By Chris Cosby
Tires. They’re round, historically black, and as long as they hold air, how much can you say about them? Well, in a word, plenty. First off, mountain bike tires have morphed into more categories than there are Star Trek sequels. These days, no self-respecting enthusiast would be caught without specific sets of tires for any imaginable condition: mud, dry, city, race day, knobby, or all-around. One of the more recent trends for tire manufacturers has been in the area of lightweight minimalist tread designs. Certainly, weight has always been a concern for wheels and tires, since they are rotational weight and therefore have a lot to do with the overall handling of the bike.
Kenda’s Klimax Lite represents this category well. At 345 grams, they are among the lightest tires of any kind that you can slip onto a 26” rim. Off the rim, they hang like wet socks, devoid of any form, and more resembling a wide rim strip than a tire. This is due to the Kevlar bead and thin-wall rubber. Yet, once mounted and aired up, they billow out to a diameter of 1.95”, with a small chevron of tread on either side of center. At first glance, you would think that the Klimax would be tricky to ride off road, but in reality, I found them to be fast and nimble. Except for very muddy and wet conditions, the Klimax skins rode well over any terrain. Made from Kenda’s L3R (Low Rolling Resistance Rubber), the 120 thread per inch casing proved to be just enough tire for most conditions. However, don’t expect them to hold up for long if you like to bash over big rocks, or if you are heavy on your wheels. Designed as a race day tire for dry conditions, the Klimax Lite will do everything asked of it in those surroundings. I was impressed by the amount of traction afforded by the tires in fast, tight turns. There was very little noticeable slip at sharp lean angles, and straight on traction was every bit as good as a full tread tire. Retail for the Klimax Lite is $35.
Contact Kenda, 7095 Americana Way, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068; 866.KENDA.US; www.kendausa.com.