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Kestrel Bikes: Best Selling Bicycle of 2020

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With the advancement in technology, bicycles are getting quite sophisticated to meet the riders needs. Among the leading bicycle manufacturers in the globe is Kestrel- a U.S. based bike company famed for producing top-notch bicycles available in the market today. The American company specializes in designing and manufacturing high-end bikes for road racing and triathlons. Since 2007, Kestrel has been owned by Advanced Sports International, which also owns Fuji Bikes.

What makes Kestrel stand out among bike manufacturers is that the company is the brainchild of AEGIS-An aerospace company, which pioneered the use of carbon fiber frames in bicycles amidst contrasting bike production philosophies at that time (1986). Since its inception, Kestrel has undergone strategic growth to be the leading manufacturer of Triathlon and Road bikes. Here is an in-depth review.

About Kestrel USA

Kestrel USA was established in 1986 by a group of Aegis employees in collaboration with aerospace materials experts. The same year, the company produced the World’s very first all-carbon fiber bicycle, the Kestrel 4000. The road bike also featured a fully aerodynamic frame design thanks to the first-ever Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of bicycle frame structure in 1986. Also, in 1986, Kestrel launched the first-ever bladder-molded monocoque carbon structure used on a bike.

The move split the company with members who against the monocoque/one-piece construction heading west to establish another bike manufacturing company- Cycle Composites d/b/a Kestrelel.

In 1989, Kestrel set new standards yet again with the launch of EMS technology that saw the introduction of carbon fork into the bike industry. Still in 1989, the company pioneered the 200 EMS, which featured carbon fiber with “intermediate modulus”-referring to reinforced stiffness. In the same year, the company pioneered the KM40-theWorld’s first all-carbon triathlon bike.

Three years later, in 1992, Kestrel launched the 500Sci-the first “modern” seat-tube-less bike. The bike was an immediate success and confirmed the structural flexibility provided by a composite design. Other notable releases include: The KM40 Airfoil (1999) and EMS Pro Series (2001) and the RT-700(2007), which won Outside Magazine “Bike of the Year” honors.

In 2008, Kestrel was acquired by Advanced Sports International becoming part of the ASI family together with Fuji &S.E. Since its acquisition; the company has released outstanding flagships including the 4000 triathlon/time trial model (2010), Kestrel RT1000(2012), Legend Bike brand (2013), and the upgraded Talon Triathlon/Road bike.

Bike Building Technology

Kestrel employs the latest technology involving frame construction to build exemplary road/ triathlon bikes. The company was the first to pioneer an all-carbon-fiber bike in 1986. While carbon fibers are quite expensive compared to glass fibers or plastic fibers, they offer several advantages best for triathlon or road bikes. Advantages of carbon fibers compared to other fibers include: extremely lightweight, high chemical resistance capability, low thermal expansion, high tensile strength coupled with high stiffness, and high-temperature tolerance.

In addition to carbon fiber technology, Kestrel uses aerodynamic design technology to build aero triathlon frame, which pioneered the KM40 Airfoil. Kestrel’s design principles have greatly influenced the bike manufacturing industry with leading bike manufacturers, including Trek and Giant adopting Kestrel’s pioneering technology.

In recent years, the company has moved towards building monocoque frames, which are slowly replacing traditional lug and tube frame designs. Monocoque frames is an innovative technology to sustain both tensile and compressive forces without actually having an internal frame that functions to support the load. The overall effect is that improved strength with reduced weight of the bike. Monocoque frames are the reason. Kestrel bikes tend to appear fluid, curved, and lightweight. Recent releases also feature angular designs aimed at reducing drag attributed to wind resistant

Kestrel Bicycles Review

Kestrel produces a wide range of bikes categorized into three groups: Mountain bikes, triathlon bikes, and road bikes. These bikes encompass high-end/expert level models, which are quite expensive and entry-level bikes that are relatively pocket-friendly. Below is a review of the top bikes under each category:

Mountain Kestrel Bikes 

1.      Kestrel MXZ TEAM Bike

Released in 2018, the Kestrel MXZ Team bike features an all-carbon frame on 29″ wheels and XC inspired geometry that function to enhance rider performance cross-country terrains. The carbon frame.e., the highest-grade KSL 800k Ultra high modulus carbon fiber, which is lightweight and stiff enough to provide unmatched control.

Weighing just under 25 pounds, the bike comes with top-notch build kits, including Rock Shox SID World Cup forks, SRAM NX, or Shimano X.T. drive trains, tubeless WTB TCS wheel sets and full Ritchey Component kit.

Specifications

Color: Satin Carbon/Gloss Black

Weight: 10.95Kg/ 24.09lbs

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800K carbon fiber, 11/8″ – 1 1/2″ Head tube, 12mm Thru axle dropout

Wheelset: WTB i23 TCS, 32h thru axle sealed hubs, TCS rim tape installed

Tires: Maxxis Apen, 29×2.1″, EXO, tubeless ready,folding

Crankset: Shimano Deore XT, 32T

Shifters: Shimano Deore X.T., 11-46, 11-speed.

Chain: KMC X11EL w/Missing Link, 11-speed.

 Top Features

·        Lightweight- The Kestrel MXZ Team bike is super lightweight thanks to a very light KSL construction which allows for ultra-efficient pedaling performance

·        Efficient-It features an efficient pedaling performance provided by the oversized down tube combined with PF30 bottom bracket.

·        Comfortable- Very comfortable even or rocky terrain attributed to thin seats which reduces trail vibrations enabling you to ride for long hours without getting fatigued

·        Super Traction- The Maxxis Apen, 29×2.1″, EXO, tubeless tires provide excellent traction on muddy or rocky terrain.

2.      MX5 Spram Le Bike

The 2019 MX5 Spram Le is perfect for riding uphill attributed to the Kestrel Super Light 800k ultra high modulus carbon fiber that offers low weight for excellent traction. Additionally, the Maxxis26x4.8” offers maximum traction on sand, snow, and generally all terrains. The bike can tackle even the most hardened mountain climb by using the 12-speedSRAM NX Eagle drive train. The RockShox Bluto provides additional plush for ease of descending.

 Specifications    

Color: Carbon

Weight: 14.84/ 32.65 lbs.

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800KCarbon Fatbike, 1 1/8″ – 1 1/2″ Head tube, 12mm Thru-axle dropout

Wheelset: SUN-RINGLE Mulefüt 80SL, 32H Formula sealed-bearing hubs, Stainless Spokes

Tires: Maxxis Minion 26 x 4.80 FBF/FBR, 60tpifolding

Crankset: SRAM NX Eagle DUB, 30T

Shifters: SRAM NX Eagle Trigger, 12-speed

Chain: SRAM NX Eagle w/Power Lock, 12-speed

Top Features

·        Lightweight-The MX5 comes with the lightest KSL Carbon construction for excellent traction

and ultra-efficient pedaling performance

·        Efficient Cycling– The tall chainstays coupled with the shaped down tube offers excellent power transfer for ease of cycling uphill

·        Superior Traction– Lightweight frame coupled with Maxxis 26×4.8” tires provide maximum traction almost every trail throughout the year.

·        Disc Brakes

Disc brakes provide uncompromised breakage regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. With effective brakes, you’re assured of your safety.

 Road Kestrel Bikes   

1.      Talon X Shimano 105 Road Bike

Kestrel Talon X Dura-Ace Road Bike - 2018
  • Kestrel EMH carbon frame and tapered fork
  • Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed components

For riders seeking fast, agile aero bike with modern features, the Talon X Shimano 105 may suit them. Talon X features the highest grade 80k ultra-high-modulus carbon fiber making the bike light enough for a strong performance. Lightweight performance is further enhanced by matching the Shimano’s 105 drive train to Oval Concepts 327 wheels.

The aero carbon seat posts, as well as the fast-aero frames, are well design to optimize riding performance. Each frame features unique tube lengths, diameters, shapes as well as carbon layups for better ride performance.

Specifications

Color: Dark Blue

Weight: 18.35 lbs./ 8.33 kg

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800k high-modulus carbon fiber, PF30 BB

Wheelset: Oval Concepts 327, 700c 20/24H rims

Tires: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro, 700 x 25c, folding

Crankset: Oval 300, 50/34 T

Shifter: Shimano 105 STI, 11-speed

Chain: KMC X11 w/Missing Link, 11-speed

 Top Features –

·        Aerodynamic Design- The all-new Talon X features an aerodynamic design involving full aeroframe and carbon fork with aerodynamically contoured seat tube, stays, and seatposts to overcome drag from the wind.

·        Reversible seatpost- The Talon X features a reversible seatpost to allow riders to choose either a road or triathlon-style position. It therefore, can be used by triathlon riders who want to train primarily on the road.

·        Shaped Seat stays- Shaped seat stays provide comfort by reducing road vibration,thus allows you to ride for long hours/distance without fatigue.    

2.      Legend SL Sram Red eTap

Kestrel Legend SL SRAM eTAP Road Bike - 2018
  • Kestrel KSL 800K Carbon Fiber is stiff and reduces road vibration
  • Kestrel EMH Full Carbon fork with tapered steerer for stiffness

The Legend SL Sram Red eTap is constructed using the highest grade 800K Ultra high-modulus carbon fiber encompassing a new one-piece mold structure. The bike has no bonded joints; thus, its very light and, at the same time, quite strong for superior performance. Compaction and stiffness in the carbon frame is assured by the use of inner polyurethane mold sin high-stress areas, including the B.B. shell and head tubes. The frame geometry involves a low head tube and internal cable routing for enhanced aerodynamics. Overall, the bike is lightweight, stiff, aggressive, agile, and,most importantly, comfortable to ride. It’s perfect for stage racers, climbers,or any rider seeking a top-level bike without really sacrificing on ride quality.

Specifications

Color: Carbon/ Red

Weight: 13.70 lbs. /6.22 kg

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL)800K high-modulus carbon fiber, PF30 BB Wheelset: ZIPP 202 Fircrest, 700c,18/24h

Tires: ZIPP Tangente Speed, 700 x25c, folding

Crankset: SRAM RED 22, 52/36T

Shifters: SRAM RED eTAP, 11-speed

Chain: SRAM RED, 11-speed

Top Features

·        Incredibly Lightweight- Kestrel Legend SL SRAM eTap road bike is constructed using the highest grade 800K high-modulus carbon fiber in a one-piece mold with no bonded joints making it incredibly light-only 625g.

·        Comfortable-In addition to offering unmatched performance, the bike is quite comfortable with the seatstays engineered to reduce road vibration, keeping the rider more comfortable.

·        Stiff-The bike’s P739 bottom bracket, shaped down tube, and tall chainstays are all stiff enough to provide efficient power transfer.

Triathlon Kestrel Bikes

1.      5000 SL SRAM RED ETAP

 

The 5000 SL features the highest-grade KSL 800KUltra high modulus carbon fiber that features EPS internal molds to reduce weight and the same time improve compaction and increase overall strength. The bike also comes with SRAM’S eTap wireless shifting technology, which functions to offer seamless shifting performance both when cycling uphill and descending downhill. The flawless shifting technology is coupled with the aerodynamically designed Oval Concepts 980 Carbon wheels to reduce wind drag. Riding performances enhanced with each frame size constructed with unique diameters, tube shapes as well as carbon layups.

Specifications 

Color: Satin Dark Gray/ Black

Weight: 19. 21 lbs./ 8.72 kg

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800K

high-modulus carbon fiber, PF30 BB.

Wheelset: Oval Concept 985 Tubeless, 700c

16/20H aero carbon rims

Tires: ZIPP Tangente Speed CL, 700 X 23C,

folding

Shifters: SRAM RED eTAP for TT/Tri, 11-speed

Chain: SRAM Red 22, 11-speed.

Top Features 

·        Powerful-The bike is very powerful thanks to the PF30 bottom bracket with an oversized shell for resourceful power transfer

·        Aerodynamic Design- The 5000SL features an aerodynamic design with removable brake fairingsto reduce wind resistance.

·        Adjustable Saddle-The saddle rail allows for 40mm of fore and aft adjustment to perfectly fit any rider.

2.      5000 SL SHIMANO ULTEGRA DI2

The 5000SL Shimano Ultegra Di2 features a powerful drive train and Oval 950F wheel for top-notch performance. The bike is constructed using the highest-grade KSL 800K Ultra-high modulus carbon fiber with EPS internal molds to enhance compaction, reduce weight, and increase overall strength. Ride quality is further enhanced by the frame size built with unique tube shapes, diameters, plus carbon layup schedules.

Specifications

Colors:  Carbon/

Blue Gray

Weight: 20.11 lbs./ 9.13 kg

Frame: Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800K

high-modulus carbon fiber, PF30 BB

Wheelset: Oval Concepts 950 F, 700C 18/24H aero

carbon-alloy rims

Tires: Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed, 700 x 23c,

folding

Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2 TT, 11-speed

Chain: KMC X11 EL w/MissingLink, 11-speed

Top Features

·        Uncompromised power- The 5000 SL efficiently transmits power for seamless ride hills. ThePF30 bottom bracket coupled with the oversized shell functions to transmit power efficiently.

·        Aerodynamic Design- The aerodynamic design with the removable brake fairings breaks wind resistance for enhanced performance

·        Adjustable Saddles- For an all-size fit, the saddle rail clamp can be adjusted by 40mm to the fore and aft.

 Reasons to Buy a Kestrel Bike

·        Lightweight design featuring carbon fiber frames or monocoque frames. While these bikes are lightweight, the frames are very stiff for powerful performance

·        High-quality carbon frames ensuring the bikes are durable

·        A wide variety of bikes to choose from. Depending on the type of bike you may require i.e., road bike, mountain bike or triathlon bikes, there is a wide range of bikes to choose from based on your budget

·        Aesthetic design. Kestrel bikes feature aesthetic makes with some owners describing the bike to be having a “tremendous sex appeal.” The aero tubing,internal cabling plus the ‘sleek lines’ makes Kestrel bikes attractive

·        Smooth and steady rides even on rugged terrain attributed to seatstays engineered to reduce road vibrations. The frames are sturdy enough despite being lightweight

·        The carbon frames have shock-absorbent properties with lateral stiffness and minimal flex for comfortable rides.

·        Impressive acceleration attributed to efficient energy-transfer of pedal-power

·        The widely adjustable saddles make the bike fit any raider. Adjustable and reversible seatpost allows the biked to be used as a standard road bike or triathlon bike.

·        Very safe attributed to reliable traction coupled with a sturdy braking system. Some bike models are equipped with disc brakes for uncompromised breakages regardless of the prevailing weather condition.

·        Smooth-shifting system for seamless riding.

Reasons not to Buy a Kestrel Bike.

·        Cannot be assembled all by yourself-you’ll need to take the parts to a bike shop to be assembled by a professional.

·        Rerouting cables which are routed internally may be challenging since no guidelines are provided

·        There have been reports of frame failure, especially in the Talon models.

·        It may be quite expensive when compared to other similar bikes from different companies.

·        Kestrel bikes may not be the type of bike to ride regularly.

·        Several customers have complained of frequent seatpost slip due to micro-cracks in the carbon frame.

·        Bike mechanics have noted with concern that the aero design does not fit a standard repair stand.

·        Limited choice of colors may dismay buyers.

·        The carbon fiber frame may get too stiff for reduced riding performance.

       Final Thoughts

Kestrel bike manufacturing company is famed for being the pioneering bike manufacturer to integrate non-lugged carbon frame sin bicycles, making them extremely lightweight yet so powerful. Initially, Kestrel bikes were being manufactured in California, U.S., but in recent years, production moved to Asia under a Chinese company called Martec. Kestrel produces affordable high-end bikes falling into three categories: Road bikes, Mountain bikes, and Triathlon bikes.

Kestrel bikes are lightweight, sturdy, durable, safe, and with excellent performance. They are the right choice for any biking enthusiast looking for bike for either competitive triathlon riding or simply in-roads/ mountain riding for pleasure or to keeping fit. Depending on your needs and budget, the company offers a wide range of excellent bikes to choose from.

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