Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kenda Kwest: Tires Of The Zombie Apocalypse

I have owned four pairs of Kenda Kwests in my lifetime: 20-inchers on an old Bike Friday tandem, 26ers as replacements for the stock knobbies on our current tandem, a 700c set that tricked me with a crazy-low clearance table price (folding tires for $10 each?!?), and the 20-inchers (again) that came stock on my Xootr Swift.

And, without fail, I have loathed them all.

See, the thing about Kenda Kwests is that they are INSANELY durable. Four sets of 'em, thousands of miles, single bikes, tandems, every surface you can imagine, and I have NEVER flatted one. Not once. I haven't even been able to wear one down to the point where the carcass is thin enough to be vulnerable. I suspect Kenda keeps a zombie locked in a basement somewhere whose only job is to bite every pair made. It's the only thing that would explain how hard they are to kill.

You're thinking that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Super durable tires? Tires that refuse to flat? Sign me up, right? But here's the catch. Are any of my readers old enough to remember the joke about Campy Nuovo Record? Namely, was so reliable that it would shift like crap forever. Well, have I got the tires for your Nuovo Record bike. Inflate Kwests to a vaguely reasonable pressure and they have all the compliance of oak planks. Release a couple psi, and they wallow around like pigs in slop. Either way, they have the dull, plodding responsiveness that again reveals their zombie DNA. But, lucky you, they'll provide this awe-inspiring performance for years... and years... and years...

I got to inspect the set on my Swift this weekend since the mild winter inspired me to pull the studded tires off. Happily, the sidewalls on my Kwests are starting to feel just a little dry (thanks to a lot of UV and winter salt), so I might have an excuse to dumpster these things when Spring finally arrives. You can bet that when I do, I'll follow Rule #2:


Steve Fuller said...

Treat yourself to a new site of nice tires and send those down to The Collective. Gravel to Perry on Sunday?

Anonymous said...

my commuter 'bent came with the oaken Kwests. Not awful, and not showing much wear. I do save them for winter use, though, and use more flexible tires in the good weather.

Kenda can ("kan"?) make pliable tires, though. My go-fast 'bent came with the Kaliente's, and they are much softer, more flexy, and wear much faster.

Steve in Peoria