Kinesis Gran Fondo - First Ride review$991.90

The Gran Fondo has a few tricks up its aluminium sleeve

BikeRadar score4/5

Gran Fondo rides have been popular in Italy since the 1970s, and in the past few years similar mass participation sportive events have become hugely popular in the UK. So, it’s not surprising that companies are designing bikes specifically for this market. Kinesis have entered the fray with their Gran Fondo. 

The frameset – frame, fork, headset, clamp and seatpost – comes in at a reasonable £695, and UK distributor Upgrade will provide a complete bike with a ‘winter build’ at £1,299. Our test model’s setup, with Campagnolo Centaur kit and Reynolds Solitude wheels, would cost about £2,077, but Upgrade tell us 99 per cent of Gran Fondos will be sold as framesets, so we’ve paid greatest attention to the heart of the bike.

Ride & handling: Bang-on for sportives, but this is no one-trick pony

It may come with mudguards and have slightly more relaxed geometry than a full-on race bike, but don’t be fooled, the Gran Fondo handles like a racer, especially if you spec it with the sort of kit ours came with. But it’s not that surprising when you check the scales and find a weight of just 8.36kg/18.4lb (without pedals). 

At first it feels a little harsher than we expected, but after a few miles you appreciate its responsiveness and don’t notice any untoward road buzz through either the saddle or the bars. It’s stiff, yes, but it’s also pretty comfortable. It must be that scandium toning down aluminium’s harsher qualities.

While the Gran Fondo is bang on the money for sportives, it also has a few more strings to its bow, making it pretty versatile. There are eyelets for mudguards and racks; with mudguards, 23mm is the largest tyre you can fit but without you could go up to 25mm. 

So this isn’t a bike to be left sitting in the shed waiting for the occasional sportive; training, day rides, commuting and even lightish touring would all be viable – and enjoyable – options. It’ll last you for years too.

Frame: Alu/scandium mix provides extra strength in crucial areas

Most high-end sportive bikes go down the carbon fibre route, but Kinesis proves there’s still mileage – literally – in aluminium. The Gran Fondo’s frame is made from Easton’s GX2 tubing, aluminium alloyed with the once-rare element scandium. 

Thanks to the end of the Soviet Union, this material is now more readily available, and as scandium reduces recrystallisation at welds (which can lead to cracks forming) and improves the material’s weldability, it’s proved a great material for bike manufacturers. 

Easton scandium-framed bikes picked up victories at Paris Roubaix in 2001 and 2002 so it certainly performs at the highest level, and it can be formed into the flared shapes visible in the Gran Fondo's top and down tubes, providing extra strength in crucial areas. 

Carbon fibre isn’t entirely absent, though. The fork and Selcof seatpost are carbon, while the seatstay has a carbon ‘Strutt’ for part of its length. We’re not sure this makes much of a difference to the ride, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the Gran Fondo delivers impeccably out on the road.

 kinesis gran fondo:  kinesis gran fondo
kinesis gran fondo: kinesis gran fondo

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK
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