Pitched as an adaptable, four-season bike, the Gran Fondo Ti is in its second incarnation. The biggest change is the shift to a tapered steerer, accommodated within a machined hourglass-shaped head tube that integrates smoothly with Kinesis’ own carbon fork.
It’s a distinctive bit of design, and there are plenty more elsewhere in the frame. The down tube is subtly ovalised, vertically at the head tube and horizontally at the bottom bracket.
Cable stops include smart blue anodised barrel adjusters. Chainstays are deep where it counts and taper towards the dropouts. Gently curved slimline seatstays hint at plenty of comfort, with both sets of stays being terminated with neat bullet-shaped end caps. Dropouts are straightforward cut-from-plate items with the key additions of both mudguard and rack eyes.
The GF Ti has markedly elongated chainstays, but it’s for good reason – there's room for 28mm tyres and mudguards at the same time. A bit of extra chainstay also means a little more heel clearance should you take advantage of the rack mounts and cart some luggage.
Kinesis sells the GF Ti as a frameset, but put together an Ultegra 6800-based full bike for our test. The more we use the latest version of Ultegra the more we like it – it’s very hard to find fault with. The only missing part of the Ultegra groupset is the brakes. That’s a pity, because Ultegra’s new brakes are one of its standout features. But the GF Ti needs deep-drop brakes in the interests of tyre and mudguard clearance, so a pair of shiny TRP callipers have been pressed into duty, and they’re competent enough.
The choice of Reynolds wheels is a particular highlight – at this price you’re not going to get the carbon rims for which Reynolds are known, but even these aluminium hoops are impressively light and they spin up to speed with inspiring alacrity. The extremely loud freehub click won’t be to all tastes, although you’ll be motivated to keep cranking. They’re set up with tubeless Maxxis rubber, which lends a hint of extra suppleness to the already-compliant frame.
The Kinesis carbon fork, with its deep blades, isn’t the most forgiving pair of prongs we’ve ever used, but it still damps out the worst of roads. The upside is a notable accuracy to the front end. The tapered steerer and oversized main tubes help, lending the GF Ti considerable poise and confidence. There’s little sign of the stereotypical titanium twang – the ride is subtly compliant rather than magic carpet but still gives respite from poor surfaces.