Bike Test - Kinesis Racelight T - Road Cycling UK

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Bike Test – Kinesis Racelight T

RC

There’s been a recent (small) debate on the forum about the reasons for wanting to have a second bike for winter training. It’s a personal choice, but the benefits of keeping a bike for the summer are mainly that it will last longer and look better for a bit longer too. There is also that ‘Sunday best’ feeling the first time you wheel your ‘race bike’ from the shed in the late Springtime sun. Then there’s the unspoken ‘rules’ for riding in club runs and reliability trials – they aren’t set in stone but they certainly prefer you to arrive with a full set of mudguards if at all possible, mudflaps are gretted with glee from the old school riders as they mean the spray from you real wheel doesn’t spend all day hitting their faces. Another reason to stay on the front if you can…

But there’s plenty of good reasons to have a winter trainer and they’re not all about components and longevity. Winter trainers can carry racks as well as mudguards and for riding to work they can offer practical solutions for luggage. They also tend to have more relaxed geometry and longer wheel bases which makes them far more stable than a pure racing bike, something you’ll be glad of in the wet and ice.

So what have Kinesis got on offer? As we previously said in the RC test, five or six years ago Kinesis launched their first ‘Racelight’ frame, which was: ‘Designed for the club racer as an affordable upgrade to a quality alloy frame with carbon fork.’
Well they’ve certainly gone a step further with the Racelight ‘T’. They’ve integrated the headtube and added a Full carbon fork all for around £300. Phenominal value, I think you’ll agree. This makes the ‘T’ a realistic option for thrashing around in the winter gloom.

Kinesis build this bike from 7000 series double butted aluminium it’s welded and heat treated which is all pretty basic stuff nowadays. What’s interesting about the Kinesis is that it’s far lighter than most similar priced frames, the tubes have a certain quality ring to them when you flick them, so it’s not just a ‘gas pipe’ trainer. Kinesis use this trickle down technology process to create better bikes for less money – it comes from years of developing aluminium alloys for better quality products.

Front end
This is one of the first all carbon training forks to hit the market and it certainly shaves plenty of front end weight off the overall Racelight T. The combination of burly 1 1/8″ steerer tube and oversized integrated head tub provides a robust and flex free steering unit. And yet the forks manage to take the buzz off the road and the added clearance in the crown swallows the mudguard and a 32mm wide tyre which is good news for touring, or riders who like a little more puncture protection.

Out on the road – The Ride
At 57cm and a 56.1cm top tube this is a bigger bike than I’d usually ride, so the initial feeling was different. This is mainly because I’ve been riding road racing bikes for a while and been used to twitchy and racey rather than secure and sure. The handling was therefore (and unusually) a little steady, but this is not such a bad thing for racking up the winter miles. The jump from 54-57 is quite a big one and I’d prefer to see a 55 or 56 in there somewhere for ‘average Joes’ in the 5’8″-5’11” height range. Fitting a shorter stem allowed for a reasonable match, however the front end was quite low so this is certainly a sporty trainer rather than a upright touring rig.

The proportions, combined with a 73° head angle and a longish chain stay, gave the bike a very relaxed feel – it rides through pot holes without a care in the world and the larger than usual frame made me feel secure and in control. It’s not a lively bike like its superlight brother, it’s more stable than the razor sharp handling of Kinesis RC thoroughbred. However in it’s favour (and when it’s freezing cold and snow is falling) I know which bike I’d rather be on for reliable, steady winter mile-eating.

Loading up the rack and carrying weight on the ‘T’ is no bother at all, it has well positioned 4-point rack mounts and the mudguards were fitted in a matter of minutes. Long mudguards are the essential UK addition to a winter bike; dry bum, shoes and legs makes you happier if you’re out for several hours at a time.

Wheels
One major advantage for the ‘T’ is the extra clearance, Kinesis say that there is enough room for a 32mm tyre which will please those rider who want a bike to lug panniers stuffed with work clothes on their winter trainer/commuter. I prefer a 25c tyre for the winter and the Ultra Gator is an old favourite, plenty of wear in them (usually at least one winter from a set) and enough grip to manange a race or two as well.

Contact points
Personal choice allowed me to specify a Turbomatic and a set of 3T Tour de France bars with a shallow drop and round bends. Familiar and trusted stuff and nothing wrong here.

Components
In true training bike building tradition – we raided the parts bin to kit out this frame. This was to try and build the bike for as little as possible but also to squeeze the last bits of life out of some ex-race bike stuff. Mainly Campagnolo 9 speed but with parts from just about all the groupsets they’ve made… it had obvious teething trouble but settled down after a couple of tinkering sessions. A complete new groupset would obviously avoid this but part of the ‘training bike challenge’ is getting something on the road that doesn’t cost the earth.

Conclusion
Like their Racelight RC we tested a couple of months ago, Kenisis’s Training frame has set a new bench mark for training bike value. Like the RC the sizing is something you may well need to study carefully before you order one. However for around 300 quid the ‘T’ offers excellent value and unlike many similar priced frames it’s light and responsive too. Spare parts aside you could knock a brand new ‘T’ together for around £600 which would be a bargain for such a versatile bike.
The added details like neat dropouts and mudguard bosses mean you’ll get your money’s worth if you want to ride to work on it or even a little light touring in the summer. Lastly it’s worth remembering that the majority of your training will be done on a winter bike, so why not ride one that’s cheap but rides well too – and the ‘T’ is certainly both of these.



RCUK VERDICTS



Good:
Cheap n’ cheerful – it rides well and is surprisingly light



Bad:
Sizing options are a little limiting


Specification
Frame sizes:51, 54, 57, 60, 63cm (c/t) (compact) Full geometry table
Size tested: 57 (56.1 cm top tube)
Frame tubing: Kinesis 7000 series aluminium
Fork: Kinesis Carbon training with carbon steerer
Headset: Kinesis Integrated
Crankarms: Campagnolo Veloce with 172.5mm cranks

Chainrings: 50/42T
B/B: Campagnolo Chorus
Pedals: none
Chain: SRAM 9 speed

Freewheel: Campagnolo 9 speed 12-21
F/D: Campagnolo Mirage 9 speed
R/D: Campagnolo Record 9 speed
Shifters: Campagnolo Mirage 9 speed
Handlebar: 3TTT TdF 44cm
Stem: Thomson
Tape: black cork stuff
Brakes: Shimano deep drop
Wheels: Budget 32h hybrids – Campag hubs Mavic rims
Tyres: Conti Ultra Gators 700x25c

Saddle: Selle Italia Turbomatic
Seatpost: Oval
Colour: White
Weight: 21.3lbs/9.66 kgs less pedals
Price: Frame as shown £199.99 fork £119.99

Contact: Upgrade – 01403 711611

www.kinesisbikes.co.uk

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