Kinesis Aithein - First ride

Vecchiojo takes the much anticipated Kinesis Aithein alu race bike for a blast up the Downs… and down 'em too

by VecchioJo   September 9, 2013  

Here at road.cc we’ve been following the progress of the new Kinesis Aithein at road.cc with a fair bit of interest over the last few months, we’ve seen the prototype and sneaked a peak at the pre-production frames as they’ve made their way blinking into the light. The framsets are available to buy now and we were lucky enough to throw our leg over one of the initial run Limited Edition black anodized bikes.

Kinesis think metal bikes, in particular aluminium bikes, still have plenty of relevance today, despite the proliferation of and hype surrounding carbon bicycle frames, they’re keen to push alloy frame technology as far as it can go, and make them competitive alongside carbon.

The tubes on the Aithein frame are made using Superplastic Forming (SPF), a high temperature process that makes the tubes go ‘plastic’ with heated compressed air forming the tubes over a steel mould. It’s more finely controllable than the more widespread hydroforming that can split narrow walled tubing and it allows the use of thinner, and therefore lighter tubes, meaning that Kinesis can make an alloy frame nearing a carbon weight.

The Aithein has a tapered head tube with the cable stops mounted on the sides because the down tube walls are too thin to accommodate them.

The seat tube is asymmetrical, thin walled but bulging out on the non-driveside for stiffness and much flatter on the driveside where the space is needed for the chainset, it spreads out to span the width of the bottom bracket which is BB386EVO Standard for stiffness, and wide range of chainset compatibility. The top-tube is a traditional straight tube without any fancy bends, curves, swellings or oversizedness as the head tube and seat tube should keep everything sturdy enough.

Geometry is pretty racy with fairly short but nicely curved chainstays with a replaceable dropout, the seatstays are straight and the bottom bracket is low. Kinesis say that the Aithein frame weighs as little as 1,041g, and it comes with a monocoque carbon fork at 357g, all this lightness has a cost though as Kinesis have put a rider weight limit of 14st (89kg) on the frame.

The bike we’re having a play on here is the Limited Edition Aithein in a special anodised finish with laser-etched graphics, metallic grey decals and lime detailing. The standard painted finish frames will be available soon in bold SickGreen metallic or SweetOrange metallic. This Aithein comes to us specced in a way Kinesis anticipate a lot of the frames might be built up, a full mechanical Ultegra compact groupset with posh Reynolds Thirty Two carbon wheels stopped by TRP brakes. Pro PLT carbon wrap stem and compact bars do the steering with a Fizik Arione saddle on top of a Kinesis seatpost providing somewhere to sit. It’s a knowledgeable head-nodding build that suits the bike and the black anodized frame with those dark dark grey Ultegra components and semi-deep carbon rims makes the Aithein looks the business I reckon.

The ride

Enough of all the boring science stuff, how does it ride? Weighing a shade over 15lbs in this guise the initial push on the pedals announces a bike that launches keenly forwards without much effort, it really really likes to go fast. According to the endlessly repeated cycling adage aluminium is a harsh and stiff ride, and although the Aithein conforms to the cliché a bit it’s a lot lot more subtle than that. Yes it’s a stiff platform and the rear end can skip about like a scratched record if you get all choppy on the pedals, but a lot of bikes can do that if you mash ugly squares, stay smooth on the cranks and the rear wheel fairly punches the bike forwards. It likes to pounce, be that in a sprint, or bounding up a hill.

It’s not designed to be a soft and comfortable mile-muncher like many bicycles these days, so if you spend your life imagining you’re clattering across the cobbles of Northern France, grinding the Strada Bianca of Italy or just want a Sportive Sofa then you’re better off looking elsewhere. That’s not to say the Aithein is going to pile-drive you to death over a five hour ride, it’s far from uncomfortably rigid, to give it a positive spin what you do get is plenty of feedback from the road, that said a nice carbon seatpost might help things along a little.

But if you want an exciting responsive ride then this’ll do nicely thank you very much, the Aithein would make a fantastic race bike, it’s responsive enough and nippy enough to keep you at the sharp end of the peloton. Handling is sufficiently needle-threading sharp to steer you round a crit corner without any wibble, and at £649.99 for the frame, fork and headset it’s going to hurt a little less if you crash it and it gets ridden over by half the field. I’m not the best in the business at cornering but the Aithein flattered me immensely and actively encouraged me to lean and lean and lean further into bends as we did repeats for the camera all day. Bless it.

Is your temperament to sprint out of every corner, just because it’s fun, whether you’re racing or not? Do you like to climb with a punchy attitude, sitting down and standing up to keep the tempo high rather than staying planted and twiddling your way up, do you like to coax and manhandle a bike until it starts to sing? Do you want something a bit different to the same cheap generic carbon frame with different stickers? Are you a racer on a budget? If the answer is yes to any of these then you want to look at the Aithein.

To find out more about the Kinesis Aithein visit www.kinesisbikes.co.uk
 

31 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Ace bike, but I would say that, cos I've got one! Smile

posted by mtbtomo [35 posts]
9th September 2013 - 20:59

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Shame - Great if your a whippet but a no-no for the big boys like Marcus Backstead'.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [179 posts]
9th September 2013 - 21:31

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Ham-planet wrote:
Too thin to weld cable stops to, yet I'm supposed to trust my teeth to it? Sorry, Kinesis: I'm out.

plenty of bikes have head-tube mounted cable-stops for the very same reason, i had a steel Bianchi with them there and still have all my own teeth

posted by VecchioJo [739 posts]
9th September 2013 - 21:39

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Ham-planet wrote:
Too thin to weld cable stops to, yet I'm supposed to trust my teeth to it? Sorry, Kinesis: I'm out.

hardly unique to kinesis. large downtubes can be very thin, and lots of alu bikes have the cable routing on the headtube for that reason. it doesn't mean it's unsafe.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
9th September 2013 - 21:40

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With a rider weight limit of 88kg surely it's bordering on unsafe?

posted by Jonomc [22 posts]
9th September 2013 - 22:11

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Jonomc wrote:
With a rider weight limit of 88kg surely it's bordering on unsafe?

not if your 72kg like me

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
9th September 2013 - 22:20

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What if you're 84kg and want to ride over Christmas?

posted by bendertherobot [249 posts]
10th September 2013 - 8:35

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Another bike to add to the wish list! Love Struck

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [248 posts]
10th September 2013 - 9:17

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bendertherobot wrote:
What if you're 84kg and want to ride over Christmas?

Become an atheist. Wink

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [248 posts]
10th September 2013 - 9:18

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Jonomc wrote:
With a rider weight limit of 88kg surely it's bordering on unsafe?

Do you think the same thing when you get into a lift, or board a plane? It's intrinsically unsafe because it has a weight limit?

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posted by theclaw [75 posts]
10th September 2013 - 9:21

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theclaw wrote:
Jonomc wrote:
With a rider weight limit of 88kg surely it's bordering on unsafe?

Do you think the same thing when you get into a lift, or board a plane? It's intrinsically unsafe because it has a weight limit?

If it's near the maximum limit then yes. I weigh 83kg +/- 1.5kg and there's no way I'd be able to really trust a bike with an 89 kg weight limit as an every day bike, especially allowing for a safety margin error - what about someone who weighed 89 kg? Sure I'd be happy to go for the odd ride, but pushing hard there'd be serious concern about material failure. If you have ever experienced it you'll know what I mean, I spent 1 week in hospital and 6 months on crutches after a (well known brand) handlebar failure.

As a friend of mine says, if a frame snaps on a descent the outcome is "non negotiable"

posted by caaad10 [99 posts]
10th September 2013 - 10:02

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+ / - 1.5 kg: stay away from those plates of prunes!

From this engineer's perspective, there will be - as you note - a safety margin on the 88kg: probably 10%.

The issue may be one of durability rather than absolute strength, so its ability to withstand repeated cycles at maximum load.

Up to the maximum, you're still within design limits and for me, I'd ride it.

I have a parachute for gliding (well, for leaving a broken one, in the event). I am close to the maximum limit, but within it. I'm happy with that.

Gerard the Kiwi

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posted by GerardR [84 posts]
10th September 2013 - 10:15

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
Ham-planet wrote:
Too thin to weld cable stops to, yet I'm supposed to trust my teeth to it? Sorry, Kinesis: I'm out.

hardly unique to kinesis. large downtubes can be very thin, and lots of alu bikes have the cable routing on the headtube for that reason. it doesn't mean it's unsafe.

Plus this arrangement stops the cables rubbing paint off the headtube.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1331 posts]
10th September 2013 - 10:39

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What about clearance for mudguards? Looks a great frame for the money, I'm considering one as a training bike but would like to ride it through the winter also

posted by Velo Jason [9 posts]
10th September 2013 - 10:57

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Velo Jason wrote:
What about clearance for mudguards? Looks a great frame for the money, I'm considering one as a training bike but would like to ride it through the winter also

kinesis make plenty of bikes that'll fit mudguards, this is a full-on race frameset so it's not one of them...

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
10th September 2013 - 11:22

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if a bike has a rider limit of 88kg, and that's what you weigh, then that means it's completely safe to ride that bike. it doesn't mean it'll suddenly fall apart if you have a big lunch.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
10th September 2013 - 11:24

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
if a bike has a rider limit of 88kg, and that's what you weigh, then that means it's completely safe to ride that bike. it doesn't mean it'll suddenly fall apart if you have a big lunch.

Rolling On The Floor Applause

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posted by theclaw [75 posts]
10th September 2013 - 12:35

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As per all the other posts, the weight limit is as near as can be 'guaranteed' the acceptable weight for a rider. Barring any manufacturing defects (which could happen for any frame), there should be a near infinite fatigue life below this limit.

You don't then have to work out what you consider your own safety factor!

And why would you want to put mudguards on it, its primarily a race bike.

posted by mtbtomo [35 posts]
10th September 2013 - 12:48

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i've got a long way to go before i get to have a go on one, incidentally Waiting

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
10th September 2013 - 13:10

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Dear all.. refer to rule #5 and get to a weight where you wish to be a lean mean skinny pedalling machine!

posted by Cookie91 [16 posts]
10th September 2013 - 14:58

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Rolling On The Floor Wave

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posted by bikeandy61 [386 posts]
10th September 2013 - 16:52

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Weight limit and side-mounted cable stops?

Doesn't bother me, i'm in ....

posted by Karbon Kev [667 posts]
10th September 2013 - 17:45

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Was lucky enough to have a quick spin around Morzine on one of these.. its a whole lot of fun for the money and is epic in the corners... thumbs up from me..... NM

NM Rpm90.com

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posted by Equipe Rpm90 [7 posts]
10th September 2013 - 20:41

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great looking bike, goes to show there is still plenty of life left in alloy...I still ride alu...

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posted by flexcamp [19 posts]
10th September 2013 - 21:33

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Is it just me, or does that look suspiciously like the Canyon Ultimate AL, right down to the Maxiums seat tube?

posted by drmatthewhardy [289 posts]
11th September 2013 - 14:46

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Heightist ba*tards
At six ft 5 and living a normal life (ie not starving myself to be a super skinny runt of a rider) I am taking these guys to the european court for discriminating against tall folk. Doesn't say much about the quality of the frame if it can't go up to a larger weight when most others can.

posted by Simmo72 [274 posts]
11th September 2013 - 15:12

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Its lighter than most alu frames though? Cannondale CAAD10 and that new Specialized Allez with the pre-shaped tube joints might be close but other alloy frames are usually closer to the 1.4 - 1.5kg mark?

Canyon Ultimate Al doesn't have a tapered head tube for starters but does look similar.

posted by mtbtomo [35 posts]
11th September 2013 - 21:36

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mtbtomo wrote:
Ace bike, but I would say that, cos I've got one! Smile

Like you I'd have to sell the house and move to an alleyway to afford it!

posted by robert_obrien [117 posts]
12th September 2013 - 13:54

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Smile Rolling On The Floor

posted by mtbtomo [35 posts]
12th September 2013 - 19:18

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I'm going to wade in a say it again, the Aithein is an amazing bike. It's brought my riding to life more than any other bike, making me want to attack everything. It's handled everything from Crit racing to the triple ascent of Ventoux and the RideLondon 100. So it can do short and fast, long and hilly and long and fast. Pretty well rounded then!

But then this bike is ideally suited to me and what I want from a road bike. If you push it, it only gets better Smile

Recommended!

www.morvelo.com
Ride Everything.

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posted by Morvelo [9 posts]
18th September 2013 - 9:59

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