Review | Continental Der Baron Projekt 2.4 | Ride Report

Yes it is wet. And it is cold, too. I don’t know where you are, but where I am, the trails have received their annual rinse. In fact, they got plenty, a lot more than last year, and enough to change the color of my bike. That the ground on a few of my home trails is of the loamy type is not helping either (add water and think soap). It was time to mount a tire that could handle it. Luckily, I visited the Continental tires booth on Eurobike and had a chat with Sebastian Moos, their product manager. He saw me admiring the new tire’s profile, and assured me it was ready for release. That was an important statement, as Continental took their time to release this piece of rubber.

Early announcements on the new Continental Baron Projekt 2.4 date back to early 2014, and I wrote them in June, 2014, when they told me „not before 2015“. They presented a prototype at Eurobike 2014, but did not release the tire until a full year later. He also promised that the new Baron Projekt would be easy to set up tubeless. Another quick look at the profile, and I was sold. I ordered one in goldilocks 650B through my LBS, and mounted it on my bike’s front. On the Syncros TR 2.0 (I think they are rebranded DT Swiss), the tire fit right away – no soap needed. I added a small amount of tubeless sealant (only about 30ml) and inflated the tire with a floor pump. It seated perfectly and showed no loss of air overnight.

 

Baron Mounted

Der Baron mounted tubeless

Baron Trail

Riding conditions were often wetter than this

Baron Trail 2

The tire almost never clogs

 

Ride Report

First, let’s make this clear, because it is sometimes misstated: Der Baron Projekt is not a mud tire. It works great in mud, but it is primarily an intermediate that excels in the wet. And, even with the soapy loam in mind, that is good news for me, because I hate switching tires. So putting a mud tire on always has me doubting if it is really worth it (it might be different if I was in the UK). Sometimes, we get a few days of heavy rainfall, and the trails are wet for weeks. But more often than not, a few days without rainfall, and the trails get at least into a state in which a pure mud tire would be overdone. I also ride a few rocky trails that dry out quickly, so I prefer a tire that handles this terrain, as well. Pure mud tires have large knobs that have a tendency to fold on hardpack, so I’m looking for a tire that is more an all-round tire. Less than a mud tire, but really fine in wet conditions.
In comes Der Baron.

And I must say it is hard to imagine when he’ll ever go out, because this tire is simply excellent.

 

 

Conti Baron Performance

 

 

Grip: It is amazing and so precise. When Der Baron is searching for a grip, there is a brief, but benevolent moment, and before you even start wondering, its big knobs have found the ground again – and the tire immediately tells you it has you covered. Because it lacks horizontal center knobs, its ability to hold a line is exceptional. If I’d have to emphasize one trait of Der Baron that makes it special, it is this directional stability of the tire that is outstanding.

Cornering: The added grip on the front caused the DHR II in the rear to nicely initiate drifts. I’m not a drift-through-corners guy, so trail access advocates and huntsmen who reads this, relax and hold your fire. More often than not, I’m running the same tire front and rear for maximum grip and predictability. Running a little more rubber in the rear also helps me keeping in shape. I found I get used to rolling resistance quickly, and I enjoy the thought that I can always mount flimsy tires if I want – and then rejoice in the feeling of newfound lightness for the first few rides. Der Baron corners so well, I’d even consider mounting it front and rear, but it works just fine with any rear tire that can be considered an intermediate – and I found the DHR II to be a good match. The pair handled hard cornering without a fault, with Der Baron leading the way with confidence. Its big side knobs are well-supported, and I did not once feel them squirm, even on rocky sections. To me, this makes the Baron a real contender for an all-round rubber – a tire I put on when it gets wet and don’t think about it again until it gets hot and dusty dry.

Braking: Horizontal center knobs are primarily put on a tire for braking, and the lack of those left me wondering whether I’d be wishing for more braking traction. My fears turned out to be unfounded, with Der Baron offering more braking power than needed. Still, if you want to maximize braking on an intermediate or wet terrain tire, the Maxxis Shorty has an advantage here.

Stability: You can immediately feel that Continental’s Apex sidewall protection is adding stability to the tire. This could be felt when cornering, and heard on pavement, but also showed in the zero defect rate: No flats or cuts. And even though the BlackChili compound offers amazing levels of grip, the tire showed remarkably little wear.

Rolling Resistance: Obviously, this is not something you want to put on your rear wheel if you are looking for outright speed and pedaling efficiency. Yes, it rolls better than I expected, but it is still a sturdy, beefy tire. Given the grip it provides, I’d absolutely say it is worth it all day – and to me, if it rolled worse, it would be still worth it. But you may feel different about it. One thing is clear: If you’re a weight weenie, you don’t want to put a Baron on your bike.

Weight: Who cares? Give me a tire with these capabilities and I say „thank you, can I have one more?“, not „how heavy?“.

 

Conti Baron Terrain

Terrain & Conditions: The open profile pattern is perfect for soft and wet conditions. Der Baron almost never gets clogged, and if so, it cleans itself right away, even at moderate speeds. Even though it poured this year, Der Baron has performed flawlessly, and I never wished for a true mud tire. On dry parts of the trails, the tire still performs very well, and it is only on real hardpack that the tire starts being a little bit out of its element. Everything else, it handles just fine. It is an excellent winter tire, as well, because Conti’s BlackChilli Compound has less tendency for hardening when the temperature drops. If you ride in the winter, and your trails are of the wet forest sort with lots of roots, look no further.

Tim’s take: Der Baron is a classic front tire choice, and it instills a massive boost of confidence on wet terrain. It likes to take the rear tire out for a dance, but never unbalanced or out of control. Although its rolling resistance is far from outstanding, it rolls better than its grip level suggests, making it a rear option, as well. It works well in almost any terrain and condition, and you could run it as an all-year tire if you’re not primarily riding on hardpack and your summers see a bit of rain. I also love that it is available as a 26er, too.

 

Related: Review | Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.35 | Ride Report 

Related: Review | Maxxis Shorty 2.3 and 2.5 | Ride Report 

 

 

Tech Information

Manufacturer: Continental Tires
Model: Der Baron Projekt 2.4
Wheel sizes: 26×2.4 – 27.5×2.4 (tested) – 29×2.4
Weight: 960g (26) – 985g (27.5) – 1025g (29) (weights according to manufacturer)
Price: 74 €. US pricing tbd

 

    • freeriding on February 28, 2016 at 11:04

    Reply

    Nice review mate! What is your style of riding? (enduro, xc, hard riding, epics etc)
    Have you ridden a magic mary to tell me how is the comparison?
    Of course i don’t mean the double defense, but the magic mary trailstar snakeskin.

    Thanks!

    1. Tim
      • Tim on February 28, 2016 at 12:36
      • Author

      Reply

      Thanks, glad you like it. I’m riding all kinds of stuff, mostly what I like to call aggressive trail (you could also call it all mountain to enduro). Occasionally, I mix in some all-day epics and a few xc laps.

      I can tell you a Magic Mary review is coming shortly.

    • Simon on March 1, 2016 at 13:15

    Reply

    Very nice review!
    I’m very curious to know what you think if this tire in comparison with a Magic Mary Snakeskin Trailstar or – Supergravity Vertstar. I’m expecting it to fall somewhere in between considering grip?

    1. Tim
      • Tim on March 2, 2016 at 07:23
      • Author

      Reply

      Thanks, Simon. A review of the Magic Mary is in the works and coming soon.

        • Simon on May 17, 2016 at 10:21

        Reply

        I’ve got some time in on the Baron Projekt as a front tire now and am super happy with it too. I mainly ride enduro / all mountain style trails in the Belgian Ardennes and a lot of “les Vosges” in France lately, which is similar in climate and soil: soft forest floor with lots of roots and the occasional rock section and when it rains (which it does frequently), it stays wet for days.

        For grip I would rate it between the Magic Mary Trailstar and Vertstar, with the latter obviously being grippier
        Rolling resistance is very much like the Magic Mary Trailstar.
        The apex sidewall feels stiffer then Snakeskin, somewhere near Supergravity, but not quite that thick.
        The knobs seem to fold over less on the Baron Projekt though, which is nice.

        I did manage to puncture the Baron P. already once, but to be fair, I was probably riding with too low pressure (1.3 bar on 30mm int rim) at high speed through sharp rocks. And while the MM works best for me with this low pressure, the Baron P seems less specific about tire pressure to work well; 1.5 – 1.6 bar still made me happy without much loss in grip. Compliance of the tire suffers though, guess you can’t have it all.

        Something else to note too is the much nicer, rounder profile of the Baron P on wide(r) rims. with my 30mm internal rim the profile of the MM is much more square than the that of the Baron P. I would think that this might be part of the reason why the Baron P rolls better than the MM, aside from rubber compound and whatnot.

        Next up for me is the Michelin Wild Grip’R² Advanced Reinforced Mag-X (get your head around that list of acronyms)
        Another step up in weight unfortunately, this one crossing into the realm of +1kg.

        1. Tim
          • Tim on June 14, 2016 at 09:06
          • Author

          Reply

          Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that the Baron’s casing feels firmer than the Mary’s, and I find the Mary is a bit more cushioning in return. Overall, both are great tires and I think you can’t go wrong with either. After the Baron and Magic Mary reviews, I’ve finally posted the Maxxis Shorty review, as well, and will conclude the three reviews with a comparison / short summary soon.

    • lofom on March 8, 2016 at 08:47

    Reply

    When will the magic mary review be available?

    1. Tim
      • Tim on March 8, 2016 at 08:50
      • Author

      Reply

      End of this week.

    • DavidG on September 29, 2016 at 19:24

    Reply

    I happen to be running the opposite setup, with a 2.4 super tacky HDR on the front (an extremely grippy tire) and a Baron on the rear. There are three reasons for this. First, the Continental has harder, better rolling and longer lasting rubber, which is what I want on the rear, where tires wear the most and where rolling resistance makes the most difference. Second, the HDR is larger, even them both being 2.4 (The HDR is 61-559 and the Baron 60-559 – I have also measured this), and I prefer a larger tire on the front, not only because of the extra grip but because it changes the geometry a bit, opening the head angle. Third, the Continental is a supposedly stronger tire, and the rear is where my tires have been getting cut. I am still going with the “suposedly” here. What I do know is that it is heavier and thicker than the HDR, but that still didn’t prevent it from being cut by a sharp rock on my very first ride. I am going with the replacement that I was given now, and hope that it was just bad luck.

      • DavidG on September 29, 2016 at 21:09

      Reply

      I mean DHR, Maxxis Minion DHR II. I always mix these up.

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