One of Kenda’s longest running and most popular mountain bike tires ever has been the Nevegal. It gets a ton of OEM spec, and aftermarket sales are solid. As they put it, when the Nevegal launched, it was the standard for trail tires, and as a brand they were among the top considerations for riders.
Now, though, they admit that over the past decade, they’ve slipped a bit. The Nevegal is still good, but other tires have gotten better while Kenda’s stayed the same. With the new Hellkat series, they wanted to show that they could still produce an advanced tire with top level performance. But the founder of the company wanted to do even more. He promised resources could be pulled from their automotive side and applied to creating a new version of the Nevegal that would once again show that Kenda can be a leader in bicycle tire development. The new Nevegal 2 Pro is that tire, and they’re super excited about it.
It’s not just better than the original, it’s even far better than the Nevegal X. Normally, most development is done on the computer for a new tire, with molds only cut once a tread pattern is near final. Here, they were green lighted to create as many molds as needed to get it right. Ultimately they made three, with two becoming clear favorites. Between them, there were only slight differences in performance, but one looked more like the original, which kept it familiar for existing fans. Despite that similarity, it’s twice as fast, it’s lighter, and has better traction in cornering, climbing and braking.
It has half the rolling resistance of the original, producing about 33watts of resistance compared to 66 watts for the original. Weight is claimed at 810g in the enduro/trail build, which gets K-SCT, K-Armor and EN-DTC. Here’s what all that means:
It’s tubeless ready with their K-SCT (Sealant Compatible Tire) sidewall. The new Advanced Trail Casing marries SCT sidewalls with their proprietary K-Armor puncture protection. They say the trick with using Kevlar is that it doesn’t like to bond to rubber, so they need to use more rubber and material, and a more open Kevlar weave, to make it work. With K-Armor, which is their proprietary material, it adheres 2.5x better, so they can use less rubber, which makes the tire more supple and lighter.
EN-DTC is a new dual rubber compound with 62a center and 55a sides, which is higher than the typical 60a/50a dual compounds used. But the Shore A number is only part of the story, it’s the actual compound that matters. You could have numerous different compounds all with the same durometer but vastly different characteristics. The compounds were developed specifically this application. They tested competitive tires and five different compounds with multiple casing constructions to come to just the right combination. So, even though these tires have a slightly harder rubber than normal, which makes them roll faster, they say they still have amazing traction.
Look for a 27.5 x 2.4 available in September, and 27.5 x 2.6 and 29 x 2.4/2.6 in spring 2018. About those other tread patterns they tested, they might still see the light of day as a mud tire with slightly altered compounds and tried block heights.
Kenda took what they learned from developing the new Hellkat and Helldiver downhill mountain bike tires and took it to enduro. They say in 2016, there were only 1,000 DH bikes sold. So, to put all of the R&D into DH tires couldn’t be justified unless that tech was taken to higher volume categories. That said, nothing tests a tire’s durability and capability like downhill, so the DH versions created the right proving grounds for these new tread profiles and compounds.
Like the Nevegal 2 Pro, the Hellkat Pro Enduro gets K-SCT, EN-DTC and K-Armor. Thanks to all that, it should be a very durable tire. And thanks to the new rubber compounds, they say rolling resistance is 1/3 lower (aka, rolls 33% faster) than the original Nevegal.
The Hellkat Pro Enduro will have a 27.5 x 2.4 ready this September, and it will roll out the same additional sizes as the Nevegal 2 Pro in Spring 2018, too.