The Kenda Slant Six is a really good tyre with a fatal flaw that stops it short of the standard set by Kenda’s excellent Small Block 8.
A blend of John Tomac’s two most winning designs, the Small Block 8 and Nevegal, the Slant Six promises much – ‘speed, grip, and cornering assurance’ according to Kenda, who suggest that the Slant Six is an intermediate to hard pack tyre with a capacity to handle mud; it has some stiff competition from within the Kenda cross range in that regard.
The Slant Six should offer massive amounts of grip looking at the ferocious paddle like tread, with arcs of stepped pyramid style knobs separated by gaps that promise some mud shedding ability. Kenda have also moved the cornering knobs further down the casing to provide more cornering grip. Even better the tyre uses dual rubber compounds to improve rolling resistance while maintaining straight line speed and limiting wear. It’s even designed to run tubeless. It sounds like the perfect all-condition tyre, slotting between the Straight Eight and the Kwicker. Unfortunately for a cyclocross racing clincher, the tyre also includes the Iron Cloak puncture resistance belt. This belt adds 150 grams per tyre and compromises suppleness. How does this impact our ratings? Read on for more.
Pavement (3 out of 5): This tyre is reasonable on pavement and tarmac. The round profile and hard centre compound help it handle the road well but it doesn’t feel fast, certainly it’s not as fast as the Small Block Eight or the Happy Medium. If you do a lot of road work then the hard centre compound and puncture resistant belt may be worthwhile additions. We’ll update with a full wear report once we’ve covered more miles.
Hardpack and dry grass (4 out of 5): On hardpack the Slant Six performs well, though not to the level of its Small Block Eight cousin. We believe it simply boils down to a more aggressive tread, 150 grams of extra weight and the stiff casing under the tread combining to hold it back. Despite (or perhaps because of) the huge grip it never feels quick. The ace up its sleeve are the cleverly placed cornering knobs, which fall well down the shoulder of the tyre and offer heaps of cornering traction on hard pack, including looser terrain over hardpack.
Wet grass (3 out of 5): The Slant Six is good in grass as the paddle tread delivers a load of grip and it does OK as long as the grass is there to offer some purchase, but again its not quick over wet grass when compared to the intermediate competition nor does it like the muddy line that develops mid-race. Again, weight and a lack of suppleness hurt the tyre here.
Sodden grass and light mud (2 out of 5): The Slant Six starts to get unhappy in these conditions but can still turn a reasonable performance if you can choose your line with care. We had more problems with the rear slipping around though, whilst the front seemed to hold on doggedly to whichever line we chose. The tread, though paddle-shaped, is not as deep as a pure mud tyre. The advantage in light mud is that the tyre cleans quite quickly even with a relative close spacing between the centre tread knobs.
Mud (2 out of 5): Despite the tread, the Six is not a happy camper in mud. Again the front isn’t too bad and didn’t let go at all, but the tread cannot clear the mud quick enough and the rear soon becomes a smooth surfaced slick. In one race which combined sections of hard pack with longer sections of mud, the Slant Six gradually became overwhelmed as the muddy sections worsened and any advantage we perhaps had on the hard pack was more than lost each lap in the mud. We do not recommend using these tyres in muddy races, though they can handle brief bouts of muddy conditions.
The Kenda Slant Six is a bit of an oddity. It promises a lot with that tread but the tyre’s weight is damning, adding 300 grammes (almost ¾ of a pound) in rotating weight to a cyclocross bike. Further, the under-tread belt hurts the tyre’s suppleness; we wish they’d put this tread on the Small Block Eight casing… For UK racing and training, we cannot think as to why you would use this tyre over the Small Block Eight. However, we will keep testing it and let you know if we find conditions in which is shines; we have heard a rumour that they are good in snow, which no doubt we will have the chance to test soon here in the UK…
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