KENDA PINNER PRO TIRE REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston
Kenda released their Pinner Pro line of tires earlier this year. Developed in conjunction with the Pinner himself, Aaron Gwin, the Pinner Pros are Kenda’s take on a tire aimed at riding as fast as possible in hard pack, rocky/rooty and loose over hard conditions. Available in Kenda’s ATC (Advanced Trail Casing) and burly AGC (Advanced Gravity Casing) options, the Pinner Pro is touted as offering 40% better puncture resistance than the comparable market leading tire, which is quite the claim. For the full scoop on these tires, including an interview with an engineer at Kenda, see the first ride report. Continue reading here for the results of some proper long term punishment on the trails of Oregon and the UK.
The first impressions of the Pinner Pros, as you pull them out of the packaging, are that they are a seriously burly set of tires. The contour graphic and big Kenda logo hotpatch on the sidewalls exude a high-quality look that accompanies the $84.95/$79.95 MSRP (AGC and ATC respectively). The Advanced Gravity Casings’ 1,352g heft is immediately apparent in hand, but is accompanied by an undeniable and reassuring feeling of stiffness and strength.
As you remove the zip-ties and packaging from the tire, it can barely control itself as it straightens out into its circular form – a testament to the stiffness of the “folding” bead. Surprisingly, the Advanced Trail Casing, coming is just under the 1kg mark, is only slightly less burly feeling than the AGC in the hand, comparable to the Schwalbe Supergravity offering, but how does this translate to the trail?
There was no funny business in mounting the Pinner Pro to a set of wheels, with the tolerances allowing for a relatively simple fit requiring just a little bit of thumb strength to pop the second bead onto the rim. Running them tubeless without inserts, the trusty track pump saw the Pinners pop on to the bead with a deafening “snap”; and they immediately held air without issue. Unlike some other offerings, there was no need to over-inflate the tires to account for air loss through the sidewalls, which is a testament to the quality of the carcass.
Putting the Pinners to the dirt presented a bit of a quirk in their character, with the pressures required to maintain a similar feel to other market offerings being a good bit lower. With an ATC in front and an AGC out back, some uncomfortable deflating was required mid-way down the first trail. The usual 26f/28r PSI settings I would opt for in other comparable tires to suspend my 210lb (kitted) mass made these tires bone jarringly hard.
It took a few rides to fine tune the pressures at which the Pinner Pros performed best, settling for 24 PSI front and 25 PSI rear to provide a good balance of traction and rolling speed. Over in Oregon, Drew settled on 21.5/23PSI front and rear for his 165lb weight. On his ebike testers, Drew opted for a 23/24 PSI setup.
I did experiment down to 19f/20r PSI, but the rolling speed really began to suffer down at these pressures. Even so, down at these pressures there was still reasonable support, avoiding the complete loss of stability that would usually be rife in a tire at these pressures on my bikes.
Ultimate traction is not what the Pinner Pros possess, though this should not come as a surprise for a dry to intermediate tire. That’s not to say they don’t stick to hardpack surfaces or dry rock and root, but their performance in looser soils is in line with their intentions. The Pinner Pros’ impressive trait instead comes from their unfaultering predictability. There were very few moments during testing where the Kenda rubber did anything other than the expected. The well supported knobs throughout the tire give a confidence that few other tires have matched – for me a predictable response is the most important trait and these rank up there with the best. They roll with comparable feeling drag to most intermediate tires with similarly soft compounds, which quashed any expectations of a slower rolling speed due to the lower pressures in use.
Braking traction on the ATC model is good, but the AGC takes things to another level, allowing for the anchors to be deployed hard at the last possible second. The soft RSR rubber deforms and sticks on to harder, drier ground conditions to test the stopping power of the brakes and slow the wheel down as well as any tire I’ve ridden in recent times.
An unfortunately, brutally shaped “finger” of rock proved that even the burliest of tires can still fail, as the AGC casing tire met its early demise with a 3” long sidewall tear. This meant I was unable to test the long term durability of the RSR rubber, however it did mean that the ATC tire saw a rotation on to the rear for a tougher test of this “trail” casing’s toughness, at which point I fitted a Rimpact insert to mimic my usual setup. After a month and a half of frequent riding, the DST rubber is showing only minor signs of wear, and the ATC has withstood a load of sharp-rock shredding without flinching – quite impressive for a sub-kilo tire.
Overall, for dry to intermediate conditions, the Kenda Pinner Pro is a very competitive option that more than stands its ground in a competitive market. We found the tire to roll well on hard tracks, grip exceptionally well in the conditions it was designed for, and a bit less so in softer soil that requires deeper knobs to penetrate that top layer. We like both casings for different applications and once we learned our new pressures, enjoyed the stiff, confident ride these tires give. They really do encourage you to send it hard into the chunder as they offer a lot of great impact absorption and damping properties.
For riders seeking ultimate grip and durability, the AGC casing should provide the goods, though these are not completely invincible, although no tire is. The ATC casing gives riders an option to shave considerable weight without settling for a flimsy tire and will suit a great deal of trail and enduro riders, while the burly AGC will hold up well to full blown DH abuse.
Price: $79.95 – $84.95;