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.

Tech features:
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.