After 14 days of riding on the Kinesis Tripster ATR, I think I have a pretty good idea about the bike.
Just 14 days might not sound a lot but we have covered over 1400km and had some long days on the bikes. The UK to Slovakia is a lot of hours in the saddle! The Frame and fork The frame is still proving perfect for this trip. Firstly it has managed to exceed my high expectations, in being super comfortable. Last summer riding to Asia I often had cramp in my arms plus some pins and needles. This year I have had no fatigue in my arms at all, I am using the same bars and padded tape as last year so it must be the fork and frame geometry. The fork eats up and smooths out unwanted feedback from the road, while the riding position feels natural. It’s low enough to battle head winds but high enough to save your lower back and arms. One issue with the fork is that it can judder a bit under heavy front braking. The extra load I have increases this slightly, but so long as it exerts no extra stress it isn’t an issue for me.
To be honest this is the first time using rigid carbon road forks with discs so I suspect it might be an inevitable issue? There is also a slight wobble front to back when loaded but I find this is always the case with a lightweight with a steel or Ti frame as the same flex helps provide comfort.
Where the bike really excels is when you face a choice of road or rough 4×4 track, because it genuinely handles either like you wouldn’t believe, in east Germany I even took it fully loaded down some single track and I was whooping as I went!
The frame is aesthetically stunning, like I have said before the details make it a timeless piece and it has drawn in bike enthusiasts like Germans to quality beer! The one big issue is quite small, the inadequate seat clamp. The bolt was easy to round out and the skinny size is not adequate for the extra weight from bike packing seat post bags, which is the abuse the bike is designed for. With the new double clamp it is perfect. I also think I used too much grease when installing it so this exaggerated the slipping. I think Kinesis may have already acted on improving the clamp though. The setup
If I was doing this section again and knowing how much off road we have done I would probably have opted for 700*28 rather than 25mm tyres for a wee bit more comfort. I still insist the Conti Gatorskin road tyres are more than adequate for cruisy off road paths and tracks, as we have coped fine and the huge bonus is that they certainly bring the bike alive on the roads. They also saved my bacon in Most a rough run down industrial town in northern Czech Republic, where a chunk of glass got stuck in the rubber but didn’t puncture. It was in an area of town where stopping among the loitering gangs of men, probably would have lost me my camera etc!
The TRP Spyre brakes are performing as I expected, good power and easy to adjust on the go. The last couple of days has seen heavy rain and some decent hills on the Czech border, Marion who does enjoy braking maybe a bit too much, has worn out a set of rim pads already. My RWD disc pads have only marginally worn since new. And that is where disc brakes excel when touring: less wear on pads, no wear on rims, less adjusting hassle and hopefully more reliability! The Crosslight wheels have been issue free so far. As with all new wheels I check the spoke tension almost daily and nothing has loosened at all. We have ridden miles of cobbles, gravel and rough tarmac so I am really pleased with how true they are. The other issue is the gearing, I really need more than 25 on the back, I thought a 34 to 50 triple would help but it’s not enough with the extra weight. I think I will survive until Georgia where Andy at Georiders can hopefully help me swap it for a 28+ cassette. The saddle has been another surprise, the Kinesis WTB stock one has been remarkably comfy, although I suspect the Morvelo shorts help quite a bit. In conclusion, after two weeks of tough riding I am still convinced this is the ultimate touring bike and it can do much more than you might think! There is a long way to go so I will update more thoughts later.