Mason explains why Kenesis has joined the 29er club and gives his thoughts on 650b and trends at Taipei

PROFILE: Dom Mason, designer at Kenesis Bikes

Your first 29er is now available to dealers. Why now for a Kinesis 29er?
Up until recently I wasn’t convinced by the whole 29-inch argument. Big bikes with ponderous handling didn’t really seem to work for the type of riding that we’re into or suit the Maxlight ‘fast trail bike’ style. So a ‘Maxlight29’ was logged and went into the file marked ‘Hmmm… interesting’.

The first time around, 29ers seemed to look and ride just like scaled up small-wheeled bikes. There was certainly something interesting going on but they just didn’t click with my thinking on what a bike should do. Some refinement was required with geometry and componentry.

Now, the movers and shakers have filled that evolutionary gap. New thinking on geometry and vastly improved suspension forks, wheelsets, tyres, headsets and also the acceptance of 2×10 drivetrains has turned the idea of the big-wheeled bike from an eyebrow raiser into a really exciting new branch on the riding tree. Now it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

The wider availability of longer-travel forks and larger-volume tyres that aren’t designed solely for endurance racing was the catalyst that spurred me into action. Warp-speed, flowing singletrack, tempo-pace climbs and fast dips and crests are where the Maxlight frames excel. Twenty-nine-inch wheels are fast, so if we could harness that speed and work it into a ‘fast trail friendly’ package, we knew we might have a winner.

If a 29er is going to have the Maxlight name on it, it needs to take 2.2s with sideblocks, it needs a 100-120mm trail fork up front, and it has to be capable of being ridden aggressively.

How has the reaction been?
Interest is high and the first frames are arriving. It looks amazing in the flesh, curves on frame, colour, tube sizes…they all work together. Just like our Pro-6 disc cross frame we expect it to explode with the dealers once the first frames start hitting the ride groups.

Which Kinesis models are proving most popular this season?
Again our winter/training bikes and frames have been big. The Racelight T2 is a winning package.

The Crosslight Pro-6 went better than expected. It is our first disc specific cross frameset and paves the way for discs on road bikes. We are fortunate to distribute the TRP Parabox brake converter too and this has helped dealers with nice builds on this frame.

Our Racelight Granfondo Titanium has been a surprise – there are plenty of high-end customers looking for real quality with value, it seems.

What’s next for the brand?
We are turning Kinesis UK into a complete bike brand, now with the addition of great spec build kits for Maxlight MTB frames. The inclusion of X-Fusion suspension in our portfolio has helped here. Expect more complete bikes to come like Maxlight FF-29 and Crosslight Pro-6. This will be aided by an increased range of own branded components under the KUK badge. Wheel packages is key with the advent of disc for cross and road adopting the 135mm wheel axle standard.
Look out for a new superlight sub kilo alloy road frame and maybe a Maxlight 29er Full suspension?

You were at Taipei Cycle earlier this year? How successful has the show been for you?
Very successful. Not a selling show, but one where we build on our supplier relations and plan for next year. Many of our brands have amazing changes for 2013.

Did you see any key trends?
Disc brakes for Road bikes. Disc brakes for CX. Wheelsize excitement…29-inch or 650b? Electronic shifting from a host of different manufacturers. In-hood hydraulic braking and lots of cable>hydraulic converters.

Was the cost of raw materials a hot topic of conversation again?
Keeps going up, and labour charges continue to go up. Everyone in China wants an iPhone. Consumers should expect to pay more. Cycling is still good value relatively.

Any other titbits of information or gossip from the show?
-650b might become the next 29er standard for 4-inch sus mtbs and for small person hardtails.
-More electronics on bikes for sure – compatible brakes/gears from other manufacturers like TRP.
-Hydraulic drop bar levers will come and with it new standards on frames, forks and wheels (rims).

Kenesis Bikes
Dom Mason, Designer
Tel: +44 (0) 1403 711 61 (Via Upgrade)

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