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Kenda Valkyrie road race tire’s tech story; Flintridge gravel tire to add sizes

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Introduced at Eurobike last year with a focus on it being their first tubular tire, the Valkyrie Pro is now available in 23 and 25 widths as both a tubular and clincher, with 28 and 30 widths coming in a few months. It’s been in development for three years and is a complete re-evaluation of their road tire line. It started with them building a new technology center for R&D in Ohio. It was built to supplement their Taiwanese tire factory’s R&D center and add more testing facilities for their motor vehicle tire divisions. As it was built, Kenda’s higher ups were paired with Ben Anderson, director of bicycle sales and marketing for North America, and he talked them into using some of the resources to develop the Valkyrie.

The goals were to have equal or better rolling resistance to market leaders, puncture protection equal to tires with Aramid or Kevlar, and be as light or lighter than competing top end tires.

They ended up within 1% of the market leader for rolling resistance, and crushed it with puncture protection thanks to their K-Armor. Typically, Anderson explains, to use Kevlar you need to use more rubber because the two materials don’t bond well (so the tire is heavier), or use a looser Kevlar weave so the rubber melts into it better during construction (which offers less protection). K-Armor, however, has a very tight weave, and is made of a proprietary non-nylon/non-Aramid/non-Kevlar material that bonds very well with rubber. So, they could keep the weight down while offering best in class protection. Claimed weight is 179g for the 700×23, and just 185g for the 700×25. Look for the 28mm to be 235g and 30 to be 265g.

Rolling resistance was improved by using their R3C compound, the supple K-Armor that lets the tire to conform to the road better, and a faster profile. Anderson says there are also some manufacturing techniques that help, but they’re not willing to disclose that. R3C is a single compound, the “3” refers to their third generation of the rubber, which they say has excellent wet and dry grip. Retail is $69.95 for the clinchers, which get a reflective logo hot patch. Working on a tubeless ready version for later this year.

The Flintridge Pro is their gravel tire and has been one of their best sellers for 2016. It’s currently available in 700 x 35 and 40 sizes, but they’re planning a 650b and larger 700c size to be available by end of 2017.

It’s available in two versions. The TR (Tubeless Race, $54.95) has a single play casing with tubeless bead that’s wrapped in a rubber chafer. It’s lighter weight, but requires a bit more sealant and you’ll need to monitor and maintain it a little more.

The SCT (Sealant Compatible, $59.95) version gets an additional woven nylon layer from the bead up to the edge of the tread. That helps with air retention and structural support as well as protecting against sidewall cuts and scrapes. They say it also helps it seat better, even without sealant or massive air flow, which then lets the sealant you do use simply protect it from puncture leaks as opposed to having to use more to saturate and seal the sidewall.

They’ll get the RHP (Reflective Hot Patch) for their logo by end of February. All gravel and road tires will eventually get it as the production of each is updated, and select cyclocross tires will get it, too.

The Kwick Journey is their new city/urban trekking tire that gets e-bike certification. Any standard bicycle tire is rated up to 25km/h, but e-bike tires generally need to be tested to 50km/h to meet European standards. There’s no current U.S. CPSC certification for e-bike tires, but generally speaking any certification that comes along is on par or stricter than EN standards. Available in 700x 42, 40 and 38;  27.5×1.75 and 26×1.75. $39.95 each.


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7 years ago

Nice work, Al!

7 years ago

I want to believe in the Kenda rolling resistance claim. They have done HORRIBLE in every test for a long time.

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