We have probably said this before… but Kinesis are still one of Taiwan’s leading frame manufacturers. Much of their frame output is sold to ‘big’ names and they make high end forks for road and cross bikes across the globe. But the Kinesis ‘own brand’ we know and love in this country is almost completely UK designed. A small team of fanatical product engineers and designers, at the UK importers Upgrade, have used experience directly from first-hand race experience. Their road and cross team riders feedback a constant stream of information and inspiration for changes to the existing designs. So the latest EVO2 is a ‘no-compromises’ Cross racer, designed for light weight and elite level performance.
The Kinesis crosslight EVO2 is a mighty tough cross bike too, it must be as it’s survived a frame denting crash on the 3-peaks and still rides as if it is fresh out of the box. But it’s also light, even with a fairly budget orientated groupset and a few bits raided from the spare parts bin. We fitted Campagnolo Mirage 9-speed as it is perfect for ‘Cross, being both cheap and serviceable. We fitted some light 28 hole wheels because there’s no point lugging too much extra weight over the hills and when fitting 32c tyres you can get away with lighter components, you just need to pump them hard for Pen Y Gent.
The Crosslight has been steadily evolving since 2000 and the EVO2 is a far cry from the original full aluminium model. One of the Key features is the use of Easton’s newest tube set the ‘title defined’ Ultralight Taperwall, which is one of the lightest available tube sets both for road and MTB. It’s not as light as the Scandium set but is perhaps one of the most appropriate tube that Easton make for off-road riding. Geometry is adjusted for off road use with slacker frame angles and longer chianstays, it still has a fairly tight front end to make steering through tight sections easier. The frame is high at the front and the generous front triangle makes carrying a lot easier.
The seat stays utilise the Kinesis ‘PROPulsionCrosstay’ which has been manufactured in high modulus carbon fibre and bonded into the top of the seat tube via an aluminium lug. The EVO2 also comes with asymmetric chain stays, which while sounding very flash basically means a fatter drive side chain stay to stiffen up the rear end and help get the power straight through to the rear wheel. This is something that Kinesis have taken from their experience in mountain biking.
Great detail has been paid to the cable routing on the frame and this is most notable on the rear seat stay cable boss. A small slit has been cut into the cable boss enabling the use of a cable tie to hold in and secure the cable outer, such attention to detail is testament to the rider feedback that Kinesis get from their race team.
Kinesis offer the EVO2 with a full carbon integrated fork, it is a monocoque construction without bonding at the steerer so it not only complements the over all look and feel of the bike – it also adds strength to the steerer and will be stronger than the previous models. At 460 grams it’s also one of the lightest on the market. On the down side the Integrated Aheadset supplied was pretty awful, so we swapped a few parts around and with the help of Sam at Sigma we managed to get the fork tight and play free, eventually. Personally I don’t see what was wrong with standard Aheadsets for ‘cross bikes, although I have to say that the EVO2 front end does look very sleek and racey.
Al Tullet says: “I have been racing this frame for the last couple of months and have been very impressed with both the handling and weight (especially after having to carry it over the Three Peaks!). Whether through fast single track or steep technical descents the EVO2 has never once looked like ‘letting go’.
Kinesis have resisted the temptation to add extras to the EVO2. It’s a stripped down race ready machine and as such is perfectly suited to the discerning cross racer – it really looks the part too.
So although at £449 for the frame (and £199 for the fork) and heading towards the upper end of the cross frame market Kinesis have certainly hit the racer’s nail smack on the head. And with a five year warranty and a frame weight that would make a lot of road bikes look heavy, this is an investment you shouldn’t have to think to long about, if racing in the mud is your idea of winter fun. The riders who have used the EVO have already confirmed it’s a great buy, so much so that they’ve almost sold out of the 2005 stock!
Bad: Integrated Aheadset was a (real) pain to fit
Frame sizes: 51, 54, 57, 60 and 63cm (c/t)
Size tested: 57 cm
Frame tubing: Easton Ultralight Taperwall, Carbon mono stay seat stays
Fork: Monocoque Cross Race
Headset: Internal, sealed, alloy
Crankarms: Campagnolo Mirage double
B/B: Campagnolo Mirage
Chain: Campagnolo Mirage 9 speed
Freewheel: Campagnolo Mirage 13-26, 9 speed
F/D: Campagnolo Mirage
R/D: Campagnolo Mirage
Shifters: Campagnolo Mirage Ergopower
Handlebar: Deda, 31.8mm
Tape: Bike Ribbon
Brakes: Shimano long arm cantilevers
Wheels: Campanolo Record 28h – Ambrosio rims – DT Spokes
Tyres: Michelin Mud 700x32c
Weight: 21.8lbs (less pedals)
Price: £648 frame and fork
Contact: Upgrade – 01403 711611
9 Campag gears
monocoque carbon fork
sealed under BB cables