I’ve been cycling east for at least 8500km over 95 days and reached Eastern Kazakhstan on the Kinesis Tripster ATR and now I’m almost at the end of my cycle touring trip and I was asked the question of: how’s the bike been riding since my first review?
Before I left on my Cycling East journey I wrote that the Titanium Tripster ATR from Kinesis could be the best, or as I put it: the ultimate cycle touring bike available. After riding it across a good chunk of the planet I feel even more strongly that this is the perfect adventure touring bike. While I can’t do any direct comparisons over this distance, I really can’t fault it in any way whatsoever. Everyday I swing a leg over the loaded up bike and a smile is quickly on my face as I ride into the morning sun. Its just unbelievably comfortable and forgiving on my arms and back, but more importantly so much fun to ride.
A lot of true adventurers who have been on long bike trips, say they aren’t cyclists but just use a bike to travel. I on the other hand am a cyclist and I want to enjoy riding my bike everyday. I’m a cycling addict who has been lucky enough to ride a perfect bike somewhere new everyday for the last three months and that makes me happy. If it’s raining or snowing I, don’t moan but sing ‘such a perfect day’ or imagine I am in a Rocky style training montage, I am just content to be out riding.
With so much time spent riding bikes I know what I like and what I don’t like to ride, that’s why I chose a bike like the Tripster ATR over a lifeless, cobbled together (admittedly cheaper) steel long haul touring bike.
The Tripster is light enough that it sharply accelerates away from that angry rabid dog in Azerbaijan, it effortlessly climbs that short sharp hill in Turkey while pumping hard on the pedals under the midday sun. It’s geometry lets it float fast but in control like the eagle next to me while I ride on the drops down a twisting mountain descent in the Tian Shan mountains.
As I lean forward using my bar bag like tri bars, it spins like a TT bike on the 100km, straight and flat Kazakh steppe roads that are lined with nomads in their yurts. In fact so much happened riding the bike that it ended up taking 24 instalments:
Part 1: The start of something epic
right through to:
Part 24: The Grand Finale
As the roads have got rough in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan the carbon fork at its slack angle has been active in taking the feedback out. It has been letting me rip and rumble along pretty fast, easily surviving slamming into the odd last minute pothole. Fellow tourers in central Asia without fail admire the bike that with all kit still weighs only 20kg. I suspect my fast and fun approach will be copied by many for their next trip. This lady in the picture below was a huge fan!
This trip hopefully also answers many longevity doubts using carbon and Titanium on a long haul tour, the fork has been loaded and fully abused, I haven’t held anything back and it might be scratched but otherwise like new.
The frame is in faultless condition, it’s literally like new, well once it’s had a good few hours elbow grease to get the 14 countries worth of grime off!
It’s fair to say I am in love this bike it’s not just another bike it’s got so much character that you discover the more you ride it and it helps that it looks like a piece of artwork; understated but slick. I get slightly angry when people run their grubby hands over it in admiration, then ask “dolla dolla?” to see what it costs, “At this moment in time it’s priceless “I reply, “dolla, dolla” they say back. “Ok, whatever, $500, just please don’t steal it”.
Firstly I made an error in tyre choice, 700x 25mm were too narrow on the Kinesis Crosslight CX disc wheelset. Oddly given just 3mm difference but 28mm has been much better. No pinch/rim wall flats and just a bit more cushioning on rough stuff. I would have in hindsight fitted a 28mm Continental four season on front and a 32mm Gatorskin on the back from the start. I also now use 700×32-45mm tubes squeezed in, as they give better sidewall stability under loading. I picked up a WTB Thick Slick in Romania and it has been good but 5000km later in Bishkek its soft rubber was thin and the side wall split.
I planned to swap to chunkier Schwalbe marathon tyres but I couldn’t find any anywhere in the Caucuses and I am glad I didn’t because I haven’t needed them. This is testimony to how well the bike handles the rougher stuff, people just don’t believe how much gravel road I have ridden.
The second error was non platform SPD pedals, as the open design and cheap Shimano M520 MTB pedals have worn out so the angle is a bit skewed and the support of a cage would be nice to help maintain a natural position on the pedal. It’a a small thing but worth noting!
The gearing has been as expected: tough in the high mountains, a 25tooth 10 speed cassette on the back should have been a 28 or 32, paired with my triple of 50:39:30.
Otherwise nothing else has needed changing nor would I change anything. OK a bit more gel under the bar tape would’ve be nice but it’s all good when compared to the numbness in my arms on previous long tours. The sand of the Uzbek desert has destroyed my transmission and it has started to skip after 8500km, I think that’s probably acceptable though! I saw a Dutch couple on belt driven Rolhoffs which is a good set up for desert riding.
I almost forgot the TRP carbon Spyre brakes, that’s because they have been working well and stopping me with more than enough power, whatever the load I’m carrying or the steep mountain descent. I had no noticeable overheating issues on the constant 2800m descent into Bishkek so that shouldn’t be an issue anywhere in Europe! Pad wear has been about 1 set every 5000km and that’s sintered pads in wet, dry, sandy, hot and cold conditions, again I think that is more than acceptable.
The Kinesis Crosslight wheels were scaring me a little when I wrote my last review, I had broken two spokes in Europe, what would it be like on atrocious Asian roads? Well in answer to my doubts they’ve been perfect, the wheels are still true and no more spokes have snapped. It must have just been a couple of weak spokes because recently they have been totally thrashed, fully loaded with tyres at 85psi over super sketchy roads. Given how nicely they ride with their low weight compared to standard touring wheels, I am super happy with them. Again touring people in Kyrgyzstan looked at the 28 spokes in almost disbelief but if you go light they are ideal.
This has been overwhelmingly positive and I am racking my brains for more negatives about the bike, but there simply aren’t any. For 95 days I have oiled the chain well, swung my leg over the bike and simply ridden east, problem free with a smile on my face excited by what the new day has in store! Now surely that has inspired you to get out and ride a Tripster ATR (or whatever suits you) on an adventure!