Brighton-based Kinesis UK knows how to put together a quality road bike, from its origins in cyclocross to today’s top-end titanium machines.
But its reputation was forged in its great-value, do-it-all aluminium bikes – and the R2 is the latest incarnation of that.
Its Kinesis R1 predecessor was a firm favourite of ours and a previous test winner.
The main difference with the R2 is the switch to a 2x drivetrain without any loss of its all-road capability.
The R2 has a double-butted aluminium frame, a full-carbon fork and fittings for racks and mudguards, which will suit tourers and commuters, while it will also appeal to those wanting a sporty main bike or fast winter trainer.
Its geometry is sportier than that of most bikes with similar ambitions, with my XL test model having a long 404mm reach and a 612mm stack, which isn’t that tall.
The frame is classically shaped, the tubes are skinny – for aluminium – and it looks gorgeous; the deep, dark chocolate paintwork with metallic flakes contrasts neatly with its gold graphics.
Kinesis R2 spec details
The R2’s build is all good, solid stuff and is based around the latest version of Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset.
This has seen numerous upgrades, not least of which are hydraulic brakes that perform superbly, with loads of control, power and feel.
Tiagra’s shifting, meanwhile, is easily a match for Shimano’s higher-level groupsets, with only the lack of an 11th – or 12th – gear setting it apart.
With the chain at the extremes of the cassette, it was occasionally necessary to adjust the front mech to stop chain rub, but that’s all.
The combination of an 11-34 cassette and 50/34 chainset is ideal, the one-to-one ratio bottom gear helping you overcome the bike’s chunky 10.4kg weight on climbs.
I was often looking for a lower gear than I’d usually be riding, but the wider-range cassette meant I always had a gear to spare.
The R2 rolls well and its handling is sprightly for such a hefty machine, meaning on anything but the steepest climbs you don’t notice its weight.
The 72-degree head angle is a little more relaxed than a race bike’s, but the 74-degree seat angle is steep.
This puts you right over the cranks’ power position, imbuing the bike with a sharpness not usually associated with a bike that has such large tyres.
Kinesis R2 wheels and tyres
The tubeless-ready Alex rims are designed for cyclocross and their 19mm inner rim width is also well suited to wider road tyres. Kinesis has built them up into a decent set of wheels using stainless spokes and smooth-rolling Novatec hubs.
The generously sized 32mm tyres are Continental’s underrated Grand Sports, which are made from a similar PureGrip compound as its GP5000s and, thanks to their generous 160 TPI casing, they’re also supple.
They’re tough, too, surviving off-the-beaten-track forays over rocky gravel.
These wheels and tyres may not win accolades for low weight, but they’re winners when it comes to comfort and toughness, which is arguably more important.
The R2 proved great on tarmac, the frame purposefully stiff without ever feeling harsh. The high-quality carbon fork showed its class, providing great lateral stiffness and excellent vibration damping.
Kinesis R2 ride impressions
In spite of its weight, the R2 is also a decent climber, and while I didn’t feel like I’d be riding into a polka dot jersey, the R2 was never anything less than capable.
Settle into the saddle and its 32mm tyres smooth the path, and you’re able to keep on spinning even on double-digit gradients.
It was equally reassuring on descents, the stiff frame and fork tracking superbly, the big tyres’ tenacious grip helping it to corner confidently. It offers a good balance of speed and fun on one side and comfortable cruising qualities on the other.
The finishing kit is all own-brand Kinesis. The alloy stem is accompanied by an alloy bar that has a good shape, although I didn’t get on with its narrow diameter, and the bar tape was skinny and not that comfortable.
This was a surprise, as the Repente tape Kinesis used on its GTD was among the best I’ve tested. Selle Italia’s budget X3 saddle was comfortable, but while its slick, glossy covering is fine in the dry, I was sliding around on it in the rain.
Those bugbears aside, I was impressed with the R2. It’s well finished and the combination of its dynamic frame, swift yet stable handling and 32mm tyres adds up to a very versatile bike.
It would make a great commuter bike or weekend warrior, and it’s a machine with sporty handling that’s just as capable of taking you on tour as it is doubling up as an exciting winter trainer.
Kinesis R2 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||74||74|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||72||72||72|
|Seat tube (mm)||490||540||570||600|
|Top tube (mm)||532||545||561||580|
|Head tube (mm)||130||146||172||204|
|Fork offset (mm)||45||45||45||45|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||70||70||70||70|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Handlebar||Kinesis Alloy 6061 46cm|
|Tyres||Continental Grand Sport Race 32mm|
|Stem||Kinesis Alloy 6061 100mm|
|Seatpost||Kinesis Alloy 6061 27.2mm|
|Saddle||Selle Italia X3|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Tiagra|
|Grips/Tape||Black Cork Bar Tape|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano CN-HG54|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Tiagra|
|Frame||Double-butted 6061 aluminium|
|Fork||Full UD carbon|
|Cranks||Shimano Tiagra FC-4700 50/34t|
|Cassette||Shimano CS-HG500 10 speed 11-34|
|Brakes||Shimano Tiagra BR4770 hydraulic disc|
|Wheels||Alex 1.9P tubeless rims on Novatec sealed cartridge bearing hubs|