American to the bone, Kestrel is one of the best bicycle brands that’s responsible for putting out some of the best machines on the market. The company specializes in manufacturing high-end bicycles designed to elevate the biking experience of the rider. Kestrel bikes are best-suited for triathlons and road racing.
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History of Kestrel Bikes
Kestrel was formed back in 1986 by a group of Aegis employees. Incorporating the expertise of aerospace-materials specialists, the company has put out its first bicycle in the same year. The bicycle was called the Kestrel 4000 Road Bike and it featured an all-carbon frame design that’s fully aerodynamic. Now, brace yourself for an incredible few decades of absolute novelty.
Kestrel is well-known for being an innovative company since the year of its initiation. It’s the first bikes company ever to come up with bladder-molded monocoque carbon structures. Kestrel then removes the shroud of mystery around their Nitro Full-Suspension Mountain Bike project in 1988. A project that Keith Bontrager himself took part in its inception.
The year 1989 has been a very busy year for Kestrel. First, it introduced the EMS, which is the world’s first carbon fork. Then, Kinstel has been recognized as the first ever company to utilize higher stiffness carbon fiber in its 200 EMS project. Lastly, the company has yet again stuck the market with another innovation, the KM40: the first triathlon bike to feature an all-carbon body.
The 90s hasn’t been a very productive decade for Kestrel with only two notable events taking place. The first one was in 1992 when Kestrel put out the 500SCi, which is acknowledged as the very first “modern” seat-tubeless design. The 500SCi had such a major significance because it showed just how structurally flexible a composite construction can be.
The second most notable event in the 90s for Kestrel is the unveiling of the KM40 Airfoil, which is the first composite frame that’s molded and completely designed with 3-D solid modeling. This may not strike you as all that impressive since such designing techniques are easily available at everyone’s disposal, but this was a big deal back then.
Fast forward to the 2000s, specifically the year 2001, the EMS Pro Series is introduced, making way for a molded carbon road handlebar to take over the bikes department. Two years later, the first Ironman was won by Chris McCormack riding a Kestrel bike. This event has kickstarted an incredible partnership between McCormack and the company.
In 2007, Kestrel’s RT-700 gets recognized by Outside Magazine as the “Bike of the Year”. In the same year, Kestrel becomes owned by Advanced Sports International to join the ranks of such flagship brands such as Fuji Bikes and SE Bikes. From that moment, Kestrel starts a completely new chapter in its history. One that starts with the re-introduction of the 4000 triathlon in 2010.
The year 2011 was by far the highlight of Kestrel’s history. Ironman Champion Andy Potts gets signed to the company, along with Cameron Dye, who are both members of GEOX-TMC. Add to that the signing of Denis Menchov, the 2009 Giro d'Italia Champion, and Carlos Sastre, the 2008 winner of Tour de France.
That’s not it for Kestrel in 2011, Kestrel bikes were used in international ProTour events such as the Vuelta a Espana, where Juan Jose Cobo won his very first grand tour riding a Kestrel. Not only that, but Andy Potts was crowned as champion of the 2011 Race to the Toyota Cup Series with 5 wins riding his Kestrel 4000. What an impressive year that was for Kestrel.
Kestrel unveils the RT1000 in 2012. This is a bike that’s primarily designed for endurance riding. In the same year, the mighty Kestrel 4000 becomes the official bike of the first ever professional continental cycling team, Champion System. Kestrel is literally on fire at this point.
Following that, USA Triathlon announces Cameron Dye as the Non-Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year, in acknowledgment of his six-win season on his Kestrel 4000. Dye goes on to win the title of the 2012 Race to the Toyota Cup Series while riding his beloved 4000.
In 2013, Kestrel kicks off its innovation train again and releases the Legend, which is the lightest Kestrel ever produced in terms of the frame. A year later, the Talon Road/Triathlon Bike is released for the 2015 racing season. In 2015, the lightest bike in Kestrel history hits the market, which is the Legend LTD, weighing at just 10.99 pounds.
2017 is the year Kestrel released its fastest bike ever, the 5000SL. A year later, Kestrel adds to its unstoppable train of accomplishments and puts out the all-new Legend SL, which weighs at only 625 grams, making it the lightest production frame in the history of the company.
2018 also made way for the first disc-brake-equipped endurance bike, the RT-1100, and it’s also the year when the Talon X was released with an all-new, aero-road platform. This puts a brief period on the remarkable history of Kestrel until more accomplishments are announced.
Kestrel is known to produce a wide variety of bicycles. Their models are essentially road bikes, triathlon bikes, and mountain bikes. As far as their price tags, you’ll notice that Kestrel has a bit of a bias for high-end bicycles, which means that most of their models tend to be pretty steep. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some cost-friendly models. Kestrel bikes are categorized from entry-level to expert-level bikes.
Simply put, the mountain bikes that Kestrel put out are off-road monsters. They’re designed for competition mainly, but you can get one for your own dose of fun and adventure. These bikes are ideal choices for XC racers and cross-country mountain bikers as they tend to be extremely fast.
One of the most notable series in this category is the MXZ, which is divided into MXZ TEAM and MXZ PRO bikes. The former comes with 29-inch wheels and can tackle obstacles with ease. The latter also features 29-inch wheels and its geometry is XC-inspired, allowing for optimized control and performance on the bike.
This category of Kestrel bikes includes the Talon X series the Legend SL series, and the RT 1100 series. These are ideal bikes for climbing, racing, and triathlon. Take the Legend SL for example, this is a road bike that’s constructed from 800K high-modulus carbon fiber.
The PF30 bracket enhances the bike’s stiffness. It features a flattened seat stays and a wireless SRAM RED eTap drivetrain for the bike’s shifting. The bike is a bit costly but it’s one of the best road bikes on the market today. Plenty of speed and top-notch comfort.
Before buying a Kestrel bike, you need to understand that there are no assembly instructions provided with any of Kestrel’s products. This is to ensure customers’ safety. In other words, it’s not possible for you to assemble a Kestrel bike on your own. The company advises all of its consumers to visit a local bike shop so that the assembly can be done by a professional.
Alternatively, Kestrel offers you the ability to order an already-assembled bike from Amazon. Many customers tend to opt for this option because it ensures that their bike is professionally put together. This also spares them of having to pay a fee to the mechanic in their local bike shop for assembling the product.
While Kestrel doesn’t have that large of a selection, all of their bikes are extremely well-built and very reliable. Should you buy one? Most definitely! You can order one through Amazon or head to the nearest bike retailer and get yourself one of these bad boys.
Kestrel - popular Bike Models
Kestrel, unlike other competitors such as Trek, has kept their design line for serious athletes; concentrating on three styles: Mountain, Triathlon, and Road bikes.
Kestrel sticks to designs that work and their current offering in the mountain bike range is the MXZ Team and MXZ Pro. The only real difference here is that the Pro version is slightly heavier (25.3 pounds versus 24.09 pounds) and that the Team model relies on Shimano XT drivetrain where the Pro uses SRAM NX.
These bikes are crafted for speed and sturdy reliability on trails, singletrack and nature obstacles.
The Talon X Series is an aerodynamic bike for triathlon trainers that want all the modern touches while primarily training on the road. The Talon was released in 2015 as the top model for triathlon and racing bikes and was widely accepted.
Kestrel runs the Talon X series in the road line up as well, for trainers on the road. However, their largest line up is the RT 1100 series that offers comfort, speed and aerodynamics for endurance racers and trainers. You can check out an in-depth review of the slightly older model, the Kestrel 1000 here.
The Kestrel Legend series are a series of bikes designed with racing in mind. Each one is equipped with a different set of high-quality parts.