Continental Town & Country bike tires look great, have a unique tread pattern and are designed for both on and off-road cycling use. But be warned, these tires have a short life-span and are not designed for the demands of long-distance, self-supported bicycle touring.
Over the last three years I have used two different sets of Continental Town & Country tires on my bicycle… and both sets of tires (front and back) died on me after about 30 days. That’s right! After just 30 days, both sets of tires needed to be replaced… and in this review I will tell you why that happened.
You see, I first encountered the Continental Town & Country tires when I purchased my brand new Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle. A big part of what made the Pangea look so unique when I first got it was those big 26 inch tires with the unique honeycomb-style tread pattern.
I first used my Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle and the Continental Town & Country bike tires that came standard with the bicycle at the time on a 25-day bicycle tour around the island nation of Iceland. The tires worked great in this environment (both on and off road – although they were a little slippery on pavement with sand or loose gravel spread over it).
But immediately following my bike tour in Iceland I flew to London, England and began what would become a 14-month-long bicycle tour through 24 different countries in Europe and Africa. Sadly, my Continental Town & Country tires didn’t last nearly that long.
Only about a week after landing back in Western Europe, I began to feel a strange bump as I was riding my bicycle. At first I thought this bumping that I was feeling was caused by uneven pavement, but I soon realized that this bump was being caused by my tire.
What happened was that as the tire slowly began to wear (over the course of just 33 days) the threads holding the tire’s sidewall together began to slowly stretch and tear. Eventually, there was such a big hole in the sidewall of the tire that the inner-tube on the inside of the tire began to press itself out of the hole, causing that strange bump that I was feeling while I was riding my bicycle. And once the inner-tube broke enough of the threads in the sidewall of my Continental Town & Country tires, the inner-tube could no longer hold any air and eventually went flat.
The day this all happened was not a fun one. I was in Belgium at the time and the nearest bike shop was at least 20 kilometers away. It was getting late and I knew that I could no longer ride my bicycle because of the damage to the tires.
To make a long story short, I had to push (and occasionally) carry my bicycle the entire 20+ kilometers to the nearest bike shop, where I replaced not just one, but both of my Continental Town & Country bike tires with new, non-name-brand tires (which subsequently survived 13+ months of bicycle touring in both Europe and Africa).
When that first set of Continental Town & Country bike tires died so quickly, I contacted Co-Motion Cycles and asked them if they knew why my tires might have died so quickly. They were putting this tire on every single one of their Pangea bicycles at the time, so I thought they would surely know something about it.
But Co-Motion seemed totally surprised when I told them their brand new tires had lasted only 33 days. They suggested that maybe I hadn’t put enough air in the tires and that after 33 days of riding the bike with low air, this had caused the damage to the sidewalls. But I’ve been bicycle touring for more than 14 years and I know how to properly inflate my tires. I knew this was not the problem. “Maybe I had just received a bad pair of tires?” I thought to myself. “Or maybe this set of tires had been in sitting in the window at the Co-Motion factory and they had suffered some sun damage, causing the crack in the sidewall?” I kept trying to come up with a reason for as to why my brand new bike tires had died so quickly… but I couldn’t seem to come up with a solution.
So, after cycling around Europe and Africa on two cheap, non-brand-name bike tires, and having those tires last more than a year of extremely rough riding in all sorts of weather (rain, snow, heat, etc.) and various road conditions (smooth pavement, dirt roads, rocks and gravel), I went home for a few months and rested.
But this year (2014), I decided to conduct a 7-month-long bike tour in Europe and Asia… and as I was prepping for my bike tour, I thought it would be a good idea to put new tires on my bicycle. After-all, the tires that I had on my bike were well over a year old and already had several thousand miles/kilometers on them.
I could have put any tire I wanted on my touring bicycle for this new bike tour, but there was still some part of me that wanted to know why my Continental Town & Country bike tires had died so quickly on me during my previous bicycle touring expedition. Plus, I like the look of the tires and I thought it would be great to restore my Co-Motion Pangea to its original look and style by purchasing a second set of Continental Town & Country tires and trying them again on this 2014 bicycle tour.
As soon as the new tires arrived at my home (I ordered them online and had them delivered to my house), I could tell why these bike tires had died so quickly on me.
When I purchased my new Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle, the Town & Country tires were already on the bike and I never got to inspect them from the inside. But when the Continental Town & Country bike tires were shipped and delivered to my home, I was able to tell in less than a second that these tires had a very thin sidewall (not much thicker than a piece of card-stock paper).
Not only was the sidewall of these bike tires very thin, but through the small amount of black rubber covering the thin, delicate threads that form the shape of the tire itself, I could see the threads emerging from underneath. As the tire got more use, these threads would slowly stretch and break… and now I could see why. There was almost nothing protecting the sides of the tire from the sun or rain.
Even though I could tell that the sidewalls of the tires were extremely thin, I decided to try using the Continental Town & Country bike tires again. After all, they do make my bike look amazing! And “Heck,” I thought to myself, “Maybe they’ll work great this time around?”
But to make a long story short, my Continental Town & Country bike tires did not work great the second time around. Just like the first time I had the tires on my bike, they died after about 30 days of heavy on-the-road use. And just like when they died on me the first time in Belgium, because the sidewalls became weathered and eventually tore, the same thing happened to me as I was cycling through Estonia. I was riding along and then, all of a sudden, I began to feel the tire bump up and down. I stopped to inspect the tire, and as I suspected, the threads on the sidewall of the tire had torn and were now slowly ripping the tire apart.
In the photo below you can see the threads have ripped apart from the rest of the tire – right underneath the “Co” in the word “Country.”
Luckily, I was able to limp along on the tire for more than 100 kilometers before reaching a bike shop and purchasing two brand new, non-brand-name tires for my bike.
So, there you have it. I’ve used Continental Town & Country bicycle tires on two of my long-distance self-supported bicycle tours… and each set of tires has died on me in exactly the same way, in exactly the same amount of time (30-33 days). I love the way these tires look and behave when they are brand new and functioning properly, but they are not in any way designed for long-term use.
My suspicion is that these tires would work great if you had them on your bicycle and were just using them for short trips around home. And when you got home, you kept your bicycle in a safe, dry place (like a garage).
On a bicycle tour, however, you want a bike tire than can handle the road and weather conditions you are sure to encounter. You want a tire that doesn’t crack and wear when it gets wet or sits in the sun for a long period of time. And you want a tire than will keep rolling for hundreds of days and thousands of miles.
I’ve used other Continental tires in the past and they’ve worked great (I used a Continental City Contact tire on a recent bike tour in Europe, Africa and North America… and that tire worked wonderfully and lasted several months), but these Continental Town & Country bike tires can’t be trusted. I’ve bought and used them on two separate bike tours, but I won’t even be using them again… and I share this story with you as a warning.
31 thoughts on “BIKE TIRE FAIL: Continental Town & Country Tires”
I’ve got these tyres on my Saracen MTB. I was using the bike mainly on road and occasionally off, and the knobbly tyres already on the bike weren’t good on road, so I saw these Continentals on Ebay. I think they were about £35 for the pair which is cheap, and they could be used on and off road.
I went for a short bike camping trip last week (about 60-70 miles each way, plus mileage whilst there), and noticed then some slight cracking around the walls. They made it there and back with no problem, and are fine now, but the tyres are only about 8 months old, so shouldn’t be cracking like that!
Thanks for the warning!
Perhaps an appropriate conclusion to this article might include a recommendation for more suitable tyres?
I mean, of not the continentals, then what?
Cheers and safe travels
I think these tyres are aimed more at the commuter rather than the long distance tourer, I’m surprised you stuck with them twice! Continental do make some fantastic tyres, I’ve used their Gatorskin road tyres on long distance tours and while they’re road bike tyres the TPI (threads per Inch) is higher meaning generally stronger side walls.
I am leaning towards the last comment and think that these were more designed for commuting where, perhaps, weight is still a factor.
I am also curious if the tires you bought were their actual “made in Germany” model or their cheaper models because, while pricey, their German tires have been exceptional from my experiance. I have used both 26″ Gatorskins(a light weight semi protected tire that I would not recommend for long distance touring, too light) and their 29″ Mountain King 2.
I’d be curious of the weight difference between the no names and the Contis.
Thanks for confirming what I suspected, that the tyre walls are weak. Mine gave up after a few months of light use, I commute a 2.5 mile trip, though often in awful wet and windy weather (Manchester, UK). I used a rubber patch to make it usable again. However a few days ago, after a few months of use, it punctured again, and this time the wide areas of wall are badly frayed and about the come apart. Ironically the front tyre which is a Ritchey, has never been changed (in four years) and is still going strong.
I bought on brand name and it’s relatively smooth surface, which does make for a nicer bike ride. Continental tyres for my car easily cost double what I pay for my cheaper brand tyres.
Darren, I am very surprised that you would give these tires another try. While I am not touring now or doing much bicycling at all, I have never thought about how my tires looked on the bicycle. Before my first cross country tour, a fellow rider suggested Continental ultra gator skins and since then I have used only those for touring and other bicycling except for mountain biking. The ultra gator skins are excellent long lasting tires but I don’t know what sizes they come in. I am sure you are familiar with them.
I continue to enjoy your posts and reading about your tours.
Darren, have you ever considered trying the Serfas Drifter? Had them on a commuter mtb (Texas roads aren’t very cycle friendly) for several years without incident.
I have a set of Continental Town and Country tires on my bike with more than 6000 miles on them, no problems.
Do you store your bike in a garage? Or indoors? I think that might be the problem with these tires – they can’t handle being kept out in the sun/rain. Maybe?
Same. I was commuting on mine for a couple months with no signs of wear
Bad experience here also on continental contact extralight 42-622 and tour ride 37-622.Two sets of both tires cracking sidewalls and between threads way too early:1500km-2500km.All of them were on commuter bikes.Both the contact extralight and tour ride were made in india.Seems to me that conti is producing shit tires in their india factory.Never had any problems with conti’s made in germany tires wich i have used in the past alot.
I bought a set of these tires for my occasional road and trail commute and after 14 months (approx 800 miles)the back blew a side wall exactly as your experience, the tread is barely worn, even the the front is cracking where the tread meets the wafer thin side wall. Needless to say I now have a pair of duel terrain Tesco tires fitted. Advice; Don’t be seduced by these awesome looking tires..
I’ve had a set on my every day Cannondale for 2 years and No problems so far.
Now you have made me nervous!
1. Do you have the exact same tire? Or are they just Continental tires that you have? Because I’ve had other Continental tires that are great. But just not these!
2. Do you store your bike indoors? Because my theory is that these tires just can’t handle the weather demands that come with long-distance bicycle touring. They might last for a long time if you keep your bike clean and stored indoors when you aren’t using it. But the the tires are exposed to water and sun for days on end, they might just fall apart. Just my idea after using them on multiple occasions.
The Continental Country Ride 26 X 1.75 bike tires I’ve bought are splitting down the middle seam after almost four years and hardly any use. Never over-inflated or taken off road. The seam ridge of extra rubber often found on new tires wore off only a short time ago, exposing a split that is gradually growing around the center outer circumference of the tire. Nearly $65, they cost!
In the late 90s, I was a bicycle messenger and my T&Cs outlasted several rims and bikes. But then, that was before Continental left Pennsylvania and relocated their manufacturing plants to China!
Thank you for your post. I appreciate the heads up. I was looking at some tires for my 2017 Specialized Rockhopper 29er. I came across online ads for the Continental T&C, which I’ve seen around and must admit look pretty swanky. I’ve had some Continentals before and they struck me as super durable for the price. I put some Gatorskins on my 12 speed road bike with 700 series rims. And man, I beat the living hell out of those tires and they held up flawlessly. So it was a surprise to read your review. I think I’ll give the T&C’s a miss.
Same experience here, but I am a commuter. 2 miles round trip daily during work week. Got these on my Cannondale mtn bike as part of spring tune up this March. It is late October here in WI and they just blew a hole through the side *exactly* as described. Always stored inside. Do not buy.
I’ve had mixed results with Conti T&Cs. My first set got me across Australia from Perth to Brisbane (7600 km). I had numerous punctures but the tyres lasted. A couple of years later, I undertook a ride north from Tierra del Fuego. At about the 2000 km mark, having had no punctures to that point, sidewalls on both tyres failed within a week of each other. When the second one failed, having already used my folding spare (not a T&C), I had to resort to sitting on the side of the road, sewing up the sidewall and placing a piece of rubber sheet on the inside for reinforcement. After repeating this exercise about three times I got to the next town, where the tyre offerings were scant and bottom-shelf, but they lasted for the rest of trip.
Interestingly, both T&Cs failed at the contact point with the rim. I assumed it was because of a build up of abrasive road dust, and the fact that until that point, they hadn’t come off the rim and been cleaned in any way. Since then, I’ve learnt otherwise. Won’t be using Town & Country again. Schwalbe Marathons from now on.
Just had the same problem with these tires, very disappointed. I had the tires about 3 months and when I was checking tire pressure, I noticed the rear tire was starting to tear on both sides. I have maybe a few hundred miles on them. I have had very good luck with Continental tires until now. I just ordered a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus as a replacement. The bike is a cycle cross which I use for commuting and some off-road gravel riding. Never ridden that hard during the entire time. Several times I came home with thumbtacks and nails stuck in the front tire and never had a flat. You would think this was noticed in 2014, they would have addressed the issue.
Weak carcass indeed. Lasted only for less than 2 months. Installed these on my CX bike I use for commuting on asphalt. Were good for about 1200km with little wear but after that it seemed that back wheel needed adjustment. It turned out that rim was still perfectly lined and spokes did not need adjustment, but it was tire that was flopping from side to side. Emptying and refilling inner tube did not help. Apparently it was related to carcass damage.
Had Country Ride 37×700. Weak carcass indeed. Lasted only for less than 2 months. Installed these on my CX bike I use for commuting on asphalt. Were good for about 1200km with little wear but after that it seemed that back wheel needed adjustment. It turned out that rim was still perfectly lined and spokes did not need adjustment, but it was tire that was flopping from side to side. Emptying and refilling inner tube did not help. Apparently it was related to carcass damage.
The manufacture of these tyres changed at some point. The Town and Country used to be a very high quality tyre made in Germany. I had a pair on my commuter for 4 years. They used to have beige natural rubber sidewalls.
I put the old natural brown rubber T&C 26×2.1’s on my old 90’s era mountain bike in (I think) 2000 or 2001. Rode for a while (a few hundred miles), then moved on but kept bike in my nasty basement until this Summer 2019, when I took it out, scrubbed off 18 years of dust and rust (basement flooded several years ago), re-inflated tires (still with old inner tubes), and have ridden it about 100 miles since then on roads with potholes and even our intermediate (called: “advanced,” but…) level mountain bike trails. This is a hardtail, old-school, rigid fork (yes, no front suspension) (yes, it was punishing on the higher-level trail), AND I have been 307 down to 280 (thank you very much…) pounds the entire time this past Summer. I see no sidewall cracking, significant tread wear, and have not had any flats, either. So… it appears they might have been made better back then given the amount of problems people seem to be having with the newer ones. Also, maybe there is something to theory of being in the sun for a long time causing degradation.
My first set of Town and Country (and actually my only set) was made in Germany and was an amazing tyre. I commuted on it and did about 15,000km on the set (which wore quite evenly). However when they needed replacing I was warned off them by a dealer who said production had moved to India and they were no longer a good tyre.
I looked today at the Continental site, and sadly there is nothing like them.
yes,yes,yes darren!! I have experienced the exact problem with my T&C’s,I ride 85/100 miles a week on Ocracoke Island on road and sand/gravel they do feel great on both.But ,I have had the side wall issue on both sets(yes I gave em 2 try’s as well)I figured the first set was a fluke,plus local shop on Hatteras sold a lot of them cheap.Never again,so folks good ole darren ain’t crazy!as usaual good solid info;thanx,D
I’ve used these Continental Town and County’s for about 9 years with no problem. My girlfriend has had them about 2 years with no problem.
Been riding for over 2 years with them town And country tyres. Daily driver 100-200km every month. And they’re exeptional. Never had a tyre this good. After 30-35 months using. Even pulling heavy loads on my bycicle trailer.. they work just fine
Do you store your bicycle inside or outside? Because I have a feeling these tires may fall apart quickly if left outside (like they would be when you are touring around the world, etc.)
This article and its responses suggest that quality has declined significantly since my time using Continental Town and Country tyres. At a time when I was less able to afford man toys in the mid ’90s, I used a T&C on the back wheel of my mountain bike and had two front wheels instead of two bikes. One wheel had a slick for commuting and the other had the original knobbly tyre for adventures. Although a bit light on for grip, I gave the T&C a good workout off road, and I went by bike to work just about every day for a couple of years. The bike was stored inside at work (for security purposes) but it just rested against the wall of the house at home. I had no problem with my T&C over more than 2 years at which point I upgraded bikes. A little bit of cracking was evident (not surprising given all the time in the Australian sun), but it was not significant or structural. My experience was so good that I bought a new T&C for my new bike and continued with the same arrangement, also without problems.
I’ve used Continental Town and Country tires on a steel frame MTB for many years in sunny southern California. Typically get about a year and 4,000 miles out of a set before I change them If run with inadequate air pressure, the flexible sidewalls will loosen on the rim. I keep 75 psi pressure in thorn resistant tubes. The India manufacturing plant does not produce as nice a product as I would like, which is not surprising if you know much about India. I recommend these tires to anyone eho won’t be overloading them and keeps inflation at hard to pinch levels.
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