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Review: Kenda Pinner Pro tires offer great grip and yaw-some cornering

Kenda Pinner Pro mountain bike tire review, Steve Fisher, rock slab
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There’s nothing better than a set of tires that perform well on your local terrain; currently I’m feeling grateful that Kenda sent me their brand new Pinner Pros for review. The Pinner Pro was designed as a gravity focused tire intended for dry conditions, and that suits my area of B.C. perfectly.

Kenda worked with Aaron Gwin while developing the Pinner Pro, seeking to create a tire that grips well on hard surfaces, corners predictably and rolls fast. The Pinner Pros are also well reinforced, offering puncture and sidewall protection without getting too heavy. So, do they live up to the hype?

Kenda Pinner Pro ride review

Kenda Pinner Pro, ATC on bike

We received these tires just a few weeks prior to their launch. I chose to ride the ATC tires, so the following notes are relevant to the trail model. Both Pinner Pro models have identical tread patterns, so the only difference I’d expect to find in the AGC tire would be stiffer sidewalls and bit more weight.

Kenda Pinner Pro, Steve Fisher climbing rocks

My first test lap was in ideal dry conditions, and right away I was impressed with the tires’ solid grip on rocks and hard packed dirt. I found the tires stuck really well to uphill rock slabs, grabbed roots easily, and only slipped out on me once or twice in steep, dusty corners that would challenge any tire.

When I climbed one particularly rocky, technical ascent the rear tire clawed onto every little edge and remained firmly planted all the way up. I’d have to say the Pinner Pros shined on technical climbs to the point where they truly helped me crank up difficult sections and obstacles.

I got one damp day during my testing, and the Pinners did fairly well being pushed outside their comfort zone. I found the rear tire still grabbed pretty well when climbing up wet rocks and roots – It saved me at least once, slowly creeping over wet roots as I was gasping for air and losing correct posture!

Pinner Pro actual weights

Kenda Pinner Pro, AGC model actual weight
Pinner Pro AGC
Kenda Pinner Pro, ATC model actual weight
Pinner Pro ATC

The Pinner Pro ATC also comes in at a reasonable weight for a trail tire, and they don’t feel heavy or slow on the climbs. I received both types for testing in 27.5″ size, and both weighed within the plus side of their given ranges. Actual weight for the AGC version was 1,232g and the ATC was 939g.

If you’re racing DH or hitting aggressive bike park terrain and have lift support, the AGC “Gravity” versions might be for you. But if you’re earning those turns on normal trails, the ATC “Trail” versions still provide plenty of protection in a tire that’s going to be more supple and weigh about 30% less.

Braking performance and cornering support

Kenda Pinner Pro, Steve Fisher corner air

As for descending, the most obvious benefit of these tires is their sheer grip. My trails are littered with rock slabs, and the Pinner Pros provided an impressive amount of traction on all of them, whether rough or smooth.

A few times I hit the brakes hard on slabs, and was surprised how much I could reel in my speed before hitting the lockup point. If you ride big, steep slabs that require you to keep your speed down, the Pinner Pros will do this with ease in dry conditions. I did ride a few wet slabs, and they still held fairly well but this isn’t where the Pinner Pro excels.

On rougher trails the chunky tread does a fine job of holding a line. Pinballing through rootbeds and rocky trails was no problem, and although the tires’ construction layering make them sound heavy-duty, the KVS reinforcement doesn’t make the sidewalls feel overly stiff.

Cornering support is definitely adequate, but the tires are still able to flex and find traction on the rough stuff. All around, the Pinner Pros offered great traction on any hard, dry surface from butter-smooth rocks to loose-over-hardpack dirt.

Kenda Pinner Pro, ATC profile

One goal for Kenda was ensuring smooth, predictable cornering, and I found the Pinner Pros do roll very nicely from side-to-side. The side knobs’ non-staggered positioning seems to have worked, and the profile of the tire on my rims (pictured on my 31.5mm front rim) is fairly round. Whether hooking into a big berm or slapping around tight corners, the Pinner Pros transition smoothly and hold good grip at full lean.

Kenda Pinner Pro, logo on rim
I love the looks of the topographic pattern on the Pinner Pros, and it shows up nicely when the tires get dusty.

Kenda didn’t make a big stink about braking, but I found the Pinner Pros brought me to a halt quickly and easily. Those large lugs grab the trail in two ways; On smooth, hard stuff the knobs’ surface area offers a lot of grip (as mentioned earlier they’re excellent on slabs), and in loose-over-hardpack their generous braking edges dig in well. On dirt trails I found myself braking late when entering corners, knowing the tires would slow me down very quickly.

The Pinner Pros are also designed to be fast-rolling, and their smooth outer profile does allow them to pick up and carry speed easily. The lugs are large, so they put off a buzz on paved roads but they still roll quite well due to their smooth tops.

If they’re good enough for Gwin…

Kenda Pinner Pro, Aaron Gwin testing.
I bet the Pinner Pros roll extra fast when they’re on Aaron Gwin’s bike!

I found Kenda’s claims about the Pinner Pro’s handling to hold true. The tires provide excellent grip on any hard, dry surface, and they transition very smoothly from side-to-side. They also brake well, especially on smooth surfaces, and roll quickly for a full-lug tire. Since I haven’t been running them for too long I can’t say much about durability or wear, but I haven’t burped, slashed or damaged mine in any way yet.

Check out our launch coverage the full tech features, claimed weights and details on the tire’s construction and casing.


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