Hutchinson Kraken 29″ X 2.3″ Tires: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
With Summer in high gear here it is time to wrap up the Kraken review. I’ve been riding this tire on multiple surfaces, including gravel, and I have found it to be a good tire for those needing to use a MTB, or choosing to use that sort of bike, and riding gravel. You can see what I have to say about that in my previous post here.
That said, I also wanted to put the Kraken to the test of mud and rocks. This opportunity came in two different stints and at two different times, but I now am satisfied that I can give you a good read on what the Kraken is capable of in case you go off the beaten track.
In my look at fatter tires for gravel, I have found that the Kraken is perhaps skewed a bit towards dirt and rock than the paved, harder surfaces which the Vittoria Terreno XC seems to be better at. Not to say that the Kraken is bad, but those lugs do have their effect and that can be felt. Still, it rolls fairly quietly and smoothly for all that is going on with that tread. So, does that tread design help in the dirt, mud, and rocks?
Well, I found that the Kraken is really a pretty good dirt and rock tire. Mud? That is going to depend. If that mud is sticky all bets are off, but if it is not, the Kraken, with those lateral bars on the tread, propel you along quite nicely. The other feature of this tire that really helps here is the flattish profile. It tends to help with flotation, but air pressures can also be used to help with that as well. Speaking of- I ran these tires at what I would for mountain biking- sub 30psi, to near 40psi. Your weight and conditions will dictate your ‘sweet spot’ for pressures, so do experiment.
I had mixed results on loose, deep sand or fine dirt. I was nearing fat bike territory here, so take this with a grain of salt. In contrast, I was able to do a lot more than I ever could have with a 42mm tire. But it was not a slam dunk for the Kraken to traverse such challenging terrain.
On big rocks, the Kraken’s damping abilities were put front and center so that the bike wasn’t upset and control was maximized. This made traversing loose rock fields less stressful. As long as I maintained momentum and chose good lines, I was golden. On slightly smaller rocks which were a bit more packed into the dirt, the Kraken sailed over them with no issues at all. All this is in contrast to what I would expect from any ‘normal’ gravel tire, since those types of tires have far less volume.
At The Finish: The Hutchinson Kraken tires would be my choice in a situation where I lived where dirt trails and/or mountains were available to ride, but my bike had to pull gravel road duties as well. On gravel, the Kraken tames deep, loose crushed rock easily. The damped quality of the ride is excellent for chunky gravel and embedded rock, since the casing on the tire is supple and voluminous. This even translated to a quieter ride on paved and hard packed surfaces with little lost to having those lugs on the Kraken’s tread.
However; the weight of this tire and the slight disadvantage to having such a capable tread for dirt makes going up longer grades a chore. The size of the tire isn’t going to gain you any advantages in the wind either, so unless you can deal with a bit of ‘drag’, both in terms of weight, rolling resistance, and in aero advantage, then the Kraken is not your tire. If you are, in contrast, all about going fast on dirt, like rougher terrain mixed in with your gravel, and maybe are going to do a mixed gravel/off-road ride, then the Kraken is a great tire to look at for those situations.
Note: Hutchinson sent over the Kraken tires for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.