This week’s KYR is going to feature a slightly different approach then usual, as it’ll be relying heavily on field test results rather than rattling off the pluses and minuses of a spec sheet provided by our sponsors. For the 2016/2017 season, Ray’s MTB park, the worlds first bike-specific indoor park in Cleveland, Ohio, picked up a new BMX sponsor by the name of Kink. As part of the new deal, Kink provided Ray's with a fresh fleet of rental bikes, and the bike chosen to survive the season by the Ray's staff was the mid-level, full-4130 Whip.
Now I know that you're probably thinking that an indoor park is not the true test of a bike's durability, and in certain cases, that's true – but you also need to understand that rental bikes are used primarily by riders with the most base skill level. If you've been riding for more than a few years, you may notice that you break fewer parts than you did when you started out, even though you can probably ride a lot better than you did when you first stepped over a top tube. The Whips lining Ray's rental bay don't have the luxury of being handled by riders of even intermediate skill level; these are usually ridden by kids just getting a taste of BMX, or maybe dads looking to relive their youth, and even motorcrossers looking to cross train during the off season. These bikes see a lot of flyout tricks, a lot of failed 360's and a metric shit ton of casing, and although the entire Ray's staff performs routine maintenance on all of the bikes on hand, no amount of wrenching can fix entry level sketchiness, so more durable features like full 4130 construction and sealed bearings all around were a necessity. The old "all riders must have brakes" rule went out the window years ago (within reason), but can you imagine dozens of inexperienced riders flying around haphazardly without a way to stop themselves? Alright, maybe that happens everyday at certain parks, but for your safety and ours, Ray's requires working brakes on all rental bikes. The seatstay mounted Mission u-brake clamps the rear rim by way of welded 990 mounts, which are not only more economical, but require less maintenance. The brakes aren't going anywhere, and even the best removable mount system needs to be checked once in a while, so welded mounts are one less thing to worry about. One last necessary component to combat the rough riding style of bike renters is a double-walled rim, which comes stock in the form of the Mission Mylar in the back Did I mention all of the casing? 3 months in to the current season, and not one rental bike has needed more than a basic true, so that says something about the strength of the Mylar.
As important as it is to have a durable rental fleet, the bikes would be worthless if they weren't comfortable and simple to ride no matter what your level of riding experience is, and the Whip manages to pull that off with ease. The stock Whip comes with a 20.5" top tube, which is a good middle ground for younger guys stepping up to a 20" or for riders getting back in the game. 9" bars seem to be the most common bar size these days, so Kink's Grizzy's were the perfect choice for the front end. For the special Tony Hamlin-edition Whip, the bars are bumped up to 9.25" and the front end stretches out to 20.75", which is a little ironic for such a little guy, but also allows another option for taller riders that could use the extra room. Both models feature a 13.25" rear end, which is on the short side but maybe not so much for the little guys, and looping out doesn't seem to be a problem at the park so no complaints there. Finally, no one is comfortable sliding around the park on slick tires, so Kink has spec'd the 2.4" Sever tire on both ends of the bike, featuring an all-purpose tread with a minimal amount of knurling for extra grip.
The Kink Whip & limited Hamlin Whip completes are available now from Dans Comp and all Kink dealers. The Whip's affordable $419.99 price point encourages Ray's attendees to pick up their own bike, and if you're still figuring out the basics like a lot of renters are, you can be confident in knowing you'll get the most out of your purchase because these bikes have handled a considerable amount of punishment with minimal fatigue. The Whip comes in a matte grey, while the Hamlin version is a slicker “shark tooth trans” black, AKA translucent black with some metal flake mixed in. For more details about the entire fleet of Kink completes, head over to www.kinkbmx.com now, and if you’re in the Midwest, you can meet up with the Kink team at Ray's or a host of other shops by following their Rust Belt tour in January.