The recognition of gravel driving has seen some practically forgotten terrain compliance applied sciences revive.
Specialised popularised the Future Shock with its Diverge gravel bike vary, as a design goal to cut back hand, wrist, arm and shoulder fatigue when routing alongside corrugated gravel routes. Now, the Cirrus Kinekt suspension stem goals to supply the identical resolution to the plenty.
As extra adventurous gravel riders have leveraged the advantage of frames with bigger tyre clearances, singletrack detours have additionally change into honest sport for the all-terrain inflexible bike rider. However what to do, if you’re struggling handlebar contact level fatigue, in your gravel rides?
Headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, Cirrus is an innovative component brand, with its founder, Paul Barkley, having huge expertise driving on Africa’s lovely however brutal gravel roads. The corporate’s newest providing is a recent redesign of the oft-maligned suspension stem idea.
In the course of the mountain bike improvement and experimentation surge within the Nineties, elastomers and suspension stems have been usually touted as a short-travel fork various. Hampered by poor execution and the demanding nature of mountain bike terrain, suspension stems garnered a nasty popularity.
Now the gravel bike motion has given the suspension stem a second probability, to show whether or not it has worth, or is pure industrial design novelty.
Getting it proper with gravel
Though the Kinekt is purposed for each city and all-terrain use, we determined to check it on a few of the most genuine gravel roads wherever: farming backroads within the rural Western Cape of South Africa. This is able to current a real load-case and reveal whether or not this Cirrus stem is sufficiently sturdy in its building and succesful in its damping.
First impressions of the Cirrus Kinekt suspension stem after unboxing was shock at its dimension. Housing the parallelogram hyperlink design and single coil spring is a bundle which is way bigger than a standard cast stem. Our check element was the Kinekt’s shortest 90mm variant, which nonetheless has a mass ranking of 465g, a lot higher than a standard single-piece stem.
Becoming the Kinekt stem is straightforward sufficient, though I doubted whether or not my headset has labored its approach free, initially. The 20mm price of coil damping feels odd, at first, creating the feeling of one thing being approach too free throughout the steering geometry of your bike.
Car parking zone testing is at all times disingenuous and on a static bike, the Kinekt feels unusual. Heading onto some African farm roads I used to be anticipating to be disenchanted.
Suspension journey on the handlebar, as a substitute of a fork’s axle, tends to unbalance your centre of gravity as a rider. However the Kinekt is just not pretending to be a suspension fork. It’s designed as a low-maintenance element with the aim of dulling terrain buzz, when rolling big distances over these unpaved roads that at all times reveal nice journey.
Experience like it isn’t there
As soon as I turned accustomed to my handlebar shifting in its personal impartial vertical rhythm to the frequency of gravel roads bumps and texture, the stem’s dynamics got here into its personal.
The Kinekt’s robustness proved spectacular. Though it isn’t beneficial for mountain bike use, I rolled down a blue-graded singletrack path for testing functions. My palms retained superior grip power all through the descent and I by no means felt uncontrolled.
Steering accuracy might be a fear to many contemplating a suspension stem, however when you fall into confidence with the Kinekt’s construction and journey it naturally, any such concern turns into an afterthought.
The commercial designers and product individuals at Cirrus have chosen the Kinekt’s journey vary correctly. At 20mm, it adequately insulates one from the worst street floor buzz with out having an excessive amount of journey.
With a higher vary of vertical journey, Cirrus would danger producing an unnatural sensation of your handlebar pivoting an excessive amount of and unbalancing your centre of gravity.
I used to be sceptical of the Kinekt. My gravel rides are normally a purist expertise, rolling a Reynolds 853 steel body from Cotic, on giant quantity 26” tyres, with a chromoly fork. When my palms begin getting heat as an indication of terrain buzz overwhelming my grip power, I tolerate it as required gravel journey struggling.
With the Cirrus Kinekt suspension stem, my gravel journey endurance is way higher – and safer. The sensation of a numb hand not being able to dexterously triggering a brake lever, resulting from terrain fatigue, is just not a cheerful gravel biking second. With the Kinekt, my palms at all times felt able to modulate all cockpit controls with assurance.
Cirrus ships the Kinekt suspension stem with a alternative of three springs and at 75kg, I by no means felt the necessity to swap out for the stouter choice, being completely content material on the ‘medium’ coil. Bigger riders would possibly profit from the firmer spring and becoming it’s fairly easy, requiring solely a 2.5 Allen key to disassemble the stem’s construction and entry the coil’s mounting place.
At $179.95 it isn’t low-cost and provides vital weight to your cockpit, however the Cirrus Kinekt’s construct high quality seems stellar and its performance has been confirmed past doubt throughout our testing.
These gravel riders and bike packing fans who desire a element improve that can make their large sky driving miles extra snug, with out the burden of complexity, will discover worth within the Kinekt.