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Kuota K.O.M.

by Tim Lefebvre

Price: $8,995.95 as tested (frame/fork/headset/seatpost: $3,899.95)
Weight: 960g (Large tested)
Components: SRAM Red gruppo
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Geometry: Sloping 5cm
Comments: Aptly named “King of the Mountains.”

You probably saw France’s new sprinting sensation, Romain Feillu of Team Agritubel, in the mix at last year’s Tour de France. What you may not have noticed was the shiny new carbon Kuota K.O.M. Equipe beneath him. I had a chance to review Kuota’s Kebel a few years ago, and became familiar with how this Italian company designs and manufactures its rides. Recent bike show buzz about the appropriately named K.O.M. concerned its weight “” coming in at under 1,000g for the frame, the smallest Kuota K.O.M. frame weighs 883g!

Of monocoque construction (front triangle), the Kuota boys use a design dubbed Kuota Optimized Shape Management, meaning different-sized tubes are used according to which size frame is being built. Kuota actually takes into consideration the physical structure, density, strength and weight of the carbon weave when designing what goes where on the frameset. With this in mind, one begins to appreciate the different shapes and sizes of bike tubes. Concerned with stiffness, both lateral and torsional, the Kuota team designs the tubes to work together to create a stiff yet comfortable ride.

Throughout its frameset, the differences are many “” some minute and others noticeable. Kuota’s larger-than-usual headtube encompasses its 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ flare. Already a leader in fork design, the 359g fork, with its 48° rake integrating into the fat 72° tube, looks awesome.

The toptube is an inverted Reuleaux triangle with a flat wide top and rounded sides that taper nicely toward the seatpost. The massive downtube and seat tube join to one of the biggest bottom brackets I’ve ever encountered. And Kuota has put plenty of thought into torsional stiffness where the rider stands and torques. Again, addressing the lateral stiffness, Kuota’s wishbone seatstays and flaring chainstays are unique in their design and function.

Kuota dresses the frame nicely with its own carbon seatpost and bar and stem combination. The bar, dubbed Ergonomic Wing Bar, is extremely functional and comfortable. SRAM’s Red gruppo, on the scene for a while now, is a joy to ride once you figure out its rear-shifting double-tap intricacies. Completing the setup are Reynolds Attack wheels that have a sturdy carbon braking service. Weighing in at an impressive 1,445g, these babies complement the ride.

So enough about the bike’s features. What’s important after friends finish the “finger-weighing test” is how the bike rides. Taking the K.O.M. out through Niagara’s orchards and farm lanes, the first impression was very favourable. The bike’s rigidity was the first thing that came to mind. There’s a stable feeling when standing on the pedals, which is great, as there is nothing worse than the flimsy, unsteady feeling under you when you begin to generate power. After a couple of pedal turns in the big chainring, this bike took off like an arrow. In a bike this light with tubes so thin, road absorption is impressive. And the feeling didn’t change with faster riding. The bike rides true “”no vibrations, no wobbles and no veering to one side or another.

The next test for the bike was the famed St. Catharines Cycling Club ride, an 80km trek through Niagara’s prettiest roads and up the Escarpment. After the usual “nice winter bike, Tim” jabs, the Kuota had a chance to shine on the day’s climbs. The beefed-up diameter of the bottom bracket was true to its promise as the steep climbs were encountered “” there was absolutely no flex and there was full transfer of power from legs to drivetrain. Sprinting was also a joy as the bars have a great ergo feel in the drops, and standing once again on the pedals and pulling up gave that great straight-ahead feeling. Toward the end of four hours on this ride, the comfort aspect began to factor in, and that harshness I anticipated was not at all there “” the bike continued to feel great.

The Kuota K.O.M. is an impressively engineered frameset that takes into account all aspects of bike riding. Cyclists the world over have demanded a bike that is featherlight, responsive, comfortable and a performer on every type of road. The Kuota K.O.M. may be the first bike to come close to answering the call.

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