We ran the HellKat Pro EMC on our Specialized Turbo Levo for the past couple months of varied conditions in the high desert of Central Oregon. We rode everything from wet, loamy rut tracks to frozen, high speed desert singletrack littered with baby heads.
Mounting the tires up was easy and we had no issues getting the rubber to seat or seal. We brought them up to the standard 28psi we usually run for initial testing and got to pedaling. The Hellkat Pro EMC handles very similarly to the Hellkat Pro standard with predictable cornering, acceptable rolling speed, and good all-around performance. But the tire really started to come alive when we started dropping pressure. I found the sweet spot to be around 21psi front and 22psi rear. Traction levels increased significantly without sidewall collapse or any washy feeling. Several times I felt rocks hit the rim but did not flat once during the test period.
The sidewall stiffness wasn’t overly brutish like some tires which have a tendency to deflect riders off line. On the other hand, they weren’t squirmy or soft either. Climbing on the tires was equally impressive, even in Turbo mode. We could feel the sidewall structure working to keep the tire from mushing out and deforming or spinning in the wet, tacky soil. Durability was also impressive as we put a lot of miles in some very rocky desert terrain. We stayed on the pedals up hills, weaving through centuries-old lava rocks. Despite dragging the sidewalls of the tires against the sandpaper-like rock, we remained flat free and never so much as shed a knob or developed any sign of expedited wear.
In terms of soil conditions, we’d say the tires worked best in hard pack to soft conditions. If the trails have loose-over hard they’re still pretty good but, not the best and if the soil gets super deep and soft, they lack the longer knobs required for deep penetration. However, the nearly 50lbs of heft most ebikes pack really make those issues less-than-significant since traction is almost always found when cornering ebikes.
Kenda has really started to win us back over with offerings like the Hellkat Pro EMC. It is a dual-compound tire with a reasonable price tag that offers both durability and high levels of predictable traction. Not to mention their new logos matched our test bike perfectly.
Kenda’s ebike specific tires aren’t just a marketing exercise, they genuinely have some thought behind them and are designed to meet the demands of higher weight bikes, increased torque, and lots more miles. We probably wouldn’t suggest riding these tires on an enduro or DH bike, as they’ve got specific casings designed for those applications, but for general eMTB riding, Kenda’s Hellkat EMC are a very solid option.