A little while ago I had the good fortune to get to have a play on a Tripster ATR from Kinesis. The “ATR” stands for Adventure Tour Race and Kinesis describe the bike as a brand new concept for their range – a bike that’s designed for you to be able to do pretty much anything on: “adventure cycling, distance racing, touring, sportives or cyclocross”.
The frameset is beautifully made from custom drawn 3AL/2.5v titanium, is disc specific and has clearance for big 40mm tyres and 45mm guards! It has the same delightful machined and curved headtube (as seen on the GF_Ti v2) which is matched to a monocoque carbon tapered fork with massive clearance and disc mounts.
It also features rack and guard mounts and comes with a titanium seatclamp and a tapered headset (when you’re buying it as a frameset).
The geometry is new and interesting. Kinesis say that it’s intended to give a “sporty feel, alongside comfort and stability for long distance”. Given its intentions of being an off-road/on-road adventure bike, the Tripster ATR has been given a low bottom bracket, long head tube, more relaxed head (steering angle) and is designed for short stem lengths. So it’s definitely not “normal” road geometry but nor is it “normal” cyclocross geometry, which matches perfectly with the intention of maximum flexibility and literally go almost anywhere (except perhaps challenging mountain bike environments).
I had the bike for a couple of weeks and mostly rode it on the road – I am a roadie after all! I did take it around some gravel trails in my local forest (Bedgebury) but that was with my 8 year old son, so it was hardly gruelling and only off road in the sense that the surface we rode on wasn’t covered in tarmac.
I was lucky enough to have the bike with both the brilliant new Reynolds Assault SLG disc wheels (http://girodilento.com/2014-reynolds-assault-slg-disc-wheels-review/) but also with a set of the also excellent Kinesis CX Disc wheels: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/wheels/crosslight-cxdisc
One other fantastic feature of the build I was excited to try was the excellent TRP HY/RD cable/hydraulic disc brakes, which I’ll write separately about – but to cut the chase – they were fantastic and by far the best disc brakes I’ve personally tried to date – lovely feel, modulation and great stopping power.
The rest of the bike (especially with the Kinesis wheels) was largely a standard Kinesis build for the bike: Shimano 105 shifters and mechs, FSA finishing kit including cranks and Kinesis branded saddle. On my ebay scales of semi-truth the complete bike with the Reynolds wheels weighed in about 10kgs, so not especially light, but it’s not a bike that’s designed to be weenie – rather it’s designed to be comfortable, strong and a good companion.
105 to me, is a perfect match to this bike with it’s aspirations of big mileage anywhere in the world – you want super reliable components, that are easy to maintain and replace worn out parts. The FSA stuff was solid too – no complaints other than my personal preference would have been to spec different cranks – say Shimano 105 or equivalent Shimano ‘cross cranks, but that’s an easy fix if you were to take the plunge.
I’ve been lucky enough to ride a lot of the Kinesis range in the last few years and right away the Tripster ATR did indeed feel different than any I’d ridden before. Certainly, every titanium Kinesis I’ve ridden so far looks great and this bike did too (especially with those Reynolds wheels).
Whilst good looks are great – they’re not everything. On the road riding the Tripster ATR felt different almost immediately – you can really notice the difference in the geometry over a normal road bike and it particularly manifests itself in the steering, which feels quite different – slower. It doesn’t have quite the nimbleness of a road bike – but why would it? It’s something I specifically noticed on the first ride but only for the for the initial say 30 minutes or so. You adapt almost immediately – a bit like you do when you first ride a road bike with disc brakes.
I also immediately noticed the comfort – to my backside it was a noticeably more comfortable ride than the GF_Ti v2 and to me that’s a win. I like smooth, I like comfort and for me, the Tripster ATR delivers both.
It gets better though because the next thing the Tripster ATR felt to me – was fun. I really enjoyed riding the bike and found it a fine companion. With the Reynolds wheels it was capable of really good speed (even with me riding it), so the 10kg curb weight showed itself to be largely irrelevant on the road.
When I talked to Dom about the design when I collected it, he sort of implied that it wasn’t a climbers bike thanks to the geometry and the long head tube (18.5cm on the size 57 I rode) but I found it just fine to climb on and attacking a challenging local climb, I managed to set a personal best.
I rode the Tripster ATR on a short course sportive and set a Gold time on a breezy autumnal day with lots of greasy lanes – the Tripster was really in it’s element here and the TRP HY/RD brakes were wonderful on wet slippery, leaf covered descents and I could carve through other riders in complete control – that was a moment I look back on particularly fondly.
For my short foray off-road I swapped back to the Kinesis wheels and the WTB tyres. On the loose surfaces with my son, I rode like an 8 year old myself- lots of skids down hills and around corners and lots of big smiles. The geometry felt a bit more at home off tarmac and it was great fun.
Sadly as is often the way with test bikes, I only got to play with it for a couple of weeks but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
There’s no question in my mind that the Tripster ATR successfully achieves it’s very broad goals – it’s a comfortable, fun companion that you can ride pretty much anywhere on. It’s a bike you’ll enjoy whenever you ride and wherever you ride it. If you’re used to just riding road bikes, it’ll feel different at first but you’ll adapt very quickly, I imagine that’ll be the same if you mostly ride ‘cross bikes. Whilst you could certainly race cyclocross races on it – I’m not sure that’s the best use for it.
If you’re the type of rider who wants to really explore – across all kinds of terrain and you wants something with the beauty and the ride quality of titanium, then the Tripster ATR is a tempting proposition. I personally think that it’s going to be best for someone who wants to ride a lot, for long distances and over all kinds of terrain (often on the same ride).
If you’re the kind of person who starts out on a road ride but sees a bridle path so jumps on that and then decides to ride over a hill to maybe get back to a road – this might be perfect! But it’s going to be no problem knocking out your road miles or attempting a UCX or whatever really.
I really enjoyed my time on the Tripster ATR and to me Kinesis have certainly achieved their objective of building a bike that “will perform across many disciplines and types of terrain”. I’ve certainly never before ridden a bike with such a wide ranging versatility.
For more information on the Tripster ATR, please visit the Kinesis site:
Frameset details: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/Catalogue/Models/Adventure/Tripster-ATR
Thanks for reading