Kenda’s Honey Badger is, like its namesake, a sticky, grippy, sharp-clawed thing. It’s a common misconception among mountain bikers of a certain sort that more grip only comes from gnarlier rubber, but if the right combination of carcass shape and flexibility, tread pattern and depth, and rubber compound are put together then you can end up with the sort of tyre that really is a true all-rounder (not just an ‘all-rounder that I put up with being slow on hardpack/lethal on wet grass/an anchor uphill because it does this one other thing really, really well’…).
And so it is with the Honey Badger. Small, shallow and widely-spaced knobs coat a rounded, 2.2in carcass, which seems a little oversized thanks to the ballooning profile but still fitted into frames without clearance issues.
In terms of what they’re best suited to, it’s probably better I say what they’re not suited to, because there’s only one thing they don’t do well, and that’s really sticky mud. In common with most other low-profile tyres that have a small, closely-spaced tread pattern (and some that have more aggressive tread, too), they do clog in these conditions, and once the muck is in there they don’t clear especially rapidly either. In any other sort of trail surface, though, they are superb: the low profile tread and rounded body give plenty of grip on loose rubble and wet, fall-line loam slicks alike without adding too much extra rolling resistance; I’ve tried them inches-deep in both dust and slop (the former being particularly novel in a UK summer), and they work equally well at maintaining traction and control in both. It’s pretty hard to get them to break away under anything other than stupidly sharp braking, too; this suits my preferences though if you’re a more ‘flamboyant’ rider then it might not suit you.
Like the Nevegal reviewed elsewhere in this issue, the Honey Badgers’ sidewalls are on the flexible side of pliable. They don’t seem to be fragile, with no problems with cuts or tears in the four tyres we had on test across three bikes and testers, but they’re not especially supportive and feel better at low(ish) pressures and running tubes. Without, they have a tendency to wallow in turns, and of course the risk of pinch flats is ever present. Kenda’s DTC compound has long been a favourite of mine too – you get some of the benefits of a true sticky rubber but with none of the sluggishness, and improved wear too.
Overall: A true all-rounder. Likely to be on my bike until it is completely bald.
|Product:||Honey Badger 29 x 2.2in tyres|
|From:||Moore Large, todayscyclist.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Jenn for Two months.|