Kinesis Crosslight Pro 6 frameset

8
£549.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Sparkling race-oriented cyclocross frame with the practicality of an all-rounder; a modern classic
Weight: 
2,230g

The Kinesis Crosslight Pro 6 is a bit of a fixture on the UK cyclocross scene. You'd struggle to find a cyclocross race without one or two of them. Vecchiojo took an early example tricked out with some seriously bling componentry for a blast in the video Race or Escape, and we gave you a First Look way back in 2011, but not until now have we had one in for a proper test.

Kinesis sent us a frameset in the rather eyecatching Sick Green and it's a bit of a looker. I'll admit I wasn't ever wildly excited by the look of the Pro 6 in its original white or black colour schemes but it looks blimmin brilliant in green. We built it up with an all-black parts set which really offsets the green and during the test period it garnered a lot of positive comments about the looks.

The frame is made from Kinesium, Kinesis's exclusive 6000-series aluminium alloy which they say is 25% stronger than 6061. It's the same stuff they use in the gorgeous Aithein road bike, although that makes use of superplastic air forming to get more intricate tube shapes, resulting in a frame weight barely over that of some carbon bikes. Here the tubes are a bit less elaborate and the frame and fork are designed to be tough enough for the kind of abuse that gets doled out in cyclocross races. Frame and fork come in a little over 2.2kg for the XL, which is about what you'd expect for an aluminium 'crosser.

The fork is Kinesis' own and it's a beefy monocoque made from unidirectional carbon, also painted in Sick Green. The carbon steerer tapers from 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in and is more than long enough to run a handful of spacers if you want.

The Pro 6 was designed first and foremost as a cyclocross race bike, so it's relatively long and low. Our XL has a 580mm effective top tube and a 175mm head tube setting up a racier position than some more comfort-oriented all-rounders, such as the Trek Crossrip. It's a similar riding position to that on the Boardman cyclocross range. Wheelbase is 105cm on the XL (reducing to 99cm on the smallest size), about typical for a modern cross bike given the need to accomodate bigger tyres, disc brakes and mud.

Handling strikes a sweet balance between responsiveness and stability. Some of the test period was spent with the bike in full winter commuter guise, wearing 'guards, rack and pannier. The finer points of handling get rather muffled by all that extra weight, but strip the extra metalwork away and fit some road tyres and you've got a genuinely enjoyable bike for the road.

Sure, our build was heavier than a modern road bike but I found it a more than willing steed for the club chaingang or longer rides into the hills. Kinesis also offer the Pro 6 as a complete bike, with mostly 105 parts and their own cyclocross wheelset, which comes in at just under 10kg. Build it with posh parts and an all-up weight in the low 8s is possible, which is pretty similar to a lot of disc-brake road bikes.

Our build choices were governed chiefly by what happened to be lying around (after Dave Arthur had made off with all the fancy stuff for his Genesis build), so the hodgepodge drivetrain was mostly SRAM Apex with a 105 front mech and Ultegra chainset from Shimano. Shimano's RX31s are by no means a lightweight wheelset but they're affordable and pretty bombproof. TRP Spyre mechanical discs paired with compressionless Jagwire cables make for about as good a braking setup as is possible without going hydraulic.

The Pro 6 is a fairly vertically-stiff frameset with its chunky seatstays and fork, so the use of a lightweight alu bar and a slim carbon post helped give a little bit more compliance at the contact points. Running bigger tyres helps here and there's plenty of space to do so - I used the excellent Challenge Strada Bianca for most road use.

I'm no cross racer but in the name of writing a proper review I entered a race. The course was a mix of tarmac, BMX track, evil off-camber grass and some pretty techy sections through the woods. Here again I was impressed with the handling and the relatively racey position helped keep my weight low. Kinesis say that the proven race geometry is "designed to come out in front after an hour of elbow to elbow pedalling, vaulting and running" and sure enough, it carried me to victory in only my second ever cyclocross race.

No, what actually happened is that I knocked out a few laps with a big grin on my face until the back wheel stopped going round. Offroad handling is excellent; the Kinesis is a real point-and-shoot delight and fills you with confidence through the techy bits. What it could do with, though, is a bit more mud clearance between the chainstays.

Admittedly there was a lot of mud, and it made a particularly sticky composite with the grass, but having to scoop fistfuls of the stuff out from behind the bottom bracket would be a major headache for more competitive racers than me. With the mud hosed off after the race, a patch of bare aluminium was visible on the inside of one chainstay where the mud had worn right through the paint. There's lots of clearance between the seatstays and in the fork, so it's a shame that the chainstays couldn't sit further apart - an internal bottom bracket (BB30 or similar) would allow for slightly wider spacing.

Here there's a 68mm shell threaded for external bearings, with the corresponding pros and cons. Pro: no creaking, it stays in place and keeps quiet. Cons: stiffness is a little less than with larger internal bearings when you're out of the saddle and putting your weight through the cranks. I found I could get some chain rub on the front mech which is the clearest indicator of this, but it wasn't much and I certainly didn't feel there was a significant compromise to pedaling efficiency.

Cross-specific details are present and correct. The top tube is flattened and with a gentle curve on the underside, perfect for shouldering, and the cables run along the top, except for the one to the front mech, keeping them clear of the mud. This makes sense for cross racing but isn't ideal if you like to rest on the top tube when waiting for your mates at the top of the climbs. I do like to do this, and it's not at all comfortable with such cable routing. This isn't a criticism, more of an observation.

The Pro 6 is perhaps unusual in that - despite being positioned as a race bike first and foremost - Kinesis have nevertheless included mounts for a rack and full mudguards. This gets a big thumbs up from me. I've used cross bikes as commuters, tourers and road bikes and that versatility is a big part of their charm. Adding mounts needn't significantly increase cost or weight, so it's a no-brainer in my view.

One oddity here is that the rear lower mounts are welded on to the seatstays, a couple of inches above the axle. There's only a single tapped hole on each side, so if you want mudguards and a rack then they'll need to share. It works, but fitting and removing is definitely less simple than with a couple of eyelets in the dropouts. I fitted 45mm SKS Chromoplastic mudguards and found that the stays at the rear were only just long enough to reach the mounting point.

The Crosslight Pro 6 is a convincing all-rounder, then, with a racier bent than some ostensibly similar bikes. The geometry makes for a lively ride whether set up as a road bike or in full cyclocross mode, and the addition of mounts for rack and mudguards means that this is a genuine contender for "if you could just have one bike". I'd like more mud clearance behind the bottom bracket but that my only real quibble. It's a modern classic.

Verdict

Sparkling race-oriented cyclocross frame with the practicality of an all-rounder; a modern classic

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Kinesis Crosslight Pro 6 frameset

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Pro6 is not the first disc compatible, Cyclocross race frame that we have produced, in fact the first 'Crosslight Pro' [circa 2001] had disc mounts on the frame and fork because I thought it made sense to keep your braking surfaces out of the muddy grinding paste.

The Pro6 is a race bike first and foremost and uses our proven race geometry. It's designed to come out in front after an hour of elbow to elbow pedalling, vaulting and running. In addition, it has eyelets to allow the fitment of 'guards, rack and bottles if you are that way inclined. It's not supposed to be a 'Jack of all trades', but it is designed to be practical and adaptable as well as FAST.

It is disc brake only [no canti-bosses]. Discs make sense for CX, they mean consistent braking throughout the race and mean your expensive deep section carbon rims will last longer! Braking is not of utmost importance during a CX race, but the key to control is fluidity and a light touch, efficient brakes reduce rider fatigue and allow more energy for racing an hour at the red line.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

SEAT POST: 27.2mm. SEAT CLAMP: 31.8mm. FRONT MECH: 31.8mm. BB: 68mm. British. ROTOR SIZE: 160mm.

HEADSET: Integrated, 41.8ø upper, 51.8ø lower, for taper head tube. FSA No.42/ACB headset included with frame.

FORK RECOMMENDATION: 'CXD', Full monocoque, Unidirectional [UD] carbon fork with post mount, mudguard eyelets and hose clip. Included.

KINESIUM: Kinesium is enhanced 6000 series Aluminium alloy, which is 25% stronger than 6061 at the same weight level.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Neat welds and a lovely paint-job - looks more expensive than it is.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Fun and engaging off-road, and lively on the road.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Early Pro 6s has a reputation for fragile paint. For the most part I had no such issues here, although the mud wore through to the metal inside the chainstays, and paint did chip easily around the rack mounts. No issues at all with the frame and fork.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

About on the money for an aluminium cross frame at this price point. You can get lighter, but significant weight savings are going to mean carbon and more money.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
6/10

Make no mistake, this is a stiff frame, lacking some of the subtle design tricks used elsewhere to take the sting off the bumps. A slender carbon seatpost and bigger tyres can definitely make a difference, but it's no magic-carpet ride.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

It's a decent price for a race-ready frame.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The combination of engaging handling, good looks and practicality.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

When the mud stopped the rear wheel going round - more clearance between the chainstays would be welcome.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

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