Pros- Long lasting, easily get 4000 plus miles on the tire. I've used the Gator Hardshell for past 7 years as they have provided me with best puncture protection especially since I ride in a rural area with goatheads along trails and roads.
Cons - More difficult to mount tire onto rim. Seems to work best to lay it in sun and let it warm up and soften some. Make sure you have tire levers and / or tire bead jack and that will save your fingers or thumbs.
Best City-riding tire I've used yet. I've pulled small bits of glass and other detritus out of my tire which have been unable to go all the way through to the tube, and when used on one of my brakeless track bikes in the City, its skidding lifespan is far, FAR outside any others (including the Vittoria Randonneur). I've also ridden this tire outside the City and it has avoided pinch flats in potholes as well as errant thorns and otherwise. And on top of all this, the rolling resistance is super low, which means you're going faster than a lot of other puncture-resistant offerings. Honestly for the price this is a no-brainer for commute bikes, courier bikes, errand bikes, and fun bikes. I wouldn't put it on anything that's going off-road (though I have foolishly ridden it off-road hahaha), but otherwise it's what I recommend to ANYONE who will listen.
About as puncture-proof as a Schwalbe Marathon at about 2/3 the weight. IMO the Conti Hardshell is the standard for flat resistance and durability. I recently replaced a Hardshell on my rear wheel. I weigh 205 and the tire lasted over 4000 miles until the wear dimples were gone. That's a rear wheel. Amazing. Flats were few and far between. The Hardshell sidewalls are far more durable than the GP 4000 with only a slight weight penalty.
These are durable, tougher-than-tough tires! I commute pretty carelessly over some really sketchy surfaces strewn with broken glass, gravel, bits of metal, the whole nine yards... and I have yet to get a flat with these tires after many months. That said, I hate these tires in the rain! They feel slippery and I don't have much confidence through the corners when the roads are wet. I plan to take them off and replace them with something grippier when it starts raining in the fall... but you can bet the Gator Hardshells will be back on my bike come spring.
Summer 2014 edit: I never got around to taking these tires off last winter. I got used to taking the corners a bit more carefully and the tires didn't give me too much trouble even in heavy rain. Still going strong now! I recommend these tires all the time to anyone who's sick of flats. Awesome.
After two flats in two consecutive rides on a 12 mile urban commute, decided to give the Gators a try. So far, so good; zero further flats. Will buy again and recommend if you're experiencing trouble with punctures.
It's true that it is a stiff tire:
1). Contrary to other reviews, I did not experience any difficulty mounting the tires. They went on totally by hand, the only tool used was a pump to inflate.
2). Inflated to 90 PSI, the ride is harsher than the Vittoria Zaffiros used before. The ride has mellowed somewhat with mileage, could be due to a variety of factors.
I've been using these for years and swear by them. The roads I ride are littered with junk that'll puncture most tires, except these. I've never had an issue changing out a flat on a ride, since the tires are warm enough to re-seat.
For those who complain that they're too hard to install properly, here are a few tricks I've picked up over the years.
1. heat the tires to make them more pliable before attempting - lay them in the sun for 20 minutes, or a warm oven. Seriously!
2. don't let the bead get seated until you fit both sides of the tire over the rim. you'll need that little bit of extra room.
3. all else fails, try a little baby powder OR dish soap to get them seated. soapy water is what mechanics use on car tires for the same issue.
4. don't try to muscle them onto the rim - you'll damage the bead. try the steps above first.
5 still having problems? take them to a bike mechanic & have them show you how to do it right.
The Gator Hardshell is my tire of choice for my road bike. I ride 60-90 miles a week around the Vancouver/Portland area, and I've found the Hardshell to be a very durable tire. I haven't had a flat due to puncture in a very long time, even though I frequently ride by "homeless" camps and the piles of trash that litter the road or bike path. These tires are dependable, wear well and resist punctures. What more does a bike rider need?
With out a doubt the best tire for the rider who wants the best protection from rock, glass, thorns and wire from car tires. I tried many brands, the gator skin hard shell may be difficult to get on but it's worth the time it takes to mount them.
I use Continental Gator Hardshell on our tandom and will use nothing else. Tha're a great tire and hold up very well with over 300 pounds riding on them. We are running custom Zipp carbon wheels and the tires mount up with no problems what-so-ever.
If you want a great heavy duty tire and are more concerned with durability, safety than weight, the Hardshell is the tire for you!
I should have taken heed of previous reviews emphasizing that these hardshells are impossible to mount. I assumed that the reviewers simply didn't have enough experience in changing hardshell cases...wrong assumption. I have been an avid road cyclist for 20+ years and have changed hundreds of tire tubes, and these Continental Gator Hardshell 700c road tires are the worst I have ever encountered. I broke 4 tire levers and ruined 3 tubes trying to mount these; they clearly were not worth the discounted price that I paid for them. And no, I am not riding on them...they went in the trash.
These tires work for me, daily to work and back, on the streets of San Francisco. They have a good feel and aren't as fragile as other road tires I've used. Punctures are almost a thing of the past.
I switched over to Continental Gators about 7 years ago getting ready for a century ride. Fan for life. Great rolling, smooth and have taken about everything the road can dish out. Now have them on 3 road bikes and only 1 flat in more than 2800 miles. The only flat was a direct hit on a 6 jagged rock at dusk on a canyon road - cracked the sidewall but stayed on the rim. I use the wire bead for most rides, carry the folding version when I am on an extended ride.
Not the lightest tire out there which is why I took a star off (picky, yes).
Now, for the good part I've ridden these tires for 3 winters, probably 9K miles, over gravel rough roads, dirt, mud, snow, dirty post-snow roads, etc. Unlike my summer tires which I take care of, I ignore these all winter and clean them once in the spring when I put them away for the summer - in other words, they get totally abused and no love. I run them at 70 psi (I'm 180 pounds) and have had 1 flat in three years. These are great tires, they're sticky in the rain but roll just fine when it's dry. I'm a bit surprised that people in the other reviews run them at such high pressure, for I find that they actually perform a lot better at lower pressures (like in their rating range). I'll definitely replace these with another set of Hardshells.