Kinesis Racelight T2 review
It's almost a year since I was allowed to put a pair of pedals and Brooks B17 Standard saddle on to the Christmas present that was to become my winter trainer/commuter/club run/Audax bike.
So, belatedly perhaps, here is a Kinesis Racelight T2 2010 review.
The Racelight T2 is sold at a RRP of £249.99 as a frame only, with Kinesis’s own aluminium fork available separately, or a carbon one for a further £70 or so. I’ve read a review in Cycling Plus that commented on the harshness of the ride with the aluminium fork. My bike has Dedacciai Black Rain carbon forks with mudguard eyes and I’ve never found them to be at all harsh. I have to confess that this is the only aluminum road bike I have ever ridden, so my comments should be read with that in mind.
My wife bought me this 51cm-framed bike last Christmas. Most of the components came from a 54cm Ridgeback Horizon, minus the Ridgeback-branded parts that were swapped for reasonable quality equivalents. There was another saddle – and no pedals – when I picked up the bike on Christmas Eve last year. The whole thing – without pedals and replacement saddle – cost £610, which I think was a fair price. (Sticking with the confession theme, the bike was bought before I’d given it a test ride. Yes, I know…)
Another magazine review I read complained that the testers had trouble securing the seat post in to the bike’s seat tube, but I’ve had no problems. The collar that came with the bike was slackened off and tightened regularly when I would remove the seat post – with the saddle still attached – to treat my Brooks B17 with Proofide.
I wanted this bike to be a stopgap to take me through to last summer when I would get a Ridgeback Panorama. However, that never happened, in part because the Kinesis pretty much does everything I need it to do. Some reviewers have expressed concern about the near-racing geometry of the Kinesis T2, but it has never troubled me. My first ride, after the snow and ice finally cleared last winter, was of about 75 miles and – apart from the simple fact that I wasn’t really fit enough then – I had no trouble with the harshness of the ride. (It was also my first proper ride on Brooks B17 Standard saddle, so make of that what you will.)
Although the frame is pitched as an all-rounder, when it is sold as a complete bike it does tend to have race-specific gearing, and usually Shimano Tiagra-standard components or higher. But because I wanted this bike to do a number of things I changed the gearing to make it more suitable – basically lower. If, like me, you don’t push a really big gear and you want this bike to be appropriate to Audax-style rides, you might want to read about how I customised my cassette to give me a range of gears I could actually use.
Back to the Cycling Plus review and their suggestion that the bike would be fine for the commute or about fifteen miles before becoming uncomfortable. I have used the T2 to cycle to work – and to carry a laptop computer and other weighty gear – but I wouldn’t feel confident going on a long tour with the panniers heavily laden. I’ll keep my MTB for that, or maybe renovate my old Coventry Eagle Touristique. Instead I like to use a rack bag and my Altura Orkney handlebar bag for day rides. Presumably the reviewer for Cycling Plus was thinking about those aluminium forks when putting a limit on the bike’s mileage. I found the T2 ideal for a ride ten times that length when I cycled coast to coast one day last summer.
The only regular discomfort I’ve had is in my neck and across my shoulders. I put that down to being unfamiliar with the relatively low position I have the handlebars set to – I keep meaning to flip the fairly short-reach stem to see if that helps – which is actually lower in comparison to my other road bikes, in part because they both have larger frames. In any case, when I put together a number of decent rides the tightness in my neck and shoulders does go away. I only recently returned to serious cycling after an absence of many years, so I just need to get used to that unfamiliar position. (Or maybe in my mid-forties I should accept that I’m just not as flexible as I was in my twenties, and instead adopt a more upright position.)
Without rack and bar bags this is a lively and responsive ride. Having said that I am comparing it mainly to my Raleigh Road Ace, which itself can still shift after all these years. Unfortunately, I can’t push the high gears on that bike any more (actually, I’m not sure I ever could). The T2 is balanced enough to have safely carried me at speeds above 50mph earlier this year, although with hindsight I should probably have slowed down that day (it’s okay, my wife won’t read this).