Four wheel drive ATV’s really put the, “all terrain” in “all terrain vehicle” to the test. These machines can experience dry, dusty hardpack; mud; sand; and gnarly rocks–– all in one single ride. While building a tire to excel in any one of these environments might be a challenge, building a tire that can perform in all of them is an even bigger undertaking. For years, Kenda Tire’s Bear Claw, has been their do-it-all, multi-condition tire. With big four-by-fours getting larger and better performing all the time, Kenda went back to the drawing board, developing the next generation of Bear Claw tire, the Bear Claw HTR.
The new Bear Claw HTR looks quite different from its predecessor. A new tread pattern puts more rubber on the ground. Vertically longer center row knobs and slightly closer-spaced outer rows are designed to help reduce tread-induced vibration hard-packed trails, where the dimpled knobs increase the number of biting edges for improved traction. For performance in the slop, the tread depth was increased from 14.5mm on the original Bear Claw, to 21.5mm on the HTR. The new tread pattern is claimed to be self-cleaning. Every other row of knobs wrap around, combining at the tire’s shoulder tread area, providing increased traction in mud-filled ruts.
What lurks on the inside of the Bear Claw HTR is equally important. The new tire features a radial construction known for enhancing ride quality, control, and even traction in some instances. A gnarly 8-ply is sure to make them puncture resistant.
This tire was developed specifically for ATV applications, lacking the higher load rating of Kenda’s UTV tires. They should perform fine for side-by-side trail riding, but may not be ideal for work applications where your UTV carries extreme loads.
We recently mounted a set of Bear Claw HTRs on a custom set of wheels from No Limit Wheels, and bolted them on one of our favorite sporty 4×4 models, the Yamaha Grizzly 700. Kenda was out of the stock 25-inch tire size at our time of testing, so we went with a set of 26×9-12 fronts and 26×11-12 rears. We played around with tire pressure, feeling that around four pounds provided a good balance of ride quality and handling. The 26-inch tires were actually a couple of inches taller than the stock tires. This enhances ground clearance a bit for those who ride in deep ruts, but they raise the machine’s center of gravity a bit, something those who ride on highly off-cambered trails might not like. We would suggest going with the size that best suits the environment in which you most often ride.
The Bear Claws provided an instant, noticeable improvement in ride quality over the stock tires. Little bumps, like small roots and creek rocks, are notably dampened. Cruising along, they make the Grizzly’s already plush ride even more pleasant, with virtually no detectable vibration. The sizes we tested weighed in at 23.51 pounds front and 31.44 rear; perhaps a bit heavy for smaller bore 4×4’s. Their larger diameter and heavier weight slightly detracted from the Grizzly 700’s acceleration.
Traction remained predictable wherever we took them. In our sometimes rocky, sometimes muddy, creek bed, we never caught the HTR’s looking for traction. Steep creek banks were easily climbed, whether they were dry on our first pass, or slick and slimy after a dozen passes. We did notice a small amount of wheel spin on wet, slippery hardpack, but nothing serious. In spite of their larger size and added weight, the big Grizz could break the rear end loose in turns if we wanted to slide it around. We have tried other do-it-all tires that enhance traction to the point that they take the fun out of the ride. The HTR’s enhance traction while somewhat maintaining the fun factor.
With their massive 8-ply rating, we had no issue with flats. Based on our experience, we would expect these tires to last quite a while, as long as you don’t ride on concrete, or rock-hard terrain a majority of the time.
Based on our experience, if your machine comes with 25-inch tires stock, we’d recommend sticking with 25’s for the best balance of traction, handling, and performance for general trail use. The Kenda Bear Claw HTR’s perform as promised. They seem to work well in nearly any terrain, with perhaps just a hint of bias toward intermediate to soft conditions. If your favorite trail takes you through all types of terrain, the Bear Claw HTRs would be a good tire choice.
Manufacturer: Kenda Tire
Model: Bear Claw HTR
Price: See Dealer