Kenda Flintridge Pro Tires: Getting Rolling- by Guitar Ted
The tires for gravel/adventure bikes just keep popping up, but we’re going to take a step backward in this review and cover a tire that has been around for a couple of years, at least. That tire is the Kenda Flintridge Pro, and if you long time readers seem to remember that we had a post on this tire at one time, you would be correct. We had a review started, but it never was completed, and that’s not good. So, instead of trying to revive that, I wanted to clear the slate and just reset to the beginning here on this tire for gravel travel.
What It Is: The Flintridge was designed with the toughest gravel in mind and some of that sort of crushed rock can be found in the Flint Hills of Kansas, home to the Dirty Kanza 200. Here is what the Kenda website page for the Flintridge has to say about it:
Born in the hills of Kansas, the Flintridge takes its name from the local sharp jagged rocks. Hones to perfection with a smooth centerline tread pattern that is equally at home on pavement and hard pack. The Flintridge shifts from the fast rolling center to the grippy transition and shoulder knobs for control in loose rock and even mud. The KSCT casing does double duty , reinforcing the sidewalls of the tire with a woven shield to prevent slashes and abrasions while optimizing the casing for fast and easy tubeless conversion.
- A gravel crushing tire to rule them all.
- KSCT casing for tubeless conversion and sidewall reinforcement.
- Reflective Hot Patch on the tire adds visibility in low light situations
The tread pattern is somewhat reminiscent of the Panaracer Gravel King, with its stubby little nubs which flank a more compact center line of blocks. The shoulder knobs are a bit longer and narrow but not as aggressive and blocky as we’ve seen on some other gravel oriented tires.
The Flintridge Pro is available in 700c X 35mm or 700c X 40mm sizes in two versions each for a total of four models in the range. Casing technologies include Kenda’s “SCT” for two of the options in the range, a sidewall ply which is added to aid in the tire’s ability to be set up tubeless and also has the side benefit of being a protective barrier. The other two tires in the range get the “TR” tubeless ready bead treatment only. The entire range features Kenda’s “DTC” dual rubber compound tread which is a “L3R Pro center with a “Stick-E” compound on the sides for better cornering traction. Finally, the casing features the “RHP”, or reflective hot patch, which means the logos on the tires reflect light in the dark. (They definitely do this!)
What the website doesn’t necessarily tell us, but was quite obvious out of the box, was that there is a puncture protection belt under the tread as well, because that area of the tire is as stiff as a board when you handle the tire the first time. In fact, it makes the entire tread area want to lay flat, instead of crowning up. It is very noticeable. Our samples were the 700 X 40mm with the KSCT, DTC, and RHP technologies. Claimed weights for this particular model is in the range of 515 grams plus or minus 26 grams. Our samples weighed in on the lighter end of this range at 480gm/490gm. Right in the claimed ballpark for weight.
Tubeless Performance: When mounting tubeless tires there are certain procedures and techniques used to be successful. I have been setting up tubeless tires of all sorts for a decade now, but this Flintridge caused me to question everything I knew about setting up tubeless tires. I expect some amount of wrangling and accept that as “the norm” these days. It is rare when you get a combination of rim and tire that just pumps up with a floor pump, although, I will say that has been happening with more regularity within the last five years. It would seem that tubeless tire and rim technology is finally maturing into something almost “easy” for anyone to do. That said, the Kenda Flintridge is now the hardest tire to set up tubeless that I have tried yet.
That title used to belong to the Maxxis Rambler, but when I discovered a little trick it wasn’t a big deal anymore, however, no tricks worked with the Flintridge until I hit upon the right rim combination. I tried three different rims I have here, which I test all the tires I get on, and the Flintridge stubbornly said, “No!” to being set up on them. Finally, after almost giving up on this tire, I received another set of Irwin Cycling wheels in 700c to test, (look for the intro soon), and with a bit of fussing, they set up.
My opinion is that the Flintridge’s casing shares a common trait with the Rambler’s which is a very stiff section of the casing. That in turn made setting the tire up tubeless a chore. In the case of the Flintridge, it was the puncture protection belt under the tread area which led to the side walls not wanting to budge, even when hit by the blast of an air compressor. I tried two different ones at one point during the process. So, the Flintridge is a very difficult tire to get to mount up tubeless unless you happen to hit on the right rim combination. I can say that WTB, HED, and Velocity rims I have were not good choices. Only the Irwin Cycling wheels seemed to make the process, “normal”, and it was a dramatically different experience with those wheels. The tighter the initial interface, the better for this tire.
Once set up tubeless, the tires hold air very well. So, that mounting process seems to have been the only fly in the ointment for me. After setting for a day at 40psi, the tires measured 42mm wide on the Irwin Cycling rims which are 21mm inner dimension rims. So, if you have a bike that is rated for 40mm tires, as many are, this one might max you out. Keep in mind that a wider inner rim dimension will make the tire you mount on it a bit wider.
First Impressions: The Flintridge Pro has that reflective logo which really jumps off the tire when you have light hit it in low light situations. That’s a nice touch. The tires look good on the bike and at 40psi rear, 38psi front they seemed to roll fine. These tires did not immediately impress me with speed or with high rolling resistance. Just a good, solid feeling tire so far. On my initial test ride I did notice that the tread pattern can grab onto little bits of stone and fling them here and there. I was riding on some pretty deteriorated gravel though, so I’ll have to make a call on this later when I get out on my regular test loops in the country. No real glaringly good or bad things going on here yet, so stay tuned for more as I get more miles on these and come back with a Checkpoint article. Also, our contributor, MG, will be trying out these tires soon, so look for a post from him and his take on the Flintridge Pro later this Spring.
So Far…… The Flintridge Pro is a tire made to withstand some nasty gravel and paved road gremlins, but with that protection comes a price. In this case, a very difficult mounting process, unless you happen upon a rim that mates with the Flintridge more tightly than most. Beyond that it seems that this tire is a good, solid feeling tire that does everything well, but hasn’t shown me anything exceptional……..yet. Stay tuned………
Note: Kenda Tires sent over the Flintridge Pro tires at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.