Rapid rubber for covering ground, but surprisingly grippy in the dirt as well.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Kenda Karma II Pro SCT


  • Lightweight. Fast rolling and efficient. Good grip considering the application.


  • Out of its depth in rocky terrain. Gets a bit wild in the wet.


Kenda Karma II Pro SCT tyre review


Price as reviewed:


The Karma II is a complete update of an older Kenda design intended for mixed conditions trail and XC riding – now trendily marketed as down-country. With an all-new tread pattern, casing and build, it’s loaded with new construction methods and a modern block pattern, but (in the UK at least) there is a brand perception that Kenda is not on the same level as the best MTB tyres from the likes of Maxxis, Schwalbe and Continental.

The Karma II is reasonably lightweight at 770g including SCT. This denotes the brand’s extra nylon sidewall cut protection layer that extends all the way up to the shoulder tread blocks and bolsters sidewall support. There’s a single-ply casing and single compound rubber blend and it all builds into a fast tyre that strikes a great balance between rolling speed, grip and damping.

Kenda Karma tyre

Kenda Karma tyre

The tread is very open and closer to a cross-country mud pattern like the new Michelin Wild XC or Maxxis Forekaster. Each block is siped (cut) to better allow the tread to deform on slippery surfaces, and big gaps between tread blocks shed muck more easily when the ground is sticky. The rubber might not be a fancy double or triple compound, but it’s definitely not too plastic and pingy and grips very well for an XC-level tyre.

We’ve always found these open, smaller blocked tread patterns a great compromise for typical damp UK conditions; they cut through grease and shallow mud and also work well in blown-out loam and dirt during summer months. Of course, there’s a very welcome speed advantage too, particularly if you’re covering long distances.

Compared directly to the WTB and Schwalbe tyres on test here, the Karma II is more sure footed with less of the Wicked Will’s scratchy, clawing feel and superior braking traction compared to the Ranger. Kenda’s tyre is totally predictable and rolls really well without any excess bobbling through the negative spaces in the tread too, even at the harder pressures you’ll likely run on thinner casing tyres like this. Especially if you want to avoid deforming sidewalls or burping air when aggressively slashing turns.

Designed as a XC tyre for moist conditions, this obviously isn’t going to work in rough and rocky enduro situations. But if you live somewhere with less pinch flat risk, soft dirt and smaller roots, you can likely benefit from the significant weight savings and rolling speed gains.

With the small pointy blocks grips eking out traction on a ton of surfaces, the Karma only really gets caught out in really sloppy or saturated conditions when a burlier tyre with a softer rubber compound will always find a bit of extra security.


For a properly fast tyre that you can push surprisingly hard, this Kenda is a great option and comes at a price that represents excellent value.


Sizes:27.5/29in x 2.2, 2.4 and 2.6in. (29 x 2.4in tested)