Langtu KCR930 Hybrid Bike

Charles Lee | 18th Jan 2016 | REVIEWS

Unique is probably the best term to describe the Langtu KCR930, a hybrid bike that exudes a classic blend of characteristics from a road bike and a mountain bike.  We are not saying that the KCR930 looks weird.  Rather, its uniqueness is largely drawn from the brand-name of the bike.

In case you are wondering if Langtu could be just one of those small-time brands which probably will not last through a season, then you are quite wrong.  Whilst the cycling industry has always been dominated by big boys like Giant, Cannondale and Specialized, Langtu has been growing steadily in terms of size and stature internationally.  For the past 10 years, Langtu has been investing considerable resources into revamping its business model and expanding its product line.  To date, the China-based bike maker has grown exponentially, offering a wide mix of models from foldable bikes to mountain bikes.  On the regional front, Langtu achieved an amazing feat, making headlines in 2014 as the sponsor of the Colourful Yunnan Granfondo International Cycling Festival.  Locally, Langtu has also been making its presence felt with the increase in the number of distributorships that it inked with several bike shops in the last two years.

FIRST LOOK

The brand-name is not the only attribute that draws the attention of many.  The colour of the bike is distinctive on its own. With the frame wrapped in Matt Coffee Gold (think of the rose gold colour in iPhone 6S), the KCR930 stood proudly amongst its contemporaries in the office of Togoparts.  Its striking tone is boosted by a pair of gold-clad 700C rims.

The mountain bike frame that keeps every component in place is modern-looking.  Unlike regular hybrid bikes in which diamond-shaped frames are the norm, the top-tube of the KCR930 incorporates a steeper angle and is visibly narrower.  The frontal portion of the down-tube that connects to the head-tube has been deliberately strengthened to mitigate any forceful impact. The rigid fork looks competitive and gives the rider an assuring feel that it will not yield under tough conditions.  On the looks department, the matt finishing of the KCR930’s frame and fork is smooth to the sight and touch.

The grips are some of the parts that riders will tend to look over when shopping for a new steed.  And yet, the grips on the KCR930 will be amongst the first things to capture a prospective buyer’s attention.  If you ask “why?”, the answer is because they are made of leather!  To the folks at Togoparts, it is considered a rarity because the standard grips that are being sold on the market are usually made of soft plastic, foam or gel for practical reasons.  In fact, leather grips are almost unheard of.  By any measure, the grips on the KCR930 look expensive in every sense.

The saddle is the other component that caught our attention.  Not because it is the most aero-dynamically saddle that one can find.  Neither is the saddle filled with a technologically-advanced type of gel that makes a four-hour training ride a walk in the park.  Rather, it emanates a soft tinge of nostalgia that seems to be able to teleport the rider to the earlier days of cycling where a bicycle is simply treated like a bicycle.  Coated in Cadbury-chocolate colour, the saddle looks like one of those used in the old Shanghai era.  Whatever the case may be, we have developed a liking for the saddle.

The KCR930’s drivetrain, brake-set, cockpit and wheelset are in-house products.  In other words, one will not find any Shimano or SRAM product on the bike.  Some are quick to equate the lack of Shimano/SRAM components to a lack of quality and whilst this may be the case in the 90s, such a myth can be safely debunked for any respectable bike in today’s context.  The components used in the KCR930 have general clean lines, are well-bolted and neatly-buffed.  The 9-speed cassette, for example, sports evenly-cut teeth and does not look any different from a Shimano-branded cassette.  The crankset looks professional. Even the Alhonga hydraulic braking system appears that it can do its job well.

RIDING THE KCR930

As a matter of record, the KCR930 is not built for racing.  Neither is this glitzy cross-breed looker designed for endurance riding and training.  To put it correctly, the KCR930 is a lifestyle-commuter bike.  One which is designed to make bike-commuting a big part of a day’s work.  Despite being specced with unfamiliar components, the KCR930 remains light, tipping the scales at about 9.5kg.  Not bad for a lifestyle bike!

The overall handling of the KCR930 was better than what we had anticipated. With some seat adjustments, riding the KCR930 was a comfortable one.  The stock stem that comes with the KCR930 is approximately 90mm, a length which should not be causing any shoulder ache to riders of average height.

Riding the KCR930 gave us a familiar sense of riding a high-end mountain bike with 29-inch wheels.  Responsive and snappy, the KCR930 accelerated without the need for extensive pedalling effort.  The bike was so easy to ride that we could execute a wheelie in a single feat.  Quite expectedly, riding the KCR930 invited a number of curious stares on the street.  But we must assert that riding it did not make us look out of place.  In fact, we thought that the KCR930 is a cool and fun steed to ride on.

The frame stayed sturdy despite going over several potholes and long stretches of uneven road.  The aero-dynamically rigid fork performed equally well, ploughing straight over any obstacle that it encountered without any structural flex.  Save for some slight vibrations, the Langtu-branded handlebar handled every impact nicely too.  The only complaint we had is that the handlebar is too short for our liking.  The overall bike handling would have been better if the length of the bar is longer.  The leather grips were comfortable throughout the test-ride and being frequent users of contour-laden rubbery grips, we were very appreciative of the grips’ smooth texture.  A word of caution on the grips though – Liquids can stain, dry out, crack and rot leather if it is left untreated.  For avoidance of such issues, riders who have sweaty palms may want to consider wearing a pair of full-finger cycling gloves to preserve the condition of the grips.

In all honesty, we were harbouring some degree of prejudice against the KCR930’s gearing and transmission system at the initial stage.  As earthly materialistic beings in well-fed Singapore, we did question ourselves repeatedly on whether we should be swapping the Langtu components for good ol’ Shimano/SRAM products.  It took us some time before we decided to take the plunge to accept the KCR930 for what it is, and to ride it for what it has.  And we were taken by pleasant surprise!  The KCR930’s gearing system fared consistently well throughout the test-ride.  Whilst we were expecting some rattling sounds caused by poor shifting, the KCR930’s derailleur executed each gear shift with crispness and precision.  We were impressed.  The front derailleur did fairly too, except for the occasional slippages from the smaller chain-ring to the larger chain-ring when the bike was going at lower speeds.  The issue, which is also commonly found on Shimano and SRAM systems, can be easily rectified with a quick visit to a competent mechanic.

The 700C stock slicks did not give us any issue.  Although our test-ride took place on a stormy morning, the tyres felt grippy and maintained a level high of traction during cornering.  The brakes, however, fell a little short of our standards.  We felt that the grips on the rotor disc were not as strong as we wanted it to be.  Brake modulation was negligible, which means that there was some unevenness even when we applied consistent pressure on the brake lever.  However, do take the results of our brake test with a pinch of salt.  The KCR930 is built as a commuter bike.  Apart from routine commuting usage, owners of commuter bikes are unlikely to subject the braking system to endurance or performance conditions.  On the whole, the KCR930 is ready to go once it is out of the box and assembled.

BUYING ADVICE

The KCR930 retails at $769.  At this price, one may argue that he can easily bought himself or herself an entry-level mountain bike.  But to buy a hybrid commuter bike which combines quality and style, nothing comes close to the KCR930.

The bike may not have been outfitted with well-known components.  The bike may not have hailed from the west.  But who cares, really?  The KCR930 houses components which performed as well as components from reputable brands.  For a commuter bike, the KCR930 oozes a high degree of individuality, which gives onlookers a sense of the rider’s style.

The KCR930 is distributed exclusively by :
Active Cycle
16 Jalan Masjid,
01-02 Kembangan Suites,
Singapore 418941
+65 65381254