Kinesis has been a cornerstone of British cyclocross for decades, and the Kinesis CX Race is its race-specific answer to the advance of the big-name brands into ’cross.
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It is available frame-only for £549.99, and with a choice of forks. Since the frame can run either disc or cantilever brakes, your fork choice will follow. We plumped for a £379.99 TRP carbon fork with 15mm thru-axle that weighed 472g uncut, and got building.
Our 55.5cm frame weighed 1431g, realistically light for a ’crosser. A few requests and some desk scouring turned up a SRAM Rival 1 groupset, and colour-matched PRO bar and stem (thanks Team Sky), and Fabric saddle and bar tape. Kinesis-supplied CX Disc clinchers, Challenge Chicane Open Pro tyres and a Kinesis carbon seatpost finished the build.
Scandium-aluminium is a light alloy, something borne out by the 8.63kg total weight, which is pretty competitive for a relatively inexpensive frame. In this form it’s also undoubtedly a race bike, as although Kinesis has included drain holes to remove water, it has omitted bottle bosses. A huge number of bolt-on parts allows for several configurations of cables and hoses. The rear mech cable travels above the top-tube and seatstay with end-to-end outer casing to keep water and dirt out, but its customisable clips aren’t great to sit on.
We routed the rear hose smoothly around the head-tube, leaving little chance of anything scratching the wonderful finish. The tapered head-tube anchors the slightly triangular top-tube and shape-shifting down-tube, while providing a solid power base for your efforts. A BSA bottom bracket with external cups means no-nonsense operation, and the rear end still uses quick-release skewers.
We headed for our nearest ’cross race to see if the CX Race could. Following a day of intense rain, we worried the central file tread of the Chicanes would be an issue, but the aggressive side knobs added confidence, allowing us to push the bike’s limits.
Start line sprints are more efficient than dramatic, and we were on a good, but not expensively fast set of alloy clinchers. The front end’s positive feel helped us pick our way through minuscule gaps between wayward riders on technical sections. Through bumpy woods the bike absorbed big hits well without deviating and when things got slippery the weight balance between front and rear was excellent for controlling grip and direction.
Mud clearance wasn’t an issue and with no chainstay bridge, and reasonable width between chainstays, the CX Race is well equipped for British conditions. Having the cantilever brake option makes a seatstay bridge necessary and this will collect some muck, but the new CX Race Evo model does away with the canti option and the bridge is further from the tyre.
Designed for 160mm rotors there was never any lack of braking force or control, the frame and fork being rigid enough to counteract brake-induced flex. Carrying by hand or shoulder is easy thanks to the top-tube’s smooth underside and SRAM’s Rival 1 drivetrain performed as faultlessly as its Force big brother.
The Kinesis leaves you in no doubt as to what it’s designed for and it goes about its work very well. If you want decent bang for your buck, and like creating your own bike, it’s well worth a look.