Titanium hardtails are a rare breed. There’s a simple reason for that – this remarkably tough, corrosion-free and rider-compliant wonder metal is expensive and hard to work with. But Kinesis’ brand-new Sync Ti isn’t afraid of a little hard work.
Ride & handling: Stiff and responsive but comfortable for long days
Much of the Sync’s design detail revolves around building in extra stiffness. Titanium’s a relatively flexible material, in engineering terms – great for comfort, but not so great for precision handling and aggressive riding. The tapered head tube, ovalised down tube and fat, fat stays are all part of Kinesis’ efforts to keep the Sync Ti tracking true and straight as things get rough and random.
Despite its come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-you’re-hard-enough attitude, the Sync doesn’t beat you to a pulp. It’s torsionally stiff like a carbon bike, but with a titanium forgiveness that takes the edge off impacts. Comfort is further helped by the thoughtful speccing of a carbon bar and carbon stem. Is titanium spring and carbon damping the perfect combination? On a hardtail, we really think it is.
Throw in a 142x12mm bolt-thru rear end and the result is an impressively direct-feeling bike. Despite carrying a small weight penalty over a similarly priced carbon hardtail, the Sync’s got every bit as much stomp-and-go as any contender we’ve ridden. Given that it will take a 140mm fork – enough for some serious trail amusement away from race day – that’s a good thing.
Kinesis sync ti: Seb Rogers/Future Publishing
Kinesis Sync Ti
Frame & equipment: Light and tough but pricy for a hardtail
Interestingly, while this small frame rolls on 650b (27.5in) wheels, the medium and large have 29in hoops – rather than try to squeeze 29ers in, or dodge building a small frame at all, Kinesis have chosen to keep everything in proportion. We like their thinking.
It all means the small Sync has a 17mm shorter top tube than its equivalently sized, 29er-only Kinesis FF29 stablemate. Kinesis point out that the smaller wheels allow them to build the frame as they see fit, rather than design it around the wheels – good news if you’re vertically challenged, though it does make the step to the medium more of a leap if you’re on the cusp of the two.
Some details of our pre-production prototype will change. The fork will be 650b-specific once they become available – our test bike has a modified 29in fork which, while appropriately lowered, has a different offset.
The wheels and tyres will be different, too (Maxlight 275s with tyres TBC), and the frame will be brushed, with heat-cured decals and a laser-etched graphic on the down tube.
The chainstays are being re-profiled for proper chainring clearance, while the brake mount is also being tweaked for more clearance under the calliper and less weight. We’d prefer a switch to Shimano for serious racing duties at this price, as well (it lasts longer), but that’s arguably nit-picking.
We like the Sync’s fresh approach, its idiosyncratic blend of new and old ideas. Wheel and frame sizing, fork length and an emphasis on ruthless chassis efficiency all add up to a potent race and trail companion.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.