Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Want it Wednesday: Kenda Nevegals (Tires and Self Discovery)

This week’s Want it Wednesday is the Kenda Nevegal. It’s just a tire but I think it is one of the best all around tire. Everyone is confident they figured out what is the best all around tire, the only difference is I am right.

I just bought Sue a used set of Kenda Nevegals off the MMBA classifieds, 29 inch version of the tires I am currently using, because that poor girl hits the ground often. They are more aggressive than the tires she is currently using so I think this might be the trick.

I went through a lot of tires before I settled on Nevegals. I purged about half my used tires when I moved into an apartment but the tires I have left show an evolution in my way of thinking. I can trace my current collection of tires back to 2004. Back then I used parts like a fragile Scott thermal plastic bar (that snapped in two, like a twig), flimsy Kooka Racha brake levers, and a super flexy RockShox Indy SL to keep the weight of my Litespeed under 21 lbs. To make this bike a total deathtrap, I used 1.5 Geax semi-slick tires. These tires were light and had low rolling resistance but going around corners was downright scary. They were a poor choice for racing but worked out well when I put them on a spare wheelset for riding on dirt roads.

The Geax were completely useless in slick conditions so I used 1.5 Continental Cross Country tires when racing in the rain. These tires were slippery in the rain. I think all tires are slippery in the rain but mud would cling to the Cross Countrys making them heavy and slippery. They served a second life as OK cross tires when I cobbled up my Felt mountain bike to race cyclocross. At first they discontinued the Kevlar version of this tire, then they discontinued it all together. My theory is the kind of people who would want this tire migrated over to cyclocross bikes.

I went to Maxxis Maxxlite 310s when I bought my Felt in 2006. They only weighed 310 grams and were a little less sketchy than the Gearx but they were still sketchy, and prone to flats; another poor choice. I quickly replaced the Maxxlites with Continental Twister Supersonics. I really liked these tires. They only weighed 370 grams and were a huge improvement over the Maxxis. In the brief period of time I did OK as a racer, these were the tires I used. I was horrified when Continental stopped selling them in the States. The only issue I had with Twisters was they wore out quickly and they did not work well when they were worn. I had to replace them a few times a season. If they were still available here I might still be using them, on dry, non-technical trails anyway.

I replaced my Twister Supersonics with Hutchinson Pythons. Pythons were about 100 grams heaver than the Twisters, which was still pretty light, and had a little better traction, at least on hard packed trails. Their Marketing hook back in 2007 was they were high volume tires. They may have been on to something because all tires seemed to have migrated to a high volume design; I don’t see this even mentioned anymore. I learned my lesson about watching a tire I like get discontinued so I stocked up on Pythons. I still have a supply of brand new Pythons that I should probably think about selling. I think Pythons enjoyed a bit of a boon when they were quick to jump on the 29er tubeless bandwagon. I though tubeless 29 inch tires was just a fad. I’m not always right.

The Tomac Type-X I bought off the Kenda race team in 2010 came with 1.9 Kenda Karmas. I know pro teams use the tires their sponsors tell them to use but apparently Karmas are capable of winning races even if I’m not. I was happy with these tires and put a set on my Inglis single speed too but sometimes my bikes would get a little loose around corners. Last year I put a 1.9 Kenda Nevegal on my front wheel and this seemed like the way to go. The rear tire would start to slide around corners but it was very controllable and served as a gentle tap on my shoulder that I should pay attention before my front tire started to washout. The only real issue I had with this set up was a little tire spin on steep, loose climbs.

I knew the trail would be slick at Mud, Sweat, and Beers so I went through my tire collection looking for a rear tire with a little more tread. I found a brand new 1.9 Nevegal that I honestly do not remember buying. It worked out perfect. I intended to put the Karma back on after the race but I rode at Maybury before I had a chance. The bike hooked up really nice so I will keep this combination for a while. If I can find a Kenda Slant Six for less than $30, I will put that on back to save weight and improve the rolling resistance. I think I have it all figured out; it only took me 16 years.


  1. Sometimes being devout weight purest has meant you compromising on any decent rubber for your bike. Your list of previous tires is some of the fastest but least grippy treads you could possibly own! It's no wonder you feel you've found the ideal solution. Still the nevegals are a good tire to have stumbled on......some of the best. Only Schwalbe rocket rons or maxxis ardents compare close!

  2. Funny, originally my "want it wednesday" was going to be rocket rons but Nevegals just fit in my story a little better.

  3. I've been running Kenda Small Block 8 tires on my 29er everywhere, even though its supposed to be hard pack tire.

    Dig 'em enough, I replaced the worn out pair with fresh new ones.

  4. I have come very close to buying Small Block 8's. The blocks seem so, I duno, small. Lots of people like them.