Czech it out - Mitas tyres are offering a whopping 100-day guarantee on the sidewalls of their Textra range of tyres. We took them up on the challenge, fitting a set of their Kratos 29" trail treads for a summer of riding.
The not-so-minor details
Mitas Kratos Textra tyres
Tough sidewalls without a weight penalty.
Grippy, but reasonably hard wearing.
Supple ride quality.
Some cracking beginning to occur after three months.
The Mitas Kratos?
Mitas Kratos sounds like the villain out of a comic book, or maybe the bad guy in a Cold War era Stallone movie. Mitas tyres made in the Czech Republic, and they’re gaining quite a following in the local Australian cross-country racing arena (a couple of very fast riders by the names of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson use their tyres). The Kratos is not, however, an XC tread. With a big 2.45″ bag it’s aimed at the trail rider – consistent grip and a forgiving ride are what this tread are all about. We’ve been running the Kratos in a 29×2.4″ size on a Norco Optic.
What’s this sidewall guarantee?
Slice the sidewall of your tyre, under normal riding conditions, within 100 days and Mitas will replace your tyre for free. That’s the kind of product back up we like to see, and one we’ve never encountered before in the fragile world of tyres.
Mitas use a reinforcement in their sidewalls called Textra. It’s super light and highly flexible so it doesn’t affect the ride quality of the tyre’s supple 120TPI casing, but it has excellent abrasion resistance. That’s not to say you can’t cut them (take a Stanley knife to the sidewall and you’ll go right through it) but it’s seems very durable against the kinds of scuffs and impacts that claim the lives of most tyres.
Did you have any dramas with the sidewalls then?
This is the million dollar (well, $79) question. Over a normal summer of riding, we didn’t slice or seriously damage the sidewalls, despite doing much of our riding on some pretty damn rocky trails around Sydney’s north. We certainly scuffed the tyres up a lot (especially the rear) but none of the damage was able to penetrate.
And we do go through tyres regularly around here – it’s one part of the bike that our test trails are particularly rough on. Given the Kratos weighs in at less than 900g, the way it has held up is impressive.
What’s the grip like?
Really good. The dual compound tread gives great support to the cornering lugs while retaining enough liquorice-esque stickiness to hold onto the rocks and hard pack trails. On a rim with a 25mm internal width, the tyre profile was nice and rounded, giving smooth, consistent control right across the whole tyre as you tipped it into a corner. It’s not as aggressive as something like the Maxxis Minion, which sets the grip benchmark, but it rolls faster. The tyres have a very supple feel to them as well, which really aids their performance at slow speeds, particularly on the rear when climbing or hard braking on the front end.
For the first week of use we had some dramas getting the front tyre to seal up properly, it would leak air over a couple of days (strangely the rear tyre was fine). Apparently the issue affected a small batch of tyres, the oil that helps release the tyres from their moulds hadn’t been properly removed, causing some seepage around the bead.
How have they worn?
The wear is in line with what we’d expect for a set of soft compound, high performance tyres like this. The rear tyre is definitely due for replacement, with the centre tread getting low and the side knobs rounded off. The knobs haven’t torn or ripped like some brands of tyres are prone to do (Schwalbe’s older treads were notorious for this, but are greatly improved now) – instead, the tread has just worn down consistently and lost its sharp, biting edges. The front tyre is in good nick, we’d happily rotate it onto the rear for another couple of months use. We’ve noticed some small cranks appearing in the rubber in the past few weeks. It seems limited to the top layer of rubber in half a dozen spots, just beneath some of side knobs. While it hasn’t progressed into any tearing of the knobs, we’ll be keeping an eye on it.
All up then?
If you’ve ever had your wallet thrashed by a bad run of sliced or wrecked tyres, then you’ll obviously appreciate the sidewall guarantee, and this peace of mind alone makes these tyres worth a look. The fact that they’re grippy, supple, relatively fast rolling, and lightweight too is the icing on the cake.