Kenda Klever R/T Tire Review
They’re a smokin’ deal, but can they survive our torture-test?
We just got back from punishing the Kenda Klever R/T tire in rocks, snow, gravel, and with thousands of highway miles. Here's what we thought:
If you're gonna shell out top dollar for a tire, you might expect a commensurate increase in its performance. What if that increase in performance could be had without paying more? According to Kenda, it's possible with the Klever R/T.
What Is An R/T Tire?
Somewhere between mud-terrain and all-terrain tires sits the "tweener" category named rugged-terrain. To put it simply, R/T tires, like the Klever R/T, mix the on-road characteristics you love about all-terrain tires with the off-road strengths typical of your favorite mud-terrains. Some R/Ts come rated for severe snow service, while others tout longer tread life and low road noise. No matter the combination, R/T tires are worth a look, and Kenda's Klever R/T is no exception.
Putting The Klever R/T To Work
We chose a set of 35x12.50R17LT Klever R/Ts for our two-door '17 Wrangler. Even though the Jeep is often loaded with 500-plus pounds of tools, fuel, food, and gear for extended trips; we knew we'd come nowhere near exceeding the 3,195-pound load-carrying capacity of the E-rated tires. We found the driver-side tires required three ounces apiece to balance, the passenger-side each took six ounces, and we settled on 35 psi for our street pressure. Before they were dirty (and it wasn't long), we examined the Triple-Threat three-ply sidewalls and determined how much air we'd have to let out to achieve a noticeable bulge. Without beadlock wheels, we were comfortable running the tires at about 12-15 psi while off-road. From the curb, the Klever R/T's good looks also captured and held our attention with its repeating rectangular block pattern adorning the shoulders and sidewalls.
Once we were able to stop ogling the tires in their shiny state, we put 'em to work. Normal activities for the Jeep involved 800-mile weekend jaunts into the mountains chasing climbing and skiing destinations as well as multi-thousand-mile journeys mixing hard-core trails, variable weather, and lengthy highway stints; tasks sure to suss out just how well the Klever R/Ts handled "rugged terrain."
After a couple thousand break-in miles with the Klever R/T tires, we pulled the trusty Smittybilt Rapid Tire Deflator from the toolkit, aired them down to about 15 psi, and crunched our way into the fossil-riddled trails of southern New Mexico. Despite the E-rating on the sidewalls, they worked in harmony with the rocks, and it was often only the sidewalls smearing on the obstacles that supported the Jeep's weight.
The serrated nature of the area's ledges and waterfalls have a knack for finding weaknesses in tire sidewalls. Our Kenda Klever R/T tires took every scuff, scratch, and brush with the rocks in stride with no significant damage to report.
We will confidently say we punished the Klever R/Ts while rockcrawling and the treads showed only minimal signs of wear, even after we challenged the tires with boulders, waterfalls, and generally unkind terrain. No punctures to the tread or sidewalls were experienced during our test. When back on pavement, road noise was far less than expected and closer to that of an all-terrain tire.
Finding the Jeep coated with fluffy white stuff in the morning was exciting, not discouraging, and we promptly ventured into the hills to romp. The image shows how the Kenda Klever R/Ts look at 15 psi with of an outside temperature of about 10 degrees F.
The Klever R/T carries the "M-S" rating meaning that it is said to perform better than an all-season tire in the snow, however, its combination of siping and tread compound do not qualify it for the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake rating. These intricacies aside, our time on hard-packed snowy roads, slush, and ice, were predictable and as expected for the conditions.
If your vehicle spends lots of time on winter surfaces, consider how Kenda pinned the Klever R/T to accept #15 studs.
When we ventured into freshly fallen deeper snow, the Klever R/Ts kept us moving forward in most cases, at least until the Jeep began pushing snow with the front bumper. With the Jeep pointed downhill on tracked-over snowy ruts, we tested some braking maneuvers. The Klevers slowed us down without breaking into a dangerous slide, every time.
Gravel miles were frequent on our journeys with the Klever R/Ts. At street pressure, we definitely felt the strength of the sidewalls on washboards and rougher tracks, however, 20 psi was just enough to balance responsive steering with the rattle-reducing cushion effects of airing down.
Kenda outfitted the Klever R/Ts with bars between the outer tread blocks which are commonly employed to eject mud and stones. We did not see any stone-ejecting elements between the inner tread blocks to prevent stones from lodging themselves and subsequently drilling into the carcass. Stones did become stuck between the tread elements, but we did not experience any instances of drilling during our time with the Klever R/Ts.
Are Klever R/Ts Good In Mud?
Mud was no sweat for the Klever R/Ts. Buttery ruts made slick with snowmelt allowed us to see how the Klever R/Ts packed with mud for traction, then slung the goo from between the 19/32-inch-deep treads, allowing them to claw down and pull the Jeep forward.
Why Do You Want Kenda Klever R/Ts?
They get a solid selection of jobs done—well and won't send you to the poor house. Kenda built the Klever R/T to hold its own in mud and snow, stick to the rocks, stand up to gravel, and look sharp while doing it. At the time of print, we looked at other rugged-terrain, all-terrain, and mud-terrain tire offerings in the 35x12.50R17LT size. While our search was not exhaustive, we will argue that Kenda's Klever R/T gives a noteworthy amount of tire for your dollar. Find the Klever in 21 configurations for 16- to 22-inch wheels including sizes from LT235/70R16 to LT285/55R20 and 33x10.50R17LT to 35x12.50R22LT.
Specifications (as tested)
Tire: Kenda Klever R/T KR601
Size: 35x12.50R17LT 121 R
Type: Radial rugged-terrain
Load range: E
Max load (lbs. ): 3,195
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Section width (in): 12.90
Tread depth (in): 19/32
Overall width (in): 12.5
Overall diameter (in): 34.76
Maximum psi: 65
Weight (lbs. ): 70