UK brand Kinesis are celebrating their 10th anniversary with the launch of the Decade range, which has a more understated look than the company’s standard line, with minimal logos and superb graphic touches by artist Adi Gilbert.
The Convert 2 has a communist workers’ uprising illustration at the bottom of the down tube – inspired! It’s available as a ﬁxed, a singlespeed or in this geared winter spec. It has a superb frame finish, and it's great fun to ride, with exciting handling.
Keeping the bike under the magical £1,000 mark does mean some compromises, but Kinesis have done this cleverly by not skimping on the parts that matter.
Ride & handling: A neat, clever, cool bike that we’ve really enjoyed our time with
The geometry of the Convert 2's frame follows on from Kinesis's Racelight T2 – a favourite winter trainer here at BikeRadar – but the rear end is shortened slightly for when it’s in its ﬁxed guise. This, combined with the 73.5-degree head and seat-tube angles gives the Convert 2 a snappy ride.
The shorter rear is particularly noticeable when you’re making quick direction changes and encourages fast swoopy cornering at extreme lean angles.
Kinesis have achieved a quite brilliant balance of track bike agility and road bike stability without the issue of toe overlap, when your leading foot can hit the front wheel when turning at slow speed, associated with some track-style frames.
And the fact that it can easily be changed into a ﬁxed wheel ride should you want to is a real bonus. You can use the Convert as a fun way to build your base ﬁtness over the winter, then when spring comes along and it’s time to get on your race bike, don’t chuck it in the shed until the following winter – make it ﬁxed and carry on commuting.
Frame: Superb finish and clever dropouts for a reasonable price
The Convert 2 is so named because of its clever convertible rear dropouts – or ‘Swopouts’ as Kinesis call them. With a simple switch out involving two Allen head bolts you can change the rear end from a standard 130mm geared setup to 120mm-width horizontal track dropouts.
The frame itself is double butted 7005 aluminium which, when compared to the likes of an aluminium Cannondale, looks rather undersized. The quality of the welds is excellent, with smoothed out joints at every major point. It’s very classy for a bike as reasonably priced as this.
As well as mudguard ﬁttings there is also provision for a rear rack. The swoopy curved alloy fork matches the frame well and is super stiff side to side, though a little harsh on rough surfaces.
Equipment: We'd upgrade the cockpit kit, brakes and tyres in the long term
The Decade sports a predominantly Shimano Tiagra-based groupset with the only non-S offerings being an FSA Gossamer chainset, which is easily a match for Shimano’s equivalent and in this compact 50/34 conﬁguration provides the ideal gear spread, and unbranded brakes.
Their understated, all-black ﬁnish matches the frame perfectly, but the low-end pads have a hard waxy surface that never really wears in to give enough bite. The wheels consist of Mavic’s CXP22 rims and black unbranded hubs, solidly built and great rolling.
It was a surprise to see Kenda’s Kontender 23mm tyres ﬁtted; although nominally 23mm wide, they actually come up a little narrower than this, and for getting through the rigours of winter we’d prefer something a little thicker, which the clearances and SKS mudguards certainly allow for.
The San Marco Ponza saddle has a fairly ﬂat, wide proﬁle but the hull has a reasonable amount of ﬂex, making it a comfortable choice and a little out of the ordinary.
The unbranded oversized bar and stem combo is well ﬁnished and complements the bike’s understated looks, but with little or no give in either bar or stem a fair amount of buzz is transmitted, exacerbated by the narrow tyres.