Review: Kenda Honey Badger Pro Mountain Bike Tires

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review

After riding the Kenda Honey Badger on demo bikes around Park City, Utah, on some amazing singletrack, I requested a set in for a formal review. The trails used by vendors at PressCamp and DealerCamp (in Utah), several of which had bikes equipped with the tires that don’t give a you-know-what, were a combination of ripping tree-covered singletrack and open air, dusty and rocky technical sections that were popping non-tubeless tires left and right. And the tires handled it all perfectly.

So, I wondered how they’d hold up to some east coast, North Carolina dirt, clay and roots. And, given the arrival date, fall leaves. Roll past the break to see if they’re just as good in the humid southeast as they are in the arid IMBA Epic laced mountains of the Rockies…

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review and actual weights

The first generation Honey Badgers were introduced in fall 2012, with the “Pro” surname coming a bit more recently. For now, they’re an oversized all-mountain tire that’ll take on anything. To do so, the weights are on the high side, but that’s because they’re meant to handle anything. These are the 29×2.2 and come in at 821g and 837g, pushing the upper edges of the 794 +/-40 grams claimed weights. Mounted up to the chasms that are the Nox Composites wheels, they’re simply menacing.

For the more weight conscious among us (myself included), there’s an XC version dropping in spring 2014. Weights on those are still unannounced, but they promise to be a more race worthy. And that should be awesome.

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review

Combined with the DTC (dual tread compound) and wide center knob spacing, you get a tire that rolls incredibly well but digs into any surface I’ve ridden it on. Even a padded blanket of fallen leaves that have caused more than a few slips and spills on lesser tires.

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review

Part of it is the impressively sticky, grippy rubber. The other part is the low profile center knobs that make normal riding quick.

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review

While they hold onto the trail like a cat on curtains, they let go of slop and mud so fast you’ll never know it was there. Wide spacing and good tread block shapes means nothing sticks once the tire leaves the ground.

kenda honey badger pro mountain bike tire review

The side knobs, though, are taller, more tightly spaced and have reinforced sidewalls to hold their shape. That means excellent cornering and the ability to throw it into a turn at speed without fear of sliding out. They worked equally well front and rear.

Thus far, the tires have been nothing but good. I’d opt for something lighter for XC and trail riding. Which is why I’m so excited about the upcoming XC version. If I were heading to the mountains or needed something to ride the unpredictable, I’d mount up the Honey Badgers in a second. Fortunately, they mount up super easy to both Nox Composites and Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels, seating and sealing with a road bike floor pump in both instances. And they’ve held air well, only needing minor top offs between rides (tested with Stan’s NoiTubes sealant). It may have taken Kenda a while to get into the tubeless  tire game, but these show they used that time to get it right.

If traction and predictability trump weight, put the Kenda Honey Badger Pro’s on your short list. Street price is about $60, pretty close to retail if your local shop’s got ‘em. So far, they’ve held up really well, but I’ll be putting plenty more miles on them and update this post with any long term notes.

KendaTire.com

Comments

dimples - 12/29/13 - 9:36pm

Nice review, the only thing I ever feel that is missing from the tire reviews is a caliper measurement on a x-inch wide rim. Feel that would be pretty good info and help to see if tires run true to width or not as well.

JeroenK - 12/30/13 - 3:56am

+1 for the calipers. They look true to or even over size!

i - 12/30/13 - 8:53am

a measurement would mean a lot more to me than a scale shot, in general. I like the looks of the tread, but 2.2 is kind of anemic for a real tire these days. It’s been a good 15 years since I could have fount a use for a tire that skinny.

ifbikes - 12/30/13 - 9:01am

Tire companies need to start labeling the casing width while laid out flat. That way the tire measurement is a bit more relative since rim width has such a huge affect on tire volume.

Gah - 12/30/13 - 9:33am

“It may have taken Kenda a while to get into the tubeless tire game, but these show they used that time to get it right.”

I’ve been running UST Nevegals (and others) for about 10 years now, and Kenda was one of the first companies to get it right. Not sure what the quote above is referring to…

Smokestack - 12/30/13 - 10:53am

A caliper reading won’t really tell ya much without also knowing the inner width of the rim. However, listing off the ISO size on the tire’s sidewall will inform a lot about where they’re measuring that 2.2 profile. Kenda tends to measure from the casing, not the knob like some other brands (looking at you, Conti and Michelin), so they tend to run a bit larger. I’ve seen the 2.1 Small Blocks look as big as other companies’ 2.3 full knob jobs.

aaron - 12/30/13 - 11:20am

the large gaps between the paired up center knobs to the single nob running down the center of the tire, from my experience is problematic, especially on the rear tire. (where you see the little letters on the crown of the tire.)

Why? because the crown of the tire gets excessively worn down to the tire casing in-between the knobs, before the life of the tire and knobs are over. For example, the old conti mountain kings.

Bubbrubb - 12/30/13 - 11:26am

@gah he means “tubeless ready” since very few people actually run true UST tubeless setups. UST failed to capture market share because it was just as heavy, if not heavier than running tubes. Tubeless ready or tubeless conversions became the norm… But some companies like Kenda did not engineer their tires for this sort of installation, despite most people not caring and doing it anyway.

Kovas - 12/30/13 - 12:10pm

+1 aaron

I have the exact same concern as aaron…. Most tires are great the first 100 miles of trail, it’s when those sparse center nubs start to wear down that traction (and durability) are truly put to the test… I’d like to read a follow-up report after a few months’ use and see if the dual compound holds up, especially with that minimal center tread.

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