The Honey Badger is a ferocious, weasel sized critter that is care free and fears nothing. The tire by the same name from KENDA hopes to capture those sentiments in its latest offering to the mountain bike market. The Honey Badger is intended as an all-round tire, a true mountain bike tire which can handle most trail conditions. Available in wheel sizes 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ it may also be run tubeless if desired. DTC dual compound rubber rounds out the package of the widely spaced knobby tire hitting the scales at 735 grams.
The Honey Badger tires are of the same high quality manufacturing I have come to know from testing KENDA’s other offerings, including the BBG Pro. You can read my BBG Pro review for more info. The Honey Badger bead fits tightly against the rim, but slides on effortlessly without the need to curse while juggling a dozen tire levers; an all too common occurrence I find when installing new tires. Installation was a breeze front and back. After a few rides I was surprised at how well these tires roll. Once you got them up to speed, I was pleased with the lack of resistance slowing me down when rolling through and along a variety of trail conditions. This is a bonus for anyone that pedals paved and gravel pathways on their way to the trailhead.
Out on the trail I found the tires climbed well, especially on hard packed surfaces. Laying the bike into corners feels predictable without any transitions in grip throughout lean angles. At first, I experienced an indescribable feeling when carving through high speed berms brought on by the fast and smooth transitioning tread. When the surprising amount of grip slipped away, the Honey Badger drifted well allowing me to bring it back into full control. The shallower ramped centre knobs tend to be overwhelmed by heavy braking earlier than expected, though I found the performance predictable. The very round casing profile and cornering characteristics got me thinking about trying a few different tire combinations, as I felt the Honey Badger didn’t suit my aggressive riding style when used as a front tire. It would drift in high speed corners on hard pack and over loose trails.
After a week of riding the Honey Badger tires as a set matched front and back, I decided to mix things up and see if my reservations about the Honey Badger could be swayed. Swapping out the front tire for a KENDA BBG Pro tire allowed me to test and see how the Honey Badger would really shine as a rear trail tire. The square profile of the BBG Pro with smooth centre knobs allowed a more aggressive cornering approach while keeping with the excellent rolling properties of the Honey Badger. I rode this combination confidently across wet rock slabs and deep loam in Whistler. Trails ridden prior to or on new trails where I was hesitant with the Honey Badger on the front, I now felt that I could charge confidently with this combination. As a rear tire, smooth transition and braking gave the bike a playful feel. The knob profile of the Honey Badger excels in hard packed and loose conditions with a packed base with roots. The Honey Badger gripped well on rock slabs, even when ridden in the wet coastal region. However, deep loam can overwhelm the round tread profile as it lacks deep square cornering knobs to dig into the fluffy soil.
Overall the Honey Badger is a very capable tire up to the challenge on a variety of trails and conditions. It makes an awesome cross country trail riding tire front and back. The low rolling resistance and consistent cornering are fun in all but the deep soil and mud. I loved the combination of the Honey Badger and BBG Pro for aggressive trail riding and descending as they complimented each other nicely. The Honey Badger is a great tire for the versatile rider who wants one set of tires to set and forget. The tire will give you careless confidence on your trail bike, while exceling on most terrain.