PRODUCT: Kenda’s K784 rear and K784F front tires are designed for the adventure rider who needs a tire that can perform in the off-road environment. The tires
are DOT-approved and designed as 60-percent street/40-percent dirt tires for big
adventure touring bikes like the BMW GS, KTM Adventure and a host of other bikes
used by adventure-seeking riders. They have the appearance of a full dirt tire with
short, fat knobs. In the Kenda product line, the Big Block is the most aggressive, dirt-oriented tire suitable for the heavy ADV brutes. The short, fat knobs and soft rubber
compound are said to improve handling and stability on pavement while still providing increased traction in the dirt.
POSITIVE: This set of tires was mounted to a BMW GS Adventure that was ridden
60/40 street/dirt, fitting right into the target range set by the manufacturer. The
Kendas gave this heavy beast a new lease on life when venturing into the dirt world.
Compared to the OEM ADV tires, which have about a 5 percent dirt-capability rating,
the Big Blocks are a game-changer. The front tire allowed the Beemer to track
straight in loose dirt and sand and to actually turn in the direction asked. The rear has
to be given credit for the improved dirt prowess, since it is constantly driving the bike
forward. Performance was also improved on hardpacked dirt roads. These tires
weren’t upset by small rocks and irregularities in the dirt the way the OEM tires
are. Considering these tires were being tasked with hauling around a 500-pound
motorcycle in the dirt, their performance was quite good; however, when it came
to pounding the pavement, they had their limitations. Cornering was suspect, as leaning over we could feel the gap in the tread design. The tires never caused anything
catastrophic; they just gave a little warning ripple that reminded us that they were
knobbies, not sport tires. Compared to DOT-legal dirt tires on a dual-sport bike,
however, the Big Blocks worked quite well on the pavement.
NEGATIVE: Tire life and noise. These tires really howl while cruising down
the highway. If you aren’t already wearing earplugs under your helmet, you’ll
start if you run the Kendas. The gap in the blocks can be felt at low speeds
on the pavement, but the noise changes to a steady buzz as speeds
increase. The sensation isn’t enough to make your hands go numb; it’s just
one of those annoying characteristics of riding a knobby on the street. On
long-pavement stints, this will add to road fatigue.
Tire life is almost universally short in this category of tire. There just isn’t
enough rubber contacting the road. We have an Alaskan trip planned for the
summer of 2014. On a trip totaling close to 8000 miles, it would take three
rear tires to make it to the finish. The front tire actually holds up quite well
and, at 3000 miles, is showing minimal wear, with very slight cupping on the
leading edge of the blocks (from braking). These tires are also a bit on the
heavy side, which affects the handling. The rear tire was a real hassle to get
balanced. It took a lot of wheel weights to get things spinning smoothly.
The front was just the opposite; no added weight needed for a smooth roll.
BOTTOM LINE: You have to weigh the pros and cons when choosing
tires for the big ADV bikes. Do you want good dirt prowess or high
mileage? If the majority of your riding is on the tarmac, you’d be better off
choosing something in the 80/20 street/dirt range. For those of you who
lean more to the dirt-exploration side, the Kenda Big Block is a good
choice. If you plan to ride any of the various states’ backcountry adventure routes, these tires are a must. Another point in the Kenda’s favor is pricing. The
Kendas are about $80–$100 cheaper than some of the other name brands. There are
great deals to be found by doing a little on-line shopping. ;
3000-MILE REVIEW: KENDA BIG BLOCK ADV TIRES
LONG-TERM PRODUCT TEST
MSRP: Varies due to tire size.