PRODUCT: The Kenda Equilibrium is a trials-inspired tire featuring super-soft knobs in a very sticky compound. It boasts a center tread design that comes from the trials world, combined with more aggressive shoulder knobs for better cornering and braking scoops in the center areas for stronger stopping power that is more enduro/motocross than trials.
POSITIVE: In the right conditions, we are gigantic trials-tire fans. We like hardpack, rooty and rocky trails and will run a trials tire at 8–9 psi for its ability to grab traction, maintain momentum and get a dragging derrière over incredibly ugly terrain. We don’t like trials tires in mud, huge sand zones or high-speed desert where they tend to wallow.
This is where the Kenda Equilibrium excels. In a direct face-off with a Dunlop Trials Radial grip in rocks and roots, the trials rubber has a definite edge, but Kenda’s sticky knobs grab and mold themselves to obstacles far better than a normal knob. In sand, the Kenda has an edge, both in acceleration and stopping, as the center scoops grab in places where a trials tire would skid. As for durability, the Equilibrium resists chunking, though the knobs wear fairly quickly. But like a trials tire and unlike a moto knobby, when the tire loses its edge, there is still excellent grip in the knobs.
We tested the Kenda Equilibrium several ways. We used a thick tube and ran 8–10 psi, which worked well on nearly all trails but was a shade wallowy at speed. We fit in a Tube Saddle, which virtually prevents pinch flats, and ran 6–8 psi for great grip in ugly zones. In faster terrain, we discovered that running 10–12 psi kept the bite factor decent and made the handling better, since the tire didn’t wander at speed and cornering in the upper gears was more moto-like.
NEGATIVE: We really couldn’t manufacture a gripe, though it would have been killer if Kenda had made the tire DOT-legal. Dual-sport riders would have rejoiced.
BOTTOM LINE: A rider who runs a trials-type tire for off-road is looking for hookup; he’s not the kind of rider who likes to skid and roost from corner to corner. Also, the close knob patterns and smaller knob height make these tires fair-weather friends. Mud packs them up quickly and control is lost. But, the Equilibrium is different. It cleans out better, and braking is definitely stronger in sand and mud. Compared to a high-end knobby in rocks, hardpack and root-ravaged terrain, the Kenda Equilibrium is a superb chunk of rubber and will improve your trail-riding experience. It comes in a 4.50-18-inch and 120/80-19-inch size. You can check out Kenda’s line at https://powersports.kendatire.com/en-us/.
On-line pricing starts at $74.88 for the 19-incher at RockymountainATVMC.com.