I have a stable of one bike—my 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Venture that I love to take on long rides (no, not walks on the beach or to romantic movies). I have done all the little things that make it a very comfortable bike to sit on, as well as ride on the highway and at parking lot speeds.
One of my Venture’s important changes from stock is running a size narrower front tire. It lightens the input strength requirements for moving the beast off centerline. I bring this up because it is a change from stock, and may give me different feedback than you might get from the standard-sized front tire on your bike.
My front and rear Pirelli MT 66 Route tires were at the wear bars at about 6000 miles, so I decided to test another economy-priced tire—the Kenda Kruz K673. It is a bias-belted tire with what Kenda says is a “new rubber compound for improved mileage.”
The Kenda Kruz K673 tires arrived at my door, and upon first inspection of the rear tire, I was surprised to see such deep tread. Yes, I had been looking at end-of-life tires recently, but the rear sure looked like it was a very deep tread tire. I checked for the correct size and model—Kenda Kruz K673, 150/90 x 15, with an H rating good for 130 mph.
I then turned my attention to the front tire. It is hard to describe a double-take in words, but looking at the shallow depth of the front tire tread, I refocused my eyes and turned the tire towards the sun to get a better look. My first impression was that I had received a used tire by mistake. I looked for a wear bar, and it appeared that the tread depth is only slightly deeper than about twice the height of the wear bar.
I have replaced front tires with more tread than what I was seeing on this brand-new tire. If I was heading to Sturgis and knowing I would turn about 3500 miles that week, I would have bought a new front tire before heading off if this was on my bike. A quick check of the sidewall confirmed the correct tire Kenda Kruz 673F, size 130/90 x 16, with an H speed rating.
Confirming that the front tire was indeed new—no signs of wear, and the shiny stuff you need to be careful about for the first 100 miles was all over the tire. I headed off to my local independent motorcycle mechanic to get them mounted. Although I have strapped new tires to my rear seat, this time, I asked my wife to drive them over for me.
If you have never mounted fresh rubber on your rims, you are in for a treat. The extra cushioning you get from the new tires feels like your bike has grown micro shock absorbers. Remember, I am a long-distance and comfort rider, so when I have new rubber under me, I get the same feeling as when I flop down in a La-Z Boy recliner after a full day of yard work. I am not seeking a feel of the road surface in the same way a sportbike rider might be. Instead, I am looking for a confident feeling in turns, wet surface traction, braking, hands-off stability, low-speed balance, and not getting pushed around by crosswinds or the crazy airflow around car carriers.
Due to the Oregon winter weather and catching a drawn-out cold, it took me three months to get to this ride test. With the Venture sitting for 90 days, I did discover that both the front and rear lost one psi per month, which I have always understood that to be an average pressure loss.
My journey would be about 50 miles of freeway, followed by 88 miles of mountain highway, and then circling back on a different route with about the same mountain highway and freeway distances.
The freeway on-ramp is about two miles from my home, and it is a banked 180-degree uphill right-hander. Knowing that these new tires need to have the shiny stuff scuffed off, I took it easy until I straightened out to merge. I immediately noticed that the handling was neutral. No extra input was needed to enter the right sweeper and to keep it on line.
As I rolled out of the right bank to vertical, the input was lighter than I expected. I have about 48,000 miles on my Venture, and even though I hadn’t ridden in three months, muscle memory feedback was right there.
The freeway was pretty empty, so I did some full lane weaving ( I practice weaving as though something dropped in my path) to see what the control inputs felt like. The pushes and pulls were light with immediate responsiveness. I am thinking these tires feel really good under me.
I put on my cruise control at 65 mph on my GPS—my speedo is very optimistic, no matter what tires I am running—and let go of the handlebars. The Yamaha Venture was tracking straight ahead, and not feeling like it was going to start a lean to one side or the other.
I always ride with at least my right hand on the throttle with two fingers covering the brake lever, so it is nice to know the bike is tracking true with these new tires. It is about 11 miles to the first freeway transition—a 55 mph left-hand descending sweeper.
My Venture has a stock exhaust, so it is pretty quiet when cruising at a steady speed. I had run Metzeler ME 880 Marathon tires on the front for 24,000 miles, so I was accustomed to hearing the front tire ‘sing’ in sweeping turns. I was curious to hear if this Kenda 673 would make any similar sounds. It didn’t. All quiet through the transition.
Settling in for about 45 minutes of freeway, I ran over lane divider divots and reflectors, and they all felt mild with no front tire deflection. I couldn’t tell the wind direction and speed, until I saw a flag blowing at a direct crosswind to my direction of travel. I wasn’t getting any crosswind pushing on the bike at all with these Kenda Kruz tires.
The 130-width tires I have been running since the first tire change have a smaller contact patch than the stock 150s, so crosswinds and car carriers tend to push the bike around. I spotted a car carrier ahead of me, and sped up to catch it and play in its wake. Nothing. I could feel the turbulent air pushing me a bit, but my motorcycle was totally stable. The tread pattern and rubber texture were gripping the asphalt very well.
I realized that I hadn’t done any severe braking testing yet. As there was no one behind me getting off the freeway, I hit the brakes—not panic stop, just hard. The Venture slowed as I expected, with no sliding or going off-track.
I turned left onto the 88-mile mountain road and really enjoyed the ride. The pavement was dry in the sunny areas, not dry in patchy tree-lined sections, and running water wet in some tighter turns in the deep forest portions. I am a conservative touring motorcyclist, so I rode the speed limit in the dry areas, and about 15-to-20 percent under the posted speed limit in the wet areas. I never felt the front or rear slip, so my confidence in these Kenda Kruz K673 tires grew as the miles, and damp patches added up. Control inputs were light and sure. Tight turns and wide sweepers felt normal and as expected—no surprises.
Where I made my turn for the return leg, I wanted to get a selfie with a location sign. That put me facing the wrong direction from my return leg. I am quite comfortable making tight U-turns, so I waited for all the traffic to clear and executed a tight U-turn. Throttle, clutch friction zone, rear brake, look where I want to go and turn sharply. Again, I noticed the handlebar input was very light. The Venture didn’t feel like it wanted to fall to the inside of the turn and simply went where I pointed it. No surprises.
The return leg of about 88 miles had tighter turns, and almost every tree-covered corner was wet. Also, there was a layer of fine dirt in between the auto tracks for about 30 miles. I stayed in the auto tracks in the corners, and crossed over the dirt on the straightaways. I didn’t get any tractionless feeling crossing the dirt, but I wasn’t going to ride on it through a turn either. I was thinking as I got back on the freeway that these 176 miles of twisties are fun, with no adrenaline moments.
I hadn’t thought about it earlier, but 4 p.m. rush hour was fast approaching, and I know from experience that the freeway closest to my home will be stop-and-go for 11 miles. I spent about 30 minutes practicing my slow speed riding. My Venture is known to be a difficult slow-speed bike, so having the 130 front tire does help.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that the Kenda Kruz K763 tires made the very slow-speed riding much easier than other brands I have owned. I was able to chug and putt along at just above the ‘stop and put your feet down’ speed quite comfortably. Having grown up in California, I truly missed splitting lanes, but I did get 30 minutes of slow speed riding to write about here.
The Kenda Kruz K673 touring tires checks all the boxes for me on this first 276-mile test ride—stable on the freeway, traction on wet turns, plus good slow-speed handling and crosswind grip. I don’t know how many miles I will get on them, but when I find out, this review will be updated.
I am looking forward to getting out for longer rides as spring and summer come along. I now know I can feel confident that the Kenda Kruz K763 tires will serve me well, and I am not hesitant to recommend them for all riding conditions on a touring bike.
Kenda Kruz K673 Tires Fast Facts
- 130/90 x 16
- 150/80 x 16
- 120/90 x 17
- 140/80 x 17
- 110/90 x 18
- 120/90 x 18
- 130/70 x 18
- 100/90 x 19
- 110/90 x 19
- 80/90 x 21
- 140/90 x 15
- 150/90 x 15
- 170/80 x 15
- 130/90 x 16
- 140/90 x 16
- 150/80 x 16
- 160/80 x 16
Maximum air pressure, front and rear: 40 psi