The Kinesis Crosslight Evo is a highly evolved racer that proves even hardcore cyclo-crossers can be a fun and versatile trail/tarmac crossover option on non-race days. It's not the best option for technical trails or lugging loads, though.
The Easton alloy and carbon fibre Evo 4 frame is a genuine race machine honed through seasons at the sharp end of the pack. While it lacks a tapered head tube and oversized bottom bracket it offers a great balance of taut responsiveness and a hint of forgiving flex that masks the reduced cushioning from the skinny 32c Maxxis Larsen tyres.
While the long stem is stubborn at slow speed the quick-witted race handling means it’s a blast to whip quickly along buff singletrack. The Shimano RS50 wheels get fully adjustable bearings for long running smoothness and we’d be happy running this as a winter training road bike with a simple slick tyre switch.
Its racy intent is underlined – but commuting utility undermined – by the lack of rack or mudguard fixtures and there’s no provision for disc brakes either. The Kinesis is lightweight, at 8.97kg (19.78lb). We love the way it skims and snaps around obstacles and injects instant speed on smooth sections and climbs.
A major – but surprisingly common – technical terrain limitation soon becomes clear though. While the Tektro cantilever brakes on the Kinesis are usefully powerful – at least in the dry – the brake judder caused by fork flex on rough terrain makes the front wheel skip alarmingly. If that’s likely to be a major issue for your riding, fitting a fork crown cable stop (rather than a headset one) will pretty much cure the problem for a fractional weight and price cost.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.