I AM A bit of a tyre snob these days – you know, tried the best and now looking at the rest.
In the past, I’ve spent a bloody fortune on the big brands and to be honest they have been pretty darn good, but on the other end of the scale I’ve tried the el-cheapo range too and I’m just as impressed.
Having spent some 20 odd (some very odd) years in the bush, touring outback desert regions, clocking up stacks of highway miles and just recently spending time in Tassie and the Cape, I reckon I can lay claim to being a seasoned traveller.
During the past 18 months we’ve been travelling Australia and when it came to prep I knew I wanted muddies for where we planned to go. Now I know there are pros and cons with noise, wear patterns, being dicey in the wet (allegedly) blah, blah, blah, but that’s what I wanted.
As a side note, we bought a hybrid camper the year before to prepare and there were muddies on the trailer. Again, there’s been stacks of debate regarding muddies on trailers, so I won’t go there. Anyway, the tyres on the trailer were ones I had never heard of before, namely Kenda Klevers in an MT pattern.
Now while they looked ‘tough’ on the camper (the only reason why manufacturers put them on in my books) I thought they wouldn’t last long. After having them balanced and aligned, they’ve performed well on the tracks we’ve been using to prepare for our upcoming trips.
After running the Kenda Klever muddies on the trailer for a year I thought I would take a gamble and throw a set on the Cruiser, after. I was pleasantly surprised on the ratings overseas, as well as the vast range of tyres Kenda makes for trucks, 4WDs, bikes, mowers and a few random ones. Even the history behind the company is pretty impressive; established in 1962 in Taiwan producing bike tyres, it soon moved to other fields.
So I thought why not take a gamble with a set on the old 80 Series to match up with the camper. Without wanting to spend a bucket-load of cash – but also not wanting to skimp too much on tyres – the Kenda came in under budget: for the 285/75/16 I paid $240 each (fitted and balanced), which was very affordable.
First impressions? As they’re muddies I was expecting them to howl and be a bit blocky on the road, which they were, but they’re definitely not the noisiest I have had (mind you, I’ve run comp-style tyres that scared little kids walking down the road).
2020 TYRE TEST: Mud-terrains!
The Kenda Klever MTs have double steel-belted construction with a three-ply sidewall utilised for long-lasting wear, with tough square shoulder lugs that provide pretty decent self-cleaning capability. Like I said, they are on the cheaper end of the market and we all know that down here they all look pretty much the same in design and appearance.
But you know what, I’m bloody impressed. We’ve done some big miles along Gulf roads, outback desert roads, a lot of tar, played in the sand (not the best for a muddie), used them in the mud (around Tassie) and given them a hiding around the back blocks of Coffs Harbour.
AFTER having the tyres for nearly two years and being on the road for 18 months, I am very impressed with their performance in most conditions (haven’t had them in the snow yet).
However, like any tyre they need to be looked after. I check pressures every morning when cold, do a visual every time we walk around, and basically baby them trying not to hit washouts and large sharp things on the road – as well as dropping pressures to suit.
They aren’t all-terrains, so I’m always extra careful in the outback where gibber rocks tend to bust sidewalls, and with the open-tread pattern there’s always a chance of a large sharp rock or a foreign object punching a hole directly between the blocks – but, hey, that’s the chance you take with nearly any tyre. Interesting to note, though, that on the trailer the tyres are marked Made in China and the Kendas on the old girl are marked Made in Taiwan.
After 60,000km of heavy towing, exploring nearly all road types, giving them a caning in the bush, and doing the hard tracks through Tassie, up the Cape and all in between, what’s my verdict? Well, I’m suitably impressed overall and would probably get them again, but like any tyre just remember to rotate and run the right pressures to suit what you’re doing.
WHAT WE LIKE
The on- and off-road performance of these tyres has surprised me. On the road (tar) I run them at 45psi and they wear well, keep above the blocky nature muddies have, and seem to clear mud and rocks pretty well. Off-road they perform well in all conditions. I find my 80 seems secure on both the tar and off-road at full tyre pressures and they keep their balance well. Price is very attractive, too, at half the price of other brands on the market and I’m sure not half the tyre.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
There aren’t that many cons. Perhaps the biggest con is that you need to drop a stack of pressure for them to perform extremely well off-road. Other muddies may go down to a pressure around 22psi, with the Kenda muddies I soon learned to go straight to 16psi to bag them out. It’s a very open block design that is vulnerable to punctures.