The Kinesis Tripster ATR isn't a do-anything bike, because such a thing doesn't really exist outside of adverts. But it can handle a really wide range of riding, and it's beautifully made, comfortable and responsive. There's very little I wouldn't be happy doing on it. I have some minor reservations about the fork, but overall this is a brilliant chassis and one I'd heartily reccommend.
ATR stands for Adventure-Tour-Race and that's the clue that it was Kinesis' ambition to make this bike as versatile as possible. It's a disc-only frame and fork with the frame constructed from a custom-drawn, cold-worked 3Al/2.5V titanium tubeset, except for the head tube which is machined from billet titanium. The fork is a carbon monocoque with a tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in steerer which runs on an FSA headset with angular contact bearings.
The frame is beautifully put together. The welds are extremely neat and the minimal graphics – and laser-etched head badge – are just what you want on a titanium frame, leaving most of the bike as bare metal. One of titanium's main advantages as a frame material is its longevity. It doesn't fatigue like aluminium, it's not susceptible to corrosion like steel, and it'll shrug off knocks and scrapes that could compromise carbon. If you do scratch a brushed titanium frame then normally you can get it back to showroom condition with some wire wool or wet and dry. In short: titanium frames last, and keep their looks.
There's a few details on the frame worthy of note. The machined head tube is a thing of beauty, as is the skeleton disc mount at the rear. Kinesis have chosen to mount the rear disc in the more traditional position behind the seatstay. The rear dropouts are quite deeply cowled which can cause issues with some quick releases, but all the ones I tried were okay. There's one mounting point for rack and mudguards at the rear so they'll have to share if you fit both.
The seatstays are quite heavily shaped into an hourglass shape, which is often said to improve rear-end comfort and that's certainly Kinesis' thinking here. Up front the fork has a full-bore mudguard mount in the crown which is good news if you're fitting a light as well (or instead of) a guard, and tabs at the dropouts with a mounting point. There's no low-rider mount; this isn't really a fork designed to be loaded for full touring. That doesn't mean the bike can't be loaded up. This chap is currently heading from the UK to Tibet on one and there are plenty of other ways to pack out a bike for a big trip.
I wasn't that impressed with the rather minimal seat clamp, and I swapped it out for a beefier Hope one. On a bike designed for some heavy duty use, it's not a place to skimp.
Geometry-wise the ATR is an interesting beast. It's tall at the front: the 60cm frame I was riding has a 21cm head tube, and that's on top of the fact that the fork is long to accommodate a big tyre. The effective top tube is 58.5cm and the bottom bracket is low, a 7.5cm drop from the rear axle. All this means that the ATR sits you up: it's not race geometry. I started off with a spacer under the stem and the stem itself on a positive rise, but I ended up with it slammed which gave me what felt like a good all-round position. You'll never get the ATR to feel like a hunkered-down race bike but with stems and spacers you can adjust from sportive to fast touring position, and that's exactly what you'd want to do.
There's plenty of tyre room. Kinesis say it'll take a 40mm tyre front and rear; I've had 42mm Surly Knards on board (more on that later) without any clearance issues so the true maximum is probably nearer 45mm. That gives you a massive range of tyres to choose from, from 23mm race rubber through bigger road and touring tyres through to cyclocross and monster cross treads.
This review is concentrating on the frame and fork, as this is how you'll be buying the ATR; it's a machine you'll build yourself, depending on your particular needs. That makes sense, given that it's capable of lots of different things. I built mine up as a posh, fast, Audaxy bike with Ultegra Di2 and Shimano's new hydraulic discs. Wheel-wise I used dependable Shimano RX31s for the most part, but also some shiny Reynolds Assault disc wheels. Finishing kit was mid-range alloy cockpit, a Charge Spoon saddle (like always) and a titanium seatpost. Depending on the wheels, tyres and pedals fitted the bike weighed in at anything between 9-10.2kg. Not race-light, but not heavy either.
The ride: lovely
There's lots to say about the ride but that one word sums it up best: for the most part, it's lovely.
Firstly I had the bike set up with Challenge Strada Bianca 30mm tyres, which are as fast-rolling a big chamber tyre as I've yet found. That amount of air under the rims would probably make any bike comfy, assuming you could fit them; I was running them at 70psi. The bike never felt sluggish though even though with RX31 wheels and SPD pedals that was the heaviest road build I tried.
I swapped out the 30mm Challenges for 25mm Continental GP4S tyres next, and took the ATR on a 180km Audax round Bristol. With harder, narrower tyres the Tripster feels fast and springy, and with less compensation from the wheels the comfortable nature of the frame becomes more apparent; it does a really good job of smoothing out road irregularities without ever feeling detached or vague. Stamp on the pedals and the bike is very willing to hop to it and it has the lithe feeling that you get from a well-made titanium frame. It's mmediately recognisable as different from the more on-off feel of carbon when you mash the pedals.
After that I slammed the stem and swapped the Contis on to some Reynolds Assault Disc wheels for a lower, more aero position, quicker wheels and a lighter overall weight. I swapped the pedals for some Ultegra SPD-SLs too, and that saved a couple of hundred grams on pedals, and a lot more on shoes. It's never scientific to compare one ride with another if they're on different days and different roads, but built up like that the ATR was marginally faster over the ground according to Strava. Mostly though, it felt quicker. That's probably down to the position change more than the whooshy wheels.
Lastly the RX31s went back on, with Surly Knard 700x42mm monster cross tyres, for an excursion along the Kennet and Avon canal and across the back of Salisbury Plain, a mix of about 30 percent off road and 70 percent tarmac. The Knards kill the speed on the surfaced sections, of course, but they're not bad, and once you venture on to the unmade sections that come into their own. They found their limit on a wet, steep, chalky descent but other than that the bike handled the harder terrain with aplomb. The relaxed 71° head angle (it's 70.5° on most frame sizes) meant that the bike was composed over the non-technical off-road sections.
Throughout all this, and lots of commuting and shorter excursions, the ATR confirmed itself as a composed and comfortable ride. It's quick if you want it to be, but also relaxed and easy to pilot. The long 106.2cm wheelbase gives it plenty of stability and the neutral steering and handling forgive the odd lapse of concentration.
This isn't the place to discuss the merits of Di2 or the performance of Shimano's hydraulic discs (our review of the system is here - http://road.cc/content/review/114970-shimano-br-r785-road-hydraulic-discs) but I can comment on the ATR's performance under the heavy braking loads that discs can exact on a frame. Which, for the most part is excellent. The machined head tube and big, tapered fork do an excellent job of keeping the front end firm without ever feeling harsh. Big grabs on the discs can make the fork flutter a tiny bit but the more normal braking forces of a descent were handled impeccably. At the rear the power of the disc means it's easy to lock the back wheel up but even sitting over the rear wheel and braking as hard as I could, I wasn't able to induce any noticeable flex from the rear triangle.
My one reservation about the fork is that I managed to make it judder a bit using Shimano's hydraulic callipers and Tektro rotors that I'd given a once-over with the wet and dry paper to stop them squealing. That resulted in a lot more grab from the pads which is probably what caused the judder. It was only ever a slow speed phenomenon, so it wasn't ever a safety issue, but it is worth noting.
I have slung a rack on the ATR and used it to transport normal amounts of stuff around, which it's perfectly happy to do: it's not quite as stable as a dedicated tourer but the long wheelbase and low-ish bottom bracket keep it easy to manage. I haven't loaded it up with a tent and a panniers and a frame bag and set off to the Himalaya, more's the pity, so I can't really comment on how it goes under full load for a big tour. If that's what you have in mind looking at the ATR then I'd keep an eye on the blogs of folk that are doing just that. Neither have I tried a cyclocross race on it, where I think it would cope fine if you just fancy a thrash of a Sunday morning but probably be a bit tall and rangy if you were actually competing at any level.
Overall: a great bike to have in the shed
Realistically, not that many of us are going to be doing much gravel racing in the UK, which is the sort of racing the R in ATR most closely matches. Neither are many of us about to set off on a big adventure to far-flung places, although I've no doubt that this bike would be a capable companion. But if you're looking for a bike for Audaxes, Touring and general Ranting about the ATR is a brilliantly capable bike. It's lovingly made, the ride quality is excellent and it'll throw its hand at most things with only minimal changes to the build. It's not one bike for everything, but it's certainly one bike for the n+1 list.
Capable and beautiful titanium all-rounder with a great ride
road.cc test report
Make and model: Kinesis Tripster ATR frameset
Size tested: 60cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
3Al/2.5V cold-worked titanium tubing / monocoque carbon fork
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The 'Tripster ATR' is a brand new concept for the Kinesis UK range. 'ATR' stands for Adventure. Tour. Race.
The Tripster ATR is designed to meet the needs of a fast growing, new-breed of riders who require one bike that will perform across many disciplines and types of terrain.
Use it for adventure cycling, distance racing, touring, sportives or cyclocross.
This high quality, disc brake ready, Titanium frame is built in the same factory as our highly praised Racelight GF_Ti frame.
* Custom Drawn Ti3AL/2.5V tubeset.
* All new geometry gives a sporty feel alongside comfort and stability for long distance.
* Low, stable BB. Long HT. More relaxed HA. Designed for use with shorter stem lengths.
* Clearance for up to 40mm tyres and full 45mm mudguards.
* Beautiful taper head tube, machined from billet titanium.
* 530g, monocoque, UD carbon, taper-steerer fork with hose-clip. Huge clearance.
* Specially developed post disc-mount.
* Welded rack and 'guard mounts, stainless bolt set and alloy adjusters.
* Ti clamp and Taper headset included.
* Our New 'Crosslight CXd' or 'Maxlight IX' 29er wheels are ideal for this frame.
Colours: Titanium with heat-cured frame decals.
Included in frameset price: Frame/Monocoque UD Carbon fork/Kuk seat clamp/headset.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very high quality.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
3Al/2.5V cold-worked titanium tubing / monocoque carbon fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
60cm, 58.5cm effective top tube, 73° seat tube angle, 71° head tube.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It fitted me as well as any bike I've tried.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride quality for the most part is impeccable; component choices will affect the bike's feel but it's always comfortable and pleasingly neutral.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It's springy stiff like all good titanium frames.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, it felt very efficient. It's also very quiet.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
No issues until I fitted 42mm tyres; 28mm tyres with mudguards would.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Pleasingly neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Direct and accurate when steered but stable and relaxed when cruising.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? I might have done just that.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
£1,499 isn't cheap for this frame, nor is it expensive, but it should last you years and it's great to ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track