The new Kenda Hellkat and Helldiver Pro downhill mountain bike tires were developed for World Cup racing under the UR Racing Team, which includes medalists Mick and Tracy Hannah. The line gets the full knobbed, wire bead Hellkat shown above, and a faster rolling option for the rear in a quasi-semi slick, folding bead in the Helldiver.
Several new casing technologies were created for these tires, all bundled up as a system called AGC (Advanced Gravity Casing). Drop in for the details and knob designs…
AGC is made up of KVS (Kenda Vector Shield), ICB (Iron Cloak Belt) and 20mm Apex.
KVS is a woven sheet of aramid fibers on the sidewall that makes it extremely cut resistant compared to standard reinforcement materials, but also much lighter…about 200g lighter than normal dual-ply DH casings. ICB a different type of aramid belt that runs under the tread to reduce punctures.
The 20mm Apex is a taller version of their rigid rubber insert that wraps around the bead to reduce pinch flats and air burps when run tubeless. Combined, not only do these three features protect the tire, but they allow you to run lower tire pressures for better traction without worrying about the tire feeling too mushy. KVS, in particular, maintains sidewall stiffness.
On the outside, they get a new RSR (Race Stick-E Rubber) dual rubber compound that puts a softer, slower rebounding rubber where it meets the ground and a firmer standard rubber underneath to help hold its shape.
The Hellkat Pro is a 27.5×2.4 wire bead tire with 60tpi casing. Abundant siping and biting edges claim to provide solid braking, and a double-ramped leading edge on the center knobs reduces rolling resistance.
The side knobs get progressive siping to control grip as you lean the tire further, and buttressing on the outer edges supports them while minimizing weight.
In fact, weight was a key consideration with the overall design. Our Hellkat test samples came in at 1220g and 1210g, pretty good for a wire bead downhill tire. The folding bead Helldiver (also 27.5×2.4) came in at 950g.
Claimed weights are 1170g +/-59g for Hellkat Pro, and 972g +/-49g for Helldiver Pro.
The Helldiver Pro looks to us like a rear-only application, but Kenda’s calling it a “versatile…lightweight gravity tire for dry conditions”. Center knobs are tightly spaced, slightly ramped and the closest middle ones use a tie bar to connect them for stronger braking. Siping appears every other row in the center to blend fast rolling with good traction.
Side knobs are much more aggressive, with a staggered setup to engage and hold at multiple lean angles. The Helldiver Pro gets the same AGC features as the Hellkat Pro.
Both the wire and folding bead tires are tubeless ready, saving even more weight over a traditional DH setup since you won’t need a heavy duty tube…which should also provide more system suppleness for better traction. Pricing is $85 for Helldiver, $80 for Hellkat, and the folding version in a month irndmso for $85. Available at retail in the USA second week of May. Kenda says enduro versions of these are in the works, too.