Choosing the right pair of tyres is like choosing the right pair of shoes – it’s pretty much impossible to find the one set that will suit every purpose. That hasn’t stopped Kenda from giving it a red-hot crack with the Honey Badger Pro tyres though.
Slotting into Kenda’s Trail/All Mountain category, the Honey Badger Pro is an intermediate tyre designed to provide grip in a wide range of trail conditions. Dry, wet, loose, hardpack, according to Kenda the Honey Badgers simply “don’t care”. The tyres come in a high-volume 2.20” width and are available in 26”, 27.5” (tested), and 29” diameters.
Despite only costing $65 per tyre, Kenda have squeezed a lot of tech into the Honey Badgers. They utilise a supple 120tpi casing, folding kevlar bead, and Sealant Compatible Technology (SCT) for safe and easy tubeless setup. Being the Pro version, the Honey Badgers also get Kenda’s special blend of rubber called DTC. The tread features a firmer 60A base rubber through the center of the tyre, and a softer 50A durometer for the cornering blocks.
Our test tyres came in a touch under the claimed weight, at 760 grams per end. That puts them at the weighty end of the XC spectrum, but right on the money for an aggressive do-it-all trail tyre.
Mounted up to a set of Curve carbon wheels with a 23mm internal width, the Honey Badgers provide a large and beautifully-rounded profile that actually measures over 2.3” at its widest point. For those out there thinking of converting their 26” bikes to 27.5”, forget about the Honey Badgers for your project – they’re huge.
On The Trail
At cruising speeds on the way to the trailhead, the Honey Badgers hum along audibly like the chunky tyre that they are. There’s a lot of rubber on the ground at the one time, and with over 1.5kg of rotational mass, the Honey Badgers take a little while to wake up from rest. That being said, the Honey Badgers do roll surprisingly well for their girth, which is due to the shallow and heavily ramped centre tread.
Once onto the dirt, the high-volume tyres maintain great contact with any irregularities in the trail, providing a comfortable and connected feel. We ran the Honey Badgers both front and rear, but we reckon they’re definitely better suited to the front. The widely spaced centre blocks don’t feature a lot of tall or wide edges for braking traction, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of force on the rear brake lever to lock up the back end. They also tend to spin out on the rear if you’re not very linear with power delivery.
Despite Kenda’s claims, the Honey Badgers did not inspire confidence in slick and muddy conditions, purely because the shallow tread struggles to reach down through the soft surface to the firmer soil below. Wet rocks and pea gravel were no problem, however, due to the grippy DTC rubber, but you can forget about claggy mud.
Get the Honey Badgers back onto some soft loam or loose rock however and they’ll hang on for dear life like the assertive hunter they’re named after. There can be a slightly hesitant transition as you lean the bars over through the corners, but the rounded tyre profile encourages you to do so quickly. Once you’re deep into the corner with the bike heavily leant in beneath you, those beefy and reinforced shoulder blocks reward you with plenty of bite.
As an aggressive trail tyre, the Honey Badgers reminded us a lot of our current favourite in this category, the Bontrager XR3. As a direct comparison, the Honey Badgers are grippier in drier and more hardpack conditions, whereas the XR3 are better suited to softer and damper conditions. Otherwise both are a similar weight, with a similarly durable construction.
It has to be said that from our experience, the Honey Badger Pro tyres didn’t quite deliver on their claim of versatility. But then just like shoes, it’s genuinely hard to find a tyre that can perform in all conditions. Where the Honey Badgers do perform well though is in loose, rocky, hardpack, and mostly dry conditions. In that environment, they corner like they’re on rails, and they are perfectly suited to hard-hitting riders on 4-5” trail bikes.
Despite being a bit portly and being better suited to front wheel use, we reckon they’re brilliant value at $65 for a tubeless-compatible tyre. – ENDuromag