A few months back I first wrote about the launch of the Hutchinson Kraken downcountry tyre. This was soon followed by the more aggressive Hutchinson Wyrm. Now I have a chance to try these two tyres for myself.
Given the option, I went with my gut instinct; The Wyrm looks to be well suited as a front option for three season use on the Surrey Hills, while the Kraken could work well for fast and hard summer trails. On that basis I opted to try one of each of the premium Racing Lab versions which are billed for Trail and Downcountry riding.
I’ve decided to try these out on my Bird Aether 130mm travel 29er which until now has run a Maxxis Minion DHF/Ardent combo.
Well, at least until I stacked it in Bike Park Wales last August. I’ve barely ridden the Bird since for a few reasons – a few parts needed replacing after the crash, the fork needs a service and I’ve been focussed on my Pace RC627 hardtail.
Now I have the ideal opportunity to get the Bird Aether back onto the trails. It’s been ready for a while, but this rider hasn’t been, also for a few reasons – mainly the effects of concussion from the crash and a trapped nerve in my neck. I’m… improving.
Given I will be focussing a little more on XC and Downcountry as I get back up to speed and fitness, these Hutchinson options look perfect.
It also means something I never thought I’d do which is running tan wall tyres on a mountain bike. But actually, I really like the effect against the Tungsten Grey Bird.
This post then serves as an intro into my Hutchinson experience.
Initial impressions of both tyres are interesting. The Wyrm weighs in at 912g which is substantially lighter than the 950g billed by the Hutchinson website, and the Kraken tips the scales at 855g which is almost spot on. The Bird will be much lighter versus the Maxxis set up.
As for tread, the Wyrm is not in the same ballpark as the chunky Minion while the Kraken offers a more rounded profile to the Ardent – the Hutchinson tyres are clearly about the speed/grip balance whereas a Minion majors on outright grip (and it was the over-stressed Ardent on the rear that led to my BPW crash on a fast berm).
The rubber feels like it is harder than the 3C MaxxTerra of the Minion too which is no surprise. It is hard to compare as the Hutchinson tread is much lower profile, even with the rolling face being 60a durometer and the side knobs as 50a. Both of these are relatively soft rubber compounds but given their low profile, at least the individual tread blocks are unlikely to fold over; the lighter carcass could prove to have a supple advantage up their sleeve too.
Even so, I like how the Bird looks with these new tyres and will be interested to try them out in Surrey Hills conditions. I will be looking to see how balanced they are front to rear and for how broad their operating window turns out to be.
Watch this space!