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Photo: Matt Miller

The aggressive-XC category of bikes has exploded over the past year or two. By updating the geometry on short travel bikes, brands have found that shorter suspension travel, meshed with aggressive geometry, makes for something fun to ride almost anywhere.

Component manufacturers quickly followed suit, and came out with options for forks, brakes, and tires. They are components that are made to handle big hits, and sharp carves, but are lighter than pure-bred XC componentry. The Kenda Regolith nicely fits this bill.

Specs and details

Photo: Matt Miller

  • Versatile, all-around mountain bike tire from XC to enduro
  • Two compound tire: fast rolling center, grippy side knobs
  • Offered in three casings: SCT, EMC, TR
  • Tubeless ready
  • Folding bead
  • Weight: 870g (29×2.4″)
  • MSRP: $65-$70 (shop options and prices)

Tire performance

The transition knobs and cornering knobs have a tie bar connecting them for increased stability. Photo: Matt Miller

Kenda reached out about testing the Regolith when I was speccing my Fezzari Signal Peak test bike for BC Bike Race. With the tire’s description in mind, and looking at its short, but stout, and widely spaced knobs, the Regolith made its way to the front of my bike quickly.

Somewhere in BC. Photo: Margus Riga

The tire looked like it would be perfect. The Regolith weighs in at an appropriate-feeling 870g. It’s not the lightest, but certainly not the heaviest. The Regolith is of course lighter with the standard tubeless-ready casing, rather than the Sidewall Casing Technology (SCT). The SCT takes the current tire layup and adds a sheet of Nylon fabric across the sidewall of the tire, starting at the bead, and extending up to the tread block.

This, Kenda says, optimizes the strength of the sidewalls, and makes them more tear-resistant when the tire encounters abrasions or cuts.

The other casing noted in the bullet points above is the EMC, or E-Mountain Casing, which Kenda says is their first tire casing designed for the rigors of electric mountain biking. In the eMTB model there are reinforced sheets of woven fabric across the sidewalls and another layer of puncture protection under the tread.

Photo: Matt Miller

The Regolith’s strengths and weakness were quickly revealed when the racing kicked off in BC. With the widely spaced knobs, the wet and decomposed loam didn’t stick around for long on the rubber and was quickly shed from the tire.

The counterpart on that wet condition performance note is that I felt that the tire lacked grip in a lot of the wet conditions I experienced, and unfortunately it was a rainy week.

For the race, I ran a different tire, the Pirelli Scorpion R, rear-specific tire. Afterward, I was curious about what it would have been like had I run the Kenda in the rear, so I took a 29×2.2-inch and put it on. While the knobs on the Regolith are low and hard, they still felt like they had some drag to them, and I don’t know that I would have been happier running it in the rear for BCBR, over the Scorpion R.

Photo: Matt Miller

Where I felt like the Regolith shined is where Kenda says it will shine — as an all-around tire. But it’s not quite a tire that transcends disciplines. For a strictly XC tire, I’d feel more comfortable going with something more efficient, with lower, tighter-packed knobs.

For enduro, I’d surely stick a 2.4-inch on the rear wheel, but with something more aggressive as a front tire.

Used as a combination, with a 2.2-inch in the rear, and a 2.4-inch up front, it would be solid on my local trails around the front range of Colorado, for all-around riding in most conditions, but as I said, if I were headed to an XC race, I’d choose something lighter, and if I were going to an enduro race, I’d find something with more punch to put in the front.

I didn’t suffer any punctures or tears of any kind with the Regolith, and the wear life looks great. The photos of the front tire in this article were taken after BCBR, with probably close to 300 miles of riding, if not more. I didn’t run the rear for as long, but the wear life seems similar.

Final word

Photo: Matt Miller

Although the Regolith is billed as a quiver-killing tire that can handle multiple disciplines, I wouldn’t use it for everything. It feels like an aggressive trail tire, and one that can be run as a front in an aggressive-XC race, or as a rear in an enduro. It is however durable, capable, and a great all-around trail tire.

Thanks to Kenda for providing the Regolith for review.

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# Comments

  • kangaldog

    Trying to distinguish oneself in the Mt.
    bike tire market is a bit laughable.
    Arranging little rubber bumps on a circular surface and expecting something really different and unique from manufacturer to manufacturer is silly.
    Only the pros and experienced sport riders are going to notice an appreciable difference and even then , it may be negligible .

    • Matt Miller

      You’re probably right, there are an overwhelming amount of choices. But, I suppose better to have too many than too little.

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