By Simon Whiten
Preview of two Kenda Tubulars – the Kenda Volare and the Kenda Super Domestique
Looking at the Kenda tubulars – the Volare and the Super Domestique – reminded me that there was a time when just about every road racer used tubular tyres. I would race on nothing else and even used them for training for a while, though that didn’t last long as in those days puncture protection was not what it is today…
Modern wheel shapes and clincher tyre technology is such that the performance differences between tubular and clincher are fast being eroded. On the whole, however, a set of tubular wheels will be a lot lighter than the equivalent set of clincher rims, and whilst a tubular tyre is slightly heavier that the lightest clincher tyre and inner tube combinations, the overall weight of a set of tubular wheels, with tubs mounted, will be significantly less. That lower rotating weight is very important and means that if you are serious about your racing, at whatever level, you should have a set of tubs in your armoury.
In the UK, Kenda may not the first brand you think of when you think road racing tubulars. However, when you think that they are responsible for keeping a certain Peter Sagan on the road then maybe they should be top of your list? Let’s find out.
The Volare is Kenda’s ‘professional level, best performing tubular, combining modern day performance with old world craftsmanship’. As such it has the supple, handmade 300tpi casing that you would expect form a top level tubular and in so doing compares well against the main opposition. However, Kenda also manage to squeeze their Iron Cloak Belt (ICB) flat protection layer under the tread to give added puncture resistance, which puts it ahead of most of the competition, assuming that it means that their claims for the Volare being both fast rolling and long lasting proves to be true.
The Volare has a minimal tread pattern and really nice round profile, so cornering should be as ‘predictable and confidence inspiring’ as Kenda claim. We weighed one Volare tubular to be 270g, inside Kenda’s claimed 250g +/- 10% – these are handmade after all. The latex inner tube helps to keep the weight down and thereby speed up. The Volare is available in 22mm and 24mm widths.
The Super Domestique is very similar to Kenda’s top of the range Volare, only really distinguishable on the outside by its different labelling and tread pattern. Just why the tread pattern is so different is not clear yet, but we shall see if it makes a significant difference.