Continental bills the ContiForce Max as a high-grip, lower-priced alternative to the competition’s offerings. The ContiForce Max is dubbed as being suitable for a wide variety of motorcycles; 600 and 750 supersports, open class sportbikes such as the R1 GSR-1000, CBR954RR. Surprisingly, due to its “improved wear rate”, Continental also feels it meets the needs of heavier super-sport-tourers such as the Suzuki Hayabusa and the CBR1100XX Black Bird.
Features wise, the Conti Force Max boasts some solid market-speak; 0-degree high-impact steel belted construction, Z speed rating, “State-of-the-art compounding and carcass technology” allowing for a deeper tread and higher mileage while maintaining high levels of grip. Optimized multiple curvature design allow for light, responsive steering and handling.
Even in the box the portents are good. For one the ContiForce MAX has a nice pointy front tire, which should lighten up our tester 998’s steering responsiveness. Even more novelty awaits upon inspecting the rear; the back doughnut’s tread pattern doesn’t end at the edge of the tire, but instead folds over. This “gumball” design allows for big blocks of slick rubber at high lean angles – completely lacking rain grooves. This is a tire with a visually split personality, one part sensible sport-touring tire, one part racing slick. Something that should be noted is that while both Conti and Ducati recommended a 190mm width fitment in rear, to our eye this caused a bit of tire deformation at outer edge of tire, due to the 998’s 5.5” rim. Oh, and to top it all off, in a design move composed purely of cool, Conti symbols are embossed across the tire’s surface.
Ride testing covered approximately 6,000kms across a variety of roads and weather conditions and left the ContiForce Max with easily another 10,000-12,000kms of tread in waiting. Ultimately, it’s the look of the tires that strikes you when they are first mounted; the very slick rear-tire edges and pointy front leave one with the impression that this is a tire for very aggressive riders.
However, on one track outing in the summer heat I did have a couple of rear end step-outs. Later, speaking with Continental’s reps, I wondered if this stepping out wasn’t more pronounced due to the 190-sized tire pinching on the 5.5” rear rim. The response from Continental indicated that I was perhaps running too low a pressure. Continental suggested that these tires are pressure sensitive, and for the track you shouldn’t be running them at much lower pressures than the street.
But that’s the track; on the road the ContiForce MAX are very confidence-inspiring. While I do think that there are better track day/road tires being made currently by other manufacturers, keep in mind they generally cost a minimum of 20% more than the Contis. If you cover a lot of kms on the road and are looking for longevity and decent road performance, then these tires are a good cost-conscious choice.
In bad weather, the ContiForce MAX’s perform well. The rear tread pattern sheds the wet nicely, but having an edge that looks like 1.5 inches of transplanted racing slick doesn’t instill as much rainy day confidence as some other manufacturer’s offerings – it’s very reminiscent in tread pattern to the Pirelli Super Corsas. To reach that “racing slick” edge though, you’d need to be running near suicidal lean angles in the wet – such as when ripping thru Portland’s back-roads with a certain Ducati North America rep. Having said all that, the ContiForce MAX never let me down in the wet.
Just as the ContiForce MAX’s marketing materials suggest, Continental wants you to concentrate on the longevity and price point of these tires. I believe the ContiForce MAX’ have been quite successful in this respect, especially if your sport leans more towards touring. If you’re looking for Pirelli Diablo levels of grip, performance and confidence, I don’t think the ContiForce MAX are quite there yet – but if you’re considering the Michelin Pilot Road, these are the better choice.
– Giovanni Di Marino
ContiForce Max tires provided for testing by Continental.