Kenda’s Small Block 8 700x32 are a sprightly and durable tyre representing good value for riders of cross bikes and higher end hybrids liking a blend of asphalt and loose, dry singletrack. However, trade-off in terms of mud churning prowess prevents me recommending them as outright competition rubber for mid winter cross meets but this aside, they’re nigh on perfect for three season’s fun.
These fast rolling micro-grip tyres were designed by mtb champion John Tomac and its pedigree shows. Our folding bead means they pack down very small when not needed and save a few grams into the bargain. Given their relatively generous profiles, persuading them aboard common or garden Mavic rims demanded the services of my speed lever thanks largely to the super supple sidewalls. However, this is quickly forgotten once you've got them on and they certainly roll a lot faster than their 85psi maximum suggests, helped no doubt by 120tpi casings.
There’s no Kevlar puncture prevention strip but save for that particularly aggressive flint bearing your name, it resists most sharps remarkably well. Aggressive cornering on asphalt is predictable enough and better than many a worthy cross tyre but still requires slight adjustment if coming from slick road rubber-although this coupled with modest width makes for the right sort of excitement pushed hard through swooping woodland.
Passage over wet wooden bridges and smaller tree roots seems reassuringly sure- footed too, thanks largely to the supple dual tread compound but personally, I’m all for a few millimetres additional comfort. Front and rear specific treads are commonly accepted but it was nice to find unidirectional treads- one less thing to worry about should you flat during a race for instance. Giving change from £40 (pair) they’re remarkably good value to the point they’d be my default option-especially on older steel cross frames with marginally less generous clearances.
Great generic cross rubber for firm circuits, a good tyre for hybrids too, but limited in the gloop
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kenda Small Block 8 700x32c tyre
Size tested: 32mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The small block eight are crudely a road/cross varient of their mtb tyre intended for loose gravel/trail performance while still sprightly enough to deliver on asphalt. Probably fine for dry competition but not so good when things turn gloopy
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
700X32 Kevlar folding bead with a maxium pressure of 85psi. very close knit block tread. 680g pair
No obvious concerns through the test period.
Respectable given its intended purpose.
Good comfort and cushioning even on more technical forest trails.
£16.99 each is pretty fair.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The small block eight are really sprightly on dirt trails and enjoy reasonable prowess on the tarmac too-making them a great cross training tyre. Narrower 32mm section is a boon and a better option than 35mm on older crossers with narrower clearances.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Sprightly feel, great for fast dirt trails and tarmac alike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tricky to mount aboard some rims.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)