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The Kinesis GF_Ti Disc is a jack of all trades – and a master of most. It's possibly the last bike you'll ever need to buy – for club runs, sportives, audaxing, commuting, Alpine breaks, touring, all-roading... the definitive 'N+1' killer: fast, comfortable, light, tough, good looking. Pick five.
Back in 2011 Stu gave the original non-disc GF_Ti 9/10, saying it 'delivers the goods on speed, lightness, comfort and longevity'. Then in 2013 he found the second iteration to have 'near superbike capabilities in a frame that is just as at home on the commute, audaxing, sportives and much much more. It's a looker too'. It got an 8/10, but only because the overall value proposition was lessened by the kit (Shimano Tiagra/R501 wheels) on offer.
This time round, it's just the frame and fork we're talking about.
The frameset on test is a 57cm, putting my 183cm frame at the higher end of the 174-184cm recommended range. (Kinesis now offers a 55.5cm version as well, reacting to market feedback that people found the 54-57cm jump a bit too far.) Set up with a 120mm stem, it felt spot on for my riding position. The compact ergo bar gave usable options, and I never felt the bike wanted for a lower position or sharper steering.
With a head tube angle of 73.5 degrees it's galloping toward the racier end of the geometry paddock, where it runs up against the electric fence of a 1,005mm wheelbase and 420mm chainstays – so roughly somewhere in between 'nippy' and 'forgiving'. It's a nice balance that affords rear wheel clearance for fat tyres plus mudguards, and you don't want a skittish bike threatening to tip you into a hedge at the end of a long day out should you overcorrect.
(You'll find more facts and figures for the Kinesis here, in Mat's First Look.)
For us to test the frameset, Kinesis provided the GF_Ti Disc with its new multi-axle-optioned Racelight Disc wheelset, shod with new Schwalbe S-One 30mm tubeless tyres. It was also built up with full Shimano Ultegra 6800 and Shimano RS-685 disc brakes and Center Lock Ice Tech rotors. The semi-compact chainset came courtesy of Praxis & Turn. Suffice to say, shifting and braking performance were utterly flawless, with the fat tubeless rubber facilitating edge-of-reason braking tests under steering. In this guise the complete bike weighed 8.1kg.
The first time out on the GF_Ti Disc I had planned to do maybe an hour's shakedown loop at an average pace. The build was brand new, and I expected a few niggles that would need tweaking. What it turned into was a two-and-a-half hour adrenaline rush, pushing deep into the North Hampshire Downs, seeking ever-steeper hills to ride up – and down again. The stability and stiffness of the frame and fork rewarded every turn of the cranks, with not a hint of flex when out of the saddle from either the front or the bottom bracket.
It was possible to pick up a little bit of squirm from the front tyre, but that's 30mm running at 45-50psi for my weight, so hardly surprising when bent over the bar, and undetectable under braking or cornering at speed.
The ride was only cut short when I realised the bike had taken me outside my 'stored glycogen-café opening hours-distance home' envelope, so the final five miles back was alongside The Man With The Hammer, tapping lightly away at the seatstays. Do not underestimate this frameset's ability to make you feel a more capable rider than you are.
Over the following month a number of club runs proved the frame's ability to potter along perfectly happily, not feeling like it needed constant attention to steering – sitting up hands-free to don or remove a layer was ridiculously easy.
A business trip to Rome was a welcome opportunity to see the GF_Ti Disc in tourist mode on a different side of the road. It easily fitted into the rather fab Evoc Pro bag, just the stem plate off and fork turned 90 degrees to fit the flat-mount calliper into the fork sleeve.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and they still haven't finished the roads, it seems. I lost count of the cobbled sections, but while my native Roman riding companions had initially scoffed at the 30mm rubber, as the ride progressed it was obvious I was able to stay seated while they clambered about their 100psi/23mm-shod stiff-as-you-like carbon whippetry looking for smoother lines and some relief from the almost relentless buffeting.
And yet when we dropped down off Monte Cavo heading back into the new university sector south-west of Rome, the GF_Ti Disc acquitted itself perfectly well as a four-up TTT machine on the buttery-smooth new roads (no, the photos aren't from Italy).
Entering Rome, my guide took me along the Aurelian Wall, where nipping in and out of traffic, cobbled and new sections, under arches and over speed bumps, the Kinesis handed me a third overall on the 2.6km segment. Not that Strava times should in any way be the main measure of a bike's capabilities, but at the end of a 1500m-climbing 90km ride, to feel fresh and confident enough to rip up a strange road and come third has to count for something.
Having tyres, fork and seatstays that smooth the ride makes for a happy backside and hands, and faster times, and I can honestly say I have never felt as comfortable or quick on any other bike. Comfort is relative, but after 40-mumble years running and riding, my joints and muscles have no compunction in making their presence known, should conditions dictate. Even with its fat 31.6mm seatpost, the GF_Ti Disc's ability to soothe the savage road must be without peer.
How the heck has Kinesis created such a ride? Well, let's start at the sharp end...
The full-carbon Tracer Disc 1.5 fork is unique to Kinesis – you won't see this model available to other manufacturers – and it was designed with the GF and 4S disc frames in mind, for positive steering, comfort and clearance.
It has the largest dropout 'lawyer lips' I've ever seen – it takes seven full turns of the quick-release lever before the wheel can be dropped out, so don't expect to see it on the roof of a DS car anytime soon. That said, there are no concerns regarding the wheel shifting, let alone popping out under even the heaviest of braking. During the test period the QR was done up tight but not so much so that two fingers couldn't undo it, and no movement was discernible.
With 100mm standard hub spacing there's no issue with many available QR disc wheelsets. There's also a ton of tyre clearance to either side and between tyre and crown – with a 30mm tyre on the Kinesis Racelight Disc wheelset (19mm internal width) there's about 5mm either side and above.
Halfway up the inside of each fork leg is a 4mm mudguard mount, and there's sufficient clearance at the rear of each dropout to fit a removable mudguard tab over the skewer. (With winter looming I fitted a set of SKS Raceblade Longs.)
Inside the fork crown there's a hole looking for all the world like a calliper mount, but it's got a metal insert to take a bolt for a mudguard or fixed light mount – audaxers and German lighting fans rejoice!
The tapered, integrated head tube is milled from a solid titanium billet, then beautifully engraved with two opposing Kinesis UK logos. The easily replaceable and available integrated FSA headset brings together what is a rock-solid steering package.
This stability inspires all manner of confidence, such that the disc brakes and fat contact patch afforded by the 30mm tyres were necessary complements to keep the bike shiny side up. This is a bike that begs you to dive deep into corners hard under braking, in the knowledge that – unforeseen vehicles notwithstanding – you will exit in one piece with the biggest grin possible plastered across your face.
The proof has to be in the Combe Gibbet pudding. On the 'Britain's 100 Greatest Climbs' tight descent I had previously maxed out at 48mph on the fabulous Merida Ride 5000 Disc on a bone-dry midsummer's afternoon. The GF_Ti Disc gave me the confidence to match that on a misty, leaf-strewn November morning – and I reckon in the dry it would be good for another 3-4mph at least.
While you could argue that terminal velocity is not the best arbiter of performance, as anyone can simply 'not use the brakes', I was – like most people – coming at this descent with the view of wanting to be able to eat/walk/breathe afterwards. Ergo the sum of the frame/fork/wheelset/brakes/tyre gains equals fast, in control, in the damp.
Moving rearwards, while the fork uses external cable routing, the frame's full internal routing is set up for mechanical or Di2 groupsets, using a reversible 'porting system' where you can change the supplied fittings, which include blanking plates for those choosing a 1X shifting system.
The laser-etched Racelight logo on the down tube is guaranteed to look great for the life of the frame. At the bottom of the bi-directionally-ovalised down tube is a hefty junction with the bottom bracket shell, and a 68mm British-threaded fitting. This frame is built for longevity, ease of servicing and relatively low cost, and Ultegra-spec threaded bottom brackets are frequently available for under £20 and last a year or more of hard abuse.
The chainstays meet the BB shell somewhat inboard from the edge, with a hefty bridge welded in behind but still affording plenty of clearance and a place to bolt a full-length mudguard to.
The 'Anti-Roadshock Tuned Stays' must be the standout design feature of the GF_Ti Disc – it's impossible to view this bike from the rear without admiring the hourglass-esque curvaceousness on offer.
Titanium is famed for being more flexible than aluminium, lighter than steel – but there's got to be design compromise when seeking optimal power transfer alongside comfort and, in this case, load-carrying capacity. The seat tube is much fatter than the current fashion, where shock absorption is delivered partly via 27.2mm diameter or slimmer seat tubes coupled with all manner of post-frame-flex wizardry. The GF_Ti Disc sports a 31.6mm seatpost, the story being that the larger diameter is required to afford the area and weld strength to connect the seatstays while also potentially supporting a fully-loaded rack on the adjacent mounts. Again the spectre of needing N+1 rears its head and is quickly exorcised, this being a bike you can potentially load up without a care, yet ride all day in comfort.
At the bottom of the seatstays the cowled dropout junction offers lots of weld contact area, not least for the inboard flat-mount disc brake bracket – the party piece of this third evolution of the GF_Ti marque. With the chainstays having to spread wide to accommodate the disc hub, keeping the brake calliper as hidden as possible removes the risk of heelstrike. Even with size 45 winter boots on and a reasonably central ball-of-foot/pedal spindle alignment I never felt a single brush of the hardware on either side.
On the inside of the right-hand seatstay there's a lovely little chain pip, welded in place and ready to hang the chain on during any wheel-off antics. What there isn't is a braze-on for the front mech – with a clamp-on mech, the height is infinitely adjustable and if you want to go with a single ring there's no superfluous mounting hardware.
In the fast-evolving all-road, all-year, disc-braked sector, Kinesis has gone for traditional 5mm quick-release skewers over thru-axles, citing Shimano's recent E-Thru release as reason to wait and see for a bit longer. Frankly, I never felt the frame or fork were wanting for solidity of hub interface. (As a note, the Kinesis Racelight Disc wheels provided for this review have adaptable hubs, so changing from 5mm to 12 or 15mm thru-axles is a £13 option in the future, should you go with Kinesis wheels for your build.)
It's easy to become inured to the sticker price of review bikes when it's not your own cash, and the model on test would come in at about £3,500 as built. With £1,800 of that the frame and fork, the GF_Ti Disc would obviously be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for most cyclists, even if they then coat it with used 105, cable disc brakes and hand-me-down wheels. As tested it's a 40th or 50th birthday present to self, an annual bonus instead of replacing the conservatory roof or taking the family to the Maldives.
A large part of the value-for-money equation on a bike that should last you a lifetime is, 'will I be able to get a repair done, warranty claim honoured or replacement sourced in one, two, three or indeed ten, fifteen, twenty years?'
Kinesis offers a three-year warranty through its dealer network, and an out-of-warranty crash replacement service by negotiation with the Kinesis customer service team, which could go a long way to making an insurance payout-less-excess a lot more palatable.
The final ride before handing the GF_Ti Disc back was with Kinesis brand manager and cyclo-cross semi-pro Bruce Dalton. Twice on the narrow Hampshire/Berkshire lanes I had to dive into the gutter to avoid startled supermarket vans and four-wheel-drives who clearly didn't expect people to be out on bikes in the morass of sodden leaves and mud coating the rural roads this time of year.
The handling competency afforded by the 30mm tyres, disc brakes and sharp steering meant events that on plenty of other bikes would have likely ended in a hedge or underneath a Mercedes Sprinter were no more than a blip in an otherwise fast and happy ride.
Is the Kinesis GF_Ti Disc the best frameset on the market? Obviously I've not ridden them all – no one has. But in my experience over the last six weeks, and as I said at the start of this review, if you want fast, comfortable, light, tough and good looking you can indeed pick all five. If you're willing and able to part with £1,800 for that package, you will not be disappointed.
If you want fast, comfortable, light, tough and good looking you can indeed pick all five. You will not be disappointed
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kinesis GF_Ti Disc frameset
Size tested: 57cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
AEROgrade brushed Ti3AL/2.5V frame.
Fork: 'TRACER DISC 1.5in Full carbon fork with Shimano 'Flat Mount' and mudguard eyelets.
Built with Shimano Ultegra and RS685 hydro disc brakes, Praxis Works / Turn crankset, Kinesis Racelight Disc wheelset.
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?
This is a bike for someone who wants to ride far, fast, comfortably. The price says it's a major milestone bike, to be purchased and built up with care and attention.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality cannot be faulted. Beautiful welds, seamless carbon layering, gorgeous lacquering.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
AEROgrade brushed Ti3AL/2.5V frame.
Fork: 'TRACER DISC 1.5in Full carbon fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's designed somewhere between racy and audax-all-day. The measurements change over the frame sizes to maintain a geometry that is fast, yet stable and comfortable.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I found it about right for someone of my 6ft stature, with longish arms. I didn't want for a lower posture.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Fabulously comfortable. Cannot fault it. Forgiving, relaxing, fast.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes - the bike felt spot on, throughout. No issues, anywhere.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very. Zero flex, every crank turn rewarded.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Not noticeably, in my S45 booties with a central position.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral-to-lively. Interesting, without being skittish.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Confidence-inspiring. Relaxed, until you want to get a shift on, then it's responsive and fast.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Fat tyres are the future, and few frames have the clearance this does.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
As a frameset, there was no detectable flex in the power transfer chain, so there's nowt to improve.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
As a frameset, it's Di2 ready, internally cabled and as aero as I guess a 'useful bike' can be.
Instant, amazing bearing in mind the fat tyres.
It's not the lightest package overall, but for a 'useful' disc brake bike, getting up to speed happened pretty sharpish.
Loved it. So stiff up front and down below, throwing the bike about was so much fun.
The longer wheelbase makes bombing runs so enjoyable.
Again, long wheelbase and medium fork angles add up to a stable platform for hands-on or hands-free cruising.
Perfectly able to turn in close to its own length.
Can't fault it. On an effective crit course around Rome it was up there with much 'faster' bikes.
This bike will get you into trouble. And get you back out again.
The stiffness and heel clearance meant climbing was as enjoyable as it can be.
Ultegra + Praxis = faultless.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Hell_Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes. Just don't tell my wife.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, if they could afford it. Otherwise no, as they'll just be sad knowing what they could have had.
Use this box to explain your score
At £1800 'value' has to be nuanced. If you are in this sort of market, what does this deliver over the competition? English threaded BB, flat mount discs, rack mounts and clearance for silly-fat tyres with mudguards. I don't think anyone else offers this combo, and if they did it would be at about the same price. Then there's the faultless ride quality and knowledge of strong warranty backup. This all adds up to a very good value proposition. If you don't have £1800 to splurge then it's a moot point. Whilst other sites throw about 5-star reviews with abandon, here at road.cc Towers there's a process which involves a lot of consternation, teeth-sucking and navel gazing when anyone suggests adding that elusive half-a-star to round out a perfect score. To earn five stars a bike must be outstanding in every way. Mechanically, visually, and in almost every other way the GF_Ti Disc is just that. Price-wise it's on-par with the competition, ergo, the price isn't 'outstanding', it pretty much matches the market. Had it been, say, £1500, that would have been 'outstanding', and the 5/5 would have been justified. None of this makes it a lesser bike to ride, of course, and that's the long game.
Overall I cannot fault the package - this is a genuine bike-for-life contender.
About the tester
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, and Dutch bike pootling