We've tested Kinesis UK's year-round do-it-all workhorse
Kinesis UK has been around for almost 20 years. During that time, it’s built up a reputation for designing quality alloy frames which have become favourites as winter bikes and for cyclocross. It’s more recently included titanium frames in its range and has developed more race-oriented frames like the Aithein.
4S stands for four seasons and the 4S Disc is targeted at all-year use, while retaining the clearance for wide tyres and mudguards and the rack and mudguard mounts of many of Kinesis’s other road frames.
The 4S Disc’s frame is made of alloy, with a standard BSA threaded bottom bracket shell. There’s lots of clearance and Kinesis states that it will take tyres of up to 30mm section, while still having the capacity for mudguards. The down tube in particular is shaped, being vertically ovalised at the headtube then horizontally at the bottom bracket, for enhanced rigidity at these important junctions.
Unusually, the frame can take rim brake calipers as well as flat mount disc brakes, having a bridge between the seatstays with a brake mount. It needs long drop calipers to caper for the frame’s wide clearances. The frame is designed for internal cable routing with ports for cables through the top tube blanked off when not needed.
Watch: How to winterise your bike
The 4S Disc frameset comes supplied with a tapered all-carbon Tracer fork. This has flatmount brake tabs and standard quick release dropouts, as well as mudguard eyelets on the inside face.
The frame is painted a metallic light blue, with the forks being the same colour. It looks attractive and eye-catching. There’s a Kinesis logo embossed on the top tube, which has a pronounced taper near its front.
Kinesis sells a build kit for the 4S, which contains everything which you need to get the bike on the road. So there’s a Shimano 105 groupset, although the chainset is swapped out for a non-series RS500 unit – not an unusual change which is made by many manufacturers. Stopping is provided by TRP’s Spyre mechanical disc brakes.
The bike tested differs a little from the standard build kit by rolling on Kinesis Racelight 700 Disc wheels. These have wider rims which are tubeless ready, although for the test they were set up with tubes and 25mm Freedom tyres. Freedom – which is a sub-brand of WTB – also provides the saddle, while the other finishing kit comes from FSA.
With quite a short head tube, the bike’s stack is low. Allied to the smaller frame size than I would normally use, I found I was positioned quite low when riding. This wasn’t uncomfortable though and made for a feel much more like a bike designed for racing than an endurance machine.
For a winter machine, this seems like an attractive proposition, meaning that you will not have to adjust your position too much from that which you would have on your summer bike.
The ride feels fast, although the Freedom tyres seem rather firm and don’t conform as much as some other tyres to road imperfections. This results in a bit of vibration from rougher road surfaces and some rattle from the internal cables. But on smoother roads things settle down and I found that I could press on well.
Braking from the TRP mechanical brakes is good too and almost the match of that provided by many hydraulic brakesets.
The complete bike as speced comes in at around £1500 built up with the Kinesis build kit. Although you can buy a carbon framed bike with a similar spec for the same price, the Kinesis does not cede anything in terms of ride quality. Buying a frameset and building it up allows you to decide just what spec you need and potentially to reuse any spare kit which you have around.
For a bike to be ridden through the vagaries of British weather, the 4S Disc frame and its build kit make a lot of sense. There’s enough clearance to use wider tyres and still fit mudguards. The mechanical disc braking is efficient without the extra cost and complication of hydraulics, while there’s also the option of rim brakes if you really don’t want to go the disc route – or have a collection of rim braked wheels to wear out.
Although the gearing on the test bike is quite high, there’s enough range for the fitter rider to tackle steeps and the discs give a bit of confidence on descents in all weather conditions.
The 4S Disc also comes in a really wide size range: there are eight frame sizes between 45.5cm and 62cm, so that smaller and larger riders are well catered for. It’s a bike which should prove durable and take you competently through the four seasons for which it was designed.
Good all-rounder or second bike with a lot of versatility and a lively ride