Matt Levett takes the Kinesis Racelight Aithein road bike for first ride and enjoys the aluminium Aithein, which marks a turn for Kinesis away from Carbon..
Last year Kinesis decided to stop making carbon frames, opting instead to develop aluminium to its full potential.
The first result is the Aithein frameset, a lightweight, aluminium road frame with full carbon fork, produced using superplastic forming (SPF), a process that allows the alloy tubes to be drawn thinner and thus lighter.
We built up the Aithein with SRAM Force groupset and Reynolds Stratus Pro tubeless wheels. Kinesis provided an own-brand carbon seatpost, to which we fitted a Prologo Zero Nack saddle. We kept strictly to the lightweight aluminium theme by adding a Ritchey WCS handlebar and stem.
The result is an impressively light (7.2kg), fast bike. To my mind, it has the properties you want from a performance bike, in that it responds tangibly to every increase in effort, climbs well and has sharp handling; an all-day cruiser it is not.
While it would be wrong to describe the ride as harsh, the stiffness of the frame, and some other properties you would expect from aluminium, are borne out on the road. There is a pleasing metallic buzz, and while the full carbon fork and deeply curved chainstays provide some comfort, you do feel every bump.
“Using aluminium, Kinesis has achieved the quality of a carbon frame while offering something distinctive”
Kinesis has designed the seat tube to be the stabilising core of the Aithein’s frame, allowing the down and top tubes to be lighter.
The rear stays are also noticeably chunkier than the pencil-thin offerings on many aluminium road frames, so the rigidity and thus the power transfer are biased towards the back end.
It’s very effective and great fun but can make things quite lively — even skittish — during out-of-the-saddle efforts, particularly on rougher surfaces.
In the Aithein, Kinesis has proved that it can achieve the quality of more expensive carbon frames while simultaneously being distinctive — in what can be a somewhat identikit sector of the market. It may not perform the miraculous comfort/performance balance of some carbon frames, but the Aithein is what it is — a hot-hatch — right down to its ‘sick green’ and ‘sweet orange’ colourways. It’s designed to be light and quick, pure and simple, and that is exactly what it is.
Racelight Aithein Kinesium
Full carbon monocoque tapered 1.5″
47, 50, 53, 56, 59cm
SRAM Force 11-speed