Trails and the way we contact them is a huge part of mountain biking. A choice of tires can really improve this communion with nature and flow. There is an overwhelming amount of tire choice out there no matter your wheel size and riding style. Kenda Tires has several good offerings for trail riding, including the BBG Pro.
The Kenda BBG Pro is a semi-slick style tire. Featuring a tightly grouped file tread in the center and large aggressive cornering blocks. The overall profile is nicely curved side to side for a smooth cornering transition. This combination makes for a quick accelerating tire with very low rolling resistance. Single ply side walls and DTC compound rubber round out the package. DTC is Kenda’s dual compound rubber, with hard 60A rubber in the center and soft 50A on the side knobs for added grip. Weight is respectable at a claimed 620 grams in 2.35 x 26 casing size, though there is no 29″ or 650b sizing yet.
My initial impressions, formed while mounting these tires, were that this was a tire with very flexible sidewall and softer than expected rubber. Great quality with no imperfections on the casing. They seated up easily to the rim without too much effort from the tire levers yet snug enough to ensure they would stay on. The first ride was a quick learning experience. Higher rolling speeds had me reaching for the brakes sooner. Due to the tread layout leaning the bike into corners took some adjustment. The wide gap means the tires hook up very well, but have to be leaned over more than I felt was comfortable at first. Quickly I came to trust the BBG’s and the discomfort vanished.
The Kenda BBG Pro can be ridden as an aggressive downhill tire, much like the meatier Nevegal. Only without the weight and rolling resistance of so much rubber. Great cornering grip once you get used to the transition feel allows speed to be carried well through corners. Braking is overall good but I felt them squirm under very hard straight line braking. The file tread supplies surprising grip while climbing and rarely breaks out. I found the thin sidewalls had me running tire pressures higher then usual to avoid pinch flats. Though this didn’t change the feel as the sidewall was more forgiving. It should be noted these are not meant to be used tubeless. Trying them tubeless was a waste of time as the thin sidewalls are too forgiving without the support of a tube. Kenda does not recommend using their tires tubeless unless rated UST and I agree. There is a tubeless version available in a 26 x 2.10 size.
Traction is best in dry and rocky conditions. The light soil in the Bow Valley easily clogged the center tread when wet, though the cornering knobs handle deep wet soil well. If you encounter lots of deep soils and ride often in wet conditions this should not be your first choice of tire. That being said I really liked them on the dry days with good grip on roots and off camber trail sections. This would make a great enduro race tire. Brian Lopes has won the A-line race on these tires many times! The BBG Pro suit the summer riding conditions found in the Bow Valley very well; dusty rocks and thin soil.
Overall a good tire for trail riding and all mountain. I plan to use these in a few races this summer, endurance and enduro. I’m looking forward to combining them with other Kenda tires to see if the BBG shine as a front or rear tire, combining them with the Nevegal or Honey Badger. If you’re riding in dusty and dry conditions and are in the market for a new set of rubbers, give the BBG Pro a try as you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you’re not using them on terrain where semi-slicks should be avoided.