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Kinesis Tripster ATR review

7 Oct 2015
Verdict:

Will the Kinesis Tripster ATR have us smitten by this titanium labour of love.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,500 (frame)
For 
Light, strong and beautiful
Against 
Expensive - although cheaper build kits available

The Tripster ATR is the go-anywhere frame from Kinesis UK. Made from titanium, it has a reputation for comfort – and with ample clearance for 40mm tyres, we expected a cushy ride. Our test bike belonged to none other than Kinesis UK’s marketing guru Rory Hitchens and no expense had been spared on its innovative build. Fancy the same thing? Simply discuss it with your local dealer (kinesisbikes.co.uk/dealers) order a frameset, then ask them to build it to your needs – the standard spec comes to a more modest £2,350. 

The frameset 

Kinesis Tripster ATR headtube

Our size-60 test bike belonged to Kinesis’s marketing manager Rory Hitchens. It’s mammoth, with the longest wheelbase of any bike we’ve ever tested by a long way, but it was a great fit for our 185cm (6ft 1in) test rider, so that was a relief. Bikes across the size range get a long wheelbase and a 75mm bottom-bracket drop, which is exactly what we want to see on an adventure bike. ‘Long and low’ tends to mean ‘speedy and confident’ over rough surfaces, and this differentiates adventure from cross bikes, which have better low-speed handling and can pedal through most corners.

For many, a titanium frame is seen as the ultimate choice for a dream bike build as it’s lighter than steel but more comfortable than aluminium – the holy grail. These frames last a lifetime. Kinesis has built the Tripster with normal quick-releases, a threaded bottom-bracket shell, a 1.5in-1.125in tapered steerer tube and a 31.6mm seat tube. With rack and mudguard mounts, this is the kind of frame that would be as comfortable on a touring trip as an hour’s rural ride from your home. The standard build features Kinesis’s own carbon fork, but our bike had been upgraded at the business end with TRP’s carbon disc fork which features internal cable routing and a bolt-thru axle. It’s a worthy replacement.

Components

Kinesis Tripster ATR shifters

Kinesis bikes are distributed through a nationwide dealer network, and you can either choose a standard build kit (£2,350) or build your own bike as we have here. The latter allows for a level of creativity unusual in complete bikes, so this Tripster is fitted with TRP’s excellent Hylex hydraulic brakes, and their levers have been adapted using an official kit to house a Shimano satellite Di2 shifter. This operates a Shimano XTR Di2 MTB rear mech that’s used instead of a road version as it can cover a huge gear range and features a clutch to stop it bouncing around over rough ground.

Kinesis Tripster ATR rear derailleur

The wide-range 11-40 cassette is needed because this bike only uses one chainring – a Praxis Works 42-tooth one, which alternates its thick and wide teeth to keep the chain secure without needing a separate chain retention device. It all worked perfectly through testing. Initially, we weren’t too keen on the slightly flared handlebars from Genetic, but when used off-road they make a lot of sense, the wider arm position in the drops adding much-needed control.

Wheels

With money no object, this build includes a lovely pair of Reynolds carbon wheels. These are lighter, stiffer, and can be more resistant to impact than alloy rims, so we had no qualms about using them. Our tyres were the popular WTB Nano WCS – a 40mm-wide tubeless gravel option that’s been making waves in the adventure-riding world. Run tubeless with sealant, we had no technical issues and found them to roll remarkably speedily – fast enough to average 24kmh on a 95km mixed road, towpath and bridleway ride – with predictable, stable grip when things got ugly.

The ride 

Kinesis Tripster ATR review

With our usual testers being too short, we drafted a far taller reformed BMXer turned 24hr time-triallist to put the Tripster through its paces on our behalf. Despite its mammoth size, our tester said that the bike encouraged him to look at the environment in much the same way he did when he rode a BMX – hopping up and off kerbs and taking that cheeky shortcut through the park instead of going the long-way round. Out on the open road it had no problem keeping up with a group of slick-tyred roadies, and when the tarmac ended, that long wheelbase and low bottom bracket gave our novice off-roader the confidence to keep up with the faster MTB riders. Some credit for that must also go to the fantastic brakes which have a unique, and much-loved lever shape.

The novel gear-shifting mechanism, using Shimano’s Di2, proved to be faultless – despite our concerns that such a homebrew system might be a little unreliable. As for the gears? The gaps on the wide-range cassette are quite large, but it’s something we’d soon be able to adjust to after a few rides. No doubt about it, the Tripster is exactly the kind of bike we’d like to own – confident, fun-loving and versatile thanks to its copious ground clearance and rack mounts. With a frame and fork starting at £1,500, it needn’t be all that expensive either, although the build here has really sparked our imagination. If you ever worried 40mm tyres were slow, think again.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 585mm 578mm
Seat Tube (ST) 600mm 599mm
Down Tube (DT) 642mm
Fork Length (FL) 400mm
Head Tube (HT) 210mm 209mm
Head Angle (HA) 71 70.4
Seat Angle (SA) 73 73.2
Wheelbase (WB) 1062mm 1075mm
BB drop (BB) 75mm 76mm

Spec

Kinesis Tripster ATR £4,552 as tested
Frameset 3AL/2.5V Ti Tripster frame, TRP CX fork
Groupset Shimano XTR Di2
Brakes TRP Hylex
Chainset Praxis Works Turn Zayante, 42T chainring
Cassette Shimano XTR, 11-40
Bars Genetic Flare
Stem Fizik Cyrano R1
Seatpost Kinesis Carbon
Wheels Reynolds ATR Carbon
Tyres WTB Nano TCS, 40c
Saddle DMR Stage 1
Contact kinesisbikes.co.uk

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