Kenda is back in the game with this one
The designed-for-downhill Kenda Hellkat is now available with a more trail-friendly, dual-compound ‘ATC ‘casing that’s almost 250g lighter.
The widely spaced, blocky tread has softer durometer shoulders and a firmer rolling strip, although both zones still feel pretty squidgy to touch. The tread is more of an open, motocross-style affair with pretty aggressive edge knobs and a mostly uninterrupted shoulder channel.
The 120tpi construction uses proprietary, reinforced ‘K-Armour’ layers under the sides and crown to resist cuts and punctures and stiffen the casing, but these are thinner than on the gravity model to save weight. This trail version also omits a 20mm tall Apex layer around the bead that further helps resists burping and pinch flats. Considering all the grip on offer it’s a really light tyre at just over 850g, and we’ve had zero issues with punctures or damage during testing, even thrashing around on a long travel e-bike.
On fast or technical tracks, the slow-rebounding Hellkat is comfortable, damped and glued to the ground, making it feel seriously assured. It never does anything strange or upsetting, and this trail version appears to share similar massive grip levels with the softer, tougher DH version that would work well as a Lakes or Scotland bomber. In corners and off-camber, the soft knobs have enough base stiffness to bite without flexing or chattering and feel more continuously ‘locked on’ than ‘drift-then-catch’. Overall traction turning and braking is huge on all surfaces, wet or dry.
The Hellkat is seriously impressive in gnarly terrain, works on smoother hardpack better than it should and is really comfortable on bumpy surfaces like degraded trail centres or small embedded rocks. It’s tough and light, and being £15 cheaper than rival high-end models with equivalent performance, Kenda is properly back in the game with this one.