Weight: 611 grams (stated)
Intended Use: Hardpack to intermediate trails
Rider: 6 ft, 170lbs, XC to All Mountain
Test Location: South Mountain, Phoenix Arizona. Loose over hardpack, gravel, sand.
Test Bike: Pivot Mach 5
Duration of test: 3 weeks
The oppressively hot summer here in Phoenix has severely limited my desire to ride, and I desperately needed something to give me little motivation to get out and hammer the trails. When the big brown Santa showed up with a new set of Kenda Slant Sixes, I was excited to turn my summer of beer drinking into a summer of more riding.
I’ve been a big fan of Kenda (specifically its Nevegal tire) for some time. It handles any situation with ease and inspires confidence when cornering and descending. But it’s a bit big and bulky for XC riding, when your legs are propelling you more than gravity is. I’ve been wanting something a little faster, and the Slant Six, with an intermediate tread pattern and reasonable weight, seemed to fit the bill.
After mounting the Slant Sixes I wondered whether I had made the right choice. Though the tires are labeled as 2.35, they don’t look that big, especially when compared with my trusty Nevegals. The other noticeable feature is these tires have a much more rounded profile than the Nevegals.
When I got to the trail, I was hesitant to push into corners as hard as I would on my Neve’s. Gradually, as I got more comfortable, I started to hit turns harder, trying to see what the Slant Six could handle. My initial concerns were unfounded. These tires can rail. The side knobs on the tire aren’t huge, but they are big enough to handle hard turns in firmer conditions. Hardpack trails are obviously no problem, but I was surprised how well I could corner in loose-over-hardpack and rocky conditions. The only place I felt I was giving up performance was when the trail degraded into sand or gravel. However, the Slant Six wasn’t horrible in these situations, just not ideal.
The Slant Six’s rounded profile and mid-size, ramped center knobs make for a tire that rolls up to speed pretty quickly—noticeably different than the Nevegal. The tires felt pretty fast during my time on them; they were fast enough that I started thinking I need to cut back on the beer and devote more time to getting back in shape to truly take advantage of these new treads.
Their climbing traction is surprisingly good, too. I didn’t notice any slipping going up a variety of climbs. With its soft rubber compound, they are great in rocks and hardpack, and hold their own in scree and other loose stuff. Braking traction is adequate for a tire like this. The smallish center knobs do fine under moderate braking, but they suffer when you try to scrub speed abruptly and break free fairly quickly. I learned to compensate for this by getting on the brakes a bit earlier and keeping more weight over the rear wheel on downhills. But if you are riding in faster, more extreme conditions, this is probably not the right tire for you. And due to the rounded profile and minimal tread, they suck in deep sand. But that isn’t saying much, because most tires suck in sand. Sand sucks.
After several rides on the Slant Six, I found myself wanting to run them at lower pressures. I kept them around 33 psi for the front and 38 for the rear, which is necessary for the rocky conditions in which I generally ride. But these tires were begging to be ridden under 30 psi. I tried this with tubes and found them to be great at lower pressures. However, I was not able to get the Slant Six to convert to tubeless (though I know there are people out there who have had success). Tiny holes appeared in the sidewalls as soon as I pumped them up to a pressure that would seat the bead with a Stan’s rim strip. Kenda says Stan’s sealant will void the tire warranty, but I think the issue has as much to do with their casing as it does the tubeless conversion kit. Kenda does make this tire in a UST version, but it is significantly heavier.
Overall, I am enjoying this tire. It handles most terrain very well and is perfect, in my opinion, for hardpack to intermediate terrain—which covers the bulk of the riding in the US. They’ve also held up to abuse pretty well so far. With its relatively low weight and low rolling resistance, this is a perfect tire for 24 Hour and marathon races where a little traction is needed.
Meet the Kenda BBG, perhaps the single best trail bike tire currently on the market.