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.