I’m glad you asked! The Kinetik Expedition is designed to be a flat-bar, longer travel flavor of a hardtail adventure bike. I call it an “expedition” bike because I designed it with extended adventures in mind. Like, if you wanted to ride for three months or so. Or even more.
So, what does an expedition bike need to be able to do?
In my mind, almost anything. And that’s a tall order for any one bike! I know you can make any bike work for almost anything, but how well-suited would it be? You could take a time trial bike on the Arizona Trail, but it probably wouldn’t be much fun and your ride wouldn’t last very long.
Is it possible to make one bike do most things? Yes, mostly. Take away the two ends of the bike spectrum, with road bikes on one end and downhill bikes on the other. Then ask what a bike would look like that starts in the middle and pushes out both directions on that spectrum, as far each way as possible.
What shaped my design of the Kinetik Expedition bike?
The two events that have had the most impact on my life are the Arizona Trail Race and the Tour Divide Race. So I spent some time pondering what characteristics a bike would have to have to excel in both. I have the Havok, a drop bar mountain bike designed with the TDR in mind. Would that one fit the bill? For many riders, I would say yes.
But for me, it would not be the right bike on the AZT. My body’s not very happy on drop bars. And the geometry is a bit steep and short travel, I think, to be really forgiving on the AZT. Could someone put some fat tires on the Havok (it takes up to 29×3.0, weird for a TDR bike) and run it down the trail? For sure. And have fun on much of it. But, I think it would require more of the rider than really should be the case in that endeavor.
What about the SuperB? Its design specifically considers the Arizona Trail Race. Longer travel, slacker, lower top tube for the ten thousand times you have to get off and on the bike during that ride. Designed to disappear under a tired rider and take as good care as possible of them.
Would the SuperB run down the Tour Divide course? Absolutely. Would it be optimal? Probably not. The TDR doesn’t require the slack head. And the SuperB has less frame bag space and a heavier longer fork. It’s really more trail bike than you need for that course.
Enter the Kinetik Expedition Bike
Slacked out from the Havok, but not as much as the SuperB. At 67 degrees head angle, I think it’s at what feels to me to be the best angle for two-track and singletrack. In fact, in times of slacker, ever-slacker head angles, I’m becoming enamored of 67 degrees as a great all-around trail bike spec. Not too quick, not too slow. Right there in the Goldilocks zone of head angles.
The Kinetik Expedition is stable, descends well, and turns really well. As an aside, it seems to me that turning qualities are mostly left out of geometry discussions. It might be from my moto days, where the races were won in the turns, but I value turning ability highly. When a bike turns well you notice it instantly, and it makes the trail a friendlier place.
Now, let’s ride the Kinetik Expedition!
We’re going to ride this bike on a three-month expedition. It better be comfortable. What makes a bike comfortable? Seating position, and position over the crank. The Kinetik has lots of stack. That gets the rider’s hands up and gets the weight off of the wrists. The bottom bracket is as low as I thought I could dare and still talk about the AZT with it. The drop is 60mm and 65mm on the smaller sizes.
The low bottom bracket and high stack rotates the rider more upright. Not aero, for sure, but way more comfortable. Of course, some aero bars will take care of a lot of that headwind. The seat tube angle is chosen to work with the majority of femurs out there, and still do so when switching fork lengths around.
Speaking of the AZT, we need some fork travel, so we’ll go with 120mm. This should help with the plentiful technical and rocky sections as it affords a little more plushness and sag to soften up the hits. It’s not so long that it’s hard to set up fully rigid. Many available rigid forks will interchange with it. In fact, the design spec allows for a travel range of 100mm to 120mm without significant changes to the geometry. The smaller sizes will benefit from the shorter travel forks, especially in the standover department.
But, can I bring the kitchen sink?
Almost. We have to carry some stuff, so a generous frame bag area is needed, along with braze-ons for bottles and cages and things. There’s some on the seat stays. I find I don’t have any trouble with bottles mounted there, though some might not like it. I installed a half-frame bag on the prototype and was still able to mount five bottle cages on the bike.
An impressive seven is achieved when using a rigid fork that has its own bottle mounts. Plus the half-frame bag. That’s pretty cool. With a full-frame bag and a rigid fork, you could get five. I’m from the desert so I’m always obsessing about water I guess. There’s a bolt-on top tube bag mount also.
Now, what about the bottom end?
To make this loaded thing go anywhere it means that we have to be able to mount a variety of tires. 29×3 seems like the grail most often sought in tire versatility. So making those fit affects the chainstay length and some other things, like fitting a crank around those wide chainstay yoke hips. So, the chainstays end up a bit longer. Chainstay length gets over into that same category as head angle, I think. Shorter being better.
For fun one day I designed a bike with zero length chainstays. Fabrication would be a challenge. But, I digress. I have noticed that some of my best-turning bikes have longer chainstays. Somewhat counterintuitive, I know. They won’t manual as well of course, but that’s not why we are here. And that longer rear end adds compliance. Remember, we’re riding nearly every day for three months.
Put skinny tires and a rigid fork on, and it’s a gravel bike. Put bigger tires on with a 120mm fork and it’s a trail/all-mountain bike. Or, run 29x3s with a rigid fork and ride the Camino del Diablo – it has plenty of places to carry water!
Oh, the dropouts adjust, the bottom bracket is BSA threaded, and did I mention it has lots of room for bags and stuff? Add some Falken bars and it will all fall into place.
So you ask, would I ride the Kinetik on the TDR? Absolutely! Would I ride it on the AZTR? Absolutely! Now, are you ready for an expedition?!
PS: The reviews we’ve received on the Kinetik Expedition have been favorable. There’s another Pinion version recently in the wild as well as another standard version ready to explore Australia! Check out the reviews here.