I'm new to the Riding Gravel site, but not new to riding gravel.  I used to be more of a roadie, but I feel so much safer riding off-tarmac, no to mention its so much more fun.

Anyway, I'm in the market to replace my ageing Kona cross bike (I don't race cross) with something more suited to my riding style not to mention lighter (I hope), disc brake, and more forgiving.

After carefully vetting most of the 'stock' gravel options available in Canada, the bike i'm most interested is the Kensuke from Kind Human.  I guess you could call it a semi-custom, since they start as bare (full hi-mod carbon) frames for which you get to choose the paint, and then pick from a myriad of component choices (drivetrain, contact points, wheels etc.)...all for not much more $$ than similarly spec'd off-the-shelf options (ex. Norco Search, Devinci Hatchet, Trek Checkpoint), and probably cheaper and more available than some of the more well known custom options (ex. Open U.P., Niner RLT 9 RDO, Parlee Chebacco).

I'm wondering if anybody on this forum has any additional insight on the Kensuke either through experience or observations of the specs relative to other options.  I can't find any reviews online.

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That is an interesting bike and the options make it a unique choice, as you point out.

Just from looking at the specs and geometry, I like a lot of what I see. My concern would be "What does 40mm tire clearance mean?" I would be concerned because as I have found, many so called 40mm tires are really 42mm-43mm tires. A "true" 40mm tire is almost a unicorn. Of course, your rim spec will affect this too.

Depending upon where and how you ride, I might have a bit of concern about carbon fiber as a fork/frame material. Just yesterday I packed in mud around my tires and was grinding stuff past the fork crown and chain stays of my steel bike. I'm sure the paint is gone on that bike, as it is on most of my steel bikes due to my adventures in the mud.

Carbon isn't too friendly with riding like that.

Then you have fork compliance, or the lack thereof. Carbon forks seem to err on the too stiff side, but again- that's my experience and this fork could very well not be like that,

Overall I mostly like the bike though. Those are my thoughts on it. Maybe someone will chime in here with actual ride experiences on this one. I'd be interested in reading their take on it as well.
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good point about tires.  In my experience - to get a true 40mm I often have to use a 38mm tire, or use a 19mm rim  (inner width).

Interestingly, I don't see much tire size difference between 12-19mm inner width, but 19 to 22 gives me about a 3 mm increase in width.

Looks like a cool bike. 
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So we pulled the trigger and ordered 'his and her' Kensuke's today.  For paint, she chose Underdog green as the main color and I chose bare carbon (you can see the outer layer of the layup, which I think is quite interesting).  We swapped main colors for the highlights, to give the bikes an interesting (yin/yang) connection.

We're not too worried about CF as a frame material.  We're really looking forward to the reduced weight (at least 2 lbs) and more forgiving ride of CF and wider trims&tires over our straight-gauge aluminum bikes.

The tightest area for tire clearance is probably the chainstays, and there is still ample room for 700x38 Gravelking Sk mounted to Stans Grail Team wheels (20.3mm ID).  I'd guess 5mm gaps between each side of the tire and the chainstays.  We did some comparison test rides with floor models vs our own cross bikes in slushy snow and a bit of mud where we could find it.  Our rim brakes packed up and froze into rubbing, non-functioning blocks of ice, and the Kensukes had no issues.  There was also a surprisingly noticeable improvement in traction vs. our 33C Clement MXP cross tires on 17mm ID rims on our cross bikes.  Did not expect that!

It was really great to experience the high level personal connection with the company, and their attention to detail.  We basically spent 3 hours at the shop, with non-stop 1 on 1 (sometimes 2 on 1) attention, measuring, swapping and testing different setups.  As a bonus, one of our favorite pro cyclists, Helen Wyman (and her husband), who was recently sponsored by Kind Human, happened to be there as well.  It was so cool to meet and hang out with these wonderful, down to earth people.  Helen even let my partner try out her own brand new bike, which had just been assembled in preparation for her participation next weekend's local Paris-to-Ancaster gravel race.  Methinks its gonna be a mudbath this year!

The only downside of all of this is the projected 8-week wait (my frame size is out of stock)....but instant gratification is highly overrated!  Anticipation can be delicious [biggrin]
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I love the anticipation part.  I once was lucky enough to order a car for European pick up, and the whole customize, configure, trip planning - that was the best part.  For you, its like getting a bespoke bike.  Too Cool.

Don't forget to provide pictures when its ready...
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@runrideski My wife and I are both considering the Kind Human Kensuke. Please advise how you and your wife like yours. There are very few reviews currently available online. We ride the Georgian Trail (rail trail), gravel roads in Blue Mtn/Beaver Valley area, and paved roads and are looking to move up from our Kona Jake the Snakes. Thanks.
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Hello there,
We've had our new bikes for just over 10 days, so your inquiry is rather timely.
Also, I am quite familiar with the Georgian trail and the areas around Beaver Valley as I used to have some property outside of Meaford and rode extensively in the area.  We also both transitioned from Kona cross bikes.

I could write for some time about the bikes and the purchase experience that Kind Human offers and provides, but this could get quite lengthy.  So maybe I'll start with the high points and see where it leads:

The frames are an open-mold design, meaning that other (smaller) companies use the more or less the same molds to make their frames (though not necessarily the same carbon&layup).  The custom paint options are pretty cool, and you can opt to go muted or pretty wild with colors to suit your whims.  They also offer matte or gloss finishes.  

Component options are practically limitless, and they will work with you to spec your bikes the way you want them to be.  For example, we considered some drivetrain changes, such as Praxis cranks because they offer a 48-32 option, and they were open to making this happen if we wanted.  In the end we opted for Ultegra-level components, with hydraulic brakes.  We absolutely love the brakes (no comparison at all to rim-brakes).  We settled on the Ultegra cranks with cyclocross gearing (chainrings 46-36), though we swapped my partner's inner ring for a 34.  I opted for an 11-34 cassette while she got an 11-36 (from SRAM)...these are the sorts of neat little customizations that you can easily do with KH.  Her 34-36 small gear matches the granny gear she had on her Kona (which had a triple-chainring setup).... which was a key goal for specing the drivetrain on her bike.  Also, I was a bit worried about the largest gear (46-11) being too small, but that has yet to be the case....we can still hit 50k/h @ 90rpm, and I'm fine with coasting at speeds higher than that!  A compact road (50-34) would give you a wider range of gears in both ends, but obviously with more spacing between gears....for example, expect to shift 2-3 cogs in the back whenever shifting between chainrings in the front to match gears.  Then there's the option of SRAM 1x drivetrains (which typically come with a 42t front chainring I believe).  We personally see no benefit to 1x drivetrains, but they do seem to be pretty popular these days.

They also upgraded a few things for us at no cost including:  Dura-ace brake rotors, higher-end stems (to match the carbon seatposts we ordered) and they also surprised us with the very new Ultegra-RX clutch-rear derailleurs, which had arrived just a couple of days before we picked up the bikes, so that was a wonderful surprise.  No more dropped chains, and the drivetrains are absolutely silent.  

If you look at a cost perspective, they say that they provide a bike of similar build quality as the bigger brands, but with a much greater level of customization (from paint to components), and I think this is basically true, and for not much more $$.  For example, our bikes came in at about $5500 (each) before taxes.  Compare with the Ultegra-level Trek Checkpoint and Norco Search XR, which both list for $5000, but have (in general) more house-brand controls and wheels, and obviously no inherent customization options.  We picked out handlebar widths and stem lengths that best fit our bodies.  I tried out 3 different saddles before leaving the shop, which was not a hassle at all.

Regarding the bikes themselves.  Well, they are pretty awesome.  They are a couple pounds lighter than the Konas, and much smoother over the rough stuff....the rougher it is the better they seem to handle (comparatively speaking).  Bigger bumps, like hitting some exposed roots on a fast trail, are incredibly so.  I'm certain that much of this is due to the higher volume tires (38 vs 33), as the frames themselves are pretty stiff.  Not unforgivingly-so, but if you hammer across a bumpy grassy field, you still get bucked around a bit...but still remarkably comfortable in comparison.  Further, even with low pressures in the tires (28-30 psi) these bikes have amazing get up and go...short steep climbs are an absolute joy (note:  we already enjoy attacking challenging climbs... if you've ever ridden around the cart path at the Lora-bay golf-course, think of the climb up the escarpment from the lower section).  No flexy frame, no rubbing rotors.

We are enjoying the Panaracer Gravelking tires in general, but are finding that even after half-a-dozen rides that they still collect and kick up small stones (like on rail-trail surfaces)....not awesome to ride behind.  We've been pleasantly surprised by their grip on most surfaces, but they do buzz a bit on ashphalt and the back tire breaks free easier than expected when climbing looser surfaces that are very steep.  We do push them to their limits with some tougher trails.  Today we did a ride in the Dundas valley (i.e., around where the Paris-to-Ancaster multisurface race ends)...this place is riddled with short steep climbs....we got up them all, but had to do a bit more seated climbing than on the cross bikes with knobbier tires.  We also enjoy the challenge of a rip across one of the many volleyball courts in our home-town (Guelph).  These bikes/tires are a little more of a handful in deep sand, probably due to greater flotation and less overall grip....  We haven't had a chance to test them out in the wet yet.

So overall:  we are quite pleased with the bikes and the experience.  Gavin and Ayal at Kind Human are welcoming and easy to talk to.  They will answer all of your questions and do everything they can to ensure a good bike-buying experience.

I'm happy to answer any more specific questions, or move to PM or even email/phone if you wish
Happy riding!

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Thanks so much for your extensive review. Very helpful. Perhaps you should consider starting a blog or website like :-)

Interesting, I was considering the Trek Checkpoint when I started my research. Other bikes under consideration were Canyon Grail (need to deliver to friend in US) and T-Lab X3. Agree that the Kind Human bikes add a level of customization not available from these other makes at this price.

Our home backs on to the 17th hole at Lora Bay so I know the cart path climb you referred to.

I may have questions as we explore further so I do appreciate your gracious offer to reach out. Thanks!
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