Friday, February 8, 2008

Bike Review: 2008 Kuota K-Factor



Its always a good day when I get to go into Jack and Adams. Its an even better day when they let me take out a new bike to ride. This time I got to try out a 2008 Kuota K-Factor. Jack was smiling when he handed the bike over for my test ride. He had good reason to smile. This was one sweet bike.

The first thing I noticed right off the bat was just how light the frame is. Even with a mixture of 105 and Ultegra components this bike was incredibly light. I couldn't believe how easily I was able to lift the bike from the ground to the bike rack on top of my car. You sort of know that if you are struggling to get your bike from the ground to your rack or in and out of the back of your SUV, you are probably working a little harder than your competition when it comes to riding up the local climbs on your normal group rides.

Riding the K-Factor was a joy. The bike felt confident in the turns even in aero position. That is a pretty big thing. On some bikes the geometry just doesn't let you feel confident when you speed through some of the sharper turns you must navigate -- especially in races. This really wasn't an issue on the K-Factor. The bike was solid and steady throughout the arc of my turns, even when I chose to stay aero and pedal hard out the back side. Even though this bike is very light, the slight feeling frame doesn't seem to hamper its road dampening capabilities. My ride was smooth and quiet on all the surfaces I covered including some roads that had been torn up and resurfaced due to some neighborhood construction.

I found the sense of speed on the K-Factor to be more than adequate. But in comparison to the Kalibur, I'd have to say the K-Factor isn't as aggressive. This is probably due to the K-Factor's more relaxed geometry. That isn't to say the K-Factor isn't fast because it is. In my controlled tests, it just wasn't as fast as its more expensive cousin the Kalibur. And it didn't really inspire me turn on the after burners the way the Kalibur did when I road it. But I think in this sense you are getting what you pay for. The K-Factor I tested was priced right at around $2000.00. At this price point I'd have to say the K-Factor is one of the best, if not the best triathlon bike out there. The bike has internal cable routing, a replaceable rear derailleur hanger, insets for 2 water bottle cages, and an attractive paint job that would make it at home in any transition area anywhere from sprints all the way up to full ironmans. For about $500.00 more you get an aero carbon seat post and upgraded components which make the bike lighter and more aero. And $2500.00 still is a good enough price point to make aero wheels pretty affordable down the road if you feel the need for even more speed on this rig.

Basically if you are someone who has been in the sport for a few years and are thinking of upgrading from a road bike with clip-on bars, or already have an aluminum tri bike that is beating you up in the longer races, this is one bike to have on your shopping list. You get a lot of the same amenities you see on more expensive bikes without having to cash in your 401k in the process to get them. And trust me, that's a good thing when it comes to buying a new bike.

4 comments:

Tom Ruzicka said...

I own a K-Factor and before that I rode a GT ZR 4.0 with clip on aero bars. The first time I rode my K-Factor it just felt right and I knew it was the right bike for me. I cry now when it has to go in the shop because it means I don't get to go out on rides for a few days. Doing a 70.3 Ironman on it in 1 week. Really excited.

Ben Gibb said...

Hey Tom, how was the bike in the ironman. I am considering getting the bike. I am beginner and have only done 2 olympic distance tri's (Wildflower in CA).

Thanks,
Ben.

Robin Bonin said...

I just upgraded from a road bike with clip-on aero bards to this K-Factor SL (2008 model closeout). It is a night and day difference in comfort. I would suggest anyone that hasn't ridden a true tri bike to test drive one of these at their local bike shop.

Kelly Schulte Fitness said...

for those of you with the K-Factor, I need some help making a decision. I'm looking at an upgrade from a specialized road bike to the K-Factor and have heard a few things. 1) the difference in riding comfort from a road bike to a tri bike...any thoughts here for those of you who've made the switch? 2) I've heard negative reviews on customer service and ability to get parts for Kuota's...any feedback on this? I have a few people who are trying to disuade my decision from Kuota and just need the full lowdown from those of you who own one.
Thanks in advance!
Kelly