First Ride: Kinesis Decade Virtue £1700

Classic, versatile and unique

BikeRadar score 4/5

Kinesis International make frames for some of the world’s leading brands. The Decade range celebrates 10 years of making UK-specific bikes in partnership with with distributors Upgrade Bikes, who are also responsible for DMR bikes. The Virtue is Kinesis UK's new school/old school dirt offering.

Ride & handling: Tight, lively but very comfortable

The compact frame design and quality steel tubes help to create a tight, lively but very comfortable trail feel. It was no surprise to find that the Decade was very rapid on climbs and in acceleration – as most 10kg (22lb) bikes are – and we loved the handling feel and steering responses through high-speed technical singletrack.

With about a third of the RockShox SID Race fork’s 100mm (3.9in) of travel set as sag, the active head angle was about 70 degrees. The static 12in bottom bracket height means care is needed when pedalling through rocky, rooty corners but the upside of the low centre of gravity and relatively long wheelbase (42.75in) is impressive stability at speed.

Frame: Classic Tange Prestige tubing with SwopOut versatility

This new lightweight steel offering, in a choice of apple green or supergloss black, comes with SwopOut replaceable dropouts, vertically slotted for gears or horizontal (complete with a neat chain tug to tension the chain) for a single sprocket.

The Virtue is constructed from Tange Prestige JPN double-butted steel, heat-treated to create a light but strong frame that should be ideal for general cross-country use.

It’s said to be intended for a 100-130mm (3.9-5.1in) travel fork but the SID Race fitted created a 68.5-degree head and 71-degree seat angle on our test sample, so we’d be wary about fitting a longer fork.

A 130mm (5.1in) travel fork would drop the head angle back to just over 67 degrees. This would be too slack for this kind of frame, unless you like sluggish handling or want to run loads of sag to shorten the effective length of the fork.

The slim-tubed frame configuration is compact with generous standover clearance. The extended seat tube has a forward facing clamp slot, the seatstays use a neat capped wishbone design and there’s loads of mud room around the rear tyre.

The ring-reinforced head tube is gusseted across to the down tube and there’s a single set of bottle bosses. In short, nothing flash, just good clean design.

Equipment: Pick your own – frame is good enough to justify some quality parts

The Kinesis sells as a frame alone for £349.99, with our complete test bike coming in at around £1,700. You could do the same for far less money, but treat yourself to a decent fork, wheels and tyres simply because you’d be doing the frame an injustice if you didn’t. The Reynolds Canyon wheels and other top-end parts made a good frame feel superb on the trail.

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