Project Kinesis: A first ride update - Bike Magic

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Project Kinesis: A first ride update

As soon as I bolted the last of the Shimano XTR components onto this Project Kinesis, and slid the light KCNC seatpost into the frame, I knew it was going to be a light build. It hasn’t been near the scales yet, but after the first few outings its lightning quick acceleration and ability to maintain high speeds has been astonishing.

The Superplastic Formed tubeset, using the company’s own Kinesium aluminium (25% stronger for the same weight as equivalent 6061),  has allowed Kinesis to shape square section main tubes, the down tube as wide as the bottom bracket shell for stiffness, and the seamless gusset noticeably ensures the front end tracks confidently. The carbon seat stays take some of the ‘sting’ out of harsher trails, plus the lanky 27.2mm scandium post helps here too.

It’s shone on its debut ride. The fact it shines on typical British singletrack is no surprise considering it’s been designed by guys who actually ride bikes a lot, and this shows. It’s an engaging bike. At full throttle it flies along the trail, the light build allowing you to fully exploit the stiffness and great handling of the frame.

It climbs like a greyhound on speed and the steering is so sharp that you’re able to place the bike exactly where you want, it’s a joyous experience. I don’t know if I’ve ever had this much fun on an aluminium race hardtail ever. It does take a  couple of rides to get your head around riding a stiff aluminium hardtail, but you quickly remind yourself to make use of that inbuilt suspension system we all posses: bendy legs.

Parts wise I’ve changed nothing since the bike was first assembled, allowing time for everything to bed in. The Shimano XTR groupset has been the shining gem in the whole bike. Shifting is incredibly light, right across the cassette, with a real tactile feel. It’s a shame the shift paddles are plastic rather than a more exotic material, but the dimpled finish improves feel when flicking through the gears. The brakes are astoundingly powerful, with an impressive bite and the new short lever one of the most agreeable we’ve come across.

The chainset, which I reckon is the nicest looking Shimano has ever made, offers all the gears you ever need on a bike like this, on typical UK trails. You find yourself in the big ring most of the time in fact, the 10-speed cassette providing a sufficient spread of gears for even the steepest climbs. I’m even toying with going single on the front, but there’s no rush…

For the forks we chose a pair of stout Magura MD120M forks. The frame, say Kinesis, has been designed with a 80-100mm, but the longer travel of the fork we chose to run has had no adverse effect. In fact it’s slackened the headangle a little from the quoted 71 degrees just enough to improve the handling for the trail riding we do.

So far the forks have been impressing, working well from the box and being easy to setup. They’re not the lightest option however, and for that reason we may look to replace them with something a little lighter, and with a bolt-thru 15mm axle too. So far the  Dual Arch Design makes them incredibly stiff, but we’re a little disgruntled that we’re not getting full travel, the  o-ring  reveals we only getting a smidgen over 110mm…

The new Continental X-King 2.2in  tyres are the perfect match for the bike. In this RaceSport tubeless ready guise they weigh next to nothing, and this is noticeable in the lack of rolling weight, resulting in insane levels of speed and acceleration. Fresh back from the Bontrager Twentyfour12 event, the tyres have proved to be astonishingly quick with plentiful levels of grip, though they do struggle on wet roots and rocks, despite the Black Chilli compound. Best saved for dry trails then…

To sum up, based on a handful of rides, Project Kinesis has delivered just what I was hoping it would: a lightweight race-ready cross-country slayer that is about as quick as a mountain bike gets. It will hopefully see some service in XC races before the summer is out, so I’ll report back once it’s had some more riding time.

More soon…


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