Although it's a bit slower than a race tyre, there's nothing especially wrong with Kenda's Domestique training tubular. Except for the basic idea. Why would you train on tubulars?
Kenda's Domestique is billed as an entry-level tubular for training and racing. It's quite different from the same company's Super Domestique, which has a different casing and a performance that's altogether more super. The Domestique is really a training tyre, period. And that's where I have a problem with it. It's a tubular – for training. Huh?
If you're going to have the hassle of using tubulars, you want something in return. For me, that something is speed. For other cyclists, it might be a reduced chance of pinch punctures or a softer ride feel at a given pressure. Or perhaps a mix of those things. I rate tubulars solely by the seconds they might save, as I use them only for time trials and hill climbs.
To be as fast or faster than a good quality clincher with a latex innertube, a tubular needs the same characteristics: a supple, high-threads-per-inch (TPI) casing; a thin, pliable rubber tread with minimal puncture resistance; low weight; and a latex innertube. That describes the Schwalbe Ultremo TTs that I've been racing on for the past year. It doesn't describe the Kenda Domestique.
The Domestique has a 220 TPI (threads per inch) casing rather than a 300+ TPI casing like the Ultremo or the Super Domestique. While coarser fibres resist cutting better, reducing the risk of punctures, they're not as supple; lower TPI usually means slower tyres.
The inner tube is butyl rubber. The tread feels slightly stiff, perhaps because of the thin 'Iron Cloak Belt' protection layer under the tread. It weighs in at 290g, against 240g for an Ultremo TT and 230g for an old Continental Podium.
After weighing them and handling them, I was reluctant to put the Domestiques on my race bike. So I didn't. I tested them on a Giant SCR with aluminium sprint rims.
They felt okay. The tread didn't mark or nick. The 'Natural Rubber Compound' Kenda use is apparently softer than the stuff they use for their road tyres, but it still feels hard rather than tacky like really grippy rubber. I never was cornering in the rain on these tyres, but if I did, I'd err on the side of caution. On the flipside, they should wear well, and that's something you want for training tyres.
While I didn't race on the Domestiques, I did do roll-down tests. I put the Domestique head to head with Continental's Podium. I wasn't expecting much difference. Prior to its redesign in 2012, when it shed quite a bit of weight, the Podium was, in race-tyre terms, more reliable than fast. Yet it was much quicker than the Domestique.
Of course, the Domestique is a lot cheaper, at just £35. That's half the price of a tubular you'd race on. In fact, it's about what you'd pay for a good clincher tyre for training, such as Schwalbe's Durano or Michelin's Pro 4 Endurance. What I'm struggling to work out is why you wouldn't do that instead. Why would you not have clincher wheels and tyres for training and general use?
Kenda's Domestique isn't a bad tyre, but it's good at something I don't use tubulars for (training) and not good enough at something I do use them for (racing). For those reasons, I'm out.
Forget racing, this is a tubular for training. As such, it's not bad, but still... a tub for training?
road.cc test report
Make and model: Kenda Domestique Tubular Tyres
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Kenda's entry level tubular tire using old world technology wrapped in a 220tpi casing for a superior performance with an affordable price for training and racing.
Entry-level tubular for training or the cycling enthusiast that desires the feel of tubular tires
A supple 220tpi casing hand-built around a butyl inner tube
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
220tpi, butyl inner, 22-622, hand made
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Cheap for a tub.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slow for a tub.
Did you enjoy using the product? It was okay
Would you consider buying the product? As a get-you-home spare to strap under the saddle, maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only to clincher-phobes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
I just don't get it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,