You may have seen the dark, obscured photo of an upcoming cyclocross tire from Kenda in their recent ad, and at Interbike 2013, Kenda officially unveiled their new cyclocross tire, an updated version of its Kommando cyclocross tire, called the Kommando X. The updated tubeless-ready clincher is Kenda’s first tubeless cyclocross tire aimed squarely at replacing the tubular in UCI races. Convinced tubeless will never replace the tubular? You don’t have to read further.
The original Kommando was perhaps the most surprising tire we’ve tested. Its appearance, with such small blocks and moderate side knobs, would suggest it would be a fast-rolling tire that would struggle with traction, but in all but the really sloppy or extremely loose conditions, the tire grips quite well, while still staying clean and rolling smoothly. The Stan’s NoTubes cyclocross team seems to agree, as the Kommando has been the go-to choice for the team for most races, and with a tight bead, the tire made for a good conversion candidate on NoTubes rims.
The new Kommando X promises to bring those same attributes, as the tread is similar, but the casing is a new 33c width that measures a true 33mm rather than the narrower-than-labelled 32c of the older model. The original Kommando also came in a 35c width, but the new Kommando X tire sits just a tad narrower than that tire, in case a racer has wide rims or faces a very strict UCI official and aims to line up at a UCI event.
Using the same 120tpi casing of the old Kommando, the tire has a slightly modified tread, with knobs that have been spaced out over the wider casing. The knobs are also now about 1mm taller, offering more bite in loose and sloppy conditions, and a bit more durability.
Kenda uses its DTC (Dual Tread Compound) design with 60 durometer rubber in the center and 50 durometer for the periphery for more cornering grip, and SCT (Sealant Compatible Technology) casing in the new Kommando X. Kenda sees this new model as the all-around tire for tubeless racers in cyclocross, and believes its tread and width should make it a compelling option even for UCI racers.
The Stan’s NoTubes cyclocross team races Kenda tires tubeless on NoTubes IronCross wheels, but often reaches for the non-SCT models as they are lighter, more supple and have a lot of tread and width options (for UCI or non-UCI races). The downside is that they take a bit longer to seal up (with more porous sidewalls), and are more susceptible to cuts from rocks. Kenda’s Ben Anderson says that the new Kommando X will be the team’s go-to tire when it arrives in October, and NoTubes’ Mical Dyck raced the new Kommando X at Cross Vegas.
The tire will retail for $49.95, is expected to weigh 417g, and should be available in October. At that weight, the tire is on par with some heavier tubulars, but with added sealant and the typically heavier clincher rim (as compared to tubular rims), it may not be the go-to choice for weight weenies. This is fine with Kenda, as tubeless tends to attract riders and racers more obsessed with convenience and practicality over gram scale results.
Kenda will keep making the Kommando tire, and soon will expand from five Kommando models to eight, not including the new Kommando X. There currently are 32c and 35c Kommando Pro models with a 120tpi DTC casing, with or without the Iron Cloak Kevlar bead-to-bead puncture protection, and there’s also the 32c Kommando SCT tubeless model. Soon, a 35c SCT Kommando (and other treads) will be arriving, something Cyclocross Magazine has long called for, since most tubeless racers are not UCI racers and can benefit from the extra volume. Also, Kenda will be releasing 32c and 35c Sport models, featuring wire beads and 60tpi casings, for shops and OEMs.
Stay tuned as we give a set of the new Kommando X tires a full test and review.
More info: www.kendatire.com/en/bicycle/cyclocross
Clifford Lee and Andrew Yee contributed to this report.
Check back often for more Interbike 2013 cyclocross bikes and gear. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the mountain of cyclocross goodies we found in Vegas.