Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Product Review: Kenda Flintridge Pro | Almanzo 100 Ver.

Back in February, I stumbled upon a new bike for my collection. Long story short- I was asked to test a new set of disc brakes. Not having a bike for such testing led me to acquire a new gravel bike. The benchwork is over and I was left staring at a gray and orange beast in the garage. 

Still, in base mile-mode, I continued to put miles on the bike. The geometry was super comfortable and the handling not like any CX bike I've ridden. I became addicted to the bike. 

Looking at my work schedule for the spring season, I noticed I would be near the starting point of the famed Almanzo 100 gravel race. I felt it was time to put my bike and legs where my mouth is. (That sounds like someone crashed...?). 



Loaded up the pack to get used to the carrying weight.
I continued putting in long rides on the weekend. My biggest challenge would be getting used to long hours on the bike and sorting out my dietary needs for the day of the race. 




Tires, sealant, and new socks for the ride.
It seems as if anyone who throws a leg over an all road or gravel bike can talk a tin ear to you about tire choice. I'm a tire nerd so naturally, I had something in mind for the race. I reached out to my friend at Kenda Tires and procured a set of the brand new +Kenda Tires Flintridge Pro.



Make your benchwork your benchmark!
I installed the Kenda tires on the bike as tubeless; threw in some scoops of +Stans NOTUBES with a dash of green glitter for extra hole clogging security. 

I was happy to discover how fast these tires rolled on pavement. With the right tire pressure, they hooked up really well on gravel during my training miles. Kenda uses DTC on the casing- dual tread compound which means two different rubber durometer (hardnesses)-- soft rubber on the shoulders for cornering grip and firmer on the center tread patch for low rolling resistance. KSCT provides the tire with a strong sidewall for resisting cuts and a beefy bead for ease of tubeless installation. 

The center of the tread has long rectangular blocks that provide smooth rolling on pavement without a high level of buzz. Midway over on the Flintridge tread are paired blocks which act like fingers when your motoring through gravel. The more of this tread surface (40psi front & 42psi rear) you can put onto the varying surfaces of the gravel, the better traction you'll have. Think of a rock climber's fingers camming into cracks of a wall they're ascending. The C-shaped shoulder knobs offer stability while corning and do their best to get purchase while leaning the tire through the corners. 

The morning of the event, I stocked up my frame pack and hydration pack with the essential foods. I made up a bunch of sunflower nut butter and jelly sandwiches, stowed away several of the Clif Bar organic squeeze pouches, and for when I needed sweets at the end of the ride... Rip van Wafels dark choco and sea salt waffles. These foods seemed to digest the best for me with no gastric distress.  

The morning of the Almanzo 100 the riders were greeted with temps barely at 40*F. Winds were hard all day long. 



SE Minnesota. A beautiful place to suffer. photo- Kit Oslin
The bike, tires, and food worked well for me. No cramping, no bonking, no flats. 


Plan your work and work your plan.
The Flintridge Pro tires provided enough float when the gravel was the size of walnuts. That's the true test- too thin of a tire and you'll sink in the gravel. Every pedal stroke you'll dig down and have to fight back up to the top of the gravel. Too fat of a tire and you're riding a mechanically deficient bike. Some of which I saw riders slugging it out on fat bikes and 27.5+ mountain bikes... but hey, that's their choice. 

The new Flintridge offers great rolling on pavement, good float and hookup on gravel along with the ability to run them tubeless. Check out your LBS for availability!

  
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