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Combating Clinchers: Michelin Pro4 vs. Kenda Kountach

Two of the largest tire manufacturers in the world have poured technology into bringing faster tires to the market: Michelin took its well-known Pro3 Service Course clincher and reshaped it to create the Pro4 Service Course. Meanwhile, Kenda went to the drawing board after getting feedback from its Kenda-5 Hour Energy pro team and created the Kountach.

Two of a kind…
Out of the box the two tires bear a striking resemblance to one another. Neither tire has a deep tread pattern; rather both have a smooth center tread and a rougher texture on the shoulders. The Kountach’s 120TPI casing offered no discernable advantage over the Pro4’s 110TPI during our road tests. Similarly the Pro4’s three-gram weight savings over the Kountach wasn’t noticeable either, and we would expect that through manufacturing there could be a bit of a variance in tire weight anyway.

With some differences.
Along with their similar out-of-the-box appearance, both the Pro4 and the Kountach were easy to mount; but once installed and inflated, their differences became quite discernible. The profile of the Michelin Pro4 is more peaked while the Kountach has a more bulbous shape. While the Pro4’s profile appears aerodynamic, Michelin designed it to offer improved traction when cornering, and it does just that. The Pro4 was the better-handling of the two, no doubt due to the technology taken from Michelin’s Moto GP endeavors. All that innovation and technology comes at a cost, though – the Michelin costs $25 more.

The Kenda Kountach, while maybe not as fast through the corners as the Pro4, is more puncture resistant, and still handled well. In fact, it rides very similarly to Michelin’s Pro3, a tire well loved by many! Which leads us to a tough point: which to use on race day?

Both tires roll in a straight line very similarly with no clear winner in comfort. That said, the $50 Kountach performs better over dirt and rough surfaces than the Pro4. Therefore the Kountach, more reasonably priced and more durable, is the tire for rider’s more likely to also put in training miles on their race-day setup.

Michelin’s Pro4, at $75, corners nearly as well as a $150 FMB tubular, at half the price and without the fuss. It should be a rider’s race-day-only choice, where it even outperforms many tubulars.

While both are fast clincher tires, the Pro4 is a superb road racing-specific choice and the Kountach is an all-around racing tire durable enough to be your daily fast-rolling rubber.

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