Eric Carter is still one of the legendary figures of downhill and 4X racing. The old dog mightn’t race so much any more, but he’s lucky enough to be one of the few athletes to have their own signature tyre. The Nexcavator is Carter’s third offering to the Kenda ‘Legends’ series of rubber. [private]
The Nexcavator is purebred, full-blown downhill tyre. It’s an evolution of the Excavator (see what they’ve done there? Clever!), a tyre which had some real standout elements but received a somewhat lukewarm response from the downhill world. Taking on board riders’ feedback, the Nexcavator is a far more versatile beast.
With a wire bead and thick sidewalls, the weight of our pair of Nexcavators averaged out at 1440g – not too bad, but a good couple of hundred grams heavier than some of their competitors. The 2.5″ claimed size seemed bang on – we’d call this a true 2.5″, not nearly as massive as say a Schwalbe 2.5″ tyre.
The tread pattern is considerably more open than the moto-style blocky pattern of the Excavator, with less knobs in the intermediate shoulder ares. By giving the tyre a more open transition from centre tread to side knobs, there is more opportunity for the tyre to conform and bite into loose terrain. The centre knobs are ramped to assist rolling speed (kinda) with every second row of knobs siped to allow even more conformation to the terrain under brakes.
What really stands out is the tread compound. It is remarkably slow rebounding, a trait that means the tyre will stick, rather than skid or bounce off the terrain. Kenda call it a 42 durometer, but the RSR compound feels far more damped and gummier than a Maxxis 42a tyre.
Performance wise, this tyre does exactly what it says on the box: sticks like shit to a blanket. In loose, rocky and sandy soils or rubble, it’s a winner. The tread compound adds stability and damps every impact, helping keep you on track. Plenty of support for the side knobs means you’re not squirming around on hardback corners either
Rolling speed is the only real downside. Compared to a Maxxis 3C tyre, these fellas are sluggish to pedal, but the braking performance of the soft compound centre tread blocks is wicked. Like anything, it’s always a tradeoff!
We did get one flat with these treads, but it was our fault – we’d run out of decent tubes and had to resort to an ultralight tube that had no place on a downhill bike! With welterweight tubes installed, we’ve experienced no more pinches.
At $69, the Nexcavators are a really competitive option. If you regularly ride steep, rocky or rubble-filled downhill tracks, these are a tyre worth putting on the list of serious options.