Kenda Alluvium Pro Tires: Getting Rolling- by Grannygear
It had been more than a year since I had been to a sports event/festival of any kind. That was because there had been no sports events/festivals of any kind to go to. COVID had seen to that.
So when the Big Bear area of So Cal hosted their 2021 multi-day cycling festival, I happened to be up there that weekend and cruised over to see what was up. There were very few vendors in attendance at the expo area, but one that was there was Kenda tires.
And that is where I saw the brand new Kenda Alluvium Pro tire for gravel riding. Right away I liked the tread pattern. It looked right up my alley, an alley paved with asphalt mixed with dirt roads. The minimal center tread, looking like the pebble grain of a basketball (but deeper), and the side tread, which was more aggressive in nature, well it all looked like a winning combo to me.
I do a lot of road riding on my gravel bike to get to where the dirt is. Sometimes I never even touch dirt on a ride. I just like riding the gravel bike. Period. So while a tire with no center tread and some side tread would seem ideal for me, I like having more to the center contact patch than a solid ribbon of smooth rubber. That bare center stripe can be a bit spooky for braking on rubbly dirt descents and out of the saddle climbs are more difficult to manage while keeping wheel spin at bay.
The Kenda Alluvium Pro intrigued me and after some back and forth emails, a set of the 40mm versions in skin wall were headed my way. This is what Kenda has to say about the Alluvium Pro. From the website:
The Kenda Alluvium Pro is a gravel and adventure tire that is capable on pavement as well as hard condition single-track trails. Do endless miles of dirt road call to you? Are you looking for a boost to your speed in the next gravel grinder? Look no further than the Alluvium Pro, designed with speed in mind for dirt and gravel road riding.
- Tread design optimized for speed – Low profile knobs reduce rolling resistance while still providing plenty of knob edges for braking control and grip.
- New single tread compound – Optimized for speed and tread life, this single ply compound offers low resistance and sure grip.
- Available with gumwall option.
- GCT casing prevents slashes and abrasions.
- Tubeless ready – Gravel Casing Technology optimizes the tire casing for tubeless use while also providing tread and sidewall flat protection.
- Be seen – Reflective hot patch for better nighttime visibility.
It’s available in several sizes, 700×45, 700×40 (black wall and gum wall), 700×35, and 650Bx45.
I weighed the 700×40 skin walls at 517g/508g. Kinda claims a 495g +26g weight so we are right in there.
The GCT casing is Kenda’s answer to cut protection. The GCT layer is bead to bead, not just in the tread cap. I am not sure I am a big fan of casings like this for my type of gravel use. I have never cut a gravel tire. The rocks I do have are rounded and smooth. This is not the Flint Hills of Kansas.
And I am a careful rider, not a trail bomber. The sacrifice in this type of tire construction is typically increased weight and reduced tire compliance, a trade off I am hesitant to embrace. We shall see. It does usually make for really good tubeless use though.
Since I was testing the Masi gravel bike at the time I received these, I figured I would toss these in the mix. I put them onto the (also in-test) Astral wheels I was running on the Masi. I needed to use the air compressor to get them to seat. And even then it was a struggle. I suspect the stiff casing was not letting the tire puff up and ‘catch’ like I would have liked. In that one image you can see how the Alluvium Pro holds its shape when just sitting around.
Once seated, they were solid and never leaked or weeped or anything bad.
My initial impressions were quite favorable. Rolling out, they make little noise and on pavement allow for a nice forward motion. I did feel the transition from center tread to side tread just a bit in faster lean-ins on winding pavement, but that feeling went away as I got used to the tire.
I put a lot of hours on that Masi and the Alluvium Pros were along for the ride. I never got into anything wet at all, but there were a lot of hard dirt roads and rocks passing under my wheels. The last ride I did with them on the Masi was a 50+ mile ride in the Western Sierras over a mix of dirt and road. Then, I took them off as the Masi was heading back to the mother ship.
I am just now getting back to riding them again. Why is that? Well, I have a suspicion that the casing rides a bit harsh but since I was on a unfamiliar bike and different wheels, I was not sure.
So I have been back on the Lynskey on a set of tires I know and love, the original WTB Resolutes in the 42mm size. These are not the new casing WTB has, but the older ones. So they are a bit lighter and more compliant, but they are a known combo to me.
Now that I have been riding that again for a few hours, I am going to remount the Kendas and see what they do.
It’s interesting, all this rush to tougher yet stiffer casings for gravel bikes. Are that many people really destroying gravel tires? I get tough casings on a mountain bike, but those are big tires that can stand to be run at lower pressures and you have suspension working for you. A gravel bike tire is not that big in volume so having to drop the pressure to get a nicer ride might be less than the best thing. And with no suspension, a supple tire keeps you connected to the ground, adds comfort, and maintains speed.
Dunno. Maybe it’s what the crowds are clamoring for. I do wonder though, if the Pro version ought to be a non GCT casing; lighter, and with improved speed and compliance. Make the ‘regular’ Alluvium the heavier and bulletproof one.
I could be wrong.
So far, the Alluvium is showing to be a good but maybe not a great rolling tire over harder surfaces with more than adequate traction. Ride quality? More on that after a few more rides.
Note: The Kenda Alluvium Pro tires were sent to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We are not being bribed, nor paid, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.