Mountain Bike Action Product Test: Hutchinson Kraken Cross-Country Tire
In the ’90s, the Hutchinson Python mountain bike tire was at the top of the podium. We now see top freeride shredders such as Adolf Silva, Yoann Barelli and Carson Storch putting the company’s products to the test. This year, Hutchinson has released a new tire from its Racing Lab range called the Kraken.
The tread and knobs of the Hutchinson Kraken were inspired by a sibling tire, the Skeleton. The central threads are built up higher on the Kraken and with greater volume, while the intermediate small knobs are slightly farther apart to provide increased traction. Sticking with a more aggressive approach, the side knobs of the Kraken get a boost to reinforce cornering grip.
The Kraken and the Skeleton are designed to be used together, with the Kraken being in front due to its more aggressive pattern. The Kraken is said to maintain the Skeleton’s fast-rolling cross-country performance characteristics while boosting traction and braking. Of course, a Kraken can also be set up at the rear of the bike, as we did in our testing, but more on the trail experience coming up.
Unlike the Hutchinson Skeleton that comes in 29×2.15 inches and 29×3.0 inches, the Kraken only comes in a 2.3-inch version; however, there are two casing types each—a weight-saving 127-tpi tire and a more robust 66-tpi alternative. The sidewalls of the Skeleton and Kraken both utilize Hutchinson’s Hardskin flat protection. At $10 more than the Skeleton, the Kraken is $79.99.
Field test results:
With our Kraken 29×2.30-inch tires in hand and ready to install, we noticed the cross pattern of the Hardskin sidewalls right away. The tires felt sturdy and lightweight but not overly reinforced. We mounted the pair of test tires onto a set of Industry Nine 1/1 Trail S carbon wheels with an internal width of 28mm and used Orange Seal Endurance sealant.
The Krakens seated on the carbon rims with ease and didn’t give us any pressure issues once installed. Looking over the properly fitted tires, the Krakens had a nice rounded shape with the aggressive side knobs creating a square edge. We started with our air pressures at 23 psi in the front and the rear. We determined that this was a comfortable range for the tires to keep their shape, but low enough to maximize traction in a variety of conditions.
Hitting the trail, the Krakens rolled much quicker than we were expecting. While they held momentum with even the smallest bits of leg power, the compound also felt predictable when approaching new surfaces or terrain; however, the position and shape of the tread really performed well on hard-packed surfaces.
Although the side knobs made the tire sit more square in shape, it felt natural to transition from center to side and still feel where traction was being gained. In comparison with other XC tire options on the market, the Kraken is basically a more aggressive Maxxis Ardent Race or Specialized Fast Trak. Overall, the Hutchinson Krakens are a viable set of tires designed to meet the demands of a more aggressive cross-country rider or the type of adventurer ready to tackle an all-day epic.
- Easy-to-install tubeless
- High grip in a variety of conditions
- Tough sidewalls for the weight
- High quality and performance come with an equivalent price tag
Weight: 127 tpi: 700g; 66 tpi: 800g
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.