KENDA KWICK JOURNEY KS PLUS TYRES
Long Term (10 month) Test 700x32c (as tested) 757g £30.00 (each)
The Kenda Kwick Journey KS Plus Tyre is a heavy duty, but surprisingly sprightly, e-bike ready “trekking” model, which rolls much faster than its weight would suggest and lends itself very nicely to middleweight touring. On paper, its portlier than some touring favourites and some might feel cheated by a less comprehensive puncture repelling belt. However, I’m yet to puncture in 10 months and 2,500 miles.
Pros: Fast, dependable, good range of sizes.
Cons: Relatively weighty, wire bead only.
Ours was the narrowest in the series at 32mm, which may be in hair’s breadth, mudguard tickling territory on some 80’s tourers, but is a nice default. 35, 38 and 40m caters for those with bigger clearances and wanting a bigger pocket of air. It’s also approved for e-bikes up to 31mph, which is on par with the (now discontinued, but still available) Schwalbe Marathon GT and may be another draw.
The tread pattern is more aggressive than some touring rubber, more subtle than some trekking models. 60tpi casings are pretty much par for the course and indicate a durable, if not overly supple tyre with ride quality to match.
The centre-strip features water channeling grooves and “knurled shoulder knobs” for dependable cornering. Water-channeling grooves are to some extent, a marketing exercise. A slick (not bald!) tyre offers the greatest purchase in wet weather. Cars and larger vehicles need tread because their tyres sit square and the leading edge runs in a straight line, trapping water and impairing traction, especially at speed.
Bicycles have curved road contact, requiring a rounded contact area. This, combined with much higher pressures, tends to force water aside. Reflective sidewalls, though what we’ve come to expect from this genre are welcome.. Right then, what about the puncture repelling tech?
Well, this is called K-sheild Plus (KS+). It’s a 5mm thick belt that covers the centre-strip, rather than running bead to bead. Kenda say this strikes the best balance between reliability and ride quality. The tread pattern makes direction intuitive, but arrows remove any doubt. Recommended pressures range between 50 and 80psi.
Ride quality is far more compliant than their specification would imply. I’ve tended to run ours between 65 and 75psi but even at 80psi, they’ve never felt harsh, or skittish.
Schwalbe Marathon GT are a little quicker off the mark (but they’re also a bit dearer). Compared with the 35mm Schwalbe and Vee Tire Co Zilent 2, washboard tarmac and small bumps are more apparent but could never be considered harsh. If you are going to ride on the wilder side, say a light bit of gravel and clearances allow, I’d go for the 38mm.
On the flip side, the Kwick Journey KS Plus Tyre accelerate faster and a bit nimbler through town-weaving around holes, glass and other potential hazards. Equally apparent on open road climbs, too. I’ve switched to the spikes when icy, slushy, snowy stuff has arrived, but I’ve been impressed by their traction and cornering prowess on wet, greasy roads and at speed.
I’ve even recovered from hitting a patch of diesel, cornering on a singletrack road-without going rubber up. No issues at a
steady 20-23 on wet, wintry roads and on a few occasions, I've come very close to 30mph, without any fear of them turning bandit. Qualities that lend themselves very nicely to four seasons commuting and winter training, on a ‘cross or gravel build for that matter. True, a bit of caution’s called for when navigating wet ironworks and something like Schwalbe Kojak will outclass them in the speed and compliance stakes. However, being slicks but are more vulnerable to sharps.
Puncture Resistance/Durability 5/5
I’ve gone ten months and a good deal of winter miles with these and am yet to puncture. Impressive and even more so, given the belt only covers the centre-strip. Those “water channeling” grooves have trapped grit, flints and the occasional shard of glass but even left to their own devices, haven’t cut, let alone burrowed beneath the tread. Heavier riders with touring loads might say different, and some folks are just more puncture prone than others.
Sure, I wouldn’t forgo the spare tube and tyre levers (that’d be tempting a nine-inch nail with my name on it) but reassuringly good, nonetheless. Talking of which, they are very easy to re/mount. I’ve had ours aboard the Halo Evaura and Halo White Line hoops with a single lever for scooping the first/last sections off/home but no grunting, or bruised thumbs. I’ve got away with 32-40 tubes but 25-32mm types greatly reduce any pinch-flatting potential.
A few thousand miles on, and the tread pattern remains in very rude health. No cuts, smoothing or cracking, ditto the sidewalls to date.
£30 is very good value. The Vee Tire Zilent (Mark 1 &2) are £39.99 each and only available in bigger sections. The 32mm Vee Tire Baldy are a bit quicker and lighter, if you’re sticking to asphalt. Schwalbe Marathon Racer are available in a wider range of sizes and a good deal lighter but, again, come in at £38.99
I’m really impressed by the Kenda Kwick Journey KS Plus. They’re not the lightest, or the fastest tyres on the market. However, they’re more fun than their weight and specification might imply. They have also proven super dependable, in the handling and durability stakes, so a great, wallet-friendly option for commuting, light/weekend touring and general riding.