Getting to grips: 'Black Chilli' tyres stick to the job in the rain
Focus on tyres: Continental Sport Contact 6
Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30
If you ride a bicycle, sometimes go for a run in a pair of Adidas trainers, and own a car from any number of the major manufacturers there is a chance that in every instance you are interacting with the road thanks to one company.
Continental, the German tyre manufacturer, has its fingers in a variety of pies. Automotive tyres account for just 28pc of its €34.6bn business.
It is the third largest supplier to the automotive industry and when it is not pioneering bicycle tyre technology using dandelion roots, Continental busies itself creating some highly advanced car tyres.
The new Continental Sport Contact 6 is a performance tyre mostly suited to dry conditions. So, it is hardly going to be relevant to Ireland, right?
Wrong. It lashed rain for the whole duration of our test, which was conducted in Bilster Berg; a test facility nestled in hills of south Germany.
I felt right at home. If the new Sport Contact 6 could withstand the deluge and the force of a Porsche 911's acceleration and braking, then surely the technology bodes well for mainstream cars.
We spent an evening being bamboozled by technical engineers but here is a condensed and more palatable takeaway version of what to expect from the new tyre.
The company uses 'Black Chilli, a sticky compound that works on a minute atomic level to fill the gaps in the road, almost as if the tyre has imperceptible suction pads sucking on the asphalt.
It managed to keep this particular hamfisted writer on the black stuff in wet conditions so it must be doing something right.
The patterns on tyres are strategically placed and aren't just there to look good. Who knew?
The new pattern on the Continental Sport Contact 6 is arranged in blocks that provide a delicate balance between rigidity and flexibility. It is not just about making a few cuts in the tyres here and there; get the pattern wrong and the tyre can become virtually useless.
Continental invented a new material for the Sport Contact 6. Aralon 350 is a synthetic fibre that wraps around nylon fibres found in regular car tyres. We will have to trust Continental when they say it works because even after several modules explaining the technology I was none the wiser.
The grip levels of the Sport Contact 6 are exceptional from a fast standing start and right through to a complete stop, even in what felt like underwater conditions.
This writer will never buy a cheap tyre ever again. As the only contact patch with the road, tyres are crucially important for safety. It simply makes no sense to fit cheap ones to a car that costs thousands of euro.
Sure, the technology on the premium tyres may be hard to understand - but it sure works.