Kinesis UK have a deserved reputation for well designed, cleverly specced aluminium bikes with great handling. This is the result of a successful collaboration between a UK-based design team and frame manufacturing giant Kinesis International, which makes frames for brands as varied as Storck, Trek and Kona. The 4t is their entry-level cyclo-cross frame and is aimed at beginners.
- Frame and fork: Rear eyelets for rack and guards are a boon, as is eyeletted alloy fork option. Flattened top tube looks good but isn’t very comfy
- Handling: Fast steering and predictable manners are the result of a reﬁned frame design that’s ideal for rough-stuff riding
- Equipment: Slightly dull ﬁnishing kit is faultless. The real star is the 105 gearing – quality where it’s needed. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing
- Wheels: Tried and trusted wheelset doesn’t disappoint but doesn’t blow us away either. This is your ﬁrst upgrading route
Paintjob left us feeling blue
We chose our test bike in ‘vivid reﬂex blue’ from the startlingly bright pictures on the Kinesis website, and to be honest, were a little disappointed when the bike that arrived was more ‘blue’ than ‘vivid reﬂex’. Never mind, there’s no denying that it’s still a good looking bike – not least for its interestingly shaped top tube.
The back half of the top tube has a flat underside, which is a new feature for this year’s model and is supposed to make the bike more comfortable to shoulder. In practice it didn’t, as the ﬂattened section has produced two new edges. Which is a shame, because it looks the part.
Sharing the same geometry as its championship-winning higher-end race siblings, it’s no surprise that the 4t’s ride is rewarding. The Kinesis is not exactly light, but when you hit tight, twisty trails its aluminium design pedigree shines through.
Frame excels on twisty trails
Any excess weight is immediately forgotten as the direct, efﬁcient frame translates all your pedalling efforts into accurate and easy-to-control forward motion. Even the extra chunky 37mm-wide Kenda Cross tyres don’t dampen the steering accuracy when nipping round trees or dodging rocks on steep, lumpy descents under heavy braking.
The details of the double-butted 7005 aluminium frame are as carefully thought out and executed as you’d expect. Asymmetrical ‘aStay’ chainstays mean there’s sufﬁcient room for the chainrings of even a triple chainset, and although there is an extra cross-brace behind the bottom bracket, both stays have been squeezed ﬂat so there is loads of mud clearance between the frame and the wheel.
There’s plenty of clearance under the crown of the carbon-bladed Kinesis Crosslight Pro fork too, although there are no mudguard ﬁxing eyelets near the forged alloy dropouts. If you want these, Kinesis suggest you buy the bike with their Crosslight 3 alloy fork instead. We couldn’t show up any weaknesses in the performance of this alloy steered fork – not even any judder from the Tektro Oryx ‘low pro’ cantilever brakes.
No-name kit isn't fancy but it's functional
The 4t’s kit is a bit of a mixed bag – you get no-name bars with an oversize centre section, a no-name four-bolt stem and an unbranded alloy seatpost. There’s nothing wrong with this kit in terms of performance, but even a logoed top cap on the steerer might make the cockpit a nicer place to be.
On the other hand, Shimano 105 levers do give a sign of quality where it matters most, and you’ll be grateful to ﬁnd it on the front and rear mechs too. The only part of the drivetrain that’s not 105 is the Truvativ Elita crankset, which we’ve found to be the equal of the Shimano equivalent in the past on everything except price, where it’s cheaper.
The Quasar Q2 wheels are laced in a two-cross pattern, and although a three-cross pattern is inherently stronger, it is seen less and less these days, even on ’cross bikes. We’ve tested this business-like wheelset before, on one of Kinesis’s winter road bikes, and found them strong and reliable then too – if a little unexciting.