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Kinesis R2 2021

8
£1,680.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Very good all-round road bike that's a practical choice for year-round UK conditions
Practical
Comfortable
Pacy
A little heavy
Weight: 
10,200g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Kinesis R2 is a no-nonsense aluminium road bike that'll take fairly large tyres and comes with eyelets for fitting mudguards and a rack, so it's a practical choice as an all-rounder for typical UK conditions.

The R2 sits alongside the R1 in Kinesis' range. The two bikes use essentially the same frame but the R1 is 1x (it's designed for bikes with single chainrings) while the new R2 – and there's just a chance that you're one step ahead here – is for double chainsets.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Traditionally, Kinesis has sold framesets with 'serving suggestions' for builds you might like to follow, but the G2 gravel bike and the R2 road bike are available as complete bikes. You can still buy the R2 as a frameset for £650 if you like, but the complete bike in this Shimano Tiagra build is £1,680.

If you want a higher-end road bike, Kinesis offers the £950 RTD Scandium alloy frameset, and the £800 Aithein Disc frameset which is built to a race geometry.

Ride

The R2 offers a quick yet comfortable ride. That comfort comes courtesy of a geometry that's fairly relaxed by road bike standards (I'll give you details on that later), a slim 27.2mm seatpost, and 32mm Continental Grand Sport Race tyres that actually measure 34mm on Alex Draw 1.9 rims. Run the tyres with a bit of squishiness left in and you get quite a cosseted ride here, especially by traditional skinny-tyred road bike standards. It's the sort of bike you can ride for hours without feeling you need to book a visit to the chiropractor.

2021 Kinesis R2 - riding 5.jpg

The R2 isn't breaking any records on the scales, our XL model coming in at 10.2kg (Kinesis claims 10.1kg for the 57cm model which is perfectly feasible), but it's a reasonable weight for a bike of this price, build and size. Out on the road, the R2 feels pretty swift when you put the hammer down, responding willingly to extra input without any reluctance whatsoever.

Made from 6061 alloy rather than Kinesis' lighter, stronger, and more expensive Kinesium, the R2 isn't mega-stiff like a crit bike, say, but it's certainly stiff enough when you put the power down. It's designed to be pacy not racy, and that's exactly how it feels. It's quick and fun with plenty of life, not at all slow or sluggish.

2021 Kinesis R2 - riding 2.jpg

It climbs well too, with small enough ratios to keep you moving skyward on the steep stuff thanks to a 50/34T chainset and an 11-34T cassette. You might not use that largest 34T sprocket much but it's reassuring to know it's there and it'll definitely come in handy if you make use of the rack mounts and carry some luggage.

2021 Kinesis R2 - riding 3.jpg

Cornering hard is a controlled experience, the tapered head tube (taking a 1 1/8in upper bearing and a 1 1/2in lower bearing) and Kinesis' own R2 full unidirectional carbon fibre fork providing plenty of accuracy, and descending follows the same pattern thanks to a wide alloy handlebar.

2021 Kinesis R2 - fork.jpg

That bar is billed as 46cm (on the XL version of this bike), but that's measured at the top of the drop section, so it's the distance between the STI levers (measured centre to centre). You need to consider, though, that the bar has 10 degrees of flare so the distance between the ends is more like 51cm. That wide stance provides a ton of stability that makes you feel a whole lot more in control than usual when the road surface gets sketchy.

2021 Kinesis R2 - bars 1.jpg

One of the R2's biggest strengths is its practicality. Several little features really make a big difference to this bike's appeal.

For a start, you get proper mounting for mudguards. Up front, there's a threaded hole in the fork crown and others about a third of the way up each fork blade. Out back, you get eyelets in the chainstay and seatstay bridges, and also at the dropouts.

2021 Kinesis R2 - seat stays.jpg

Kinesis reckons that you can fit full mudguards with 30mm wide tyres or go up to 34mm without guards. As mentioned above, the 32s fitted here actually measure 34mm across and I wouldn't be keen to go any wider. There's still acres of space around the rear tyre, but the fork is the limiting factor as far as tyre size is concerned. These tyres have about 5mm of clearance all around. Anything that measures wider than 34mm when fitted – even if the nominal size is lower – isn't going to leave you much room to play with.

2021 Kinesis R2 - clearance.jpg

Kinesis gives you eyelets for a rear rack high up on the seatstays, and the bottle cage mounts are positioned low. The seat tube mounts are particularly low and turning a hex key down there is a bit of a faff, to be honest (a socket wrench is your friend here), but that's not the sort of job you have to do all that often.

2021 Kinesis R2 - bosses 2.jpg

One other practical feature worth mentioning is the full external cabling through the down tube. The cables enter the underside of the down tube just behind the fork crown before emerging in front of the bottom bracket and then run externally.

2021 Kinesis R2 - cable routing.jpg

There's a stop for the front derailleur cable just behind the bottom bracket, and two stops for the rear derailleur cable on the drive-side chainstay. The 20cm between these stops is the only section where the cable runs without an outer.

2021 Kinesis R2 - crank 2.jpg

Running the outers right the way through the down tube makes maintenance a whole lot easier. For some reason, the right-hand shifter jammed during one ride; I never did work out why. I couldn't move up or down the cassette, but I could undo the bolt on the rear derailleur and slide the cable all the way out of the shifter.

2021 Kinesis R2 - drop bar and lever.jpg

That freed up the shifter, so I replaced the cable and everything has been fine since. It was a pretty straightforward job because of the cable outers going all the way through the down tube.

2021 Kinesis R2 - cable routing 2.jpg

There are various tricks for threading bare cables internally – using a magnet works really well in most circumstances, for example, as does tying a long piece of cotton to the end of the old cable before you take it out to use later as a lead for the new one – but full-length outers really make life much simpler.

The frameset

I've already told you about various aspects of the frame but not much about the frame as a whole. It's made from what Kinesis describes as a 'lightweight double-butted 6061 alloy tube blend'. The mostly round tubes make it look pretty old school in many ways, although the down tube is bi-ovalised – upright at the top end for the junction with the head tube, and horizontal down below to reach across the bottom bracket shell.

2021 Kinesis R2 - frame detail.jpg

Speaking of the bottom bracket, it's of the 68mm threaded variety which is good to see. Mankind will eventually look back on press-fit BBs as cruel and unnecessary. You know, like bear baiting.

2021 Kinesis R2 - bottom bracket.jpg

As mentioned above, the head tube is tapered, the full carbon fork that slots in there spinning on an integrated FSA headset with sealed bearings.

2021 Kinesis R2 - head tube.jpg

All of the welds look smooth and unobtrusive, and the paint job is impeccable throughout. Kinesis claims a frame weight of 1,840g (57cm) and 480g for the fork.

2021 Kinesis R2 - paint detail.jpg

I said I'd tell you about the geometry, which Kinesis calls its Rider Fit Geometry and says has been 'developed for comfortable all-day rides'. The R2 comes in four sizes, and I've been riding the XL. This one has a 580mm effective top tube, a 600mm seat tube, and a mighty 204mm head tube. The seat tube angle is a pretty steep 74 degrees while the head tube angle is 72 degrees.

All of this adds up to a stack height of 612mm and a reach of 404mm, giving a stack/reach of 1.51. Bear in mind that stack/reach figures usually get larger as bike sizes go up; you're looking at 1.45 for the medium size, which isn't unusual for a road bike designed with endurance in mind. While we're talking stats, the wheelbase is a lengthy 1,042mm and I had no toe overlap with the front wheel here.

2021 Kinesis R2 - riding 4.jpg

Overall, the riding position is a lot more upright than you'll find on a road race bike, and that's very much the idea. It's a position you'll probably be able to hold for long periods without too much trouble. After a couple of rides, I fitted the stem as low as possible and found myself using the drops far more often than normal, neither of which is a bad thing.

The build

I mentioned earlier that you can buy the R2 as a frameset (£650, including fork, headset, seat clamp, front and rear thru-axles, and cable guides) or as this complete bike built up with a Shimano Tiagra groupset.

2021 Kinesis R2 - drivetrain.jpg

Tiagra is Shimano's fourth tier but it's way, way better than you've a right to expect. Granted, it's 10-speed rather than the 11-speed that you get with next-level-up Shimano 105, but the difference out on the road is small.

2021 Kinesis R2 - front mech.jpg

The hydraulic braking on the 160mm rotors is a real highlight; far better than anything you'd find on a bike of this price a few years ago. The performance is superbly reliable; it's hard to pick fault here.

2021 Kinesis R2 - rear disc brake.jpg

Apart from that one unexplained blip mentioned above, the drivetrain and shifters have performed faultlessly too. Okay, the two four-tooth jumps on the 11-34T cassette can knock you off your rhythm a little, but that's the price you pay for having that large sprocket as an insurance policy for when the hills are tough and/or you feel rough.

2021 Kinesis R2 - cassette.jpg

The wheels are Alex Draw 1.9P tubeless compatible rims and Novatec hubs with decent sealed cartridge bearings, laced together by 28 three-cross spokes. They're not glitzy or glamorous but, fitting with the character of the bike as a whole, they're strong and practical and should prove durable. The wheels have certainly performed without incident throughout the test period.

2021 Kinesis R2 - rim and tyre.jpg

The R2 might be a little more desirable if it had big-name wheels, but that would also increase the price. As far as the tyres go, Continental's Grand Sport Races are solid enough performers although you could certainly get a livelier feel by upgrading when they wear out.

2021 Kinesis R2 - tyre 2.jpg

The stem, handlebar and seatpost are Kinesis' own, all made from 6061 alloy and doing their jobs just fine, while the gel feel of Selle Italia's X3 saddle damps vibration well and the flat and reasonably wide nose helps to distribute pressure.

2021 Kinesis R2 - saddle 1.jpg

The money bit

Of the bikes that we've reviewed on road.cc recently, the closest to the Kinesis R2 in terms of price is the Giant Contend SL 1 Disc at £1,649. This aluminium-framed bike has a geometry that's slightly more relaxed than that of the R2, and you can run fairly wide tyres – up to 32mm. You get mudguard mounts here but none for attaching a rear rack.

> Buyer’s Guide: 19 of the best 2021 sportive bikes

The Contend SL 1 Disc has a Shimano 105 groupset – a level higher than the R2's Tiagra –although the chainset is a non-series RS510 to save a few quid. The gear ratios are the same.

> Buyer’s Guide: 14 of the best aluminium road bikes

Trek's Emonda ALR 4 – which we haven't reviewed, although we have taken a look at the ALR 5 – is £1,700. It has an aluminium frame and puts you into a riding position that's vaguely similar to the R2's. It comes built up with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, like the R2, although the widest tyres you can run here are 28mm and there are no mudguard or rack mounts, so it's a very different bike.

Conclusion

The R2 doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. A lot of aluminium models at this price are race bike wannabes, trying to look as much like something you might see in the Tour de France as is possible for the money. The R2 just isn't like that. It's quick, sure, but it's also designed to be functional and easy to live with, and you'll really appreciate that in the long term. The ability to take wider tyres for grip and comfort, mudguards for winter riding, and a rack for lugging stuff about... these are all real-world benefits for a whole load of riders. Overall, it's a strong option as an all-round road bike for typical UK conditions.

Verdict

Very good all-round road bike that's a practical choice for year-round UK conditions

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Kinesis R2

Size tested: XL

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: Kinesis R2 Double Butted Alloy 6061

Fork: Kinesis R2 Full UD Carbon

Headset: FSA Sealed Bearing No. 42 Integrated Road

Shift Levers: Shimano Tiagra ST-4720

Rear Mech: Shimano Tiagra RD-4700

Front Mech: Shimano Tiagra FD-4700

Chain: Shimano HG-51

Bottom Bracket: Shimano CN-HG54

Brakes: Shimano Tiagra BR-4770 Hydraulic

Rotors: Shimano RT64 160mm

Cassette: Shimano CS-HG500 10 speed 11-34

Crankset: Shimano Tiagra FC-4700 50/34t. S: 170mm, M & L: 172.5mm, XL: 175mm

Front Hub: Alloy, Sealed Cartridge Bearing Hub, Centre-lock, 12 mm x 100 mm Through Axle

Rear Hub: Alloy, Sealed Cartridge Bearing Hub, Centre-lock, 12 mm x 142 mm Through Axle

Rims: Alex Rims 1.9P Tubeless Compatible

Tyre: Continental Grand Sport Race 32c

Seatpost: Kinesis Alloy 6061 27.2 mm x 350 mm

Handlebar: Kinesis Alloy 6061 S(51):42 cm M(54):44 cm L(57):44 cm XL(60):46 cm

Stem: Kinesis Alloy 6061 6° Rise S(51):80mm M(54):90mm L(57):90mm XL(60):100mm

Bar Tape: Black Cork Bar Tape

Saddle: Selle Italia X3 Black

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 R2 is a non-race all-round road bike at a reasonably affordable price.

Kinesis says, "Experience the road bike thrill of aluminium performance with impeccable handling and all-day ride comfort. Welcome to the brand-new Kinesis R2.

"R2 is a modern-day road bike ideally suited to those looking for good pace in their ride with the added prospect of something a little more adventurous if desired.

"Our experience spans over two decades of aluminium frame design. Drawing on this we created the R2 with a lightweight double-butted 6061 alloy tube blend that delivers a light and responsive ride feel. Good alloy frames have rightly earned their place with a ride quality that can easily trump that of cheap carbon frames. Our impeccable weld quality and attention to detail come as standard. Internal down tube cable routing keeps the R2 looking clean and the servicing practical. Rack and guard mounts open up all seasons riding, along with ample clearance for bigger tyres with full guards.

"Up front our custom full 'UD carbon' fork keeps weight low and takes out road buzz whilst feeling direct and accurate at all times. Jumping on board is easy with our Kinesis 'Rider Fit Geometry' which has been developed for comfortable all-day rides. A simple to understand choice of four sizes ensures a great fit for almost all rider sizes."

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The R2 sits alongside the R1 which uses the same frame but for a 1x (single chainring) drivetrain.

Kinesis traditionally provides framesets that you or your dealer build up, but the R2 is available as a complete bike (like the G2 gravel bike).

Kinesis also offers the £950 RTD (Race The Distance) scandium frameset and, if you fancy a race setup, the Aithein Disc frameset at £800.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

It's high quality throughout with a very good paint job.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

The frame is made from 6061 aluminium alloy while the fork is a full-carbon monocoque.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Kinesis describes it as 'Rider Fit Geometry'. You get a higher stack height than on a road race bike, designed to provide more comfort.

There are four sizes. The small has a semi-sloping top tube to reduce the standover height for shorter riders.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

The front end is high compared to a road race bike, but similar to what you find on many bikes orientated towards endurance.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yeah, very comfortable thanks to 32mm tyres, a fairly relaxed geometry, and a decent Selle Italia saddle.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

There are certainly stiffer bikes out there but it felt stiff enough.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

It feels reasonably efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

None.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? The slightly shorter stem than I'm used to made the steering feel a little quicker than I was expecting.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The flared handlebar measures 51cm at the ends, which is huge for a road bike. I'm sure it's not doing great things in terms of aero efficiency but it adds a whole lot of control.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The nominally 32mm tyres measured 34mm and they provided plenty of comfort on broken roads. The R2 is definitely a road bike but you could ride it on towpaths and similar – firm but not necessarily tarmacked surfaces – with these tyres.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10

This bike really isn't about sprinting.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10

It misbehaved once (detailed in the main text), which I'll put down to teething troubles. That aside, it has been very good.

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
9/10

Tiagra is amazingly good value.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

They're solid performers.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yeah, it would be in the mix.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Of the bikes that we've reviewed on road.cc recently, the closest to the Kinesis R2 in terms of price is the Giant Contend SL 1 Disc at £1,649. This aluminium-framed bike has a geometry that's slightly more relaxed than that of the R2, and you can run fairly wide tyres – up to 32mm. You get mudguard mounts here but none for attaching a rear rack.

The Giant Contend SL 1 Disc, which is one of the best value road bikes out there at this price, has a Shimano 105 groupset – a level higher than the R2's Tiagra – although the chainset is a non-series RS510 to save a few quid. The gear ratios are exactly the same.

Trek's Emonda ALR 4 – which we haven't reviewed, although we have taken a look at the ALR 5 – is £1,700. It has an aluminium frame and puts you into a riding position that's vaguely similar to the R2's. It comes built up with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, like the R2, although the widest tyres you can run here are 28mm and there are no mudguard or rack mounts, so it's a very different bike.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The R2 earns an 8 overall mostly thanks to its all-round practicality. It just does its job really well.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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