Long Termers: Benji’s Kinesis Decade Virsa

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Benji’s Kinesis Decade Virsa
Price: £349 frame only
From: Upgrade www.kinesisdecade.co.uk

kinesis decade virsa

I think I’ve finally found the perfect build – and perfect type of trails – for this bike. In a nutshell: wide-ish flat handlebar, 90mm stem, decent 100mm fork, fast but grippy tyres, singlespeed (sorry!) and then take it to some tree-lined singletrack dirt.

easton ea70

Here is my bar of choice – Easton EA70, 31.8mm clamp size, 685mm wide, 9 degree sweep. Shame the graphics end up looking a bit dipped when the bar is positioned in “my” preferred way but hey-ho. I had been riding the bike with riser bars on but they felt too high. Specifically, the front end too tall in relation to where my feet were – stay with me here! – I felt too much inside the bike, wallowing around with my arms outstretched in front of me like Frankenstein. With these wide flat bars on I can “get over the front” of the bike and work/hustle it much better. And the low BB is great when cornering and it’s also great at keeping the centre-of-gravity low on techy steep descents (which helps offset running “only” 100mm travel forks). I feel in control and nicely inside the bike rather than “lost”.

marzocchi corsa ti

I’m been using a few 100mm forks on the bike lately because we have a group test of them in an upcoming issue of the magazine. These are the Marzocchi Corsa Ti forks. A bit cushier and heftier than other all-out-racerboy forks but so far, so good. Their “trail riding” (not “race course”) nature seems to suit the bike extremely well actually.

geax saguaro

Geax Saguaro TNT 2.2 – one my Top 10 Tyres of All Time (and those who know my rubber obsession will appreciate what an accolade that is! ;)) Fast, grippy in all but true filth, great “working edge” to them, nice volume, very easy to run tubeless.

kinesis decade virsa

Side profile of the Green Goddess in her natural terrain (the seat post has been dropped a little bit in case you were wondering). Let’s talk pseudo-science for a bit now for those that like that sort of thing… in this guise we’ve measured the geometry (unsagged 100mm fork) as: 69 degree head angle, 72 degree seat angle, 300mm BB height. I like these numbers. Combined with longish (600mm) top tube and shortish (425mm) chain stays (on our Large size) it’s winning formula. It’s not a twitchy death trap on fun stuff. Nor is it a cramped cockpit that’s unsuitable for long days out. It’s long and low. Long and low works very well for me.


I am not a singlespeed zealot by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s no denying that, on the trails that this bike excels at, there are more con’s than pro’s to running gears. The terrain that suits this bike best has minimal elevation and maximum flow. You provide the sufficient two gear options yourself: stood up or sat down. Adding gears just adds to the weight of the bike and slows it down. And yes, gears make the bike noisier as well as spoiling the bike’s aesthetics (don’t pretend that a bike’s looks aren’t important).

The Kinesis Decade Virsa has perfect geometry for 100mm fork-ed, singletrack pinning. It’s not a bike for rocky trails (although it will do okay on them). There’s a bit of lateral flex in the main tubes that “works” on tight, woodland singletrack. This flex doesn’t work so well on fast, rough, open trails. The back end is actually pretty flex free from what I could tell; it’s a fairly firm ride. Again, this is good on “stompy”, pedally singletrack but not so good on rough terrain where the bumps and shocks are not that muted.

Let’s not dwell at what the bike isn’t so good at because that would be missing the whole point of this bike. That would be like damning a Downhill bike because it wasn’t so good as a commuter. Basically, if you want a 100mm fork-ed hardtail for riding trails that are fast and narrow (ideally under tree cover) with lots of swoops and dips then there’s not many bikes that are more capable and suited to that sort of thing than this bike. There are steel hardtails with more “refined” ride feels out there (not to mention a bit lighter) but they’re more expensive and don’t have the Virsa’s totally sorted geometry.

And I haven’t even mentioned the paint job this time.


Read Benji’s previous posts about the Kinesis Decade Virsa long termer.

Review Info

Tested:by for

Comments (0)

    possibly have your pee a bit less in the middle of the trail next time? thanks

    it’s interesting to get the review as i have a decade but instead run it with 130mm forks, short stem and wide risers and have found it to be very compliant so far, however your comments are duly noted and i might try winding down the forks and the whole front end to see how it changes things.

    I want my bike to be that colour. Anyone know the closest powdercoatable colour?

    tom84 – Tim was just taking a photie, don’t worry 🙂

    flat bars are a bit of a misnomer, cos aint you using the sweep of the bars to make them like low, low risers?

    Lovely set up, almost identical to how I’ve got my Duster set up, for all the same reasons.

    However, I’ve gone this far and can’t help thinking that next step is an nice light alu singlespeed frame with the same geometry, but there only seems to be one on the market (Endorfin) and it has a really short top tube.

    The search continues!

    Why a Kinesis when a Five would do the job better?

    (for a start…) Bike weight: 23.5 lbs, frame price: £349 😉

    If only it didn’t remind me of a Raleigh Lizard…

    looks like you’ve a large (50cm) frame there benji… how tall are you? (if you dont mind my asking) i’m wanting one of these but at 6ft2 and a bit, i dont know if it’d be long enough for me :S

    im 6 1 and im using the 50cm plenty long enough for me using a lay back post and 60mm stem

    I do want one so badly but am trying out a (2nd hand) Handjob first for the slacker angles.

    10: ooOOoo – May 2nd, 2010 If only it didn’t remind me of a Raleigh Lizard…

    …want one even more!

    Bridleway Ha ha ha!

    albash82 – I’m a smidge over 6ft

    any chance we can see some rides on the other Kinesis bikes, like the 120 or XC3.
    I am looking for a geared XC trail bike and the decade seems a bit on the heavy side, form your previous builds.

    the Maxlights seem to suit the bill but not seen alot of reviews and again the one i have seen, Radar they complained about the low BB.

    planning of using pace RC40s so 100/130 travel so looking for a frame that will ride nicely in this range. have an planet X armadillo that i was using at 130, then dropped the travel to 110 and the bike felt much happier, but still very high BB so feel a bit to perched on the whole thing.

    Yep. We’ll be getting a XC3 in very shortly.

    will look forward to seeing it in the mag!

    How does it compare to the Dialled PA or the 456 or even the pipedream sirius – all in the same ballpark price. In fact – how about a cheap steel hardtails group test?? please….!!!

    Cheap steel shoot-out would be a great idea – think of the offerings in here from Ragley, Rock Lobster, On-One, Charge, Kinesis… These are the kinds of bikes a lot of us can actually afford, ride all the time and seriously want to buy. Serial updaters like myself can spring a few hundred every couple of years and enjoy trying out new frames. I can’t remember the last time I bought a whole bike at once (Oh sh*t, I can actually, 1992!) so this is the kind of stuff we like…

    This has been a great write up over the months on the Versa, I really feel like I’ve got a good picture of it now, so thanks for ‘ranking one for the team’.



    Do you have a linky to the burly build you did with the Thor fork please?

    I am looking for a LeeQuarry/Gisburn skill building steel frame.
    I have some Pikes to put on and would probably set the frame up as 1*9 or SS.

    I am also thinking of a Blue Pig but I like the idea of the sliding dropout for SS.

    My other bike is an Orange 5.

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