It’s been a couple of weeks now since I had the difficult task of returning the GF_Ti to the good people at Upgrade Bikes. This is not a “review” in the traditional sense of the word as I didn’t manage to ride the bike for as long as I’d have liked but I wanted to share some thoughts (& pictures) because to be clear, I think this is an absolutely terrific bike and I wanted to share some further opinions on it. I’ve already given my first thoughts here: http://girodilento.com/first-ride-kinesis-gf_ti/
Upon some reflection, I’d go so far as to say this is the nicest non-carbon bike I’ve ridden to date. It was a wrench to give it back as the few times I did get out on it I found myself smiling within moments of getting moving. I wanted to try the GF_Ti as a winter bike but on the first ride it was clear that actually thinking of just winter riding is selling this bike short by some margin. It’s too good to only ride in the winter.
Looking at builds available you can have a full bike with 105 and Aksium wheels for just over £2,000 (frameset price is £1399). This puts it in the same sort of bracket as some of the big brand lower end carbon bikes (e.g. A Cannondale SuperSix 105 or a Specialized Tarmac or Roubaix Elite as examples) all of which are interesting bikes but the GF_Ti provides a really compelling and well worth considering alternative.
If you can look past carbon to consider the longevity, looks and lovely ride quality of titanium, then this bike should definitely go on your shortlist. As a winter bike, if you are moving from a budget winter bike to the GF_Ti, it’ll be like going from a Willys Jeep to a Range Rover – it feels sophisticated and luxurious (which leads to the smiles). This is a bike that you’ll likely spend more time out riding than you planned as you can comfortably and enjoyably spend all day on it. Like a Range Rover (if you’ll excuse the analogy) it’s a versatile bike that can handle pretty much anything you fancy doing. It’s an outstanding winter bike with full guards, it would be a great commuter, training or sportive bike. It’s not designed as a race bike but it’s very happy to go quickly as well as pootle along country lanes. For me it’s perfect for someone who’d like an off the peg titanium frame with a great pedigree to ride rapidly as a recreational rider. If you fancy something that’s not carbon but that’s sophisticated, elegant, well made and good looking, this could be the all-rounder you’re looking for.
Some of the other reviews I’ve seen commented on toe overlap on the bike but I didn’t find this to be an issue – certainly not in a way that would make me wonder if it was a bike for me. To me, the geometry felt well sorted and I know from my chat with Dom Mason the designer that it’s tried and tested via the Grandfondo Scandium (which also gets great reviews). The only other factor to be aware of is that it’s not designed for long drop brakes which means you’re not going to be able to fit more than 25mm tyres (definitely no 28mm) and probably only 23 or 24mm with full mudguards. This is fine with me, but it may be an issue for others. This is to maximise the owners ability to fit higher end groupsets. The bike I rode featured Campagnolo Chorus and I’ve seen other builds for this bike with SRAM Red and Shimano Dura Ace.
I was really impressed by the build quality of the frameset, it’s a top quality piece of engineering and manufacturing that looked terrific and built to last. The graphics were nicely understated and worked well too. Everybody I showed the bike too was unanimous that it was a great looking piece of kit.
As you can tell, I’ve become a BIG fan of this bike (to the point that I’ve been checking out prices for next winter’s planning). For me the real competitors for this bike are more likely the Scandium version of the same frame (if you’re budget is a bit challenged) at £750 for the frameset which is supposed to ride nearly as well. Perhaps also a frameset like the Lynskey Sportive (http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/sportive-39915), which is also supposed to be very good but I personally think the Kinesis is better value at £1399 for frame, fork, headset and seatpost where the Lynskey is £1299 frame only. If you’re in the UK you can also take some satisfaction in that the GF_Ti like all Kinesis frames is designed for UK conditions. From there I think you’re probably going to look at the more bespoke builders, which may involve going down the fully custom path (great if you’re up for that).
For an alternate view if you feel I’m a bit gushing, I’d recommend reading Road.cc’s top ten bikes of 2011 and look at the number 3 on the list: http://road.cc/content/news/49650-roadcc-bikes-year-top-10 or speak to a dealer that’s been able to spend some time on one (I know the guys at Epic Cycles have as I’ve had a few conversations with them about this bike).
In summary I loved this bike. It’s a great looking, well made frameset that’s looks great, rides beautifully is incredibly versatile and can be an all year round ride companion that you’ll make you smile everytime you ride it. I only wish I’d been able to spend more time on it, whilst I was fortunate enough to have it on loan.
For more information, you can visit Kinesis here: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/racelight/gf_ti
Some reviews here:
My thanks again to Dom Mason for arranging to loan me the bike.
Thanks for reading