K772 Carlsbad Sticky Tires
I’ve been a big fan of Kenda’s tires for a while now. They offer decent performance and excellent durability at a fair price. The Carlsbads, or K772s, are my particular favorite since I mostly ride in dry and hard conditions. So when I saw the availability of a “sticky” version, I really wanted to see how they rated. I threw a $72.95 100/100-18 rear and a 80/100-21 front on our Long Haul Husaberg FE650e, with both directional tires mounted in the “hard” direction as I like the braking feel much better this way. The rear may have been a little small (Kenda’s sizing runs a little smaller than average and a big bike should use at least a 110/100 or 120/100, though I regularly run smaller tires for a different “bite” feel), but its hookup exceeded my expectations. The sticky compound, a softer rubber, got a notable grip and grab when the dirt went from loose to hard-packed, as good as any tire out there, leaning or in a turn. On all other surfaces-loose and sandy, loam or generic normal dirt-it was the typical, average Kenda Carlsbad that I get along with just fine; it does nothing spectacular and nothing funny, just like in its long-lasting regular compound. This rear, however, didn’t wear so well. The initial edge of the tire went quickly, in under two hours, or 40 miles, and then the knobs between the center row and the sidewall really took a beating and chunked heavily over the next 100 miles. And performance fell off, especially when accelerating on flowing, midspeed turns. My take on the sticky rear is that for a racer, the added grip advantage might be worth the loss in durability, but for trail riding, I’m sticking to the nonsticky compound out back.
The $68 front tire was a different story. Right away, this tire lacked one of the only issues I have with the Carlsbad front, or most Kenda fronts for that matter: a wallowly feeling on hard, flat, straight riding. It doesn’t have that loose feeling; it is 100 percent normal. The rest of the time the tire finds good traction and gives the feel that I like from this tread pattern, if not just a little better grip the whole time. It really stood out under breaking-a notable improvement over what I remember of the standard Carlsbad. There was no noticeable increase in wear from the front. So I’m going to keep using this one. -Jimmy Lewis