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Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail review

The Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail features proper aggro geometry and Fazua’s removable motor system. But does this necessarily mean more hardcore, hardtail fun? Guy Kesteven has been charging and recharging round his local trails to find out.

Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Well shaped aggro hardtail with subtly unobtrusive but useful power assist to get you further and faster. Unforgiving frame and simple fork hold it back when you’re really hammering though.

For

  • Sorted all-round aggro handling
  • Big tyre clearance helps the ride
  • Black Pepper Fazua is very user friendly
  • The removable power pack is a potential bonus

Against

  • Harsh rear end
  • Fork feels basic when pushed
  • Brake creep needs watching

We saw the Kinesis Rise first at UK trade shows where it’s combination of properly radical geometry, big 29er tyres and neatly integrated Fazua motor made it really stand out. That’s because most E-hardtails are shaped and equipped more like slightly chunky ‘soft road’ hybrids than proper pinners. Being a hardtail also dodges all the costs and complications of full suspension. The result is an impressively capable, nearly practical, bomber at a competitive price - just don’t expect the smoothest ride. 

Design and geometry

Not only is this the first E-MTB from Kinesis it’s also the first progressively shaped bike from the southern UK brand. They’ve gone all in too, with a very clever length rather than nominal-sized based approach. By keeping seat tubes super short and using long stroke (150 or 170mm) dropper posts most riders could potentially fit on three different bikes from the L1 - L4 range. That translates to around 50mm difference in reach depending on your preference, with the range starting at 437mm and stretching to 510mm for the L4. 

At the far end you’ll find a short offset (44mm) fork at 66.7 degrees while a forged chain-stay yoke keeps chain-stay length relatively short at 445mm, despite space for a muddy 29x2.5in tyre. The seat tube sits at 75.5 degrees which doesn’t sound that steep until you realise that there’s no rear suspension compression on climbs, just fork compression to tilt you forward on the attack.

Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail

The swollen headtube keeps the front end of the bike stiff and percise  (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The alloy frame is definitely built with attack in mind too. The headtube is a swollen, oversized piece that dwarfs the fork crown, and the Fazua battery and motor sit inside a big hexagonal down tube. A QR closed, bolt-through axle holds the rear wheel at the end of chunky chain-stays and the rectangular seat-stays look ready to withstand seismically significant loads. They also overlap the already buttressed seat post junction to totally lock down strength. The only slim section is the top tube where the Fazua battery indicator and mode button sit just ahead of a slight ‘Mondraker’ style kink. The sparkly metallic flake paint gives it an extra visual lift too.

Components and build 

The Fazua Evation motor is obviously a key part of the build and our Rise came with the latest ‘Black Pepper’ software and firmware updates installed. That doesn’t change the 55Nm torque or 400W max output of the Fazua motor, but it widens the cadence range it picks up from 55 to 125rpm. It also smooths out power delivery of the already very ‘natural’ feeling motor and lets you tune the three ‘Breeze, River and Rocket’ modes through the Toolbox 2.0 software update. Overall efficiency is increased too, so Fazua is confident you’ll get 1000m of climbing over 55km with the 250Wh battery. The real difference with Fazua compared to other systems though is that you can unlatch and remove the entire battery and motor system, saving 3.1kg of weight from the 19.4kg bike. You’ll need to fit the 400g cover (£70) to keep the internals clean and stop it looking weird, but that gives you a useful bit of jacket/spares/couple-of-baguettes-for-lunch storage space. There’s an optional neoprene battery/motor cover too for £30.

Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail

We rode the GX equipped aluminium wheels model that sits mid range (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Kinesis offer three complete builds of the Rise. Shimano SLX for £3200, the GX we tested for £3400 and a GX version with their own smooth-riding, carbon Sector wheels for £4400. All versions get the same build otherwise though with X-Fusion’s E-Slide 130mm travel fork and Manic dropper post, wide bar short stem FSA GRID cockpit, TRP Slate T4 brakes and the excellent DMR Deathgrip grips. Wheels are wide rim alloy Sector 9E with Maxxis DHF and Aggressor tyres in 29x2.5in Exo TR spec.

Ride, handling and performance 

We’ve ridden Fazua’s Evation system a fair amount and been impressed by it’s natural - if not overpowering - feel, but the Black Pepper upgrades definitely bring it up a notch. You can still swamp its maximum 400W ‘Rocket’ power delivery if you really push hard on a climb, and you can’t use it to winch you up steeps with comedy ease like a full-blooded motor. You can still drop out of the bottom of the rev range on really tight uphill turns too. That means we generally kept clear of 'Rocket' to avoid slight disappointment and left it in 250W ‘River’. While the name sounds cheesy that really does give a much better sense of flow but still delivers the easier climbing, let’s-go-back-up-for-another-go-because-we-can bonuses that you’re looking for from an E-bike.

While there’s a slight sense of drag when the motor is working with you (similar to a chain at an extreme angle), noise levels are low and once you get beyond assistance speed there’s barely any drag at all. The fact you can easily remove the whole power pack for convenient recharging is a definite bonus. How many people will remove it and ride the bike as a 16kg hardtail remains to be seen but at least the option is there. 

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Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail

The compact Fazua motor and battery can be easily removed for charging or non assisted riding (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail

When the motor is removed or not in use there is no drag when pedaling (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The Rise certainly makes good use of the speed or height it adds too. The combination of reasonable steering stability and long reach gives it confident control through the big FSA cockpit. Big volume Maxxis tyres and wide Sector rims back that up with plenty of grip so you can properly push it on smoother, more groomed trails. At under 20kg it pops and hops a lot more easily than most E-bikes, although you’ll need skill to land it without a slam.

The steep effective seat angle and smooth power delivery are a big help on climbs so you don’t have to go the longer, easier way round to get your next descending fix. The geometry isn’t so freaky that it becomes a chore when you’re cruising more mellow, natural trails and making the most of the extended Fazua efficiency though. 

The seriously solid back end and increased weight of the bike inevitably mean a firm ride from the rear end though. Even with the big tyres at teen pressures, steps, blocks and drops cause significant impacts and you’ll definitely want to hover over the saddle rather than sit on it over rougher trails. While the wheels were OK taking the hammer, it’s only a matter of time before the tyres give up on a sharp edge so a heavier duty carcass version or a rim protection insert would be a smart upgrade.

The simple damper in the X-Fusion fork can also start to choke and stutter once the Rise starts charging. That means we’d be happier seeing an X-Fusion McQueen with the more advanced Rough Cut damper up front on an otherwise capable chassis. 

While the 4 pot braking power is OK, the TRP Slate levers also have a worrying habit of dialling their reach-adjust inwards on extended descents. This gradually brings them to the bars so they feel like their actually failing, so be sure to check the position before each descent or get some extra thread lock on the adjuster screws.

Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail

The TRP Slate brakes did a reasonable job at braking but the reach adjusters dialled themselves in on descents (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict 

Kinesis have done a great job of building a properly fun-shaped - and fun-proof - hardtail that’s smoothly, subtly boosted by the latest Fazua Evation motor system. Even if you take liberties with tyre pressure on the big Maxxis it’s definitely a very hard hardtail though so you’ll need to work on your float not to get beaten up on rougher terrain. While the geometry is ready to play hard and fast, the fork and rear tyre carcass will hit their limits sooner and the brakes need watching for lever creep.

Test conditions

  • Temperature range:  2-17 degrees  
  • Trails:  Mixed local woods, man-made trails, moorland backcountry and gravel tracks 

Tech spec:  Kinesis Rise GX E-Hardtail 

  • Price: £3,400.00
  • Discipline: Trail
  • Head angle: 66.7 degrees 
  • Seat tube angle: 75.5 degrees
  • Frame: 6000 series alloy  
  • Size: T3
  • Weight: 19.4kg  
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle 10-50T 12 speed gearing and shifter 
  • Crankset: SRAM GX
  • Wheels: Sector 9E 29er wheels
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF front and Maxxis Aggressor rear EXO TR 29 x 2.5in 
  • Brakes: TRP Slate T4 brakes with 200mm front, 180mm rear rotors  
  • Bar/stem: FSA GRID 780mm bar and 40mm stem  
  • Seatpost:  X-Fusion Manic 150mm dropper post 
  • Saddle: Kinesis saddle