The Kinesis Virsa mtb is based around highly regarded Tange Prestige Japanese double butted steel tube set. This gives the ride of the bike that steel ‘spring’ which is ideal when zinging along twisty singletrack.
The reviewers have certainly given it a thumbs up. Since the review the Brighton based Kinesis designers, who test all their products extensively on the South Downs, have upgraded key parts of the frame, bit more on this later.
I’ve had the frame for a few months and had been saving up to get various parts for it. It had to be a ‘British’ inspired bike being a true home grown brand with a growing reputation for ride quality. So I of course opted for Hope kit, which as well as being totally machined and made in the UK by hand has a great reputation as well. They recently released a seatpost so that was pretty fortuitous as it meant that all the finishing kit parts on the bike could be based on Hope. The only parts that couldn’t be British were the drivetrain which had to be Shimano for sturdiness, slickness and great value.
The next big thing on a mountain bike is the suspension and I had been reading great things about X-fusion who have actually been around since 1999, but only recently started to go into selling their products aftermarket. They’ve picked up some rave reviews recently, so I was very keen to get a fork that customers could try out as a demo with a view to potentially purchasing them. The fork I got was a Velvet RL120 fork upgraded to 130mm travel, its tapered which adds more stiffness at the steering interface. Its also stiff at the axle with its 15mm screw through upgrade. The larger diameter headtube is one area Kinesis recently upgraded on the frame, to allow for a new generation of tapered forks.
The wheels are definitely a crucial rider / terrain interface and I wanted to do something a bit different here. It was to be my first foray into tubeless, well I had to take the plunge sometime! Just my luck that WTB very recently released some very reasonably priced (26.99) UST compliant rims with regular spoke holes that can be easily built up into a user friendly tubeless wheelset. These rims are 23mm wide so will make the tyre balloon nicely for a very grippy ride. So I opted for nice gold Hope Pro 2 hubs, with that colour running throughout the bike as it pairs up with green nicely. The rims built up very easily, although the offset spoke holes provided some spoke length calculator fun and games! Setting up the tyres (UST WTB Bronsons 2.3) onto the rims was so simple, just whack on some special rim tape, add a valve core, pop the tyres on and inflate – well in practice, and now I know having had lots of practice. What you need to make sure is that you have the tyres on the right way before you inflate (most tyres are directional). When you remove these tubeless tyres, if you do get it wrong, the rim strip gets ruffled up rendering it pretty useless. So my advice is if you go for these get it right first time and you’ll have no trouble at all inflating. Its going to be really interesting to try out this wheelset at pressures lower than 30 psi, with no risk of pinch flats and no worries about thorn / stone punctures as the sealant will do its duty.
The bike’s drivetrain is full 10spd XT, so its pretty light and also very slick. The brake system is Hope Tech X2 which is supposedly their lightweight cross country / light freeride offering, but its pretty beefy especially with the 180mm upgraded floating rotor upfront. A new innovation on this frame is at the rear brake calliper which mounts into a pair of slotted holes. This means that if you ever wanted to use the horizontal swopout dropouts to run singlespeed or hub gears you can remove the wheel easily thanks to the slotted holes.
Finally the pedals have to be the most bling bit of the bike. I knew the Vault pedals were good but wait till you see and feel them in the flesh, they are so nice! And in this case so green!
The bike is available to take out to specifically try out the forks, but also the frame, tubeless wheels, pedals and so on. The Virsa is available as a ‘ready to ride’ package with different specs, but if you want something a bit different then why not build your dream steel hardtail around an award winning frame / fork combo!