Review: Hutchinson Kraken – XC Fast and Trail Tough

Who makes the lightest, fastest and toughest tire?  Hutchinson’s answer is the new Kraken and it’s available in two versions, the ultra-light 127 TPI (threads per inch) or tougher 66 TPI coupled with Hardskin bead-to-bead reinforcement. The tested 66tpi Hardskin Kraken looks fast and well-aimed at the emerging more capable 120mm travel XC market.  The ultralight 127tpi version without protection is 100 grams lighter at a claimed 700 grams. Both tires are part of the Hutchinson Racing Lab line developed with some of the world’s best riders and are handmade in France.

Hutchinson Kracken
The Kraken’s profile isn’t too round or square making for a predictable front or rear solution.  The center has a nice solid connection for fast rolling and side knobs aren’t so tall that they flop over and tear like many enduro tires as they wear.

Hutchinson Kraken | 29×2.3 | 66tpi | $79.99 | 782 grams – avg of 2 | Made in France


?

  • Tough 66tpi Hardskin casing gives extra confidence as you venture off on epic rocky rides
  • Fast-rolling especially for a tire this tough
  • Very predictable all-around traction from wet to dry
  • Great looking without big bold yellow logos
  • No flats after 4 months of abuse where most are running much more burly tires

?

  • Tread packs up when the dirt is wet/muddy
  • Availability in the US seems to be limited to Hutchinson.us  with the 127tpi model

Test Conditions

I’ve been riding the Kraken’s on an impressively light new wheelset from a local Brevard, NC company Gulo Composites.  The GMX-25’s are a 25mm internal and 1262 gram (taped and valved) wheelset using their own carbon spokes.  I now have around 650~ miles on this setup of Kracken/Gulo Composites and have ridden them on both a Norco Revolver HT120 and Revolver FS120.  I put this setup to the test on some of Pisgah’s toughest terrain where most are riding much more aggressive tires to make them hate their 35+ pound bikes even more on the climbs ?.

Norco Revolver / Hutchinson Kracken and Gulo CompositesNorco Revolver FS, Hutchinson Kracken and Gulo Composites

How do the Kraken’s ride?

Of course, the first thing I noticed is how well the tires roll.  Rolling on fast hardpack they felt as fast as any tire I’ve ridden.

Cornering was very predictable without o-shit moments where the tire let go unexpectedly.  The roundish profile helps with this as well as short yet stout side knobs that don’t fold over. Cornering is where this tire excels a little better than most other fast-rolling XC tires.

I did ride the Kracken’s in plenty of wet conditions where I didn’t expect them to do well but was surprised at how well the tires gripped wet roots and rocks.  The tread packed with mud a little more than tires like the Maxxis Forecaster and Schwalbe Knobby Nic. This didn’t seem to reduce traction much though.  All the small knobs appeared to punch through the mud to maintain grip.  I might not want these in really muddy conditions, but that’s the same for any tightly knobbed fast-rolling tires.

It seemed the Kraken’s durability is solid. It held up to some of my tired and sloppy line choices very well.  I slammed both the front and rear several times into rocks hard enough that I think many other tires would have had me securing for a tire plug or installing a patch and tube.

The Kraken is a fast-rolling XC tire that can be ridden more aggressively in trail bike terrain without the worry of tire damage that most lightweight race tires have.

Hutchinson Kracken Sidewall
Sidewalls look great with a subtle crosshatching and not too in your face graphics.
Hutchinson Kraken durability
After 650 or so miles the Kraken’s are holding up well without any knobs tearing or punctures.

What do I really think about the Hutchinson Kraken?

The combination of fast-rolling predictable traction and durability the Hutchinson Kraken offers is fantastic. All-around traction when cornering, braking and climbing exceeded my expectations for a tire that looks this XC. If you need a fast trail tire you can rely on not to let you down in unforgivingly technical terrain, this is a great choice.

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