Kenda has provided us with a wide range of tires to review. They are well known for tires like the Nevegal and the Small Block 8 - both of which are staples of Kenda's line. A quick visit to their website will show you they have a wide variety of treads and something for nearly every condition.
While you're there, check out the Kozmik Lite II. This tire often flies under the radar in favor of the Karma, the new Honey Badger XC, and even the Small Block 8. We've spent a long time on the Kozmik, and it's Kenda's secret weapon. If you race XC or marathon endurance, read on.
The Kozmik is a 29", 2.0 tire weighing in at roughly 600g. Sure, there are other lighter tires out there, however this tire offers Kenda's SCT (sealant compatible tire) side wall and is a little thicker than some of the competitor's feather weight tires. For some riders, weight is a big deal. But in a race situation, we'll take a bit of a weight penalty to have a tire that won't puncture or take a side wall cut and leave us stranded in who-knows-where.
Set-up with the SCT line of tires (this applies to all Kenda SCT rubber) is super simple. We use Stan's universal valves with our crankbrothers wheels. We remove the core, shoot it with the compressor, and inject the sealant. With the new crankbrothers rims (2014 models), we've found that we can hit the bead with a bit of soapy water and go to the floor pump. No compressor required – which is great for tire changes at the race venue.
THE HOOK UP
Here is where the Kozmik shines. We're not tire tread makers, nor are we physicists. Or engineers. But there is something about what we have referred to as the Yoda tread that makes these tires roll. They are crazy fast on the straights when the tire profile is "on the Yoda". When cornering, the tires have just the right knob size and shape to have reliable grip.
Most of the time, we run this tire on both front and rear. However, it would make a killer rear tire if you've got a favorite up front, say a Karma or a Honey Badger.
We've also found that this tire performs on a wide variety of conditions. We've tested it in nearly frozen, wet conditions of the 2014 Whiskey 50, to blown out, dry, dusty and loose fire roads. This tire can handle it all. However it is most at home on a XC race course with a bit of soft-over-hard packed surfaces.
Bonus : this tire seems to last for.ev.er. Maybe it goes back to that Yoda tread and how the rider's weight is on a relatively wide knob. Regardless, we get a lot of bang for our buck out of this tire.
Overall, we're very impressed with this tire. Its speed, reliable corning and durability are all bonuses. This tire is perfect for XC and marathon racing and training. If we had to pick just one tire from Kenda to ride year round, it would be this one.