It’s been a long summer of research and development on top of my regular building load and I’m pleased to say that things have worked out very well and I have a few new things to introduce into the lineup.
The first is the Triple F dropout, which has been phased into production over the past few months. I’m extremely proud of the design and feel it’s the best available at any cost – bar none. I’ve been thinking about this dropout for 20 years and finally have had the time to make it happen. I’m not normally one to use the word ‘best’ as I know that there are lots of good products on the market and saying one is best in most cases makes one look foolish – but I really do think there are no better dropouts available and that the design is second to none. The Triple F is now being used on every Kirk with the rare exception of a few fixed gear bikes and loaded touring bikes.
The next in line is sort of a double whammy. I have a new lugset for the JK Special road bike for those that prefer the look of a horizontal top tube. As some of you might know the JKS has been available with a single lugset that allowed for a sloped top tube but has not been available with a traditional horizontal top tube – until now. Both versions, sloped and horizontal, of the JKS will have the same proprietary tubeset that I’ve used for the past few years (a mix of Reynolds 953 and True Temper S3 main tubes and special chain and seat stays made especially for the JKS project by Reynolds for me). The only difference is now a horizontal lugset that matches my favorite sloped JKS lugset is available. So from now on you can choose your favorite look and get that same JKS ride.
Part two of the double whammy is that the JK Cross cyclocross bike is now coming with the same new lugset. You can see it pictured below. It’s clean and simple and looks just right to my eye and the quality is as good as it gets. Now you can get a completely matching JKS and JKC for summer and fall.
While the above have been refinements of my current offering the following is all new. I’m pleased to introduce the JKS X. The JK Special uses what has really become the norm for modern steel tube diameters (1 1/8” seat and top tubes with a 1 ¼” down tube). These diameters work very well for most riders on most terrain but some riders appreciate something a bit more bomber due to their size/weight or the roads they like to ride on. I have hesitated to go with larger diameter tubes in the past because the ride was so harsh and the weight penalty too high……..but now with modern steels like Reynolds 953 (who’s material is so strong that the wall thicknesses can be very thin and light) one can truly have their cake and eat it too. The JKS X uses 953 tubing for the main triangle and the same special stays designed and made for the JKS. The made to match steel fork has a lightweight 1 1/8” steerer and lightweight blades that give a smooth ride and are lifetime tough.
Now a bit of history – back in my Serotta days, in the early 1990’s, there was a tubeset that became popular and I built a large number of bikes with it. It was called Columbus MAX. It was a large diameter tubeset that was ovalized on each end to make it even stiffer. Frankly most folks found it to be overkill and unfortunately it was heavy – but for some is was a good compromise. Lugged frames could be made with the MAX lugs but the fit of the lugs was poor and they were tanks. I had a fillet brazed road bike that I liked very much except for its weight. The thing it did very well was plow through rough conditions. It was the preferred tube for bikes that would be used in the rough road spring classics in Europe. Remember that the norm then was bikes with 1” top tubes and you can easily see why Max felt so different. Max tubes are round in the middle and ovalized on each end and while that works it doesn’t deal with the variety of forces that frame tubes see as well as a tube that is round end to end. MAX was made before the advent of oversize head tubes and bottom brackets and therefore needed to be ovalized as to not hang off the sides of the head tube. With modern oversize head tubes and bottom brackets that are made to take the larger modern round tubes one can use fully round tubes and get even better torsional stiffness.
Now, with modern round, super-oversized tubing, we can have that hunkered down and bomber feeling that a MAX bike gives without it being so harsh and heavy. The ‘secret’ to MAX was that it makes for a bike that is torsionally stiff so it doesn’t get knocked off line on rough roads. It plows straight ahead right over the cobblestones/potholes/broken pavement and holds its line. In the end there is nothing ‘secret’ or magical about MAX and the same upsides that MAX tubes have can be had with lighter and stronger tubes without the downsides. One just needs to move forward 20 years and take advantage of all the benefits modern materials can give. The JKS X is designed to give that same ride that MAX does without the harshness and weight penalty, and it does this by using 953 tubes in the front triangle that are ‘double oversize’ (1 ¼” seat and top tubes and a 1 3/8” down tube). These super thin, super strong, modern tubes give an even better torsional stiffness than MAX does while at the same time being lighter, stronger and less harsh on the road. The JKS X still has that wonderful snap and life that a fine steel bike can have and at the same time give that feeling like you can tackle the cobbles.
I’ve been beating on a JKS X prototype all summer long and I have to say that I love it – for my size it’s the best riding rough road bike I’ve ever used in the last 30 years. As you can see in the photos it’s lugged and silver brazed and has a sloping top tube. I’ve tested the prototype on everything from smooth mountain roads to super-nasty dirt roads and singletrack that one really shouldn’t ride a road bike on and it’s never missed a beat.
My yet to be painted personal bike (pictured) is big (I’m 6’4”) and as set up it weighs 17 lbs with pedals. The JKS X is, like its older brother the JKS, made to measure and painted to spec. It will come with it’s own made to match carbon seat post to assure the perfect fit into the frame. Final pricing will be determined and announced once the seat post specs are firmed up. The JKS X will be available in both traditional and Terraplane versions. I will start taking deposits for the JKS X at this time with delivery in about 12 months.
The JKS X will not be the bike for everyone but it will be the perfect ride for some. If you are a large and powerful rider the JKS X could be just right. Please write or call to see if it would be the right bike for you.
Thanks for reading.