Kenda’s Flintridge Pro tires get their name from a region in Kansas where the infamous Dirty Kanza gravel race is held. It’s a demanding place for tires trying to balance speed, puncture protection and any number of varying road conditions.
What makes a gravel tire? In addition to their width (most gravel tires sit in the 30-40mm range) they also sport more robust casings with sidewall protection and lower max inflation recommendations.
The file center tread keeps the rolling easy while the siped side knobs work hard in the bendsRussell Eich / Immediate Media
Kenda Flintridge Pro specs
700 x 40mm
Dual tread compound
Reflective hot patch for increased visibility
Easy set up
Despite what tire manufacturers claim, setting up tubeless tires can often be a giant pain in the butt. Happily this wasn’t the case with the Flintridge Pros. On both wheelsets I used them with they snapped into place quickly and painlessly with a track pump.
Once seated, they’ve managed to hold pressures well. I used Orange Seal sealant in both set ups.
The Flintridge Pro features Kenda’s dual tread compound and sealant compatible tubeless casingRussell Eich / Immediate Media
On the gravel
One of the biggest benefits the Flintridge Pros had right from the start was their low PSI range of 30-50. If I’m riding rough roads with a wider tire I want something that’s not rock hard, but not so soft that it squirms, or worse yet, pinch flats.
The Flintridge Pros delivered on those needs. More than a few times I heard the gut-wrenching twang of the rim bottoming out on a rock or root only to subsequently feel the wash of relief when I came away with neither a pinch flat nor a dented rim.
As for the puncture protection, Kenda calls it ‘SCT’ (Sidewall Casing Technology) and it managed to keep flats at bay, even with as little as 40psi in both front and rear tires and while riding on seriously questionable jeep and mining roads way up in the mountains.
Kenda’s Flintridge Pro is fast, cushy and has excellent puncture protectionRussell Eich / Immediate Media
That SCT casing did have a firm ride, it’s definitely not a supple, floaty-feeling tire, but those that are typically don’t last more than a handful of miles where I ride.
On roads that see regular human use, the Flintridges felt a bit like overkill. The center tread held speed well, but their big girth and weight were noticeable when trying to maintain pace up inclines.
Cornering traction was adequate. Kenda tires typically have a bit more of a rounded profile, which improves predictability but lacks the locked-in feeling a squared-off tread pattern can have. For the intended purpose of gravel riding (which largely consists of riding arrow straight into the horizon), the tread’s consistency throughout the lean is the right choice.
Truthfully, I’d take those tradeoffs any day. A stiffer ride, a bit of extra effort on the road and consistent, if-not-rail-worthy cornering are all worth tolerating if you’ve got the confidence to dive onto any road or path that takes your fancy.
Bottom line: the tire for gravel exploring
There are fat road tires and skinny, light gravel tires for going fast but that’s not what the big 40mm Kenda Flintridges are about.
In this 40mm size, they’re more for bike-packing and exploring, and leaving no road undiscovered. They’re for taking a drop-bar bike well past where sanity says you should go. And if there is a race that has you questioning whether or not to bring your hardtail mountain bike, they’re dang good for that, too.