In the downhill racing world, loyalties to a particular tread pattern or rubber compound run deep, and there's no shortage of riders employing their trusty Sharpie markers to run tires other than the ones listed on their sponsor list. For that reason, it's somewhat of a rarity for a new DH tire to enter the market, but it just so happens that Kenda has two new 27.5 x 2.4" options on the way – the Hellkat Pro and the Helldiver Pro.
The Kenda Hellkat.
The Hellkat is the more aggressive of the two tires, with alternating L- and rectangle shaped side knobs for cornering traction, and a blocky center tread pattern. It uses what's dubbed the 'Kenda Vector Shield' (KVS), and although that may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, it's actually an aramid sheet that helps protect the sidewalls from cuts and tears. It's also lighter than a traditional dual ply casing, and the weight for the KVS-equipped 27.5” Hellkat is a claimed 1170 grams.
To go along with that sidewall protection, there's an aramid belt underneath the tread, and yes, this one also gets its own special name – the Iron Cloak Belt. Don't forget, all of this is part of Kenda's Advance Gravity Casing (AGC) – apparently someone at Kenda is an acronym superfan. MSRP for the Hellkat is $80 USD.
The semi-slick 27.5 x 2.4 Helldiver.
The Helldiver (I'm not sure if that would be my first choice for a tire name, but that could just be me) is Kenda's new semi-slick rear tire, with low profile center knobs for fast rolling and taller side knobs to maintain cornering traction. Like the Hellkat, it uses a dual rubber compound, but it uses a single-ply casing and a folding bead, which drops the weight to 974 grams. MSRP is $85 USD. There are also all-mountain versions of both tires on the way that will use the same tread design, but with an even lighter casing to save weight.