Long Term Report: Kenda Big Block on a V-Strom

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by mntnbound, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Background:
    I have found that over the course of owning my 07 wee, I have been doing more and more gnarly off-road riding. At times I've felt like I've had no business taking this bike to some of the places it's been. But the bike has done ok for the most part (I've gotten the bike home on its own power every time). However, ground clearance and traction have been my biggest issues - other than me being a big pu$$ and a noob rider. Since I'm kinda stuck with the ground clearance being what it is, I figure I'm going to lean heavier towards an off-road tire. The Tourances got me by on hard packed gravel FS roads but I have been way beyond their capabilities and its time to move on. They're wonderful on pavement but that's about it.

    That being said, I also do a fair amount of pavement riding as well. It's safe to say that I am a 50/50 rider. My camping/riding trips are both pavement and off-road and I sometimes commute to work.

    Having read a ton of info on the Kenda Big Block there was only a hand full of reports from V-Strom owners. So I thought I would do a detailed long term report based on my set up and riding. Plus I'm extremely slow at work right now so mainly I'm just bored.

    The bike: (listing farkles for weight reference and suspension difference as they'll effect tire wear)
    07' DL650 - 30k-ish miles
    Stock front suspension - will upgrade this spring to 1.0
    Rear suspension - Elka
    Jesse Panniers
    Givi top case
    Center Stand
    Givi windscreen
    Tank Bag
    Tool tube filled with tools
    and a bunch of other little things.

    Riding:
    I'm a conservative rider. I consider my riding style "spirited" but I'm never the one setting the pace with the group I ride with, I'm always the caboose. =)

    Tires:
    Purchased from Bike Bandit $212 shipped
    F - 110/80/19
    R - 150/70/17

    I'll be mounting an balancing them myself. Having mounted and balanced race tires for my race cars, this shouldn't be an issue. Plus I hate spending 80 bucks for something I know I can do myself.

    I'll give exact millage of the bike once installation is complete.

    I got the tires yesterday...

    First visual impression:
    I giggled like a fat kid seeing a cake pulled from the fridge when I saw them leaning against my front door. These things look awesome and earn the name Big Block! They're huge. I already have more confidence on off-road rides.

    Hopefully I can get them mounted and balance this weekend. I'll post some details and pics of that process and then will just continue on the report over the course of my time on these beefy ass tires!

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    So if you buy these tires and are thinking to mount and balance them yourself... skip it. They are a gigantic pain in the ass. I have never worked with a tire as stiff as these, this includes all of my Hoosier A6's I have mounted on my race cars and those are some stiff ass sidewalls. Me and two other guys couldn't get do it. I worked on them for 4hrs before I admitted defeat and took them to a local shop to have them done. So fingers crossed I will never have to replace them while on a trail.

    Seriously you can sit on these tires unmounted and they wont collapse under the weight.

    The main issue is the same as others have stated on other forums; the sidewalls won't flex and stay in the center of the wheel, the bead wants to seat immediately and won't allow for the other side to slide over without use of pneumatic mounting machine or a gigantic clamp to keep the sidewall pinched.

    So, lesson learned, Kenda Big Block = use expensive tools to get them mounted.

    That said, I'm still giddy to get on the bike and try them out!

    New Big Block (150/70/17)- 2k mile Tourence (140/80/17)
    [​IMG]

    The other item that caught my attention is how small the actual sidewall is and how much the tread wraps around the tire.
    [​IMG]

    I hope to get the wheels back on the bike tomorrow or Monday.
    #2
  3. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    18,528
    Location:
    N.W. Arkansas
    look forward to your findings, its become the goto dirt tire for my GS.

    I mounted my 150 70 17 rear with the only tire tools that I own. these.
    [​IMG]

    it wasnt easy, but it was not terrible either.

    On the upside, the hard sidewall makes it a run flat tire, seriously, you dont need any air in it, once the bead is set!
    now, I wouldnt ride on the highway like that, but you can seriously run 1-2 psi off road if you want.

    :1drink
    #3
  4. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
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    Location:
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    As crazy as that sounds, after working with this tire... I totally believe it.

    I wonder if rim design makes a difference in ease of mounting? I have the Motion Pro 3 iron set and we also tried with another buddies irons that are the spoon type.

    I'm doing a few more maintenance things to the bike while its still crummy weather then hopefully can sneak in a ride this weekend.
    #4
  5. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    So not an extended ride but I did make it out for a bit tonight and will commute to work in the morning.

    First impressions:
    Slow speed pulling out to the main road, definite vibration that shakes both the bike and I. The front end feels pretty twitchy but stabilizes with speed. Both of which I anticipated. It is a knobby tire.

    Pavement:
    Ever ridden next to a lifted up 4x4 with big ass knobby tires at highway speed? Well they sound a lot like that. They have a rumble/roar. They are a louder tire but didn't bother me and again, was expected. Truth be told, I dig it. :yesnod:

    The handling seems decent. While I didn't get into any twisties, normal speed cornering was fine and felt ok. The one thing that will take some getting use to is; there seems to be a defined point of cross over when leaning the bike. Its like I can feel the tire transition from being upright to being on its side. Once there it holds well but the first few leans offered a bit of a pucker factor as the bike started to lean and then went full lean. Or at least that's how it felt as I didn't get into real hard leaning turns. So on pavement transitions are not as smooth as with the Tourance. Not anticipated, but makes sense so no worries.

    Off Road:
    There is a mile or so long gravel road that leads to a boat ramp just down the road from my house. It's hard packed, flat but has several holes/ruts filled with water. There is a lot of traffic on that road so it's very smooth for a gravel road.

    Wow, this is where these tires want to be! They felt amazing and got rid of huge amounts of gravel road squirm. I can't wait till the weekend to get up to the mountains. I don't know what else to say, the difference has to be experienced. They're fantastic!

    Question for those already running these tires... what pressures do you run on and off-road?

    Mine are at 30psi.

    I'm reading that off road, the tires are great at 10psi and can safely go lower. one fella says, 1-2psi but don't know that I'll go that low.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. tommymerle

    tommymerle advwanabee

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    375
    Location:
    frozen north (Lutsen, Minnesota)
    I have Big blocks on my Pegaso. Worked best in the dirt, OK on the highway but the front wore out in 2K miles. I tend to brake heavy with the front and this was too much for them.
    I'm probably a 50/50 rider but I'll go back to a more highway worthy front tire and slow down on the dirt. Probably smart considering my penchant for falling off. :D
    #6
  7. EVLED

    EVLED Bike riding nutter!

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2012
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    631
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Watching...but wishing you had a Vee...
    #7
  8. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

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    I hope I get more than 2k miles out of mine. If not, than I will definitely have to find another tire as going though 5-6 tires a year will not only suck be is too spendy for me.

    tommymerle - what air pressures are you running?

    EVLED - while I don't have a vee, the results should relate equally, no?
    #8
  9. EVLED

    EVLED Bike riding nutter!

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2012
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    631
    Location:
    New Zealand
    You're a bit lighter and down on herbs so you should get better mileage. Still interested to see how they go for you!
    #9
  10. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
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    45
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Had a fantastic ride today! I can't say enough about the performance of these tires. As I'm getting more comfortable with them on pavement I'm enjoying them even more. The twitchyness I felt at first leaning the bike over, it has either subsided or I got use to it because I don't notice it or feel it any more.

    Now to the good stuff - off-road:

    These tires are the cats pajamas! The difference is 10 fold. I can't say enough about them. The bike doesn't dance underneath me like it did. The front end doesn't slip out in mid turn and damn, I can finally accelerate out of a turn! My dual sport riding was sooooooo much more enjoyable today!

    We revisited the same area where I dropped the bike 4 times in the super sloppy mud. Last time it took me 45min - 1hr to get through this road. Today I did it in 10min! I never even had a moment of "Oh shit, Im about to go down." Instead these tires allowed me to tread threw it without hesitation. Redemption.

    On the gravel fire service roads, they hooked up so well and are very stable on packed or loose gravel and over bigger rocks.

    The only time I did get sketched out was back in the super muddy section someone laid down a stretch of big fat gravel in the middle of the road, rocks the size between racket balls and baseballs. I veered out of the soupy several inch deep mud to ride on the gravel. The bike was not happy! and danced like crazy. I immediately veered back into the mud because it was more stable there.

    But again, these tires.... :thumbup:

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    Oh yeah They handled like champs in the water too! :hurray: Since no one snapped pics of me crossing, I'll show you the ones I snapped of my buddy making it across.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. tommymerle

    tommymerle advwanabee

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    375
    Location:
    frozen north (Lutsen, Minnesota)
    I run recommended pressure of 36#s on the road. About 25 in the dirt but I'm not good about remembering to reinflate. My front probably wore out faster because of my negligence
    #11
  12. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

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    Atlanta, GA
    Cool thanks for the info.
    #12
  13. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Atlanta, GA
    So on my commute to work this morning I got to experience how the tires handle under emergency braking. Short answer = They Suck!
    #13
  14. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    18,528
    Location:
    N.W. Arkansas
    was the road wet or dry?

    they suck compared to what?



    #14
  15. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

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    Atlanta, GA
    My previous tires were Tourance, so in my limited no0b experience, that's all I have to compare to. The road was dry.

    I realize that no off-road tire like this is going to hold pavement like the Metzlers, but the difference is rather considerable. On the Tourances, I could have stayed in my lane and would have stopped in time. But on these, I immediately felt the bike was not slowing anywhere near as I was use to, so I had to brake/skid/steer to the shoulder and take the bike in the dirt and go around the car on the shoulder.
    #15
  16. Falconx84

    Falconx84 Lurker

    Joined:
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    Martinsburg, WV
    First, glad you appear to be ok - you survived the encounter and are alive to post :thumb

    Second, that's my main concern with more aggressive off road tires. My bikes have been more street/sport oriented aside from a DRZ400S with 50/50 tires. I never could get used to the soft suspension and squirrelly knobbies.

    I've been looking for more offroad based tires but don't want to give up my sporty on road feel. I'm leaning towards the shinko 705 as a compromise even though I love the look of the kendas and I know they would transform the offroad manners.

    FWIW, I'm on a set of factory spec tires currently
    #16
  17. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

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    18,528
    Location:
    N.W. Arkansas
    Glad you are OK mtb!

    yes, you are correct, in my experience all knobbies are that way.
    just wait until it happens when the road is wet, its even worse.
    #17
  18. mntnbound

    mntnbound Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Did a pavement ride today and discovered a few things.

    First, this was not a typical pavement ride for me. 99% of my pavement rides are 400+/- mile days of riding in the GA/NC/TN mountains. Today was only 200 miles, but we did get a good mix of roads.

    I'll start with the good - its a short list. The Kenda's performed fairly well in the really twisty stuff. A little bit of squirm when leaned hard but grip felt secure enough. I was running 40-50 up and down blood mountain. So that's not fast by any stretch but fast enough with these tires and the tons of cops. I did have fun.

    Now to the bad.

    After about 2hrs of riding, I had to pull over and rest my hands. The vibration in the handlebars was making them tingly and feeling like they were going numb. Up to this point all riding was on windy 2 lane mountain roads running 60ish MPH. The vibration was getting old real quick.

    Next, the noise. They're just loud and seem to be the loudest when riding at highway speeds, not interstate or city speeds but highway. They also have a modulating tone, whaaaWHAAAwhaaaWHAAAwhaaa. Sorry that's the best way I could figure to spell that sound. :p

    Finally, tire wear.

    Fortunately the tires were still covered in mud from last weekend and helped reveal interesting tire wear.

    I noticed wear wrapping around the tire as expected, except that on some blocks there was no wear (mud stain remained) where there should have been, see pic for better description... Front and Rear showed same behavior.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    That made me think the blocks are moving. So I looked closer and found the corners/edges were worn, alot. The base of the blocks also seem to be torn.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm not sure that the wear is really all that far from what would be expected on a knobby tire but what it tells me is, I will destroy these tires from my pavement mountain runs. The only hard, peg scraping riding was up and back on Blood Mountain. So that wear on the corners of the blocks is from less than 20 miles. Today was only half of what we typically do and only a fraction of the hard/peg scraping riding in a typical day.

    So now, Im wondering what to do next. These are so damn good on dirt I hate to not have them as I think anything less would be disappointing. But they simply will not work for my pavement days. My thought is, buy a second set of wheels so I can have one for dirt and one for pavement. I still have my Tourances! Would be cheaper than buying a DR. :p
    #18
  19. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

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    Unfortunately, there's nothing new under the sun. We GS riders have the same issues, with these and the TKC-80s.
    #19
  20. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    Thanks for the amount of detail and photos in your report on these tires. I'll be watching to see how they last.
    #20