by Dave Anderson
May 14, 2014
We’ve already published a couple of pics of the new tyres from Kenda; our intrepid reporter Barney took a closer look.
The Lake Garda cycling festival saw a select few journalists invited over to the Kenda camp for the launch of two new tyres, the Honey Badger DH Pro and the Nevegal X Pro, all part of a strategy to increase Kenda’s standing amongst the higher-end tyre manufacturers.
Nevegal X Pro
The Nevegal X Pro is an evolution of the Nevegal (which is still in production). It’s designed as an Enduro tyre: the sort of all round climbing fast/descending faster riding rubber many of us aspire to, even if we’re not actually that quick. *ahem*
According to Kenda:
“The Nevegal X Pro is the faster and about 10 % lighter version of the original Nevegal. Center knobs have ramped leading edges with hard trailing edges allowing fast rolling and great traction under braking. They have also been ‘siped‘ to allow the knob to open during cornering and braking. The transition knobs are designed and placed to optimize the surface area of the tire in order to use less rubber and provide an extremely predictable and easy tire to ride.”
It has a dual compound formula: harder rubber in the centre is for longevity and rolling resistance, and softer side knobs are for traction. 26 and 27.5” wheels luxuriate in sizes up to 2.35” width; 29” tyres are only available up to 2.2”. There is a possibility that a 2.35” 29er tyre may be in the works, however, if we behave.
Honey Badger DH Pro
The all-new Honey Badger DH Pro (there are also All Mountain and XC versions) is a downhill tyre (natch) named after the tenacious and extremely bitey African animal, and not after a character from Winnie-The-Pooh. It’s designed to maximise grip – especially when cornering – and to reduce rolling resistance and weight: the DH Pro 27.5” version weighs less than a kilo. It uses a softer variant of the dual compound formula on the Nevegal XC Pro, and is available in a veritable flurry of acronyms which spotlight compound, tyre casing and bead variations.
At present the DH Pro version is only available in 26” and 27.5” flavours. 29er owners and their more diminutive brethren can rejoice in the slightly harder-wearing All-Mountain Honey Badger Pro and the self explanatory Honey Badger XC Pro.
Gi’s a go, mister
Poised awkwardly over an unfamiliar bike freshly shod with tubeless Honey Badger DH Pro 2.35” tyres, I managed a couple of runs down the six-mile Navene trail in Lake Garda, after a night (and morning) of biblically heavy rain. The mountains in this part of the world are limestone, and extremely steep. The Navene trail itself, six miles long with 1200m of vertical descent, is long and flowing in places, rocky in others, with more than a few chewy, technical features. Drop offs, rocky off-camber switchbacks, entertainingly vertiginous exposure and a couple of avalanches to traverse (yup) all add to the fun.
Despite the fact that the bike and I did not get on, the front tyre did an excellent job on the extremely slippery wet limestone, held its line well – even with my often-haphazardly suicidal line choices – and dug in impressively on what I thought would be very sketchy corners. Rolling resistance seemed good for such a soft compound. It comes up narrow for a 2.35, although it seems to float like a tyre with a much larger carcass. On the rear it tracked reliably inside the front on corners and proved difficult to displace. Time will tell about durability once we get a pair in for a longer-term test, but initial impressions are certainly very promising indeed.
No UK prices yet, but expect them to land in the region of 45-50 euros for the Nevegal X Pro, slightly more for the Honey Badger.