First ride: Kinesis Crosslight Pro6

Vecchiojo gets literally the first ride EVER on Kinesis' new disc specific cross bike

by VecchioJo   October 19, 2011  

It’s not often you’re the first to ride a brand new bike, a nice new bike out the box, yes, sometimes, but not the first one in the world out of the box, ever. And it’s quite some privilege. road.cc have been lucky to follow the progress of the Kinesis Crosslight Pro6 disc-braked cyclo-cross bike from its prototype stage to its final production and Kinesis UK were kind enough to let us be the first people ever in the history of ever to turn a pedal on their brand new baby.

Designed to be a cyclo-cross race bike first and foremost with the necessary attacking stance, tapered head-tube and flattened top-tube but with added utilitarian bike rack and guard mounts for workaday action rather than a Sports Utility Cross that you might race once or twice the Pro6 can be an Aggressive Racer, Fast Tourer or Pro Commuter.

This one here has a very flattering showing-off build that somewhat belies its friendly price of £529.99 for the frame, fork, headset and seatclamp package. As well as Kinesis bikes Upgrade also bring in TRP brakes, Reynolds wheels and Oval products so the brand new TRP Parabox cable-to-hydraulic brake converter hides under the stem and connects to the even newer Reynolds Assault carbon tub rimmed 135mm spaced disc wheels while a box-fresh Oval saddle tops things off. A rather swanky Campag. Record 11spd groupset does the gears while seatpost, stem and bars are SL-K of the FSA.

Right then, pedals on, set the saddle height, pump the tyres, let some air out the tyres, squeeze the brakes, spin the wheels, go.

With Dom the bike's designer looking on there’s a dash of trepidation but the first proper kick on the pedals eveals that the bike is as it should be and everyone’s happy, it’s not a sluggish mudguard and rack ready tourer dressed up to look like a CX bike, nor is it a drop-barred hybrid, at its heart it’s a proper fast and punchy cyclo-cross racing bike, a second jab on the pedals and the bike responds again, and yet again to a third kick. I get to ride the bike all day for photographs, a process that basically involves interval sprints in front of a Canon and the bike never stops wanting to pounce. Excellent, keen enough to race, and you can bolt useful stuff to it to. That’s that part of the design brief ticked off then.

On to the Reynolds wheels, I’ve never ridden tubs before and now I wished I hadn’t, because I need to find some money to buy a set. Okay maybe I'm being spoilt here these FMB Super Mud tyres are hand made in France, the new boiler will just have to wait. The ride feel is exquisite, the grip is exemplary and the ability to clatter over roots and bumps and bottom out on the rim without fear of puncturing is a revelation. I’ve tubelessified a set of normal tyres and that was fun, until the double-puncture incident, but tubular tyres are a whole new level of wonderful. Get some.

For the brake-chattering classes the big news on this Pro6 is its disc-specific frame and in the case of this one here the TRP Parabox hydraulic disc brake converter, allowing the use of hydraulic disc brakes with cable-pull road levers. The subject of using disc brakes on a cyclo-cross bike has been one of passionate discussion, the pros are braking predictability, especially in the wet and mud, added power, lack of fork judder and non-existent rim wear, but detractors have been put off by cable discs being weighty and problematic, needing frequent fiddling to stop rubbing and drag and still susceptible to the friction and vagaries of cables, seen as a catalogue of niggles worth avoiding, especially as purists say cantilevers are just fine for CX racing, light, simple, and good enough just to scrub off a bit of speed rather than come to an effective stop. The trouble is cyclo-cross bikes are used for more than just racing these days.

Running hydraulic brakes should put a stop most of these downsides whilst keeping most of the benefits. One of the concerns often voiced about using a decent brake system is that it would be too powerful for the available traction of a CX tyre with its small contact patch and would skid too easily; this simply wasn’t an issue braking with the Parabox. It took about three pulls on the lever for the brain to learn how much effort was required for adequate braking, and I simply got on with things.

Stopping is a ground-breaking (heh) departure from cantilevers and a leap forward from cable discs when sometimes the only way you know the brakes are working is by the grinding noises. Brake feel with the Parabox is silky smooth, and stopping is reliable, easy and instinctive and after a couple of hours of mucking about on the bike there was a small epiphany in the trees, an off-road to Damascus moment if you will.

Repeatedly riding a section of trail through the woods for the camera that was rooty and usually interesting enough on a mountainbike I realized I was riding the roots harder, hitting corners faster and generally handling a ‘cross bike in a way that I’d never done before.

Hmmmm.

Rather than waste time and precious effort in hauling on the brakes to control the bike the lightness of touch that the hydraulic brakes allowed, with the levers just needing swift and delicate fingertip control, almost like playing a piano, the whole upper body was loose and free to concentrate on bike control and the part of the brain that would normally be focusing on braking was able to think about pedaling faster and where to point the bike next. Cor. No one was really expecting that, not even the bike’s designer.

The Crosslight Pro6 is better than the sum of its parts. This isn’t the first time a cyclo-cross bike has had rack and mudguard mounts put on it, this isn’t the first time a cyclo-cross bike has run discs, this isn’t the first time a cyclo-cross bike has had a tapered head-tube, but this could be the first time all of these have been thrown together so successfully. The bike works fantastically as a symbiotic (good word - ed) unit - the frame is designed to be ridden fast, the tapered head-tube means you can keep going fast without any whimpering from the front end while the fat carbon fork takes the bite out of the trail yet tracks true, the Parabox controlled disc-brakes allow the rider to brake easier and later, with confidence and more control and finally the tubular tyres allow you to do all this with all the grip you need and freedom from punctures.

This bike could be a game-changer.

The Crosslight Pro 6 comes as a frame, fork, headset and seatclamp for £529.99. With what I suppose you might call the dream build that I rode it would set you back £3731.98 with that Campag Record 11-spd gruppo and the Reynolds Assault CX Disc wheels accounting for the bulk of that at £1100 and £1200 respectively. Dom is also going to put together a White FB build (no I don't think FB stands for Facebook in this context either… but I er, forgot to ask him what it did mean) anyway it'll have mudguards/ rack 1.5in road tyres, Tektro discs with Microshift drivetrain and he is aiming at getting that in at below the magic £1000 cycle to work scheme figure, be quite a good feeling riding a proper race bike to work.

To find out more about the Crosslight Pro6 visit the Kinesis UK website www.kinesisbikes.co.uk

15 user comments

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Any chance of this making it into the Schwag Grab? Oh, & me winning it?! Big Grin

posted by BuiltForComfort [28 posts]
19th October 2011 - 21:02

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BuiltForComfort wrote:
Any chance of this making it into the Schwag Grab? Oh, & me winning it?! Big Grin

Ditto!!!

antonio

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posted by antonio [923 posts]
19th October 2011 - 21:25

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I'm in. Usual rules applying?

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posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
19th October 2011 - 22:38

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Quote:
I’ve never ridden tubs before and now I wished I hadn’t

a couple of handy 'cross racers were telling me that tubs were the only way to go for cyclo-cross - the ability to run really low pressures for that extra grip without pinching was crucial.

Well done road.cc on the exclusive Smile

I've just been listening to Ian Cleverly AKA http://twitter.com/RaphaSuperCross and Laura Etherington preview the Ally Pally event on BBC Radio London
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00krcj2
Starts at 1hr 9mins.

http://www.muddyhell.cx/ on Saturday too, 'cross is really on the up.

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posted by Simon E [1884 posts]
19th October 2011 - 23:14

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If it is anything like the first round in Windermere, it will be a great day out!
Nick Craig did a great job of the course! It was absolute carnage in the NWCCA race that ran as part of the program; I've not been in a race with so many riders hitting the floor & having mechanicals. Great for the spectators, tough on the riders & their bikes!
Get yourselves along, snag yourself a cow bell & enjoy - it will be all the better for being able to get public transport there & enjoy the frites & Duvel!

posted by BuiltForComfort [28 posts]
20th October 2011 - 9:14

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'FB' meaning 'Flat Bar' Tony! Come on, get wiv da lingo ; ]

Dom. Kinesis UK.

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posted by Dom [57 posts]
20th October 2011 - 9:20

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i'm going to be lucky enough to race the Pro6 this weekend at both the Muddy Hell and Rapha Super Cross so come and say hello and have a fiddle, and then ask about the bike

posted by VecchioJo [736 posts]
20th October 2011 - 10:42

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Simon E wrote:
VecchioJo wrote:
I’ve never ridden tubs before and now I wished I hadn’t

I *think* in saying that he wished he hadn't ridden tubs, the deeply ironic Jo was making the point that from now on based on the tyres' superlative performance he'll feel the urge - as in ooooh I've got an urge - to ride brilliant but unfortunately expensive and fiddly 'tubs' at all times and especially for cyclo-cross. Which is doubly ironic seeing as we're on the very cusp of widely-available tubeless clinchers finally offering the performance of 'tubs' for the likes of me and the sportive set. We're just waiting for Continental and Michelin et al to stop faffing around and succumb to the inevitable. There will still be a few tubulars being ridden in ten years time but they'll all be cyclo-cross riders for the 'low pressure' reasons you mention, Simon.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
20th October 2011 - 11:45

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How does the frame compare to the new disc equipped Boardmans - on paper the spec looks quite similar. And when will I be able to order one?

posted by 3rd [3 posts]
20th October 2011 - 16:32

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Sadly the whole disc CX thing has been let down by the still limited brake choice - Avid BB7s are tough and reliable but have long-needed a healthy diet. Cable-hydro adaptors looks like a stop-gap. Despite having 2 CX bikes and another on the way in my stable, I'm really tempted by the PX Dirty Disco - too late for this season, but looks like the best option for next year's 'mud bike' - looks like next summer's project, particularly as the Kinesis geometry is a bit optimistic in terms of sizing.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
20th October 2011 - 20:28

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How does the frame compare to the new disc equipped Boardmans - on paper the spec looks quite similar. And when will I be able to order one?

Any answers on this as I am in the throws of 2 choices....comments welcome Thinking

posted by gwa7 [3 posts]
4th November 2011 - 18:27

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misfire

posted by gwa7 [3 posts]
4th November 2011 - 18:28

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we should get a Boardman in to test shouldn't we?

posted by VecchioJo [736 posts]
4th November 2011 - 18:49

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VecchioJo wrote:
we should get a Boardman in to test shouldn't we?

Both have good test reports, just wondered how they stack up together.

posted by gwa7 [3 posts]
5th November 2011 - 10:45

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Sorry for late reply. Pro6 frame/fork is in stock now. Demand has taken us a little by surprise, so some sizes are out of stock but more on order.
Best to e.mail me from website for quicker [maybe] answers.

Dom. Kinesis UK.

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posted by Dom [57 posts]
16th November 2011 - 18:09

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