Monday, June 30, 2014

Honey Badger Don't Care

When I saw that Kenda was releasing a tire called the Honey Badger, I just had to try them. The Honey Badger popularity grew with the viral video a few years ago. If you hadn't seen it here is the link. As it says in the video, the honey badger don't care. That seems to be case with these tires, they just don't care.
I've been riding the kenda honey badger 29 x 2.2 (the all mountain version, just a bit heavier than the narrower xc version.) for about a month now, and finally my first race on them at Tomlinson run this past weekend. I set these up tubeless on a set of RXL rims, the Badgers set up easy with a quick burst of air and some sealant and was ready to go. 
Photo from Mike Briggs
Within the first ride i realized that these tires like to be aggressive, they will reward the rider who will be push them, or they will save the newbie who takes a turn too fast. Now I'm not a terribly great mountain biker, so ill deal with extra weight, to have a sure ride and traction, with short center knobs and aggressive cornering knobs make these a fast tire. With coming from the  Kenda Nevegal all last year, i would be getting used to having a lighter & faster tire, but with sacrifice of so much traction that the Nevegals offered.  During my first ride on these tires, which was at north park, with a mixture of conditions (roots, rocks, dusty, tacky, and 1 slog of peanut butter like mud). I learned that the more you lean into a turn the more these tires will grip.  i learned this the hard way after taking a turn to quick and just having to lean more than I'm used to but as i did i could feel the honey badgers just digging in and letting me carve through the turn. this first hand experience left me with a lot of confidence with the traction in turns. so i was pushing it a bit more than i normally would, i could feel in the tires slip in a dusty turn but it immediately dug in and found grip

Photo thanks to Mike Briggs
My first race on the honey badgers was at Tomlinson Run State Park for the WV state championship. This race is known for its climbs with about 3 climbs about 1 miles each over a 7 mile course, and several steep sections, and also for it's fun descents. With heavy rains the night before, it meant was going to be mix of slick and tacky trails. My goal was to treat it more a cyclocross race, since within 300-400 meters from the start on the road, to the entrance of the trail, so it would be a pile-up and get clogged with people trying to get into the trail. With the short center knobs these tires they spun up and rolled quick, as i settled into a rhythm in 6th place entering the trail behind the guys i knew i would be pushing the pace up the first climb. i knew not to chase to hard and blow myself up early because that would lead to a very long day. On the first climb the Honey badgers climbed up and over the slick roots with no problems. On one of the steeper sections there was a straight of peanut-butter mud in a easy gear, with a quick light cadence i could feel the tires just spinning and digging in to find grip. With only losing 5 minutes from my first to my second lap, mostly from a deteriorating me and a bit more deteriorated trail( but mostly me when my legs would lock up while trying to get over the gear on steep grades. need to get out for more longer rides), i  still managed to finish 10th out of 25+ sport riders.

Even the tire says they Don't Care
(actually the DC is for Kenda's awesome Dual tread Compound)
The Honey Badger tires proved to live up to there name, they just don't care and try to find traction where ever you ride. I just keep hoping that Kenda releases the Honey Badger in a narrower cyclocross version, they would be a great dry and all condition tire.