Sussex-based Kinesis UK showed an array of new bikes at the Cycle Show, including some that have found favour on RCUK.
The Racelight TK3, a machine that arrived at RCUK Towers last December as the chassis for our 2012 winter bike build and now does duty as our ‘test rig’ for component trials, was on display.
And the Aithein, Kinesis UK’s new aluminium race frameset, pitched as a high-performance, low cost chassis for riders following the custom build route, was shown in the limited edition, black anodized finish tested on these pages.
The machines that commanded the greater part of our attention, however, were those new to us: the latest iteration of the GF Ti, set to become the chassis for the 2013 RCUK Winter Bike, and the Tripster ATR.
GF Ti V2
We tested the first iteration of the Granfondo Ti at the beginning of last year, and were impressed with the ride. The most striking feature of its successor, one made from double butted, custom drawn 3AL/2.5V pipes, is the tapered headtube, which has been fashioned in an hour glass shape: no easy feat, given titanium’s unyielding nature. Its purpose? Greater stiffness at the front end, courtesy of a 1.5″ lower bearing. Titanium has many desirable qualities, with comfort and durability chief among them, but it suffers in the stiffness stakes when compared to carbon and even some high-end steels. The hourglass headtube of the GF Ti is intended to improve steering and tracking, particularly on larger frames, and as a by-product, offers a greater weld area for the toptube and downtube.
The fork is a further update for this second generation of the GF Ti, which is now packaged with the full carbon Tracer unit supplied with the Racelight TK3. Revisions to the rear triangle have been more subtle and implemented to offer slightly greater clearance. The mudguard and rack mountings that allow Kinesis UK to pitch the GF Ti as a ‘four seasons’ bike, remain. The show bike was dressed in mudguards, as if to prove the point. Elsewhere among the componentry (a now superseded Ultegra 6700 groupset, Reynolds R32 carbon clinchers), a new, dual pivot brake from TRP offered the greatest interest. A long drop unit, the caliper represents something of a departure from the race-oriented stoppers (particularly the direct mount units typically found beneath the chainstays and concealed in the forks of time trial bikes) with which the American brand has made its name.
The Kinesis UK Granfondo Ti V2 frameset is available in five sizes from 51cm to 63cm, sold with a full carbon Tracer fork, and costs £1449.99.
The monicker ‘gravel bike’ is gaining ground as one to describe a machine with more relaxed geometry than a cyclo-cross bike but with the same capacity for riding on, well, gravel. While not strictly applicable to Tripster ATR, a machine designed in Blighty, where the long, flat, unsurfaced roads on which a racing scene is currently emerging in America are notably absent, it gives every appearance of a machine suitable for such conditions.
The Tripster began life as part of a sub-set of Kinesis UK bikes launched under the heading, Decade, to celebrate 10 years as a bike designer for the brand’s mainstay, Dom Mason. Decade was Mason’s vehicle for a portfolio of machines that didn’t fit conventional categories. Compare and contrast the Tripster’s relaxed geometry, for example, with that of its Pro 6 stable-mate – the latter is emphatically not a cyclo-cross bike.
The new ATR incarnation of the Tripster is different again, offering a different material (titanium) to its aluminium-chassis-ed sibling, and far greater clearance. The Tripster’s long back end and capacity for a 40mm tyre and mudguard, or a 45mm tyre (entering the territory of skinny 29-er mountain bike tyres), is intended to make it a multi-purpose machine: the ATR of the moniker stands for Adventure Tour Race. So is this a mountain bike with drop handlebars? Not so, say Kinesis. Their argument runs that mountain bike geometry (bottom bracket height, top tube length etc) is designed to complement mountain bike componentry, and that the Tripster ATR’s geometry is designed to accommodate road components – the reach of a road stem, for example.
The Tripster ATR is an intriguing machine, then, and one likely to interest anyone considering in a ride beyond the norm: talk on Kinesis UK’s Cycle Show stand concerned a mountain bike racer who flew across Europe and cycled the 1,200 miles home.
The Tripster ATR frameset is available in five sizes from 48cm to 60cm, sold with a full carbon fork, and costs £1499.99.