Kinesis GranFondo SC £1299

British-designed mile-eater

BikeRadar score 4/5

The GranFondo’s name provides a clue to this bike – a gran fondo is an Italian sportive and this is designed for long days out. The SC stands for scandium, a rare element used in tiny quantities – less than 0.5 percent – in this Easton aluminium frame.

Frames made from 6000/7000 series aluminium tend to be oversized; adding scandium improves weldability and yield strength (elasticity), which means the tubing can be slimmer, helping counter aluminium’s stiffness.

  • Highs: Steel-like spring, versatility, price
  • Lows: Not so good on bumpy descents
  • Buy if: You want a comfy distance machine that keeps things interesting

The long-distance ambitions of the bike are also reflected in its geometry, which is very much in sportive territory. The tall head-tube gives a quite upright riding position; the long chainstays lengthen the wheelbase and add a dose of stability. This may make it sound as if the Kinesis is a machine for pootling around on, but this isn’t the case.

The high head-tube is countered by the fork, which starts straight but has a pronounced forward arc to the dropout. The combination of this and the shortish stem makes the steering response lively rather than sedate, but it’ll still track perfectly when you’re pedalling briskly. Give it some real beans though, and the GranFondo responds through tight turns or when you’re flashing through traffic, the steering never feeling anything other than composed.

The slim tubes not only provide the look of steel, but they deliver a ride that’s similar to the ferrous metal. Over broken tarmac the Kinesis feels lively, almost buoyant, at normal riding speeds and without any jarring, but we did find the compliance had a limit.

Our test route includes a gravel-strewn, rutted tarmac descent where it’s easy to maintain speeds over 30mph, but as the bike skits from one bump to the next that lively spring in the frameset frequency builds – and at this point you start to get kickbacks from the bar and saddle. That meant for safety’s sake we ended up backing off.

The drivetrain is pure smooth-shifting Shimano 10-speed Tiagra, its 50/34 compact chainset and 12-28 cassette giving an ample gear range. The frame is designed to accommodate 28mm tyres, or 25mm tyres with mudguards, and has Tektro mid-drop brakes to cope with the extra reach. Shimano R500 wheels and 25mm Kenda Kriterium tyres aren’t the lightest around, but we appreciate the extra cushioning of big volume tyres, which are fast rolling and offer great grip.

The cockpit combines a 10cm stem, short for a 58cm frame, and a compact drop bar. The shape encourages forays down into the drops to get into a tuck and pummel the pedals, and both stem and bar are stiff without feeling harsh.

The bike comes with mudguards, but we left them off in the dry. There are also fittings for a rack, which adds versatility, opening the GranFondo up to touring and commuting. it should prove tough enough too, with riders on Easton scandium frames winning Paris-Roubaix not that long ago.

The GranFondo is also available as a frameset including frame, fork, headset and Selcof carbon seatpost for £749.99.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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