Kinesis CX Race Review

In this Kinesis CX Race review you’ll learn that Kinesis have made the CX Race better than ever in its latest striking green and pink guise. The excellent Columbus Futura fork enhances the ride and bottle cages are back as well as nicer routing, axle mounting and improved geometry. It’s an excellent choice for racing or those who want a fun on/off road riding experience.

Looks great – rides great!

Kinesis have been making great, affordable clubman cyclocross framesets for many, many years. With each new generation they’ve tweaked, evolved and improved on the previous generation and the latest CX Race is another welcome and noticeable step forward.

For the club cyclocross racer who wants a quality frameset that won’t break the bank, that’s also a fun and capable race bike – I have no hesitation in recommending the CX Race. I’m very happy with mine. It’s not perfect though – but what bike is? Read on and get my plus and minuses of this fine frameset.

For me, I upgraded from a Trek Crockett that I loved riding but I wanted to switch to 12mm through axles front and rear to match my son’s race bike. This made it easier for us to share wheels and even little things such as making it easier for us to use the same turbo trainer (no more swapping axle adapters). If you race cyclocross at some point you’re going to have to make the jump to through axles and disc brakes. In our house, we decided to do that one season & one bike at a time.

From my first few rides, I enjoyed the CX Race more than the Crockett and I have to say it surprised me how clear the difference was. I thought the Crockett was great but the Kinesis was definitely better. You really can feel the benefit of through axles on a ‘cross bike – they make a bike feel some how more bolted together, taut and purposeful – they were a definite part of that difference.

With 32mm summer road riding tyres on – still fast and fun

The Columbus Futura fork too – is an excellent enhancement to the Kinesis. It rides really well across all surfaces – from your local ‘cross race track, to bridleways to road riding. It’s nicer than the Trek fork on the Crockett and a clear improvement on the previous Kinesis ATR fork (which has a stiffer ride). The Columbus fork also has great tyre clearance and the added flexibility of the “flip chip” that allows you to change the fork rake if you wish to.

‘Cross bikes are designed for short hard accelerations, so the rear of the bike is stiff and not as smooth as the front of bike thanks to the Columbus fork but even on road riding (with 32mm tyres) the Kinesis rides well and has a fun nimble feel.

The new internal routing is not only better look at but it means that you don’t get scratches on the top tube for example compared to the older models that had the cable attached to the top of the top tube. It’s cleaner as well on the seat stays as the full cable (and outer) for the rear mech is now internal across the top of the bike (it runs under the chainstay (as does the brake on the non-drive side). The adaptable cable ports are great and make it easy to run whatever components you want on the bike, including Di2.

The GW Switch lever axles are also a good design to use and a nice upgrade. On the older CX Race Evo, the rear axle nut on the drive side was loose and not fixed to the frame, the new frame resolves this as well, making it much easier to remove the rear wheel (which I do all the time on my turbo).

Bottle cages make a welcome return!

Bottle cages made a welcome – partial return

Yes, I know there’s an argument that ‘cross race bikes don’t need bottle cages as the races are short. However, last season in the dry start there were top level races in Belgium where riders rode with bottles. As well though, my personal issue with not having bottle cages is that lots of regular club racers can’t justify only racing on their ‘cross bikes as it’s an expense many including me can’t justify. Lots of us need the ability to use our ‘cross bikes for training, gravel riding, road riding and possibly commuting, so the lack of bottle mounts is a genuine frustration. Kinesis got this part right on the new CX Race in my view – downtube mount – check! Seat tube mount – fail ☹ Gravel riding tool caddie mount (under the down tube) – check! Annoyingly it means riding on the road, you either have to stop more for water, carry a bottle in your jersey pocket (annoying) or use a temporary mount like a Fidlock cage and bottle (as Kinesis themselves recommend). It feels like half a job to me at least.

The revised “rider fit” geometry is an improvement on the older model and I’ve found it really enjoyable to ride on or off road. The CX Race has a nice balance between super quick and stable handling. I think Kinesis have done a great job here. It’s quite close to a Giant TCX in geometry and only a big lower stack than a Specialized Crux or Trek Crockett – so it’s nicely in the mix with the latest geometries on the market too.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed riding my CX Race. I’ve enjoyed training rides, off and on road rides and it was a pleasure to race on.

Photo via Rupert Robinson

My son grew out of his previous generation CX Race Evo during last cyclo-cross season and he ended up racing my bike in both the National Trophy and the National Cyclocross championships in Shrewsbury. He was quite clear from the first ride that he thought the new model was much better to ride and race on than the previous generation (that he’d spent the last season racing). He also much preferred the GRX components than the SRAM Rival 1x on his own bike too (but that’s another blog post).

Overall, I give the CX Race a big thumbs up. As with previous CX Race frames, the Scandium frame material is an excellent choice for the bike too – light, strong and durable. For me, I don’t need a carbon ‘cross bike as an amateur racer, particularly as I crash a lot when riding cross. I want something a bit tougher or more durable with impacts – not least of all when I’m sharing it with my teenage son.

The colour scheme has grown on me – I thought the green was a bit dark and flat at first but I’m really happy with it now. I love the pink flourishes as well. It’s regularly got compliments as well – so many people have told me who nice they think it is, which is always nice to hear.

It’s not perfect though, so what are the downsides for me?

Firstly, the paint scratches more easily than I would have liked and my teenage son has tested this thoroughly. Every time he rode it from the beginning it came back with noticeable scratches in the paint. These are made worse by a light coloured undercoat, so they really stand out on the dark green paint. It’s meant that the bike has looked “used” quickly. In fairness a cyclocross bike is going to take some abuse but I’m still disappointed at how fast it marked up compared to my previous Trek which didn’t have this issue (or not nearly as badly).

Secondly, whilst I’m pleased bottle cages are back on the new CX Race, I still think it should have another one on the seat tube. Yes, I know that cyclo-cross race bikes don’t necessarily need bottle cages but I’m not wealthy enough to justify single purpose bikes, so I want to race on this bike, train on this bike and ride gravel and road on this bike and only having 1 usable bottle cage for drink bottles is a real pain. I’ve now bought (at great expense) a Fidlock bottle system for the seat tube but I’ve resented having to.

Thirdly, I’d really like to see this bike have room for 40-45mm 700c tyres for proper gravel riding. I love this geometry and I prefer the quicker handling to having a gravel bike’s slack front end, which I find dull to ride on the road (and not ideal for racing) – but I’d like gravel bike big tyre clearances. I’m an occasional cross racer, who otherwise mainly rides on the road, so I’d ideally like a bike with more versatility but with this kind of handling. Speaking of versatility, I’d really like this bike to have niceties such as mudguard mounts etc, but I’ll have to look elsewhere for these. I appreciate that I might be in a minority on this one – so feel free to disregard this “downside”.

This CX Race will most definitely retain its place for the coming cyclo-cross season in our house. It’s a great cyclo-cross race bike that my son and I both love riding and racing and my son already has his eye on it for the season ahead (and it’s the perfect size for him). I’ll also ride it whenever I can as it’s just great fun to ride.

But this means I’ll need to get a new bike for me and I’m weighing up if I can find something that offers the benefits of the CX Race but with the extra bottle cage mounts, the wider tyres and mudguard/rack mounts but still keeping the nimble handling. As an occasional racer (and a rubbish one at that) – the versatility might trump the singlemindedness. Might. I’m considering my options.

To read my first look post on the CX Race, click here: https://girodilento.com/kinesis-cx-race-first-look/

Thanks for reading and find out more about the CX Race here: