More and more roadies have been wrapping their rims with bigger-volume tires in recent years, drawn by the appeal of smoother riding roads and better mixed-terrain grip. Yet this voluminous rolling stock has historically come with a significant performance penalty, as even the highest-end rims would slow their spin when clad in one of these heavy-duty commuter clinchers.
No longer! Take flight, Valkyrie!
Kenda’s Valkyrie Pro is the company’s new high-end road tire, and all-around performer touting great grip performance and built-in flat protection. The Valkyrie comes in both tubular and clincher versions that range from skinny-Minnie tubular 22c to a squishy-cushy (for roadies) 25c clincher. Kenda listed four versions at the time of this writing, though this tester would up with a mach-5-mush 28c version for demo purposes.
To experience this tire, I focused on the two areas I could predictably test – acceleration and grip.
The first sprint up a short ascent showed how quickly the Valkyrie spins up. This tire is indeed featherly for its size. The 28c Valkyrie Pro carries a listed median weight of 235 grams. By comparison, the latest version of Continental’s venerable Grand Prix 4000 S II clincher lists at 260 grams and 280 grams if you get the version with reflective sidewalls.
According to information from the company websites, to get within Kenda’s striking distance in weight at 28c would put a Continental rider on a 25c tire. Or you could just ditch your beloved titanium King Cage.
Next, on grip, the Valkyrie Pro inspires confidence. I won’t admit to being the kind of bike handler who can push a tire to its limits, but very fast mountain descending felt great on the Valkyrie, and better than this tester’s usual high-end 28c clincher. The handling felt comparable to the go-to performance clinchers that have long hogged the spotlight from Kenda, a company better known for its off-road offerings.
Puncture resistance was another area to test, though my approach here was a little less deliberate. The tires didn’t go flat, nuff said.
When you have mounted many different styles and brands of tires, you do get a sense of quality by sheer pliability in the hand. The Valkyrie compound, which Kenda calls R3C, is very tacky. Construction is consistent, and the soft folding tire readily takes its shape on the rim. Kenda claims its puncture resistant band, K-Armor, features a tighter weave for lower rolling resistance and lighter weight than the competition. These tires also come equipped with a reflective patch.
Kenda has never been top-of-mind for me in the world of road tires, but this tire is a killer on all counts. I was elated by the ride and would readily recommend the Valkyrie on almost all counts — fans of flashier color schemes might be disappointed in the “any color as long as it’s black” aesthetic available at the time of this writing.
The Valkyrie seems to have found the secret sauce to a lightweight tire that checks all the boxes. And while this particular tester is a fan of high-volume rubber, riders that prefer the classic 23c size will still find an compelling and quick-rolling option. MSRP for the clincher is $70, and the tubular, $100.
Bravo Kenda. Wagner would be proud.