After much anticipation I finally got my hands on the new Kinesis Tripster ATR V2 bike with pretty much my perfect
build. The Tripster, for those new to it, is an adventure, touring, gravel, all-road, cyclocross, dirt road, gravel plus 650b, light XC, road and expedition ready bike. Fair to say it has me covered for almost all the places I like to ride my bike!
It seems that more of us, like me, are getting back to the roots of just riding bikes fast on gravel tracks or smooth singletrack and then linking it all up with tarmac sections and this is what the V2 Tripster ATR is all about.
It’s a pretty unique build that I have initially spec’ed on the Tripster V2 but one that suits the bike and the riding I’m currently doing.
Fork – Kinesis ATR with rake and through axle
Wheels – Kinesis Crosslight HD 700c and 650B Kinesis custom
Cranks – Praxis Alba 40t (makes sense being in Scotland)
Groupset – Full SRAM Force 1×11 with full Hydraulic discs
Bars and Stem – Ritchey WCS Venture Max flared bars and 55cm WCS stem
Saddle – Brooks C13 Cambrian carbon (I’ll write a separate review)
Seat post – Kinesis Carbon
Tyres – Vee Rubber Rail 650B and/or WTB Nano 40mm
I have had the bike for about a month and covered about 500km of tough Scottish conditions riding on it – here’s a blog from the first trip on it. While I don’t neglect or abuse my bikes I think it’s far to say they have a tough well used life. To be fair if I just hung it up on a wall and admired it I wouldn’t be a very good ambassador for Kinesis!
The frame is still the same beautiful raw titanium and has mostly the same geometry from the super popular first incarnation, therefore it still handles fast road riding as well as a detour onto a MTB trail – the reasons it was such a success. However for me the new addition of a 63cm frame has meant I can go up a size, I was on the upper limit with the V1 60cm frame at 6’4″.
This new larger size gives me a bit more reach in the frame so I can shorten the stem a touch to quicken up the steering response – useful on rougher terrain. Talking of rough stuff the BB is a tad higher which noticeably helps against pedal strike too. This was an issue I had with the V1 when riding inappropriate MTB terrain! After riding the V2 for the last month I think the reach needs to be about 15mm longer, the 55mm stem was too short for me so I will swap the stem out for a 70mm one to see if that feels better. (Edit; I swapped to the longer stem but actually went back to 55mm as felt to be the best balance and less stretched out!)
One other addition is the additional bottle cage mount for the MSR fuel bottle that I was attaching to the rear stays. Not a deal breaker but a very useful add on.
The new internal cable routing is maybe for ensuring slick aesthetics but it keeps cables away from frame bags and out of the dirt better. It’s a needed addition for any new bike these days. The DI2 compatibility is also a necessary upgrade as it’s only a matter of time before this creeps onto more and more bikes.
Something maybe under appreciated is just how amazing Titanium is for bikepacking or touring. Not only does it offer a comfortable compliant ride like steel but it’s also incredibly practical. It doesn’t rust and it’s stronger and lighter than steel. The big positive for me is that while all Bikepacking frame bags rub a bit on paint work and can quickly dull or even wear the best paint finish, the wet grit in the UK is a pretty tough abrasive when it gets between straps. Titanium however just gets more polished and still looks good year after year!
Other neat features on the frame include the neater inboard disc mounting, the essential kinked seatstays for long day riding comfort (beware of cheaper Ti bikes that don’t bother), clever drop outs for QR or bolt thru and the same tapered head tube. The flat under profile of the top tube for frame bags and carrying is new and very neat, the rear chainstay brace is now flat and improved, the seat stays weld/joint profile near the seat post has been tweaked for extra strength. Altogether the frame has evolved rather than transformed, but these details have all been well thought through and add complexity and cost to the manufacturing process but without doubt help improve the bike.
The raked Tripster ATR fork I am using has a bolt thru and feels stiffer because of it, the rear wheel bolt thru has a similar effect. It’s a light fork with mud guard eyes and matches well with the frame. It does the job I need, nothing more to say about it. Mine doesn’t come with the internal cable routing.
Oh I nearly forgot the frame now takes 650b wheels with a tyre size of 1.95″. this is a massive change it creates a completely new personality for the bike. I initially tested it with the Vee Rubber Rail 650b tyres. It handles really impressively on easier MTB trials but rolls on the road like a cross bike. It’s really the best of both and I am genuinely excited about the new world of bikepacking trips that open up with this set up. Routes that might have needed a MTB before but involve long road sections to link it up, now sit firmly in the path of the Tripster V2.
I am using a set of Kinesis Crosslight HDs 700c (brass nipples for strength) and also a set of 650b wheels from Kinesis that may or may not be in production as they were custom built for my build.
The Vee Rubber Rail 650b tyres have really impressed me. On rocks and even snow they grip really well, I think because the perforated lugs deform to grip really effectively but the almost continuous tread pattern rolls impressively fast on road. I never knew about Vee Rubber tyres before but these have caught my eye that’s for sure.
The 700c by 40mm WTB Nanos I use are fast and a popular choice but they just keep puncturing on me and my patience is getting a little thin (no pun intended) with them. I can’t believe there is any sealant left inside them, how others are managing with them I don’t understand.
I succumbed to a 1×11 setup with SRAM Force, going from 30 gears to 11 is a bit of a contrast. It makes a lot of sense for this bike. It means cleaner frame lines and less weight, but there’s also less to go wrong in remote places or in muddy conditions. Initially the 11:42 cassette has been fine with a 40t front ring. I think a 40t with 10:46 might be a bit better long term and on the 700c wheels I’ll swap the cassette for a SRAM driver and 10-42.
The double tap shifting took a bit of getting used to but is sharp and responsive, if confusing now when I swap back to Shimano on my road bikes.
SRAM force hydraulic brakes have blown my mind. They transform the bike. Maybe my old cable ones are in need of a service on my V1 frame but these SRAM Force’s give you so much power. The bigger hoods on the SRAM force levers also really improve the hood riding experience on rough stuff. Although the only downer is I have managed to wear the pads to the metal after 4 (long) rides….too much power for me maybe or too much Scottish grit!
Another massive success with the build is the new Ritchey WCS Venture Max flared bars I am using. The Ritchey Venture Max bars are the perfect shape. After using Planet X’s Midge I knew flared bars worked in principle but there must be a better variation out there and this is it. It’s the right drop height, width and the right curve. However the big deal maker for me is the ergonomic kink in the drops that makes hanging on to the drops so much more comfortable and easy. It’s a really well thought out feature that makes a big difference over previous flared bars I have used. They are also super light too which helps.
Yes I might be a bit biased as an ambassador for Kinesis, but I genuinely love this bike. Essentially Kinesis took a bike I loved and then listened to mine and others feedback and it evolved into the V2. It’s almost custom designed for the riding I do so it would be hard to say it wasn’t perfect for my style of all terrain bike packing.
I did think the frame was a bit short, but have played around with stems an the 55mm option works perfectly in terms of handling and riding position. It turned out that going longer does my back in and slows the handling!
My only concern for long tours is not with the frame but that my build has gone a bit more niche. It’s harder to repair of find spares for hydraulic discs, thru-axle wheels or 650b tyres. However it’s not easy finding any tubes in Central Asia let alone anything else so it’s unlikely to have much impact.
My V1 Tripster ATR visited 24 countries in 2.5 years I wonder how many I’ll tour with the V2…..
Header images from Jack Chevell all others Ed Shoote