With so many choices out there with tires it's hard to make an informed decision these days. Hopefully, this review from our friend Stephen Scott helps narrow the choices down for you. He shares his thoughts on the Kenda Hellkat 27.5 x 2.40 folding bead tire. Check it out!
The Kenda Hellkat has proven to be a great tire for exploring beyond other popular offerings out there, most notably for me the Minion and Nevegal. While these tires made their way on to a DH bike, I opted for the EN ATC to save rotating weight and that choice has not disappointed at all. This tire has proven to be much grippier than expected in the wet pacific northwest winter and has given something to look forward to testing further as the seasons change into spring and summer.
The Kenda Hellkat tire has the appearance of a full-on downhill tire with mid-sized outer knobs accompanied by a smaller and shorter set of transition and center knobs. The stated size of 2.4 is accurate when aired up on a 28mm rim with a 2.4 width at the outer knobs and a 2.31 width at the casing. The tires were surprisingly light and both measured marginally under Kenda's stated weight at 816 and 820 grams. The Hellkats installed easily and aired up tubeless with minimal sealant and a floor pump. These tires look the part too and have some of the more modest sidewall graphics out there if that's something you're into.
Out on the trails, I was able to put the Kenda Hellkats to the test in a wonderful mix of tacky dirt, mud, and snow. The Hellkats hooked up incredibly well and did not feel even a bit nervous when cornering hard in loose terrain. Despite not being the DH variant, the EN ATC felt well supported and never squirmed under load. When approaching traction threshold, I felt feedback from the tires well before giving out, which is something I cannot say for my other frequented winter option, the Nevegal! In the muddy test conditions, these treads shed mud exceptionally well and have yet to pack up severely, which was a pleasant surprise.
Since my bike is setup for shuttling by pedal power, I had the opportunity to do some climbing as well. These tires rolled quickly on trail but also reduced effort pedaling back up the hill compared to the Minions I'm most used to. Both on and off road, pedaling efficiency was there and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to test out the Hellkats on a dedicated trail bike next.
For me personally, Kenda has been becoming a bit of a tired brand beyond my disproportionate favoritism for the Small Block, but the Hellkats have been an incredibly pleasant surprise. If these tires perform anywhere near as well in the ideal spring and dry, dusty summer conditions of the PNW, I may have a new tire of choice for use in both DH and trail!
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