Text and Photos by Jared Souney
Kink has one of the better reputations in BMX. If you don’t like one of its products, chances are it’s not because you broke it.
After a few years of producing some of the strongest sprockets, chains, pegs, and axles, Kink began making frames, and the Empire was born. The Empire Revision B is a redesigned, and much improved version of the original Empire frame.
Jimmy Buchans, who has been testing street bikes for us, just got sponsored by Kink, so we figured this was the perfect opportunity to test the new Revision B frame. Jimmy doesn’t hold back at all when he rides, so I knew he wouldn’t be any less abusive to his own bike than he would a regular test bike. Jimmy’s also a pretty honest guy, so I knew he wouldn’t go easy on the bike just because it was made by his sponsor. If it sucked, I was pretty confident he’d tell me so. As soon as he got it together, I drove down to San Diego to hit some of his hometown spots.
Right off the bat, Jimmy pointed out that he liked the geometry of the frame. The last couple of frames he has ridden were pretty long, and he liked that the Empire was comparatively short. One thing he did want to do was trim down the dropouts a bit. The dropouts on the Revision B are actually smaller than on the original Empire, but Jimmy still wanted something a little less intrusive. A lot of people like their rear dropouts to hang down below the peg to protect the hub, but Jimmy prefers them a bit more trimmed down for doing rails. Shaving the dropout down would also cut off some weight, which is a positive thing with any frame.
The Revision B has been lightened up a bit from the original Empire (8.25lbs). It still isn’t light (7.5lbs), but it’s in the same weight class as other high-quality street frames. Other changes include a lower top tube and bottom bracket, which tightens up the look of the bike, and makes the front end more stable.
During the test we went to a variety of street spots, and also hit a mini-ramp. One of the last spots we went to was a wall out of the skate video, “The End.” Jimmy wanted to peg stall it, but the bank didn’t have much of a lip, and the wall was about a foot and a half above his handlebars. After looking at it, the following conversation occurred, and explains why any photographer would love Jimmy Buchans:
Jimmy: “Do you think it’s possible?”
Jared: “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Jimmy: “Don’t ask me, I’m just here to huck myself.”
After a few tries and a folded toenail, Jimmy managed to ride away clean. What impressed me, was that after several crashes on the wall, he had put holes in the concrete blocks, but nothing was wrong with the bike. Even after a few handrails, ledges, and a mini-ramp session, we didn’t have a single complaint about the Kink’s performance.
The Revision B is a great improvement over the original Empire. It’s a nice looking bike, and it held up to everything we could muster. This is definitely a great frame for the “hardcore” street rider, or the up-and-coming grommet.
Empire Revision B
Price: $350 frame only, add $80 for forks
Colors: Gray, maroon, and black
Top tube length: 20.5″
Chainstay length: 13.5″-15″
Top tube O.D.: 1.5″
Down tube O.D.: 1.75″
Head tube angle: 74.5°
Seat tube angle: 71°
Misc.: The Revision B is made in America wiith 100% .049″ chromoly tubing. The frame carries a warrantee, which covers anything that the manufacturer could have prevented, such as cracked welds. For more information contact Kink Bicycles, 1115 East Main St. Box 59, Rochester, NY 14609.