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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Kendas have been getting a good workout the last few weeks. First our unusual snow blast in January, and then a good half-dozen slopfest rides since then, so I'm getting to know them pretty well. Some things are becoming very clear:

  • The rear Klaw is one of the best tires I've used for climbing in mud. The only one I've found that is better is the Hutchinson Alligator. Still, the Klaw is close, and it has wonderful predictability. It breaks loose gradually, so it's easy to modulate power on a steep slippery climb and stay on the bike. Heck, on some juicy climbs today I was running out of power before I ran out of grip.
  • The front Klaw tracks fantastically well through thick deep mud. I suspect this may simply be a property of 29" tires in general. In Portland's Forest Park there are lots of stretches where you have to ride (sometimes steeply downhill) through a gooey mess of mud and decomposed leaves that is 4-6" deep and sometimes rutted. Even with great mud tires, my 26" bikes always felt sketchy and wandered around through these sections and I knew I had to be careful not to wipe out. With the Klaws I feel far more confident in this stuff, even at fairly high speeds or when I'm going steeply downhill.
  • The 29"er tires property of rolling better over uneven terrain is also a boon on steep descents. Today's ride was peppered with branches and occasional small logs from recent storms strewn across the trail, and on a steep slippery descent it's nice not to have to interrupt braking as long (if at all) to ride over these little obstacles. One trail today finished off with a very steep 30-40' section on slick, slightly off-camber clay -- and with two 8-12 inch drops in the middle thrown in for good measure. On 26" tires there is no way I could have ridden that safely - even without the mud there's a moderate risk of going OTB. On the Klaws I did it with confidence to spare.

It's rides like today that remind me why I took the plunge and went 29". And the Klaw makes it possible.
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Great review!
Sounds like people really love them for the most challenging and sloppy conditions.
I've never found circumstances where they'd have a real advantage over my beloved Nano/Jones setup, but I did find out about their traction. In one grass/mud race, they offered TOO much traction, actually a narrow cross tire worked much better there (I know for a fact, I did a cross race on that course just an hour before the mtb race).
Perhaps I'm not used to the mud anymore, but when I grabbed all the brake I had, the front Klaw broke loose a bit, though controllably. With a rigid fork and 185mm rotor, I guess every tire would've.

I'll cherish my set of Kenda;'s till the day comes that I need them, which I'm not sure I actually. Pretty bad mud to make me long for more traction than a Nano...

How would you rate their rolling resistance over other tires you know? Gripo and traction are always welcome, as long as it keep rolling the same. How bad do conditions have to get to make it worth run them?

Happy trails,

J
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, it's a full knobby ...

Cloxxki said:
Great review!
How would you rate their rolling resistance over other tires you know? Gripo and traction are always welcome, as long as it keep rolling the same. How bad do conditions have to get to make it worth run them?
I can't really compare RR with other 29" tires, because I've only ridden other tires (Nano, Jones) the first couple weeks I had my KM, until the Klaws arrived.

Compared with 26" tires I've run recently ... I'd say it's comparable to the Hutchinson Alligator, Conti Vertical and Geax Blade, maybe a bit slower than the MutanoRaptor 2.4, and WAY faster (what isn't?) than a Conti Survival. Plenty fast-rolling for me, but then again I'm a full-knobby kind of rider. A semislick this is not.

- Dan
 

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My experience exactly...

GlowBoy said:
My Kendas have been getting a good workout the last few weeks. First our unusual snow blast in January, and then a good half-dozen slopfest rides since then, so I'm getting to know them pretty well. Some things are becoming very clear:

  • The rear Klaw is one of the best tires I've used for climbing in mud. The only one I've found that is better is the Hutchinson Alligator. Still, the Klaw is close, and it has wonderful predictability. It breaks loose gradually, so it's easy to modulate power on a steep slippery climb and stay on the bike. Heck, on some juicy climbs today I was running out of power before I ran out of grip.
  • The front Klaw tracks fantastically well through thick deep mud. I suspect this may simply be a property of 29" tires in general. In Portland's Forest Park there are lots of stretches where you have to ride (sometimes steeply downhill) through a gooey mess of mud and decomposed leaves that is 4-6" deep and sometimes rutted. Even with great mud tires, my 26" bikes always felt sketchy and wandered around through these sections and I knew I had to be careful not to wipe out. With the Klaws I feel far more confident in this stuff, even at fairly high speeds or when I'm going steeply downhill.
  • The 29"er tires property of rolling better over uneven terrain is also a boon on steep descents. Today's ride was peppered with branches and occasional small logs from recent storms strewn across the trail, and on a steep slippery descent it's nice not to have to interrupt braking as long (if at all) to ride over these little obstacles. One trail today finished off with a very steep 30-40' section on slick, slightly off-camber clay -- and with two 8-12 inch drops in the middle thrown in for good measure. On 26" tires there is no way I could have ridden that safely - even without the mud there's a moderate risk of going OTB. On the Klaws I did it with confidence to spare.

It's rides like today that remind me why I took the plunge and went 29". And the Klaw makes it possible.
And my questions as well. I've found all of what you said to be true of the Klaw and I too am wondering if it's just the fact that it's a 29 tire. The reviews for the 26 model are not very good, so maybe it's just a side benie of riding large! :confused:
 

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Homey the Clown
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You'll have to excuse me if I'm wrong, but doesn't riding stuff like this do an incredible amount of damage to trails? It's one thing if it's purpose built trails in an area that is already pretty much an environmental disaster, but riding throught stuff that is 4-6" deep with ruts can't be good for the trail or mtb's reputation. With steep, slippery descents the risk of trail damage is even greater.

Don't get me wrong, these tires sound great, and your riding abilities sound very good too, but I'm just curious about the areas you're riding.

jimbo

GlowBoy said:
My Kendas have been getting a good workout the last few weeks. First our unusual snow blast in January, and then a good half-dozen slopfest rides since then, so I'm getting to know them pretty well. Some things are becoming very clear:

  • The rear Klaw is one of the best tires I've used for climbing in mud. The only one I've found that is better is the Hutchinson Alligator. Still, the Klaw is close, and it has wonderful predictability. It breaks loose gradually, so it's easy to modulate power on a steep slippery climb and stay on the bike. Heck, on some juicy climbs today I was running out of power before I ran out of grip.
  • The front Klaw tracks fantastically well through thick deep mud. I suspect this may simply be a property of 29" tires in general. In Portland's Forest Park there are lots of stretches where you have to ride (sometimes steeply downhill) through a gooey mess of mud and decomposed leaves that is 4-6" deep and sometimes rutted. Even with great mud tires, my 26" bikes always felt sketchy and wandered around through these sections and I knew I had to be careful not to wipe out. With the Klaws I feel far more confident in this stuff, even at fairly high speeds or when I'm going steeply downhill.
  • The 29"er tires property of rolling better over uneven terrain is also a boon on steep descents. Today's ride was peppered with branches and occasional small logs from recent storms strewn across the trail, and on a steep slippery descent it's nice not to have to interrupt braking as long (if at all) to ride over these little obstacles. One trail today finished off with a very steep 30-40' section on slick, slightly off-camber clay -- and with two 8-12 inch drops in the middle thrown in for good measure. On 26" tires there is no way I could have ridden that safely - even without the mud there's a moderate risk of going OTB. On the Klaws I did it with confidence to spare.

It's rides like today that remind me why I took the plunge and went 29". And the Klaw makes it possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
jimbo said:
You'll have to excuse me if I'm wrong, but doesn't riding stuff like this do an incredible amount of damage to trails? It's one thing if it's purpose built trails in an area that is already pretty much an environmental disaster, but riding throught stuff that is 4-6" deep with ruts can't be good for the trail or mtb's reputation. With steep, slippery descents the risk of trail damage is even greater.

Don't get me wrong, these tires sound great, and your riding abilities sound very good too, but I'm just curious about the areas you're riding.

jimbo
I appreciate your concern about our trails and the political angle, but the generalization that you shouldn't ride in mud is just that -- a generalization -- and is not always true. It may be more often true in areas "back east" in the spring as the snow is melting out and the soil below is still frozen. It is also more often true of singletrack, but my winter riding area is mostly NOT singletrack. Drainage, usage levels and soil types all affect a trail's ability to handle bike usage when wet. Ask the same question on the Singlespeed board, and you're likely to get a long explanation from one of the Eugene Disciples of Dirt describing why their winter trail system holds up well.

Many of the trails in the Pacific Northwest are closed in winter, and for good reason. But many areas remain open even in our wet, muddy winter, and that includes the ones in Portland's Forest Park (the site of this, like most of my winter rides).

Nearly all the trails in FP that are open to mountain bikes are fire roads 8-10 feet wide, and in many places they are semi-graveled or with a fair amount of ballast rock and gravel added. These trails actually hold up pretty well despite relatively heavy use. While there are many areas where the mud is 4-6" deep, they are usually short stretches (typically 6-12' long), and for some reason they never seem to get much deeper than that, nor do they develop into giant mudholes. This may be partly because the width of the trail spreads out the impact (think multiple, relatively shallow ruts getting continuously rearranged rather than a single deep rut running for hundreds of feet). Also, the forest that comprises Forest Park generates an enormous amount of organic material (ie, dead leaves and such) that replenish the soil and mud quickly. Believe it or not, by summer you can't even tell it's been heavily used. Hike the park in August and you'll see trails that are alternately gravelly or smooth and grassy.

As for the political impact: The 27 miles of trails in FP that are open to bikes represent only about a third of the total trail mileage. Although open to pedestrians, the bike trails that get really muddy aren't the ones heavily used by hikers even in the dry season. Since bikers and hikers aren't forced to share the trails that much, non-bike users are mostly unaffected by any trail impacts that do occur (which, again, don't seem to be permanent in FP), and there appear to be very few conflicts or complaints.
 
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