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Koga Kimera Road Al Tiagra 2014

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Tested by Matt Swaine

Review

There were some very appreciative 'oohs' and 'aahs' as I rolled this bike out of the box, got the handlebars aligned and the saddle adjusted. The Kimera AL is a aerodynamic looking beast that borrows the swooping geometry of more expensive road bikes within the Koga range, but at a fraction of the price.

The anodised and smooth-welded 6061aluminium frame is aesthetically very pleasing. There was just a little lumpiness around the bottom bracket but the overall effect is rather beautiful and the tapered head tube and distintive positioning of the seat stays, which meet the frame below the top tube, add to the impression of a thoroughly impressively bike.

I decided to spend the first few days of commuting and short evening rides in blissful ignorance of its price tag and only ventured an estimate after a long weekend ride around Bristol. I was out by almost £200.

The Koga Kimera AL, I discovered, will set you back just £859 (my guess was closer to the £1050 mark) and as such represents a good entry-level bike for riders who want to get into the world of road cycling. So how does it measure up against the competition and does this bike deserve to be on your 'must test ride' list?

In all honesty, it took me a few days to really settle into the saddle (a rather hard affair that I think I'd replace pretty quickly). But as we started to get used to each other and I tuned in to the new geometry on offer, things started to get quite interesting.

The Kimera AL has great acceleration away from traffic lights, which proved fun on early morning trips into work. It definitely injected a bit of excitement into the standard commute and encouraged me to get up earlier for longer routes into work and hillier variations on the way back. On the flat, the bike delivered a really impressive turn of speed. It tips the scales at 9.2kg, saving weight with carbon/alloy forks and a press fit bottom bracket, which is just 600g heavier than the Boardman Team Carbon.

They could save some of that difference by offering a compact rather than triple crankset version of this bike. It's very much a personal preference, but while I appreciate a triple crankset on my tourer, I prefer a compact on my road bikes. But I will admit that I was thankful for a good range of gears when faced with some of the more challenging ascents around this part of the Southwest. Still it was on climbs that I found the Kimera slightly lacking. Perhaps I'm not as fit as I used to be, but there was a distinct absence of punch as we ascended some challengingly long and steep climbs. It improved as I got used to the gearing, but never got close to the fun I have on my own Trek Aluminium 1.7 - a similarly priced bike, that has proved its worth on a range of Alpine climbs.

On longer days in the saddle I relished everything that the Kimera AL had to offer. The geometry felt very relaxed and incredibly comfortable and low rolling resistance on the Vredestein Fiammante DuoComp tyres meant a smooth ride that made the most of energy reserves. In fact there were trips where we seemed to just eat up the miles and I loved every minute of putting it through its paces.

With a seatpost specifically designed to soak up bone-rattling road surfaces, we breezed over potholes and made light work of torn-up Tarmac. In fact, I even found myself navigating a long strip of metaled road, bouncing over gravel and easily handling a short 'off road' section on a family ride with my kids. I can safely say that this is one of the most instantly comfortable bikes I have ridden and it would be a sterling companion for anyone lining up their first 100 mile route or with a challenging sportive on the horizon.

Back on my daily commute, I started to pay a little more attention to the bike's handling. It weaved majestically between the Bristol traffic and offered splendidly positive steering at all times. It's equipped with a basic Shimano Tiagra groupset and brakes and while transmission was perfectly acceptable, braking distance did seem to leave something to be desired. One particularly memorable emergency stop, where a driver forgot to give way on a mini-roundabout, saw me skidding to a halt in dramatic style with bones in tact, the bike still upright and just a hint of rubber left on the road.

Should you wish to upgrade and go for a Shimano 105 groupset on this frame that model of the Kimera will cost you £1149, and indeed there are a number of bikes that offer Shimano 105 appointment at closer to the £900 mark. Alternatively you could invest a little extra and get a full carbon frame - you'll find a selection of carbon frame bikes on The Bike List that, at the most competitive end of the market, come in around the £1000 mark. So if you're considering the Koga Kimera (and you should because it is an excellent bike) you need to be sure you are committed to this price point. If you're the kind of person who is likely to hanker for an upgrade after a few months, then I suggest you consult your bank manager and push yourself now.

But for the majority of relatively new riders (and the financial astute) this is a bike that will serve you incredibly well for a good number of years. Very comfortable with superb handling this is a really fun bike that would be the perfect companion for your first year of club riding, your first century, sportive and beyond. What you get here is an excellent frame backed up by Koga expertise. They are still relatively new brand to the UK and a relatively uncommon sight on British roads, but their top-end bikes are getting great press and rightly so.

Personally: I'd happily ride this and nothing else for the rest of the year. It looks great, it rides beautifully and has taken me on some great days out on exciting long distance routes. It's nippy over short distances, handles incredibly well and can hold the same cruising speed over a distance that I get out of both of my usual road bikes, and deliver me to the end of a long ride feeling in comparatively better shape.

I can thank the Kimera for encouraging me to explore a new part of the UK and I packed it back into its box a slightly fitter rider and very sad to see it go. For the majority of new riders, this will do everything you ever need from a road bike and do it incredibly well.

Should you put it on your test list? Absolutely yes if you're looking for a bike at this price point.

At a glance

Verdict Superb entry level bike that offers enough comfort and speed to see you through your first few years of road cycling milestones, all backed up by Koga frame-building expertise. It promises fun and adventure in equal measure.
Value
Performance

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Similar Koga bikes

Spec
Value
Koga Kimera Road Al Tiagra 2014 £999
Spec
Value
Koga Kimera Road Al 105 2014 £1,149
  • Chainset Shimano 105
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Brakeset Shimano 105
  • Cassette Shimano 105
  • Shifters Shimano 105
  • Front Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Price £150 more expensive
Spec
Value
Koga Kimera Road KomForza 2014 £1,299
  • Chainset Shimano 105
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Brakeset Shimano 105
  • Cassette Shimano 105
  • Shifters Shimano 105
  • Front Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Price £300 more expensive
Spec
Value
Koga Kimera Road Al Ultegra Triple 2014 £1,499
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  • Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra
  • Brakeset Shimano Ultegra
  • Cassette Shimano Ultegra
  • Shifters Shimano Ultegra
  • Front Derailleur Shimano Ultegra
  • Price £500 more expensive
Spec
Value
Koga Solacio 105 2014 £1,599
  • Frame Carbon Fibre
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Cassette Shimano 105
  • Shifters Shimano 105
  • Front Derailleur Shimano 105
  • Price £600 more expensive

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