John Tomac developed the legendary Nevegal tire with Kenda in the early 2000s, when it was hailed as “The” downhill tire and put Kenda on the radar of a lot of riders. After a few years’ hiatus, the American brand is back on the Downhill World Cup circuit, as well as catering for the Trail and Enduro segment.

Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The Best Mountain Bike Tire – We had them all!


The names of Kenda’s carcasses indicate the intended use of the tire, from Trail to Enduro to Gravity. Compared to some other manufacturers, the differences in the level of puncture protection aren’t huge, giving most Enduro riders a lot of choice.

Advanced Trail Casing (ATC)

Kenda’s Advanced Trail Casing is one of the lightest constructions in the test field together with Continental’s ProTection carcass. However, the low weight comes at the cost of pinch flat protection. The ATC carcass is not suitable for heavy riders with an aggressive riding style as it is prone to suffering pinch flats. Compared to the MAXXIS EXO or Schwalbe Apex carcass, ATC uses protective layers in the sidewall and the centre knobs, leaving you less likely to cut the sidewalls or puncture the tread as a result.

Advanced Enduro Casing (AEC)

For their Advanced Enduro Casing, Kenda use much sturdier and heavier inserts than in the ATC casing. The protective lining under the tread and in the sidewall, called Vector Shield, is said to provide almost three times the amount of puncture protection than the lining in the ATC casing. In terms of pinch flat protection, the AEC carcass is just below the level of MAXXIS’ Doubledown carcass and is suitable for almost all Enduro bikes. The carcass does well in the weight department too, coming in quite a bit lighter than the DoubleDown or Super Gravity models.

Advanced Gravity Casing (AGC)

Among the downhill-specific casings in the test, Kenda’s AGC carcass offers the least pinch flat protection, but it is also by far the lightest. Even so, hardly anyone will be able to puncture this carcass, unless you’re a heavy downhill rider. Kenda achieved the additional protection over their AEC carcass not by increasing the number of layers, but by adding an additional 20 mm wide Apex insert in the tire bead which also helps support the sidewalls.

Rubber compounds

A quick look through Kenda’s catalogue is enough to give you a headache from decoding all the cryptic abbreviations. However, if you take a closer look, you will find that there are two compounds most suitable for Trail and Enduro use: RSR Dual Layer (RSRDL) and Enduro Dual Tread Compound (EN-DTC).

RSR Dual Layer (RSRDL)

RSRDL is Kenda’s latest rubber compound when it comes to maximum downhill grip. Unlike many other dual compounds, both the shoulder and centre knobs are made of Kenda’s softest rubber. They use the harder material as the base to stiffen the tire and minimise wear. Despite being relatively hard, the RSRDL offers sheer precision and traction in dry conditions. Even in the pouring rain, it still performs well in terms of grip, though not quite at the level of Schwalbe’s ADDIX Super Soft rubber or the shoulder knobs of MAXXIS’ 3C MaxxGrip compound. If you do a lot of climbing on your Enduro bike, we recommend using the RSRDL only on the front.

Enduro Dual Tread Compound (EN-DTC)

Kenda uses a classic dual-compound construction for their Enduro Dual Tread Compound with a harder centre tread and softer shoulder knobs. The rolling resistance is good but the EN-DTC compound still provides enough braking traction without wearing too fast. Lean the EN-DTC tires into a corner, they offer a lot of traction on almost any surface. There is a big performance difference between RSRDL and EN-DTC in wet conditions.

Tread pattern

Rooted in the downhill scene, Kenda’s aggressively treaded Hellkat is aimed at those trail and enduro riders who spend most of the time on soft terrain. New in Kenda’s lineup is the Pinner Pro, which was developed in collaboration with Aaron Gwin. The Pinner is best suited for gravity-oriented riding, specifically on hard-pack terrain, i.e. in bike parks. The slightly flatter profiled Nevegal 2 is an alternative that also works well on a lot of different terrain, especially on the rear wheel. Kenda also offer a semi-slick option in their line-up called the Helldiver.

Hellkat Pro

The Hellkat is the most aggressive tire in Kenda’s range. The tread pattern was largely designed by Mick and Tracey Hannah of the Polygon UR Team. With large gaps between the knobs, the self-cleaning properties of the tire are good even in sticky mud. The square shoulder knobs bite into the ground on off camber sections or in open corners without feeling vague or undefined when you hit a berm. Thumbs up! The massive centre knobs offer a ton of braking traction, though at the cost of rolling resistance. Although the Hellkat has few transition knobs, leaning it over feels consistent and predictable. It’s always a good choice for the front on an Enduro bike. It’s fine on the back if you tend to use the chairlift to get to the top of the trail, but don’t expect to do a lot of climbing under your own power.


The Helldiver is Kenda’s answer when the rolling resistance of the Hellkat on the rear is too much. The minimalist centre knobs of this semi-slick tire produce a lot less rolling resistance compared to the Hellkat, depending on the compound. As with all semi-slick tires, braking traction in muddy conditions is poor and this tire has absolutely no business on the front of your bike. The 27.5″ model comes in many casing and compound combinations. Unfortunately, 29er riders will have to make do with just the thin ATC carcass.

Nevegal 2

For the re-launch of the Nevegal, Kenda left no block of tread unchanged. As a result, the Nevegal 2 rolls a lot better and slots in nicely between the Hellkat and Helldiver. The relatively short knobs keep the weight and rolling resistance down and offer a direct feel on hard ground. Similar to Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf, the Nevegal 2 has plenty of transition knobs. Drifting? It loves to, and it does so in a very controlled way. It is best suited as a rear tire on an Enduro bike, or the front and rear on a Trail bike. In the case of very sticky mud, it can clog up quite quickly when compared to Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf, but it sheds dirt significantly better than the MAXXIS Aggressor.

Pinner Pro

The Pinner Pro is the latest addition to Kenda’s MTB portfolio. Developed in collaboration with Aaron Gwin, it’s designed to tackle challenging bike-park tracks and rough downhill trails. This makes it a superb addition to the Hellkat, which works exceptionally well on softer terrain. The Pinner Pro’s massive shoulder knobs are well supported and dig into the trail without buckling, even when railing through hard-packed berms. This makes the Pinner Pro very predictable, even at high speeds and with heavy compressions. Compared to the Hellkat, the center knobs of the Pinner Pro are clearly elongated, more closely spaced and ramped. All in all, the Pinner rolls a lot faster than the Hellkat but struggles to match its superb braking traction and great performance in muddy conditions. Combined with a Hellkat up front, the Pinner is a great option for long enduro summer sessions, when you also have to use the power of your legs to get to the trailhead and not just relying on the lift. Although the Pinner Pro is a great tire, it has a problem: it’s only available in the heavy AGC or ATC casings, which is more prone to punctures. Hopefully Kenda will soon release a version with Advanced Enduro Casing.

Our recommendations

Enduro – full throttle (f/r): Hellkat, AEC, RSRDL / Pinner, AGC, RSRDL
Trail – grip (f/r): Hellkat, ATC, EN-DTC / Nevegal 2, ATC, EN-DTC
Trail – fast rolling (f/r): Nevegal 2, ATC, EN-DTC / Nevegal 2, ATC, EN-DTC

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Our big ENDURO group test at a glance

Here you’ll find everything you need about mtb tires: The Best Mountain Bike Tire – We had them all!

All the models in test

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl