Kinesis G2 adventure bike review
The G2 quickly became our tester's 'Go To' for relaxed off-road ambles
A true 'adventure road bike' which aims to provide a 'go-to' for those wanting to explore mixed terrain. There are models out there which will provide more mountain bike style tech suited to rougher trails, but we found the relaxed geometry and wide flared bars provided all the confidence needed for off-road excursions. This isn't a lightweight build, but that's reflected in the price - upgrading the wheels and finishing kit would be quick wins for those looking to up the pace.
Plenty of tyre clearance
Needs more size options
The Kinesis G2 was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
Gravel bikes bear a certain resemblance to hormone addled teenagers at the minute: they're going through a transformative phase, resulting in some glimmers of genius alongside a few other presentations which will no doubt be hidden away in embarrassment in a few short years.
>>> Why are road cyclists riding gravel bikes when hardtails could be faster?
With Cannondale going full suspension with its Topstone and Specialized rocking flat bars, this breed of bikes is floating closer and closer to mountain bike technology in a way which makes Kinesis' G2 feel like a fairly conventional member of the class. And for good reason.
The name of this bike announces the goal: this is a bike that's meant to be your 'go to' come road, gravel, commuting or whatever-else. The target is versatility, as opposed to the more 'gnarcore' ready creations we see elsewhere.
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Unlike the majority of Kinesis' offerings, this one is a full build as opposed to a frame only job, which as always comes with pros (simplicity, appeal to those less mechanically minded) and cons (you may want to upgrade some spec).
A metal heart
The G2's metal heart is constructed from double butted alloy, whilst the tapered fork is carbon and flat mount ready.
This model comes in just four sizes: small, medium, large and extra large - to suit riders from 160cm (5ft2) to 182+cm (6ft+). At 165cm, I'm not far off the minimum, which was quite a unique experience and likely restrictive for those on the peripheries. I'm not sure how far above six foot the XL affords, but it feels like an XS and an XXL would be welcome additions to the range.
As a fairly 'average height Joanna', after a saddle swap (I pretty much never stick with the stock saddle) I was ready to go.
Kinesis uses a semi-sloping frame on the small models, which both reduces the stand-over height - a useful attribute off-road - and provides more comfort so that the experience should match that of taller riders on the larger models. Without having been a 6ft rider on a large model this is hard to confirm, but I certainly enjoyed the lively ride quality.
Hitting short sections of road, the G2 rolled smoothly over pot holes and speed bumps which usually cause my teeth to chatter. However, when attacking short road climbs en route to the trails it was abundantly clear that this bike was never meant to be a powerhouse - it is slow to respond to pedal inputs when really trying to hammer it and immediately felt less stiff than a true road-goer, but that's no bad thing if you're looking for a comfortable all-dayer.
This is a bike that's all about stability and comfort. The tall headtube and shorter reach (377mm) paired with an 80mm stem provided a very different position to the road set-up I'm accustomed too. However, there's plenty of space to drop the front end should you wish to - I left the stack (545mm) high since my primary testing ground was off-road and I wanted confidence there.
With a suitably long wheelbase at 1022mm the numbers are very much inline with the likes of the Topstone and Diverge so there were no surprises or unexpected quirks.
The G2 has moved a little closer to the techy trail end of the gravel scale in its current iteration, with Kinesis making room for 45c tyres (42c with mudguards) - a boost from the previous 40c/38c capabilities of the outgoing model. I tested the bike both with the 38c Schwalbe G-One Allround rubber fitted, later swapping on a pair of Hutchinson Toureg 45c tyres and indeed there was plenty of space for free running.
Kinesis has provided routing for internal cables, plus pannier rack mounts and two sets of bottle cage mounts. There's no 'extra' bosses as per some pretty hardcore adventure bikes, but I only ever needed two bottles on my rides.
A 68mm BSA standard means we're running threaded, and Kinesis opted for a SRAM GXP which features 'Gutter Seal Technology' designed to offer a seal against the elements.
The paint job is described as 'slate blue'. I did manage to scratch a section on the seat tube by running a frame bag in the wrong configuration. I did place some rough fabric on the tubing, so it was a user error, but I can see bike packers doing similar, which unless you're a fan of the distressed look could be a shame.
Flared cockpit up front
Up front, Kinesis has specced an alloy handlebar with a distinct flare, measuring 42cm at the top and 51cm at the bottom. This was an absolute revelation to me off-road.
The shallow drop meant that getting low for road-descents felt a bit odd, since my upper body didn't actually sink much lower, but off-road this wider position provided an excellent power base for techy trails, which had me attacking rooted and rocky descents that I've been nervous about on a cyclocross bike.
Using the drops was often a requirement, since the tops sometimes lacked grip - something Shimano sought to fix with its grippy GRX groupset. Kineis instead has gone for a SRAM Apex 1x build.
The gearing is made up of a 40t front chainring with 11-42 cassette. On brief road sections en route to the trails this was adequate, though I'd want something more meaty if I were planning to swap the tyres and use this as a 'go to' bike on the road. Off-road, I did have enough gears to manage the steep sections, but when riding with my husband on his aeons old Specialized Stumpjumper I often felt jealous of the spinning cadence on offer with his wider ratio.
Of course, you can't provide more resistance for the road and less for off-road in one package - so as the 'happy medium' Kinesis is intending this bike provides, the brand has probably got the compromise about right. My personal preference would have been to have a larger cassette (some adventure models are going 11-50 these days) suited to those sudden steep ramps off-road, which would impact the road ride but for the small percentage of time I spent on the tarmac I'd have overlooked this.
Kinesis has provided a 170mm crank on the small model, with 172.5mm on the medium and large and 175mm on the X-Large. Personally I would have preferred a shorter 165mm length for my preferred pedalling style. Since the brand has clearly made a conscious decision to provide a stepped approach to crank length, as with the frame size options, I'd also like to see those measurements come down a notch - or have a shorter option at the very least.
Stopping comes from 160mm SRAM Apex 1 hydro rotors, which proved effective and stayed pretty squeak free - albeit the testing period in spring and summer's dry, dusty conditions.
Finishing kit hits the price point
Kinesis is selling the G2 at £1600 (£1500 at time of review), which in a genre with rapidly inflating price tags, is very reasonable. Of course to hit that price point, there's going to be a couple of compromises along the way.
Alex rims are often specced on builds around this price point, and they're reliable - if not particularly inspiring. In this case they're OEM GD26 rims with alloy hubs featuring sealed cartridge bearings. A high spoke count (32 front and rear) design keeps them true despite a battering, but if I were looking to up the performance of this bike I'd consider a swap to drop some weight.
The tyres are not an area where Kinesis has looked to save cash, with Schwalbe's G-One All Road tyres in 38c. This is a quality tyre and suited to the versatility in mind. It performed well on dry and dusty trails and surprised me with its smooth roll on the road. I did later boost the tyres up to 45c to cater for the more gnarly sections around me, opting for a tubeless set up.
If I'd ventured out on Caterham's claggy clay trails in the wet, I would absolutely have needed a more burly tyre, indeed the day I was treated to a spring shower they became a little slippy - but tyre choice is always contentious for off-road riding and the G-One All Road's are a safe middle ground.
It's unfortunate that whilst the Alex rims are tubeless compatible, the G-One All Road tyres are not - this seems like a mismatch in a category where tubeless riding just makes sense.
The handlebars, stem, and seatpost are all black alloy OEM models. No doubt these add weight, and they'd be obvious upgrade areas if you were building a super bike for a long bike packing trip, but I found them perfectly adequate for my leisurely gravel riding - with the bars quickly becoming a real favourite in terms of shape and width (quite amusing since I favour 36cm bars on the road).
The weighty - in part - spec means that this bike came in at 9.7kg, in a size small (the claimed weight for a large is 10kg). This sounds quite heavy, you can build a hardtail mountain bikes to come in lighter. The 'bike in each hand' test showed my husband's old Stumpjumper wasn't far off. However, the weight very much reflects the price - the last Diverge Comp we tested was 0.5kg lighter and £1,100 more expensive and a comparison to the similarly priced Diverge Elite, Norco Search Apex 1, and Topstone AL 105 suggest that Kinesis is certainly swinging its offering in at a similar heft to competitors.
Since gravel riding to me has been very much about kicking back and relaxing, I wasn't seeking the sort of low weight which might help me get Strava QOMs, so it wasn't a huge bother. However, if I were, I'd want to drop some weight - and I'd do that by swapping the wheels then the handlebars and seatpost.
Joy to ride
Over the course of the testing period, the Kineis G2 became my 'go to' bike for days I wanted to forget about heart rate, forget about power, and feed my brain and body with fresh air. In those instances, it was an absolute joy to ride.
Kinesis calls this an 'adventure bike' and I'd say it's most suited to these mash-up days when the direction of travel is predominately off-road, but with tarmac chucked in to connect the tapestry of dirt.
Whilst the G2 isn't loaded with the suspension and slack angles we're seeing on some more trail ready gravel bikes, the short stem and flared bars allowed me to explore my local woods. In many cases, I reckon I'd have been faster on the techy sections if I'd selected a hardtail, but in those instances this set up really tested my skill level and when the rocks and roots gave way to fireroad and those rare instances of genuine gravel I always had a smile on my face.
On the road, it's a comfortable companion which would suit a long distance rider or an audaxer. Slamming and lengthening the stem might make for a more road-going experience, but the lack of stiffness means I'd only recommend it for those really looking to sit back and enjoy an amble of a ride.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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