26x2.1 Kenda Small Bolck Eight (Review)

Yesterday I went to my LBS looking for a new tire. They recommended the Small block 8 as a very good general purpose tire at a good price. I got the steel bead version, because the folding bead was more than double the price for no real benefit. So today I did about 5 miles XC and road riding to test it out.

The first thing I noticed was that it has a large perceived volume for a 2.1 tire. It felt almost as big as my 2.5 tire. The second thing is that it has a round profile which is very smooth on the road. It also has little road noise for a knobbly tire.

The negative side is that you have to run it quite hard. If it’s too under-inflated it becomes very twitchy and difficult to control. It is also rather heavy at just under 1kg. It can pick up small punctures easily, but I use gloop, so it wasn’t a problem.

I normally ride XC and road, therefore I don’t want too much volume. It behaved reasonably well in single track and double track conditions and floats well enough over sand. Because of the high inflation it tended to be a little bumpy. I do think that the 1.5 slick I use for road riding has better control than the Kenda.

Conclusion, for a well priced general purpose road and XC tire the small block 8 is good value for money. You do however get what you pay for, as is normally the case. It is also very difficult to match road and XC riding in one tire, but I think that Kenda has done a good job. For guys who do not want to change tires all the time it seems like a good compromise.

I noticed that there was another thread for the small block 8, but it was a 29" review and quite old. Thought it better to start a new thread instead of bumping an old one.

I’m interested in hearing how the SB8 fairs after you’ve had more time with it. I know it’s a popular dry single track bike tire around here.

I don’t know if I would run such a narrow tire, but another tire in that size range worth considering is the Felt Berm Master. I picked up a 24x3 a couple years ago, and found it to be an excellent tire all around. The 26 is a 2.125, but it sure looks big on the Felt cruisers.

how would you describe your riding style?

my 2 cents

I have been using the SB8 on my 29er for quite a while. It is wearing out and I’ll buy another. True that it isn’t fun to ride on with low pressure, I usually run about 40lbs or a little less. Mostly used for xc and mixed terrain.

I don’t notice a weight issue but I think I have the folding type. I do run a protective strip for flat prevention.

I will try to do an update in a week or so, suppose I still need to get more used to it.

Definitely not adventurous at this stage, fitness and skill levels need a lot of improvement.

Thanks for the input.

SB8 on Nimbus 29er

My Nimbus came with the Duro Easy Rider and it is an excellent tire for street and even light off-road use. I can take it down to 20lbs and it performs well. For MUNI riding I put on the Kenda SB8 (folded version) and it works well. It doesn’t seem to load up or hold rocks. I wish it ran better on low pressure. It gets too gushy. The sidewalls are very thin and don’t hold much. 30-40 lbs works best for me. The higher pressures are very bouncy on a bouncy trail. I don’t have much to compare it to except the Duro.

Yesterday, I rode the Duro on medium soft beach sand and I was amazed how I could keep going without digging in and sliding out.

What a difference!!!

The SB8 was not really performing to my satisfaction and over the weekend I got a puncture that ruined the tube. So, instead of buying the thin stuff the LBS normally gives me, I asked for the thickest heaviest tube they had. I got a 26x2.75 downhill tube with 1.2mm sidewalls. After putting it on I went for a test ride…

The tube makes up for a lot of the problems with the thin sidewall, no folding and there is much more control at lower pressure. The tire seems to float better as well, though it could just be my happiness. I noticed a bit more weight and momentum which is great for XC but not so good on the road.

All in all this is a major improvement and now I actually like this tire. For the XC terrain that I mostly ride and some road in between is works really well. It carries my weight well (I am not small) and I feel less fatigued after a ride.