Hutchinson Kraken 29″ X 2.3″ Tires: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
The Kraken tires from Hutchinson have seen many miles since our introduction, which you can go back and read here, so I think it is time to share with you all how these tires are doing. I also have a little more insight into how they compare to a couple of other bigger tires for the gravel rider/bike packer.
In the intro’s ‘First Impressions’ segment I shared that I thought these tires were very damped feeling. This is to say that the Kraken really feels smooth and helps to cut down on vibrations. That to me is the best quality of this tire yet. Everytime I ride my Fargo, which is the bike these tires are mounted to, I feel they are smooth and comfortable.
Specific to gravel riding, the Kraken does just fine. I found that with the extra width over my typical gravel tires, the bike was more stable and I had no trouble negotiating fresh gravel or loose sections where other skinnier tires can be a handful.
That’s a nice trait to have, especially if you are loaded down for a S24O, or longer tour off-pavement. I don’t want to feel like I have to herd my bike down a road. I just want my bike to steamroll through, and with the Kraken, you get that. Adding in the damped ride quality and you can plan on a nice, all day ride on gravel with no issues stemming from tires not dealing well with varying gravel roads.
Of course, the weight of these tires can be felt a bit on the longer grades. Adding in harder surfaces, and the tread and rubber compound tend to give me a tic of that draggy feeling. I was not really expecting anything better, to be honest, and these tires do well for what they are on paved sections and hard dirt or hard, packed gravel. I’ve tried a couple of other tires in this class, and for a comparison, the Maxxis Ardent rolls faster and the WTB Ranger rolls slower. The Kraken is probably a middle of the road tire in terms of rolling resistance here. Keeping in mind we’re putting an MTB tire to tasks it really wasn’t meant for.
So Far…. I’m still pleased with the way the Kraken handles the gravel. It feels really smooth and it cuts back on the vibrations you’d normally feel from crushed rock riding quite nicely. The wear of the tires is normal. I see nothing that makes me concerned there. The tubeless performance is also top notch.
I wouldn’t probably get this tire for my gravel travel if speed and lightweight are priorities though. No, the Kraken rewards those who prize stability and comfort over racing and bagging Strava sections. If your bike has to do double-duty as a MTB and your gravel machine, this is a great tire to check out though. I’ll have a final word on the Kraken coming in a few weeks. Stay tuned……
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.