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