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Kenda Pinner Pro tire review

How does a tyre designed by one of the world’s best racers perform as a hard-charging aggressive all-rounder?

Kenda Pinner Pro mtb tyre
(Image: © Jim Bland)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A fantastic, solid, durable and superbly grippy hard-charging tire that showboats a sublime trail feel

Pros

  • +

    ‘On-rails’ levels of cornering traction

  • +

    Exceptional casing feel

Cons

  • -

    Occasional drift before bite feel won’t suit everyone

  • -

    Additional weight and dull feeling casing might not be to everyone’s tastes

The Pinner is Kenda’s all-new gravity and aggressive trail focused mountain bike tire. It’s aimed at dry ‘loose-over-hardpack’ riding conditions and has been designed with input from world cup racing legend, Aaron Gwin. We’re huge fans of other aggressive tyres from Kenda and also previous Gwin collaboration tyres so this new release was one we have been particularly excited to get stuck into.  

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Design

Similar to the World Cup hot shot’s previous signature tire, it’s interesting to see that Kenda and Gwin have chosen to use a tread design where the side knobs and center knobs are more inline, not offset. This is fairly unique but having ridden a select few other tires with a similar tread layout, it does seem to offer good levels of control and grip in a mixture of riding conditions. Designed for either front and/or rear use, there are chunky side knobs in place for cornering traction at all lean angles and center knobs which ramp from the front to reduce rolling resistance before dropping vertically at the rear which is said to offer maximum braking traction.  

While the Pinner is aimed firmly at the aggressive, gravity focused rider, we still see two casing options – named AGC (tested) and ATC - which allows riders to have the choice or even mix options depending on how hard and aggressive their riding focus is. In Maxxis terms, think between DH and DoubleDown for AGC and between DoubleDown and EXO+ for ATC. Aggressive trail riders may want to opt for the lighter ATC casing whereas winch and plummet hard-charging or heavier riders may go with the fully tough AGC option. Kenda claims these casings offer up to 40 per cent more puncture protection than its competitors and whilst it’s hard to confirm this figure, we didn’t experience one flat throughout the entirety of the test.

Both tyre options use the same dual-compound rubber but the compound blend is distributed differently on both models. The AGC uses a sturdy base compound to remain sturdy under high cornering forces before progressively turning softer higher up the knob. The ATC uses firmer rubber for the centre and a softer blend for the cornering knobs. Both constructions make total sense for their aimed requirement. Kenda claims this rubber blend has 16% less rolling resistance than other DH tyres on the market.  

Our 29in AGC tyre measured true to its 2.4in width on a 30mm internal rim at 22psi and clocked the scales at 1,322g which is actually lighter than Kenda’s claimed 1,344g weight. At £60.00 for the AGC option tested, it remains fairly priced in the huge tyre market.

Installation was easy and both tyres seated first time onto our Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels using only a regular track pump. 

Performance

During testing we experienced an unusual lengthy dry spell in the UK that left our local test tracks dry and dusty, this made for perfect conditions to test a dry weather focused tire.

Right out of the gate, it is apparent that the AGC Pinner is extremely well-damped and does an excellent job of dulling out any frequency buzz or on-trail chatter. The carcass language on offer from Kenda offers a zen-like feel on the trail blocking out everything you don’t want to feel whilst still perfectly translating all of the feedback you do. This calming sensation through the tires provides one of the most controlled and sure-footed rides we’ve experienced. It’s actually so good that it made some other brands of tires almost feel harsh when carrying out back-to-back test sessions. 

The top-level performance doesn’t stop there either and the Pinner has bucket loads of cornering traction in a wide range of dry riding conditions. When initiating the turn there is sometimes a slight skip and drift before the cornering cutting begins but it’s predictable and we’re yet to have it give way even when we’re right on the screaming edge limits. The grip levels are exceptional in nearly every situation, but we still feel our go-to Maxxis Assegai MaxxGrip tyre has the edge when it comes to ultimate cornering traction hold. The Pinner’s braking traction is remarkably reliable and predictable when things get spicy too, and there’s solid climbing traction, even on the back of an electric mountain bike.

While they’re no featherweight and don’t compete with a lighter weight trail tire when it comes to rolling speed and acceleration, the ‘faster than your average DH tire’ rolling claims do feel apparent when carrying out back-to-back runs with competitors, and the Pinner does hold impressive on-trail pace. The additional weight is noticeable when climbing but it also doesn’t feel as much as a chore as some other tough DH-focused options. 

Due to our current dust-bowl riding conditions, we can’t comment on how well the Pinner’s will perform in the wet, however, we have no doubts they’ll remain solid contenders right up to the sloppiest of conditions. We’ll report back when typical British summer resumes.

Verdict

If you’re regularly finding the limits of your current tire's tread pattern or carcass, the Pinner tyre from Kenda is a fantastic, solid, durable and grippy hard-charging option. The Pinner offers predictable levels of grip and a sublime trail feel without the sacrifices of a slow-rolling full-blown DH tire.

Tech specs: Kenda Pinner Pro tire

  • Sizes: 27.5in and 29in / 2.4in wide
  • Carcass: AGC and ATC
  • Weight: 1322g (AGC 29x2.4)
  • Price: £60 (AGC 29x2.4)

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 10-25 degrees in mostly dry and conditions
  • Trail surface: Man-made and natural trails across the entirety of North Yorkshire
  • Route: A mix of machine and man-made bike trails and big natural terrain
Jim Bland
Freelance writer

Jim Bland is a product tester and World Cup downhill mechanic based in North Yorkshire, England, but working Worldwide. Jim’s chosen riding genre is hard to pinpoint and regularly varies from e-bike-assisted shuttle runs one day to cutting downcountry laps the next. Always on the hunt for the perfect setup,  Jim will always be found comprehensively testing kit with World Cup racing levels of detail. His ultimate day out includes an alpine loam trail, blazing sunshine, and some fresh kit to test.  


Rides: Santa Cruz Hightower, Santa Cruz v10, Specialized Kenevo.

Height: 170cm 

Weight: 64kg