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Dry Pavement (DP)
Best for Dry Pavement.
Dual Tread Compound (DTC)
The original dual tread rubber compound for Kenda. A hard long lasting and fast rolling rubber (60sA) comprises the center of the tread area, while a softer-tackier should rubber (50sA) completes this binary compound for the versatility of speed and grip off road. Found typically on cross country, all-mountain and cyclocross tires.
Kenda K1083A Happy Medium Pro DTC CX/Gravel Tire at BikeTiresDirect
2 of 4 customers found this review helpful.
Admittedly it’s my fault for not looking super closely, but given that the 32c and 35c versions are available tubeless compatible, it is kind of absurd that the 40c is not. FYI I set them up tubeless, have ridden them about 10 times, and the 40c just won’t seal reliably. Enough to get through a long mixed terrain day ride, but in a few days completely flat, sometimes unseated.
Apart from the tubeless issue, the file tread center knobs seemed to wear pretty quickly. On sections that I was able to clear when the tires were new, they’ve lost their bite and slip out on steep loose stuff after a few hundred miles.
However they do make a decent all-arounder. A friend uses the 35c for mixed terrain day rides, leisurely day rides, and light touring, and they are a happy medium for those applications.
Personally I think the Conti 42c is a more dirt worthy all terrain tire, also non-tubeless, for half the price.
Thank you for your feedback.
By Elaine Bothe | Published May 6, 2012
The Kenda Happy Medium breaks a lot of rules as it rolls down the trail. This is a tire that, on paper, looks like a one-trick pony for 26-inch-wheeled bikes. What we found on the trail was a much different story and proves that you cannot judge a tire by its knob patterns.
The Kenda Happy Medium has two distinct tread pat- terns. In the center are tiny, low-height “buttons,” while on the side are aggres- sively patterned, deep knobs. Kenda offers the Happy Medium in seven versions, with different widths and rubber compounds, for around $60. We rode the $64.99 29er version in a 2.1-inch width. This tire has a 120-threads-per-inch (tpi) casing, folding bead and Kenda’s DTC rubber compound. DTC means the tire has Kenda’s L3R Pro compound in the center and Stick-E compound on the side knobs. The Happy Medium, part of the Eric Carter signature line, is a front or rear tire. Our tires weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces each. You can get more information from Kenda by clicking here.
Field test results:
We slapped the Happy Mediums on a Specialized Carve 29 with Specialized Carve Stout 29 rims. The tires slipped on easily and beaded without hassle. We never ran above 32 psi, which is actually under the tire’s rating of 35?80 psi.
Remember when we said the tires looked like a one-trick pony? That’s because the size difference between the center buttons and side knobs looks way too big for a smooth transition to be possible. The tires looked like they would either be good-cornering tires or good-rolling tires, but not both. We were wrong.
The Happy Medium is a great-rolling tire with center knobs so small you are one step away from riding slicks. While this might give up traction points on a 26-inch tire, the 29er doesn’t need as much help. We had to shift our weight forward to get the rear tire to break loose. The trade-off is a slight reduction in braking grip. This can be managed with proper brake modulation or by braking when you have the most traction.
The cornering performance is what caught us by surprise. You expect to feel an abrupt change between the center and side knobs. It doesn’t happen (at least not with 32 psi or less in the tubes). The transition from the center to side knobs is not quite seamless, but you have to really focus to feel it. The more aggressively you arc into a corner, the better the Happy’s bite.
We have to caution that running at our recommended air pressure may be too low for heavier riders or in conditions where pinch flats are a constant threat. But unless you ride on bike paths or commute on pavement, stick to the lower end of the air-pressure range to stay happy on the Happy Mediums.
When shopping for a plus-sized cross tire, your choices are usually limited to widely-spaced knobbies or minimalist semi-slicks. For those who ride hardpack, or loose-over-hard trails, that means you’re forced to choose between speed or cornering traction. Kenda’s Happy Medium, with its combination tread, offers riders speed and control in a single tire.
The Happy Medium utilizes a modified diamond design for the majority of its tread. The elements are spaced far enough apart to provide good traction, but their low height helps reduce speed-robbing flex. On-road, the ride is smooth and quiet, even at the lower pressures typically used for dirt and gravel.
My GPS confirmed that the Kendas are fast, easy rolling tires. Where they really shine, though, is with their predictable cornering. Although the side knobs are widely spaced, their placement and height are optimized for a smoother transition from center to edge. When you lean the bike over, there’s no “dead spot” between the center section and side knobs. Cornering is very predictable, and if you do happen to push them too hard, their drift is relatively easy to control.
The Happy Medium is available in 700×32, 35, and 40 sizes. My 700×40 tires measured 38mm at the casing, and 40.5mm at the knobs (mounted on a 23mm rim, fully inflated). Weight was a respectable 448g, which was within Kenda’s advertised range (435g /- 22g). The tires feature folding beads, and Kenda’s dual-durometer DTC tread compound. Recommended pressure is between 50 and 85psi, but I ran them as low as 40psi with no problems.
For additional information, visit Kenda’s website.
Kenda GCT (GCT)
A versatile casing with great all-round puncture and slash protection. Weighing up to 50% lighter than traditional trail puncture breakers, the GCT casing is ideal for gravel cyclists and cyclocross riders. Tires using the GCT casing are all optimized for tubeless use and easy set up.
The Final Say
The Kenda Happy Medium tire really is two tires in one. In many ways but not the way you think.
It’s a really great handling, versatile training tire as well as maybe the ideal pit wheel tire when you’re not sure what the weather is going to do. If you’re a hardcore racer, mount up a pair of Happy Mediums to your heavy training wheels and ride the heck out of them.
Enjoy, because this is a fun tire! Then on race day, put a different set of wheels on your bike with a lighter tire — your best guess for the conditions that day — and put your training wheels in the pits.
The Happy Medium is also a very good choice if you’re on a budget or like to commute and race on your bike, because you only have one bike or one set of wheels. Again, two tires in one: commuter and race!
The versatility, great handling characteristics, smart tread design and reasonable price make the Kenda Happy Medium earn a spot in your tire wardrobe. It’s a go-to tire for a lot of riding and fun, confident racing in many conditions, for everyone… except the weight weenies!
We Didn’t Like
What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ll make on race day? For me, it’s tire choice. I’ve previewed a perfectly dry, hardpack course on one day, or, even in the morning and have the skies open up by race time. Surprise!
Or, even more fun, halfway through a race. Also, the opposite happens… wet and muddy for a preview and dry except in a few tricky spots by race time. Ideally we’d all have a full wardrobe of tires spanning all conditions, all mounted up on full sets of wheels, in the pit along with a highly skilled assistant just waiting for our finicky selves to show up.
What, you don’t have an assistant? No big array of wheels? The next best thing is to have a fabulous all-around tire, all mounted up on the bike you’re actually riding. The Kenda Happy Medium comes close.
I like how fast and smooth the Happy Medium tire rolls on pavement wet or dry and hardpack. It’s also solid and fast in gravel. The Happy Medium has good traction on dry to lightly damp grass. The Happy Medium doesn’t fear wet mud with a hard surface underneath either. Fast corners and sweepers are smooth and predictable.
I love how the tire transitions to tighter corners smoothly. Traction increases as you get onto the beefy knobs at the edge of the tire but in a predicable way. Roots and uneven surfaces don’t slow down the Happy Medium. No surprises, you have the right amount of grip right when you need it.
I also love the variety of sizes Kenda offers in the Happy Medium tread pattern. Want to go gravel racing or touring? Or maybe do a short track MTB race on your cyclocross bike? Mount up the beefy 700 x 40C width if you can wedge it under your fork and cruise down the road in comfort.
I appreciate how the Kenda Happy Medium is not trying to be an aggressive deep mud tire. So it’s not great in the slippery or sticky clay mud or really wet grass, but due to the aggressive side knobs the Happy Medium is much better than some other «all-around» tires.
I love the reasonable price. The MSRP may be on the high side of average, but since this is a grippy fast rolling tire that’s great in many conditions, it’s almost like you really are getting two tires in one!
I didn’t like how really sticky mud builds up and fills the center treads. The Happy Medium clears the mud after a while, but the tight spacing of the center tread hangs onto the slop longer than I’d like.
I don’t like how I unfortunately didn’t find a nice deep dusty course yet to test the Happy Medium. Everything I’ve ridden so far has been wet and muddy or fairly to completely dry. If this tire has even some of the great dust handling capabilities of its cousin the Kenda Small Block Eight, I’d be thrilled, but we’ll have to wait and see! I’ll keep you posted.
OK, so those two «didn’t like» comments are being picky. On the serious side, I don’t like the weight of this tire. At 390 grams, or .85 lbs (by my scale, 385 by Kenda’s) this sturdiness keeps the Kenda Happy Medium off my weight-weenie list of favorite A-race tires.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love it for a training tire or a pit wheel tire when you don’t know what’s going to happen. While the tested 35 size is not UCI-approved, serious racers will be looking at the 32 anyway. Unfortunately the 32 still weighs in at 380 grams according to Kenda.