“Nice bike, mate,” says the bloke on the train.
“Thanks,” I reply. He’s right. It is. The Kinesis Racelight TK3 has been a constant companion since January when it became the chassis for the RCUK winter bike.
Now, with winter banished, and with it the Portland Design Works mudguards and heavy, winter tyres, the Racelight TK3 is showing its form as a bike for summer, making this an apt juncture to asses its abilities.
Riding the TK3 after testing other bikes feels like coming home. An interminable winter spent almost exclusively in its company has forged a bond. The job presents an ever-changing line-up, a not entirely unmixed blessing, but the advantage of an extended acquaintance is a deeper understanding of the machinery at hand.
In the case of the TK3, this understanding has led to a true appreciation of its capabilities as an all-rounder. It really is an idiosyncratic beast: a crit bike, essentially, to which mudguards can be attached. Its very low front end (our 51cm chassis has a 120mm headtube) has suited me just fine, whether riding on the hoods with elbows bent, or down on the drops. This might not be the case for everyone.
The Kinesis Racelight TK3 is an idiosyncratic beast: a crit bike, essentially, to which mudguards can be attached
The 50.8cm top tube has been a further boon to a rider of 172cm. I felt part of the bike, sat in it, rather than on it, a rider with a willing accomplice. Much of this is due, of course to having purposely assembled a machine to a set of recommended measurements (the 110mm stem and 40cm bars provided a cockpit in which I felt entirely comfortable) but Dom Mason has produced a superbly proportioned chassis.
In the depths of winter, encumbered by 28c rubber, mudguards, and, ahem, a revolving cast of wheelsets, the TK3 only hinted at speed, but with a 1730-gram (900g rear, 700g front, 130g skewers) set of Ksyrium Elite S in situ, encased in grippy new Panaracer Race Type A EVO2 rubber, its performance is unleashed.
Months aboard the TK3 has provided the confidence to exploit these assets and the chassis’ first rate handling: aiming at apexes, powering into short, punchy climbs in the knowledge that we won’t be dragging the bike with us. Descending quickly is largely a function of confidence, and knowing a bike well breeds the stuff. It’s also a testament to the TK3’s stability.
Here’s the thing: if you set aside £2,000 for your next bike, you could muster this build and walk away with the best part of £200 in your pocket, having assembled what could be conceivably your only bike. Most cyclists will not be content with a single steed, of course, and frankly there are more sophisticated (and far more expensive) chassis on which to spend the summer. But if you’re riding to a budget and need a bike that will keep you dry in the winter and put a smile on your face in the summer, the Kinesis Racelight TK3 will certainly fit the bill.