’t pretend it isn’t mine and even when the panniers ground-out temporarily the Road Attacks always recover from the jolt.
As a touring tyre that means much more time feeling happy and comfortable to just concentrate on the scenery or ensure hazards don’t arrive out of the blue. Minor ones, like over-banding and other surface irregularities are handled with aplomb and for all practical purposes, can simply be ignored.
The ‘rubber’ compound isn’t mixed across the profile to improve wear/grip as many manufacturers do. Instead, rather ingeniously the moulds Conti uses different localised concentrations of heat during the curing process, which creates variable molecular alignment and thus the same result – hard centre and stickier shoulders. It’s simple of course, like all good ideas, because the result is no step change as you roll into a corner, just a fantastic feeling of constant contact with the road.
It really does feel like my own little motorcycling revolution.
The Road Attack 2s are like any pure street tyre on gravel and I’m happy to admit they are absolutely pants in mud but that’s never been within their remit. I’m yet to see what the longevity is, and that’s really important when you’re living on the road, but if your overland trip this year is limited to a few weeks on this continent, then why not really enjoy the time you’ve got?
To update: The front managed 12,300 miles and the rear 6,000 miles. Another pair have now been fitted.