With the adventure bike market gaining much popularity in recent years, with cyclists keen to expand their horizons away from congested roads and even size up a little cycle touring trip to landscapes new, the brand new Kinesis Tripster AT is bags of fun backed up by extensive capability and versatility. And shouldn't have you asking for a pay rise to afford it.
The Tripster ATR has been a popular bike for a number of years – Dave Atkinson liked it so much he bought one – but the titanium frame means the price (£1,850 for the V2) is out of reach for many potential customers. Step forward the brand new Tripster AT, which uses an aluminium frame and is offered for £699.99 with a carbon fibre fork, making it a much more wallet-friendly proposition.
As well as the frameset, Kinesis is offering a complete SRAM Rival 1 build kit with Kinesis CX V4 wheels for £1,699.99, and a choice of Arran Blue or Seeon Yellow. It quotes a weight of 1.89kg for the 55cm frame and 534g for the fork with axle, and 9.75kg for the Rival 1 build. Just so y'know, the pictured bike isn't a production model, it was built up to demonstrate the Tripster's capability to the maximum.
And very nice it is too. It's a mix of Shimano road and mountain bike Di2 shifters and brake levers, Reynolds ATR carbon clincher wheels with 40mm VeeTire Rail tyres and Ritchey finishing kit. It's a good example of the sort of build that is suitable for the riding the Tripster AT is intended for, with the single ring and wide range cassette drivetrain providing simplicity and suitable gears for most riding situations. Pricing up this build would run into several thousands...
Ride and handling
AT stands for All Terrain and that sums up the ambition and capability of the Tripster AT perfectly. I've ridden it everywhere and over everything in the few months I've had it, and apart from very rough mountain bike trails where any adventure bike would be out of its depth, there's really not much that fazes it. You can bimble along the road quite happily and keep up with road riding friends at sociable speeds, yet turn off the road and explore trails and paths to your heart's content.
Much of its appeal comes down to the large tyre clearance, plus the added bonus of compatibility with 650B wheels, allowing you to spec any tyre that delivers the performance and capability you want. Fit a general purpose tyre like the supplied VeeTire Rail or Panaracer GravelKing SK and you have a bike that lets you easily ride roads at a decent pace and have enough grip to tackle dirt tracks and gravel roads.
I've tested the bike with different wheels and tyres, alternating between 40mm wide gravel tyres like those mentioned above (and pictured below) and WTB's 47mm 650B Horizons. The WTBs give the Tripster AT wonderful smoothness on even the roughest roads, and while the tyres are rather weighty and not at all aero, they're surprisingly fast rolling (full review to come).
The tyre you pick comes down to what you want from the bike and the level of capability you need, but I found a 40mm gravel tyre provided the best all-round balance of low rolling resistance on the road, and traction and ruggedness for off-road exploits. It's a tyre size that delivers a good balance of low weight and road speed yet plenty of capacity for off-road excursions – depending on the tread pattern of course.
The tried-and-tested geometry, borrowed directly from the Tripster ATR, works well. It's not the most aggressive setup, it definitely leans towards comfort and off-road stability, thanks to the long wheelbase, tall head tube and relaxed head angle. To put some numbers on it, the 55.5cm bike I tested – one of seven sizes – features a 384.7mm reach, 591.2mm stack, 70mm bottom bracket drop, 172.5mm head tube, 1,043.8mm wheelbase, 440mm chainstays, 70.5-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle.
Those numbers give a bike that's comparable, though not identical, to many cyclo-cross and adventure bikes we've tested here at road.cc. Each brand has its own idea of what geometry constitutes the ideal adventure bike setup, and much of it comes down to personal preference and the local riding terrain.
Kinesis has struck a good balance but there are a few changes I feel would improve it. I'd personally prefer a slightly shorter head tube to reduce the stack height, and a slightly lower bottom bracket wouldn't do its road manners any harm at all – the bike occasionally feels a little tall – without massively impacting the necessary ground clearance when riding through the woods.
I addressed the tall head tube with a negative rise stem and found a good fit that played well on and off the road. I fitted a longer stem for road-based riding but a shorter stem provided a more playful and easier handling setup when taking it off-road.
However, all is easily forgotten the more miles that pass under the tyres, and during my time testing the Tripster AT I have to admit to really falling for it. Steer the bike onto a gravel road or woodland trail and its off-road credentials come to the fore.
The recent Grinduro event in Scotland, where I raced the bike, was a good demonstration of just how at home the Tripster AT is in taking any terrain in its stride. There was everything from road to long fireroad climbs, gravel paths and ultra techy singletrack full of roots, drops and slippery off-camber sections. It handled it all well, impressing when I was pushing the bike beyond its (and my) comfort zone.
That is ultimately what you want from an adventure bike – a design that is able to handle the expected and the unexpected, and ensures you're smiling through it all. The geometry provides really good stability at a wide range of speeds. It's docile at high speed and the steering relaxed enough to make handling steep descents or tricky corners enjoyable rather than frightening.
There's adequate stiffness from the frame, and it's noticeably more rigid than the titanium Tripster ATR V2 that I rode back in December. It doesn't feel as fluid or composed on chattery tracks or potholed roads, but I'm being really picky and once you're off-road on soft ground with wide tyres inflated to just 35psi, that difference fades to the back of your mind. And when you factor in the price – the titanium Tripster is £1,850 – any marginal difference is easy to forgive.
Kinesis hasn't simply made an aluminium version of the titanium Tripster ATR. The only similarities are really the geometry, with the company wisely keeping the same numbers, measurements and angles with the new Tripster AT.
The frame is made from the Kinesis' own Kinesium tubeset and all the tubes, their shapes and profiles, have been selected to provide a frame that delivers a high level of stiffness. It's reassuringly oversized in all the key places. The down tube is taken from a mountain bike – indeed the frame passes the mountain bike CEN safety testing standard, such is the level of stiffness in the frame.
Kinesis has played it safe and built a frame that focuses on strength and reliability rather than satisfying the weight weenies, and that's a smart move. It's a bike that is highly unlikely to let you down or fail out in the middle of nowhere, and it certainly displayed all the right signs during my testing.
It's a disc brake-only frameset with 12mm thru-axles at both ends and flat mount disc brakes (though the supplied demo bike was built with post mount brakes using adapters).
There's a 27.2mm seatpost providing a bit of extra comfort and up front is a tapered head tube, into which slots a colour matched full-carbon tapered Tripster AT fork. The fork is a good match for the frame in terms of performance, but to my eyes it just looks a bit skinny. A burlier fork like that on the Open UP or Mason Bokeh would, I feel, give a more purposeful stance, but there's nothing at all wrong with its performance and it suits the frame well.
The frame was designed with input from the late Mike Hall, the legendary British ultracyclist who was killed while taking part in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race earlier this year, and as such there are some nice bikepacking details, extending to the graphics being designed to conceal bag straps, a very smart detail.
There are some other lovely graphical details, too, such as the spot tracker graphics on the down tube and seat tube.
Other feedback also led to Kinesis opening up the front triangle to provide enough space for a frame bag, and flattening the bottom of the top tube so it fits neatly with a bag.
There are three bottle cage mounts, with a third on the bottom of the down tube, while the down tube cage has two possible positions, standard and lower to free up space for a frame pack.
The seat tube bottle cage could be positioned lower, though; I found a large water bottle was tricky to extract with a frame bag fitted, and there appears to be plenty of space to lower it.
Other thoughtful details include the multiport cable routing that is easily compatible with numerous groupsets, mechanical and electronic, and there's no redundant front mech mount if you go down the 1x11 single chainring route.
There's a full complement of rack and mudguard mounts too, so you could gear it up for commuting or winter training with a few extra bits of equipment.
Kinesis has designed a really nice bike in the Tripster AT. It's taken the best bits from the more expensive Tripster ATR and reimagined it in aluminium, and added some useful features along the way. It's a frameset that offers a multitude of build options from a fast road commuter to a large-tyred bikepacking setup for bigger adventures.
You certainly won't feel like you wish you had saved up a bit longer for the titanium version, and the money you save can be spent on some nicer wheels or components, or even bikepacking bags and lightweight camping equipment if you're thinking about doing some overnighters.
While there are a few foibles, I've been really impressed with the Tripster AT and at this price there are few rivals that offer this level of pedigree, finish, versatility and capability. If you truly want one bike to do a bit of everything on, the Tripster AT is the bike for you. And at £699.99 for the frame and fork, you shouldn't have to break the bank to afford it.
An excellent and affordable do-it-all adventure, road and commuting bike with bags of versatility
road.cc test report
Make and model: Kinesis Tripster AT frameset 2017
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
On its website, Kinesis says: "The brand new Tripster AT takes our years of experience gained with the now legendary Tripster ATR and our range of championship winning cyclocross bikes, to create a bike capable of almost all terrains and adventures.
During the development of the Tripster AT we also worked closely with the late Mike Hall in the design process and gained from Mike's knowledge and love of long distance, multi-terrain riding.
The final production model features a number of enhancements thanks to Mike's input and you can see this referenced on the frame graphics.
The Tripster AT boasts cutting edge adventure bike features and versatility, allowing it to be built to excel across a variety of uses. Commute on it, ride bridleways and gravel with it, go bike packing on it, ride across continents on it. The new Tripster AT will take all of this in its stride and more.
With through axles front and rear, clearance for 700c x 45mm or 650B x 52mm tyres and with cable routing for any kind of group set, this bike can be a two wheeled Swiss Army Knife! Add in multiple bottle cage mounting, rack and mudguard mounts and the dependability of a British Standard bottom bracket with Kinesis UK proven geometry and you have a recipe for adventure.
The Tripster AT is such a capable and versatile bike that it might well be the one you ride the most of all."
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?
Kinesis lists these features:
* Tough yet lightweight Kinesium tubeset with tapered machined headtube.
* 31.8mm seat tube for 27.2mm seat post (will add a bit of compliancy).
* Colour matched Full carbon tapered Tripster AT fork with 12mm thru axle.
* Disc mount – Inboard Shimano Flat-mount on frame. Rotor size is 140mm (160mm compatible).
* Seat stay mounts for mudguards and pannier racks. Bridges on chain stay and seat stay for fender mounting, runs 40mm tyres with full mudguards for clean winter riding!
* Beyond gravel capability with 700c x 45mm tyre clearance with supplied fork and up to 52mm clearance on the frame.
* 3 x bottle boss mounts for extra carrying capacity or storing a tool keg.
* Optimum hydration system – moveable down-tube bottle cage mounting to allow for full bottle carry capacity even with a frame bag.
* Rear 142 x 12mm Thru-axle (included), new 12mm E-thru drop out hanger. Shimano direct mount hanger optional.
* Internal cable routing for mechanical and electronic gear systems.
* BSA threaded BB for real world low maintenance riding.
* FSA Taper headset included, Kinesis seat clamp.
* COLOURS: Arran Blue or Seeon Yellow.
* SIZING & WEIGHTS: (Centre/Top) 48cm = 1.77kg | 51cm = 1.8kg | 54cm = 184kg | 55.5cm = 1.89kg | 57cm = (tbc) | 60cm = 1.96kg | 63cm = 1.99kg
* FORK WEIGHT: Kinesis Tripster Disc Thru Axle Fork - 534g with axle and 463g with out.
* FRAMESET INCLUDES: Kinesis Tripster Thru Axle Disc Fork (full carbon), headset, Seat clamp, cable port hardware.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Decent quality finish with neat and tidy welds and nice tube shaping.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Aluminium frame and carbon fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's the same as the Tripster ATR – a long wheelbase, tall head tube and relaxed head angle lean towards comfort and off-road stability.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Good, but I found the stack a bit tall – though careful stem choice sorted this.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
With big volume tyres at low pressures it's very comfortable – not quite as smooth as the titanium Tripster ATR but it's not far off.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiff in the right places.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well indeed.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
None at all.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Relaxed.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is relaxed at all speeds, which makes it easy to handle especially in the rough and loose.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Shimano Di2 with a wide ratio cassette and single ring chainset is great for the sort of riding this bike is ultimately designed for.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
There's nothing that I feel needs changing – apart from the fork based purely on aesthetic grounds.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you're looking for a versatile and capable adventure bike that can handle a bit of everything without breaking the bank, the new Tripster AT is easy to recommend. I've been very impressed with it.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.