We've been riding the new Kinesis Tripster AT, the UK brand's latest gravel bike. Here's what we think of this all-terrain machine
Kinesis’s new Tripster AT is the UK brand’s latest frameset designed for the developing gravel bike market, with the AT standing for All Terrain. It builds on Kinesis’s off-road experience with its titanium Tripster ATR2, a £1850 adventure frame, offering the same geometry but in a less expensive alloy frame, with the frame and fork priced at £699.99.
This isn’t a pure copy, however, as Kinesis has made some subtle changes in the Tripster AT. Its down tube and top tube have more angular cross-sections, designed to better support frame bags, while there’s a kink to the down tube to add front end clearance and provide a wide weld area to the head tube for added stiffness.
Clearance behind the bottom bracket can be difficult on road bikes designed to take wider tyres. But Kinesis has shifted the weld between the drive side chainstay and the bottom bracket rearwards by incorporating a yoke behind the bottom bracket shell.
This makes the drive side chainstay narrower, allowing room for the chainring and providing extra tyre clearance. Kinesis says that the Tripster AT will take 700c tyres up to 45mm wide or 650b tyres up to 52mm. You can also fit mudguards for an all-weather build.
Kinesis supplies the Tripster AT frameset with a matching purpose-built all-carbon tapered fork. There are thru-axles on the fork and frame and both accept flat mount disc brakes. The bottom bracket is BSA threaded.
Cables are routed internally through the down tube, although they run externally from underneath the bottom bracket. Kinesis has included lots of mounting points, including for mudguards, rack and a third bottle cage under the down tube.
Frame welds are chunky looking and are partly smoothed down. Kinesis worked with the late Mike Hall on the frame detailing. This includes the banding and the Arran Blue or Seeon Yellow colour options. There’s a small panel on the left seatstay acknowledging Hall’s contribution.
Kinesis sells the Tripster AT as a frameset only, but our test bike was built up with Upgrade Bikes’s £999.99 Tripster AT build kit. This includes a SRAM Rival 1 groupset with a 40 tooth chainring and 11-36 cassette. Of course, the advantage of selling the build kit separately is that you can also make your own component choice to build a bike that suits your needs and pocket.
Rather than SRAM’s hydraulic callipers, the kit comes with TRP Spyre mechanical discs with 160mm rotors. On the test bike, these have flat mount to post mount adapters.
The wheels are Kinesis Crosslight CX Disc with Vee tyres. The wheels run on thru-axles and are tubeless ready, with a 19mm internal width. The 40mm width Vee Rail tyres fitted on the test bike differ from the 33mm tyres supplied with the build kit.
The cockpit consists of Zipp Service Course alloy bars on an FSA 9cm stem. The supplied Kinesis 4 Seasons bar tape is nicely padded and grippy. There’s an FSA seatpost too, with a Kinesis Elite saddle with a cut-out.
Inflating the tyres to 40-45 psi, the Kinesis Tripster AT rides well on road. With its long wheelbase and slack head tube, it’s stable and the big tyres mean that you can roll over road imperfections.
On longer road rides, I found I could keep up similar speeds on the Tripster AT to a slick tyred road bike. There’s more rolling resistance from the wide tyres, so it’s a bit more effort to keep up speed – but that’s no bad thing if you want to keep fit.
The TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes are effective, and about the best mechanical disc brakes you can buy, although they do lack the bite and modulation of hydraulics.
But the real fun of the Kinesis Tripster AT is the chance to break up your road rides with off-road sections. So I took to disused railway tracks. There’s plenty of grip to deal with damp sections and the high volume Vee Rail tyres smooth out bumps well.
And the bike’s fun to take on to rougher, steeper bridlepaths too, with the stability for confidence on steep descents and sinuous tracks, and the manoeuvrability to skirt or hop over obstacles. There’s just about enough gear range for off road climbs, although a 1:1 or lower ratio would help on damp, loose ground and if you plan to load up the bike for bikepacking.
I found I was coming up on the fly with new route ideas to link together familiar road sections as I rode – which is exactly the type of versatility the Tripster AT is designed to allow.
At £1700 as built, the Kinesis Tripster AT looks like a good deal for a bike with so much versatility, although you do need to factor in the time it takes to build it up and you need to be a competent mechanic too, or employ a bike shop to do the job.
SRAM 1 gearing tends to be a bit more expensive than double ring set-ups, but it gives you a lot of range for off-road riding or load lugging. It’s a pity not to get SRAM’s excellent hydraulic brakes and a wider range cassette in the package though.
The rest of the build kit is well thought out too, with the sturdy, tubeless-ready Crosslight wheels being a stand-out component and relatively light at 1640g.
The Tripster AT takes the proven on/off road geometry of the titanium Tripster ATR and brings it to an alloy frame at a lower price point. Its features are bang up to date and it adds some useful design highlights that increase its versatility too, like the flattened off tube profiles designed to support bags. It’s comfortable to ride on road, although the 40mm tyres do add rolling resistance. But its real forte is the ability to head onto bridleways and trails. Here, you can tackle tricky terrain with confidence. There’s enough stability to negotiate more technical sections and enough air in the tyres to smooth out the bumps.