Product Goal: Build a high-end hard terrain and a loose terrain tire at a low price point. The new focus of the Unadilla and Carlsbad tires was to create Kenda?s own tread design, benchmark it through field testing with a performance level to that of the premium tires on the market, but continue to sell in the lower price point category. The Unadilla is designed for intermediate to soft terrain with tall sharp knob edges to bite down into the loose loam or mud. The Carlsbad is designed for intermediate to hard with larger knobs for rubber-on-the-ground grip; a large radius at each knob base to reduce tread squirm and chunking on the hard packed terrain and put the emphasis on strong braking, both front and rear. Product Test: Kenda has a very long history of producing motorcycle, ATV and industrial tires. Their process for producing motocross tires has always been about copying a high end tread design, use basic casing materials and tread rubber compounds to produce a low price point tire. However, all this changed two years ago when Kenda hired Frank Stacey. Frank?s background with Dunlop, Specialized and Pirelli tires in the past has shown that he is both innovative, but also extremely demanding in designing tires that work. Frank?s first job was to get the actual construction of the tires reworked. Updating the casing (casing is all the fabric inside the tire, which you cannot see) was critical in handling the speed and punishment that motocross tires undergo. Frank studied the high end tires on the market and developed a very similar casing that allows a soft tread contact area so that the tread follows the ground easier for better grip with a stiffer sidewall area, which improves straight line stability and increases cornering power grip. Developing a new tread compound was a big breakthrough for Kenda. Their focus was on quick warmup for cement start pads, the proper combination of polymers, oils and carbon black to achieve the proper grip level, plus hardness and durability. According to Frank, this new compound is very much in line with the high-end tires on the market today. Here?s the skinny; we tested both the Unadilla and the Carlsbad at motocross tracks and in the desert. Tight trails, hillclimbs, mud and hard pack were all part of the evaluation. The Kendas were mounted up on a YZ426 and KTM 520, both bruisers that demand a good bite and can shred knobs like tear-offs. At Glen Helen, where the soil ranges from blue groove to deep loam, the loose terrain Unadilla rear provided good traction in intermediate to mud conditions. It didn?t like the hard pack much and squirmed under acceleration, giving the machines a yawn and roll sort of feel. The front offered better overall feel, though it too danced a bit when the surface went hard. We switched to the Carlsbad hard terrain rubber and immediately felt a vast improvement. The squirming dissipated, the acceleration was consistent and the braking quite good. We did get more spinnage out of rear in the deep stuff, but it was controllable and felt very normal. On the trail we tested in deep sand, hill climbs, some rocky stuff and came away with a good feel for the Unadilla. The tire bites good, the knobs hold up well and overall it gets a good rating. How do they compare to high-end tires in similar circumstances? They?re not far off. The weights are close; the performance shadows the high-end rubber with just a slight mark off in the total grip department and abilities to blend terrain consistencies. And considering the price, Kenda has come up with a totally acceptable tire alternative for the dollar-conscious dirt pilot. They?re unique in appearance, they?re priced as a low-end alternative and they work stunningly well. Price: Front: $51.95; Rear: $61.95 Where to get it: Contact your local dealer or American Kenda Rubber for more information. (614) 866-9803 www.kendausa.com
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