So it all began with a new pair of tyres. Seems a bit extreme to buy a new bike when all you need is tyres! But that of course is not the whole story.
For a while I’ve been considering a new frameset, I bought cheap carbon originally and in general I’ve not been impressed with the quality. The geometry is good and the frame is a really decent weight, especially for the £650 I paid for the bike originally. It was the right choice at the time. But a couple of the cable routing covers no longer stay in place, I’ve taken to taping them in place with black electrical tape, fortunately the frame is black so the colour match is pretty good. I have had suspicions for a while about how straight the rear triangle is, I think I may have developed a crack in my steerer tube and I now have an annoying creak.
And as my bike preferences have changed so my idea of what my ideal frameset would be has too. Now I want something with disc brakes, something that can cope with wider tyres, a screw thread bottom bracket to ease maintenance and I no longer have a need of a front mech so a braze-on hanger is now considered a negative point. I also have no default need for the frame to be carbon; I can see that aluminium, steel or titanium can also potentially make a good frame, if used well.
Enter the Kinesis RTD.
It’s a frame that I’ve been considering for quite some time. Kinesis specialise in aluminium frames (some like this one also contain Scandium), although they do also offer titanium frames too. If you check out the range you’ll find frames aimed at being winter bikes, cyclocross, gravel/adventure bikes alongside hardtail mountain bikes and more traditional road geometries. The RTD has been designed as an ultra long distance race frame. Something designed to be ridden in races like the transcontinental, 3 – 4,000 km of non-stop racing. In fact it was inspired by the late Mike Hall, one of the greats of this racing scene.
I have no intention of getting into ultra distance racing but the frame just seemed to tick all the right boxes for me. It has all the features that I mentioned earlier, it also has it’s internal cable routing via the head tube which I think looks neater and which prevents cable rub around that area. It also has the geometry that I was looking for, something similar to what I already had, a relatively short head tube length, a reasonable short wheelbase (considering the larger tyres that can be fitted) and the reach was just a few mm more than my previous frame.
It’s kind of a nod towards the gravel bike scene, having the disc brakes and the wider tyre clearance without going whole hog and getting something that would look out of place on the club run with narrow tyres when on the road. So I feel like, with this frame, I could fit a pair of deep section aero wheels with a close ratio cassette and slick tyres for fast and flat groups rides. And then equally I could switch over to a pair of wider CX rims with knobbly tyres and a wider ranging cassette for the more bikepacking, gravel riding, adventure stuff. Or even just for winter use for a bit more grip and durability.
So that’s the frame then, what’s any of that got to do with new tyres?
If you’ve read my last post you’ll have noticed that I recently bought and fitted a new set of Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyres to my Campagnolo Zonda wheels. It was during this fitting that I noticed that my rim wear indicators had disappeared completely and that the rim braking surface was very concave. Basically the 5 or so years that I have been riding in all weathers has taken it’s toll on my wheels and they are now on the edge of being unsafe. A bike shop mechanic would condemn them. Coming out of the winter into spring this year, I had also started to notice other problems with my bike, the bottom bracket is grinding, it sounds like my hub bearings are going in the rear wheel and I needed the usual chain replacement and the cassette would probably need to be replaced alongside that. A freak accident with a badger on a dark February evening had left my bar tape torn in places and my saddle grazed and so with so many things in need of replacement and the wheels being the last straw, I decided that this was a good time for a complete rebuild! Enter the age of the RTD.