PRODUCT EVALUATION KENDA BEARCLAWS Lightweight eighty-ply tires on SDI’s HD Wheels
q Kenda’s latest Bearclaw HTR radial tire is an upgraded version of one of their best sellers. This directional tire has an eight-ply rating so it is strong enough for both utility ATVs and heavier UTVs. The new product is available in 25-, 26- and 27-inch sizes to fit 12- and 14-inch wheels. Strength and size have been added to the semi-aggressive tread pattern, while more aggressive side knobbies were also helped to improve puncture protection. The $125-$135 25×8-12 front and 25×10-12 rears we tested only tipped the scales at 21 pounds and 25 pounds respectively. Kenda’s own Bounty Hunter UTV tires weigh a pound more per tire.
To get a feel of how the new Bearclaws worked, we installed them on STI’s brand-new HD wheels. We went with the same 7×12 wheel size front and rear; larger 7x14s are also available. STI’s HD wheel is their first wheel specifically designed to take the abuse of extreme utility ATV riding or heavier UTV use. MSRP on the STI HD wheel is $80. Along with a nice, clean look, the wheels have a unique Slik-Kote finish that helps prevent mud from sticking to the wheel. This will reduce rotating weight while you are riding and making cleanup easier back at home. Another good feature of this STI wheel is that it has a lifetime structural warranty; if you break or bend this wheel, STI will replace it free of charge.
Furthermore, we had OMF Performance install their new Super Lite Drain Hole beadlocks on the STI wheels. The new beadlocks only add 8 pounds to each wheel while still gripping the tire bead like a vise. Construction material of the beadlocks are 6061 aluminum, are of strong grade and secured to the wheel. The OMF Super Lite Drain Hole beadlocks start at $154 and can be installed on virtually any 12- or 14-inch wheel as long as the aluminum attaching ring is welded on. Powdercoating is an extra $10 per wheel.
Benefits of this combo were seen even before testing began. The Slik-Kote wheel made the seating process quick and simple. After the OMF beadlock clamped the outside of the Kenda tire to the rim, the inside of the tire popped right onto the wheel with only 25 pounds of air pressure. The STI wheels bolted right up using the stock lug nuts. The tire/wheel combo really improved the looks of the Polaris RZR S.
Out on the trails, we tested with 10 pounds of air pressure on all four corners. The tires felt solid under the RZR; they were not too sticky. The 21mm-tall tread pattern is not overly aggressive and gave a smooth ride on hardpacked terrain. Forward traction on loose and hard dirt was excellent, and braking traction was better than expected. The wide footprint provided good floatation in the sand as well and tracked much straighter than many other tires we have tested.
To really abuse the new Kendas, we took them over our rocky torture trail and were surprised with the results. After repeated attempts to find any weakness in the rubber, the Bearclaws resisted puncture. There wasn’t a slice anywhere in the rubber. The new eight-ply rating is living up to its claim. We came away so impressed with these tires that we would put them head to head with any other all-around tire for dry terrain any day.
As far as the wheels are concerned, the STI HDs held up to the abuse. While torturing the tires, we would hit bowling ball-sized rocks on purpose, but it didn’t hurt the wheels either. OMF’s beadlocks held the tires on strong and helped contribute to a speedy cleanup after the test. All of the wet dirt, sand and mud washed right off the wheels and out of the drain holes as advertised. Only larger rocks had to be plucked out by hand.
We built a winning combination with the Kenda Bearclaw tire, STI HD Slik-Kote wheels and OMF Super Lite Drain Hole beadlocks. For our terrain, they worked great together. Even after 130 miles of torture-testing, all three products afterwards looked nearly brand new. We will do further testing of these products, and you may see the package end up on one of our project quads or UTVs in the near future. q
Kenda (866) 536.3287,
STI (951) 272-0971,
OMF (951) 354-8272,