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June 30th, 2010 - Kenda 761 dual sport tires review

Pros: Stiff sidewall, sticky, quiet, predictable, superb traction, inexpensive

Cons: Deep sand is not its cup of tea, hard to mount

Everyone who’s ever been to a motorcycle dealer has probably heard the salesman saying, “This bike gets such good gas mileage that it will pay for itself in a year.” but what they never mention is that the cost of the motorcycle tires will make you wish for a V8 Cadillac!

I ride a lot. I mean more than usual, and I’m not always on the tarmac. To make tire shopping a harder task than it already is, I ride two-up on a bike that weighs about a 1000lbs, and it’s not even a Goldwing. A little search on suitable tires for my kind of riding reveals that I either have to be a millionaire or give up riding altogether. There are not too many tires out there which can handle the giant load, be sticky enough for the twisties, do well on dirt, have a decent wet traction and don’t cost a fortune.

It all changed two months ago when I bought a set of Kenda tires for a $100 bill. Kenda Rubber Industrial Co., headquartered in Yuanlin, Taiwan, is a major tire manufacturer. Although it’s been around since 1962, with the exception of bicyclists and Moto-Crossers, it’s virtually unknown to the American market.

The tires in review here are the Kenda 761’s which are from their dual sport line of tires which cost about $50 each.  They have nylon ply construction, are tubed type and H rated for speeds up to 130mph. The test has been conducted over 5 states, 3000 miles, and all weather conditions including snow.

First impression:

When I received the tires, my first concern was how soft the compound was. I could literally stick my fingernail deep into the tire with not too much trouble and that only meant one thing: they would wear out fast! They had a very stiff sidewall and the lugs were huge. Overall they looked pretty good.

Mounting:

I mount all my own tires so I know when a tire is throwing a tantrum and hesitating to go on. These Kenda’s were probably the hardest tires I have ever put on. They simply refused to stretch regardless of what I did to them. They put up a good fight, but I finally prevailed. The stiff sidewalls are to blame, but they were a tell tale sign of good stable tires. Balancing was a breeze as they didn’t need much assistance in that department.

Kenda7611 Kenda 761 dual sport tires review

Long term test:

The first ride was a 250 miles long stretch from Monterey to Bakersfield, California. The Kenda’s were loud at first and wandered a lot for the first 100 miles. As they broke in, they got quieter, more stable and stickier to the point that I actually started to enjoy the ride. In the following two months, they were tested in variety of conditions, from the deep sands of Arizona to mud and snow in Montana. The tread life proved to be very good, with 3000 miles of mixed roads, the rear still retains half of the original tread depth despite the load, and the front still looks brand new. Cornering is a joy on these tires; they stick and won’t let go. The wet traction is superb and rain makes little to no difference in the performance of these tires. There are not too many riders who ride in snow (I don’t do it for pleasure, just when I have no choice) so snow rating is an oxymoron for motorcycle tires, but to my surprise, they did a great job of that too. On gravel, shallow mud and dirt, these tires are right at home; they stay clean and grab the surface well while aired down a few PSI. Deep sand is its only enemy. They dig in instead of floating regardless of the tire pressure.

kenda 761 review1 Kenda 761 dual sport tires review

Conclusion:

Kenda 761 is a great tire not because it’s inexpensive but because it’s a well made tire.  It holds its own against other more mainstream brands and in my experience better than most of its class. The tread life is above average, the traction is excellent, the noise level is low and at $50, it’s a fantastic all around dual sport tire for heavy or light tourers. I give it an overall 8.1 points out 10.

 Kenda 761 dual sport tires review

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Kenda nor are they my sponsors. I’m just a happy customer.

There are 10 Comments

  1. Talon
    June 30, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Thank you for this review. I’m looking at tires for my ’08 Suzuki C50 very soon, and Kendas are looking good to me.

  2. Flaggo60
    June 30, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I´m really interested in that approach especially since the dual sport tires became a lot less ¨dirt¨ and a lot more highway. Still, one fear haunts me- having that chunky tread “walk ” or drift on pavement in a curve. ……I´ve ridden on Metzeler street tires since 1985 and Continental Twins before that and have learned to trust them for my everyday style of riding.

    You seem to have built up a good deal of confidence in them- is this just paranoid on my part? If anyone has rolled up the miles on them it´d be you.

  3. Chris Sorbi
    June 30, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Dual sport tires are a different breed these days. Gone are those days that you could hear the clunks on every tire rotation. The Kenda’s are made out of a very soft compound and they stick surprisingly well to the surface. The first 100 miles on them was scary but you’ll learn to trust them. These tires are 80 off/ 20 On I believe and as long as you don’t push them 100mph on a corner they should do fine. Speaking of 100mph, I rode these tires up that speed (two up with a giant load) and they are as stable as any. Now if they sponsored me, I would put them through more serious testing but I got to get another 2000 miles out of them for now .

  4. JSPEED
    June 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I’ve run them on my KLR…they’re a great tire for the price.

    Thanks for the review.

  5. The_AirHawk
    June 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Have you PRICED 18″ and 19″ tires for a Caddy lately?

    Typical run-flats go for about 500-smackers a donut……..

  6. The_AirHawk
    June 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

    A couple of quick questions – what sizes did you mount-up, and did you struggle with or have any problems with the tubes on the tubeless rims?

    Perhaps the differing rim-bead profiles are the reason you had mounting problems? Just guessing here.

  7. Zooks
    June 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Good review. You should have a chat to a few motorcycle magazines / websites about some ‘weekend’ work.

  8. KiwiGS
    June 30, 2010 at 9:35 am

    ^What he said^ I have enjoyed reading your around the world reports as well.
    Getting back to the tyre thing, I am big fan of running dual sport tyres on my little road bikes. They grip well in the wet, as well as the grit that the local roading guys like to throw around at this time of the year.

  9. meanstreak
    July 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I think I see a place on the bike where you could mount another box.LOL, hate to see you wasting any space.Looks like you take your bike travel very serious.I am envious.

  10. tomk
    July 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Hell, I see a bunch of places for boxes.

    I think we have to face it, sticky tires get less mileage. Sand is always bad.

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