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Teravail Kessel MTB tire review

Where does Teravail’s biggest Kessel aggro tire rank against the established options and can it justify its extra cost?

Teravail Kessel MTB tire review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Teravail’s biggest Kessel is a big volume, maximum control monster that’s as good as anything else out there for mixed conditions mayhem without being obviously slow despite its high weight. It is damned expensive though

For

  • - Outstanding grip in all conditions
  • - Very damped and quiet footprint
  • - Still rolls OK
  • - Easy to fit
  • - Big as it claims to be
  • - Stable at low pressures
  • - Impressively tough and puncture-proof so far

Against

  • - Price
  • - Weight

Bike Perfect Verdict

Teravail’s biggest Kessel is a big volume, maximum control monster that’s as good as anything else out there for mixed conditions mayhem without being obviously slow despite its high weight. It is damned expensive though

Pros

  • +

    - Outstanding grip in all conditions

  • +

    - Very damped and quiet footprint

  • +

    - Still rolls OK

  • +

    - Easy to fit

  • +

    - Big as it claims to be

  • +

    - Stable at low pressures

  • +

    - Impressively tough and puncture-proof so far

Cons

  • -

    - Price

  • -

    - Weight

Teravail has grown out of a niche fat bike rubber brand to become one of the hottest tire tickets across gravel riding and now it's turned its attention to the best mountain bike tire market. The Kessel is its option for maximum control in all conditions and the harder we’ve pushed it the more it’s become one of our favorite options for all-out trail attacks. It’s seriously expensive though at $85 / £80.  

Design

You don’t have to look far for comparisons in the obligatory ‘this tire looks like’ fit up, but having the people’s favorite Maxxis DHF as a mould muse is a very smart choice. The 66 tpi carcass is all Teravail’s work though and this Durable version gets sidewall reinforcement, a rim bead chafer and an anti-flat strip under the tread too. There’s an even more heavy-duty Ultra Durable version too, but with the 29 x 2.6 already creeping over 1.2kg that’s best suited for uplifted or motorised applications. Teravail are keeping quiet about the actual rubber recipe of their Grip mix, but it feels soft under the thumb and feels that way on the trail too.

Performance

The Kessel starts making friends straight away too with an easy-peel onto most rims and instant inflation with a track pump. Unlike most undersized ’semi-fat’ tires it pops up at a full size 66mm on a 30mm internal rim too. 

It feels locked into the trail straight away too, with excellent straight-line stability but plenty of twist grip when you’re forcing a line or the trail is fighting to get rid of you. Wide siping splits add useful extra ‘self stick’ micro grip to the center and side knobs when you’re fully occupied dealing with the macro situation. The tall knobs dig into loam, loose or filth with equal tenacity and there’s plenty of space between them to keep them flinging filth out and staying sharp. While the overall character is unsurprisingly similar to a DHF we felt it had better braking and driving bite than the benchmark Maxxis design. In other words, while we did our best to find out where we could make it slip up the Kessel laughed off everything we - or the weather - did. None of our test team reported any confidence undermining glitches whether they were ripping fresh loam in summer or pushing their luck in the wet at Bike Park Wales.

The tread of the Teravail Kessel MTB tire

The tread is not dissimilar to Maxxis' classic DHF (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Teravail lists the recommended pressures as 20-40psi but we had no stability or burp issues dropping slightly below that for ultimate grip. The combination of the rubber cap and multi-layer carcass is outstandingly damped in terms of impact smoothing and overall ‘quietness’ and adhesion on the trail. We’ve had no puncture, rip or rub issues either and the tread lasts well in mixed-use too which is a relief considering the high cost even compared to other premium options.

While a 1200g grip tire is never going to be the first choice for assaults on a Strava climb segment the ramped knob noses mean it actually rolls better than expected for the outrageous amount of grip and confidence it gave us. We’re eagerly awaiting a 2.4 version to drop some weight, boost responsiveness and get around clearance issues of the balloon size 2.6in on the rear too.

Verdict

If we weren’t constantly flipping tires for testing then we’d definitely be leaving the Kessel on for as long as possible as the level of grip and damped authority of this tan wall beast is seriously addictive. It’s a really easy tire to fit and forget about in terms of durability and while it takes a fair amount of grunt to accelerate, rolling speed is surprisingly good too. That leaves only the high price to moan about (and knock the score down) but if you want to stand out not slide out whatever the conditions, Teravail’s Kessel is a brilliant option. 

Tech Specs: Teravail Kessel tire

  • Price: $85 / £80
  • Weight: 1205g (29 x 2.6in Durable, Grip version)
  • Colors: Tan (tested) or black wall
  • Sizes: 29 x 2.4, 2.6 (tested) 27.5 x 2.5in all in Durable or Ultra Durable casing
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg