NB: My full review is now live here: https://girodilento.com/kinesis-cx-race-review/ if you’d like to skip to it … although I do recommend reading this post first.
Long time UK cyclo-cross supporter, Kinesis Bikes, has just updated their premium CX Race frameset for 2020.
This new model is effectively the 3rd generation of the CX Race line. The original version launched back in 2016, was designed to be compatible with both disc & canti-lever brakes to help racers make the switch to disc brakes over time, rather than having to spend all at once. It was a Scandium frame like the latest model & Hannah Payton won the women’s UK National Trophy series on one and many club racers won on theirs too.
The second generation switched to 12mm through axle support and flat mount disc brakes only and I built one of these for my son to race last year after a growth spurt saw him become too tall for his previous bike. My son raced all last season on his CX Race and then raced it on road during the spring and is now back racing in Under 16 on it for this season. It’s taken a beating but it’s shrugged it all off and he’s still thoroughly enjoying riding it.
At the end of my first cyclo-cross season, I decided to sell my previous bike and move up to the latest standards as it didn’t make sense to me that we had one bike with 12mm through axles and one with a 15mm through axle and quick release, not least of all because it means we can’t share wheels at a race weekend.
A broken collarbone in the spring means I was later than planned getting my new bike organised. I decided to go for the new CX Race after hearing of some of the changes that come with this new bike (& the fact that they’d sold out of the old one in my size!)
The most obvious change is the colour – gone is the bright Kinesis Blue, with the argyle details in white and black. The new CX Race is now a very dark green (Kinesis call it Oxford Green), with flouro pink & silver highlights. You certainly won’t confuse the old and the new!
An exciting change for me is that Kinesis have chosen to spec the new CX Race with the fantastic (and expensive) Columbus Futura Cross fork, which should be a good step up in ride quality from Kinesis’ own fork (no disrespect intended guys!) Another interesting aspect of this fork is the “flip chip” that allows you to switch between a 47 & 52 fork rake. In the geometry chart it suggests using 47 but you can slacked it off a bit for more stable gravel rides if you wish to. If you shop around to buy this fork, you can easily be in for £400. The previous CX Race Evo sold for £550 frame only and this new one is now £850 including the Columbus fork, which I feel is a pretty good deal.
A small but welcome change on the new CX Race is that bottle cages are back – two bottle cage mounts in fact but not where you think they’ll be. There’s a gravel bike specific mount underneath the down tube for ….. well gravel bike adventures obviously. There’s a second one on the inside of the downtube, so no mount on the seat tube. I’m not sure why but it’s a good step forward for those of us who ride our cross bikes outside of 40-60 minute races (e.g. training sessions or hot races)
A more significant change is revised geometry and sizing options. Kinesis are gradually switching to a stack and reach based size chart, which I’m in favour of and I welcome Kinesis’s march towards a more, dare I say it, modern geometry. You can also see this in my post on the RTD that I rode recently to see more of this shift that’s emerging. The head and steering angles have changed for good in my view and the chainstays are 10mm shorter for better power transfer along with a few with a number of other tweeks that actually move the Kinesis geometry closer towards that of the Giant TCX and Specialized Crux. The Kinesis remains a much more affordable choice as a frameset, which is one of the reasons I now have one.
The new CX Race also switches fully to internal cable routing. Perhaps not so good for mechanics, but makes for a much cleaner looking bike when built & also should be better for cleaning after muddy ‘cross races. The CX Race Evo we have has a cable running along the top of the top tube and it’s rubbed against the frame and scratched it & been a bit annoying to properly clean. So hopefully that won’t happen so much on the new model.
The combination of the Scandium frame and the new Columbus fork should make for a good riding experience. On the Kinesis RTD I reviewed recently, this same combination resulted in a very smooth and comfortable ride. I’m not expecting the same comfort on a frame designed for a high intensity 40-60 minutes races, but I look forward to seeing how it rides.
I’ll be building the bike up with the new Shimano GRX 800 series 1x components including the RX812 1x rear derailleur. Yes, it’s a gravel bike range but I reckon it should be great on this new bike. It’s more expensive than Ultegra although pitched as the same level of engineering. I thought it was better to spend the extra and go for a component range designed for mud/gravel. Time will tell if that’s the right choice.
My full review is now posted here, if you’d like to read on: https://girodilento.com/kinesis-cx-race-review/
To find out more about the CX Race, visit https://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/Catalogue/Models/Crosslight/CX-RACE
Thanks for reading and please leave me any questions in the comments