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Kenda Nevegal X Pro Tire

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Tested: Kenda Nevegal X Pro Tire

Rating: Vital Review

by AJ Barlas

A few years ago, partially from boredom and partially thanks to new developments from manufacturers in the industry, I decided the time had come to try some of the different tires that were hitting the market. Today the waters are still being tested. There have been some great tires in that time and some new faves, so when the chance to skid about on the updated Kenda Nevegal came up I figured, why not? Maybe they've improved. After all, quite a bit has changed since the original version was introduced.

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The original Nevegal was a popular tire, though not so much with those that, shall we say, have high expectations of their tires. This new tire, labeled the Kenda Nevegal X Pro, is a downsized version of the original Nevegal DH tire that is 150 grams lighter and also features more aggressively ramped knobs to improve rolling resistance. An interesting touch is the optimization of the knob size for different tire sizes, with the 29er version getting smaller knobs to compensate for the larger tire contact patch. Made with Kenda's Dual Tread Compound (DTC), the Nevegal X Pro is aimed at the Enduro, Trail, and XC market, and is available in all wheel sizes with a range of widths to suit most applications.

Nevegal X Pro Tire Features

  • Available in all 3 wheel sizes: 26, 27.5 and 29-inch
  • Available in 2.1 (26 & 650b), 2.2 (29), and 2.35-inch (26 & 650b) widths
  • Designed for use in "rough and rocky terrain, light mud, hard pack, and dry terrain"
  • UST compatible
  • DTC (Dual Tread Compound - 60A durometer center and 50A on edges)
  • Weight: 787g (650b x 2.35 - tested)
  • Price: $64.95

Setup & Initial Impressions

Fitting the tires tubeless proved to be one of my most difficult yet. The SRAM ROAM 50 wheels they were fit to have had new and old tires installed with nothing more than a track pump and minimal effort, but the Nevegal X Pro treads required some time with an air compressor, two sets of hands and removal of the valve core in an effort to get as much air in as fast as possible. In the end, we got them, and perhaps with a different wheel/rim this would be different? Still, it's worth noting. Once installed it was clear that this is a rather svelte 2.35 tire, with a low profile and less volume than a number of treads that have been on my bikes lately.

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The use of intermediate knobs are often a little concerning for us. On the X Pro they appeared to stand out quite prominently, which together with the round tire profile left us to wonder how well the cornering knobs would be able to hook up in the dirt. The rubber also felt firmer than the indicated 60A center knobs and 50A corner knobs suggested, but can you really feel that, especially on a tire that hasn't been broken in? We gave these tires the benefit of the doubt and decided to let their performance on the trail do the talking for them.

On The Trail

The Nevegal X Pro tires were tested in a large variety of terrain and conditions. From the always fun, dry, dusty hardpack of Northern California to the frozen solid velcro traction of the North Shore and everything in between. The first thing we noticed was an obvious improvement in the sidewall. Gone are the droopy, mushy sidewalls of old - no more squirming about, a welcome improvement. Not only did this assist in preventing flats in rough terrain or at low pressures, but it also increased the stability of the tire.

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This tire rolls very well for one of this size and intended purpose, getting up to speed easily enough when the time came to put the power down. Climbing traction was good too, but that's nowhere near as fun of course. Braking traction was fine, and the X Pro tracks well while on the anchors. In wet, rooty conditions it would tend to scatter about a little too erratically while trying to slow down, but others can do similar unpredictable things in this situation. The same cannot be said for cornering traction, with the X Pro exhibiting a very vague feeling while cornering or rallying across off-camber terrain. This faint feel led to some very near misses and were it not for some dumb luck and awareness of running a tire I didn't know, it would no doubt have resulted in some spectacular offs.

The X Pro performed best in 'tacky' conditions, though even then it would lose traction sooner than others when pushing hard into corners. We tested with varying air pressures, and while some adjustments bettered the performance, the X Pro never truly inspired confidence. This lack of cornering stability seems to come from the imposing intermediate knobs, which due to the very round nature of the tire did more of the cornering than the outermost blocks. The DTC compounds also felt firmer than many others ridden. These attributes created traits we never overcame in the tire.

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Long Term Durability

The Kenda Nevegal X Pro tires remained on our bike for roughly six weeks, during which time they showed little wear. Despite being ridden in dusty NorCal, damp PNW and frozen B.C., the majority of the riding they saw was damp and wet, which doesn't wear on the tire as much as other conditions. They did make it through the abrasive conditions of frozen B.C. relatively unscathed, conditions which often see tires begin to shred a little. No flats were experienced, even when testing at silly low tire pressures, and no issues with burping or deformities were observed in the tire either.

Things That Could Be Improved

The elephant in the room is lack of traction, or more to the point, cornering traction. Today's riding style requires a tire that almost makes you feel like you're cheating for using it, and as a result sees riders pushing hard and fast into every section of the trail. I would definitely welcome Kenda taking this tire in that direction, especially given the intended rider demographic of the Nevegal X Pro. I would take slower rolling, faster wearing in return for better cornering abilities any day of the week, as I'm sure many would!

What's The Bottom Line?

Kenda have made a few good improvements to the Nevegal in this newest iteration - they roll much quicker, are more stable, long-wearing, and tubeless compatible. Unfortunately for the serious crowd of riders - those looking for the most traction and the confidence garnered from it - Kenda have more work to do. The X Pro just doesn't like being pushed hard, especially while cornering, which is a quality expected of something billed as the "ultimate tire for all conditions." If you're looking for a tire that will give you confidence to hit sections of trail fast and aggressively, leaving you to wonder how you keep cheating death, this may not be the best option for you. If you're an intermediate, less aggressive rider and would like something with a little more meat on it while still rolling well, the Nevegal X Pro could be worth a look - it's a decent 'big-ish' tire. The X Pro is due on shelves in early February, 2014.

For more details, visit www.kendatire.com.



About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas started riding as most do, bashing about dirt mounds and popping off street curbs. Not much has changed, really. These days the dirt mounds have become mountains and the street curbs, while still getting sessioned, are more often features on the trail. He began as a shop monkey racing downhill since day zero, only to go 'backwards' and start riding and racing BMX later on. He then came full circle once moving to Whistler. AJ loves riding everything from 8 hour mountain pass epics (bonking) to lap after lap in the park and 20 minute pumptrack sessions at sunset. Driven by his passion for biking and exposing people to the great equipment we ride, AJ started and maintains the Straightshot MTB blog. So long as wheels are involved, and preferably dirt (the drier and dustier the better), life is good.

Specifications

Product Kenda Nevegal X Pro Tire
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail, Freeride / Bike Park
Wheel Size 29x2.20", 27.5x2.35", 27.5x2.10", 26x2.35", or 26x2.10"
Tire Width
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Bead Folding
Durometer 60 Shore A In The Center // 50 Shore A Cornering Knobs
Sidewall 120 TPI
Weight 1 lb 11.8 oz (787 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $64.95
More Info Kenda Website

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