Titanium hardtails have always been the pinnacle of desirability, but would the new Kingdom Vendetta Boost prove that beauty is more than skin-deep? We have been throwing one around on Scotland’s toughest trails to find out!

The Kingdom Vendetta Boost

We all read about Kingdom’s new Switch, a full blooded titanium enduro bike, but the Vendetta hardtail from the same Copenhagen-based titanium masters slipped under many radars. The first frame was welded 7 years ago, and since then it has gained an almost cultish, albeit small, following. Over those years it has evolved and grown with the times, the bottom bracket has grown closer to the ground while the angles have grown more aggressive and menacing. Now available in three platforms, 27.5, Boost 27.5+ and Boost 29+, the customer can choose the Vendetta that works for them. At the ENDURO office, we love 27.5+ tyres blend of agility, grip and rolling speed, and were keen to test the Boost 27.5+ model. The 148×12 mm rear axle, 5 mm BB drop and improved clearance mean that the bike can be run with both 27.5 and 27.5+ tyres up to 2.8 inches, making it the most versatile in the lineup.

Kingdom Vendetta Boost bike portrait
Clean and smooth, with a geometry that pulls no punches! The Kingdom Vendetta Boost 27.5+ is an animal.
Kingdom Vendetta Boost headtube with logo
Everyone has lusted after a titanium hardtail at some point.

Specifications of the Kingdom Vendetta Boost

The Kingdom Vendetta Boost is available as a frame only, priced at €1599, so that will be the focus of this review. The demo bike we received for testing had a sensible build for hard-charging fun, indeed, it was a build we would probably choose ourselves, with a 150 mm Rockshox Pike RCT3, SRAM Guide RSC brakes, and excellent Velocity Dually 39.5 mm (internal) width rims and Nobby Nic 2.8 tyres. The new longer top tube (size medium tested) means that we could fit a 50 mm stem, finished off with some wide Burgtec Bars. The frame is single ring only (no front mech provision), and we ran a SRAM 1×11 speed drivetrain, with 34 tooth chainring for testing which suited the punchy power delivery well.

Kingdom Vendetta Boost chainstays
With super tight 421 mm chainstays, the rear can be slid or railed with ease.
Kingdom Vendetta Boost tire clearance
The Boost bike has more clearance for tyres up to 2.8 inches.

Geometry of the Kingdom Vendetta Boost

Size M L XL
Head Tube Angle 65° 65° 65°
Seat Tube Angle 73° 73° 73°
Top Tube 612 mm 632 mm 652 mm
Head Tube Length 115 mm 117 mm 120 mm
Seat Tube Length 400 mm 462 mm 495 mm
BB drop -25 mm -25 mm -25 mm
Chain Stay Length 421 mm 421 mm 421 mm
Wheelbase 1154 mm 1177 mm 1195 mm
Stack 611 mm 613 mm 616 mm
Reach 417 mm 439 mm 456 mm

Just looking at the geometry chart, the intent of the Vendetta Boost is clear, with a 65-degree head angle, and 421 mm chainstays it’s certainly not pulling any punches. The top tube has grown a little too but is still quite compact with a reach of 417 mm in the Medium. The Vendetta frame is available in 3 sizes, Medium, Large and Extra Large, and as the standover is very low, riders between sizes may wish to size up and benefit from the longer top tube for added stability in tough terrain. The 73-degree seat angle seems steeper when pedalling and really maximises efficiency up hills with a very comfortable pedalling position.

Kingdom Vendetta Boost frame details
The detail on the frame is beautiful, check out that seat clamp.
Plus size tires on the Kingdom Vendetta Boost
he big plus sized tyres are well suited to the hardcore hardtail.

Build quality of the Kingdom Vendetta Boost

There is something unique and special about a titanium hardtail, like a bespoke suit or an expensive bottle of whisky, it’s something to be cherished, enjoying the pride of owning something beautiful. Looking over the Ti3AL2.5V Vendetta frame, it’s clear that Kingdom feels the same; the welds, cable entry points beautiful seat clamp and construction typify the craftsmanship, love and attention of a great frame builder. Every union, dropout, brace and tube are a work of art, worthy of the intricate and bold head tube badge. The smooth silhouette and clean lines look both classically elegant and modern at the same time. The 1.8 kg frame features well-executed internal routeing (optional at the point of purchase) and provision for a stealth dropper post. The routeing is well thought out and we experienced no cable rattle inside the frame. The only thing that seems out of place are the two cheap bolts holding the gear hanger in place, we would like to see these replaced with some titanium hardware to match the standard of the rest of the frame. Kingdom offers a limited lifetime warranty on the frame with a generous crash/replacement policy, so your investment should last a lifetime.

Kingdom Vendetta Boost cable routing
The cable routing is neat and very well executed.
Kingdom Vendetta Boost dropouts
Only the cheap bolts in the dropout spoil the aesthetics.

Climbing on the Kingdom Vendetta Boost

Setup was a simple process, 2 bottomless tokens in the Rockshox Pike fork (the frame is optimised for a 130-150 mm fork) and 75 psi, check the tyre pressures and go shred! The test team all suspected that the light and powerful looking frame would be a good climber, but we were all surprised just how devastatingly effective it would prove. Weighing in at 12.2 kg (without pedals) in the custom build we were testing, the Kingdom Vendetta Boost punches up hills like it’s being chased by an enraged bear! Anyone who thinks plus tyres are slow needs to ride this bike, forward speed is effortless and the fast rolling tyres and well thought out seat tube angle turn every watt of energy into propulsion. If you cannot beat your mates to the top of the hill on the Vendetta then you may as well give up and take up cricket.

pedaling uphill with the Kingdom Vendetta Boost
On the pedals the Kingdom presses forward with urgency.

The super compact rear end keeps your weight over the rear tyre, developing huge grip from the plus sized tyres, making a mockery of short technical sections and pulling away on fire roads. Of course, it climbs just like a hardtail, but a very good one! There is a definite wander to the front end when the going gets steep, as expected from a bike with such laid back angles. Like a dog on a scent the front wheel hunts a little from side to side, but you won’t care as you will be grinning like an idiot as the Vendetta delivers it’s fierce uphill speed. The top tube is a little compact for a medium and our 1.8m testers would certainly look towards the size Large.

manual on the Kingdom Vendetta Boost
The compact frame means that we would probably look to size up if between sizes.

Descending on the Kingdom Vendetta Boost

So it’s devastating on the climbs, how does it handle on the downs. Like any hardtail, the Kingdom Vendetta Boost is certainly not a point and shoot bike, for maximum speed you have to choose your lines well, but if you are clever you can maintain simply ridiculous speed, especially on off-camber high-lines and through steep turns. The aggressive geometry and long travel fork mean you don’t have to hang off the back in steep rooty gnar, you can keep central and really push the fork into the terrain, demanding front end grip, while the tight 421 mm chainstays give the rear end some snap and agility for controlled slides. The titanium construction and compliant stays noticeably take the edge of big hits, smoothing out trail buzz while retaining great feedback and a lively personality, far more forgiving than the harsh and unrefined thunk of most carbon or aluminium hardtails.

The Kingdom Vendetta Boost rails corners beautifully, happy even when there's no grip.
The Kingdom rails corners beautifully, happy even when there’s no grip.

What we were not expecting was the rolling speed that the Vendetta Boost generates with the plus tyres. When found mixed up in a group of very fast (top 30) elite EWS riders on cutting edge race bikes, as soon as the trail started to flow the boys started to sweat hanging onto the back of the titanium missile! The Vendetta accelerates up to, then holds brutal speed exceptionally well. Through bermed corners, the grip generated by the plus tyres mean that the only limitation to cornering forces is your own nerve and age-induced-self-preservation instinct. Cornering speed is the Vendettas special skill, once you get used to the (at first alarming) lack of an edge on the plus tyres you realise that the bike grips at crazy angles, and the low standover lets you really chuck it around. The Nobby Nic tyres reigned in the fun though with persistent punctures, we are not quite there yet with plus tyres, but more are hitting the market every day!

The rear end of the Kingdom Vendetta Boost can be thrown around like the best hardtails should!
The rear end can be thrown around like the best hardtails should!

We found ourselves straying into much bigger terrain than expected, but when the going gets super rough, while the bigger rubber helps, it’s still a hardtail. When you slam into big rock gardens full of square edges it still has that distinctive hardtail feel of being hit repeatedly with a hammer, but the titanium is a little more forgiving, as if someone is kindly holding a small velvet cushion between you and the hammer. At the end of a long ride, when the legs get tired and lines get sloppy, the ride starts to get wild, like a monkey on a greyhound, and you find you have to reign it in a little. You need energy and a high stoke factor to get the most out of this bike, but if you get aggressive and wring the life out of it, grinning like a small child at Christmas, the Kingdom Vendetta Boost really sings!

The added compliance of the plus tyres on the Kingdom Vendetta Boost helps to harvest every last bit of traction.
The added compliance of the plus tyres helps to harvest every last bit of traction.

So what sort of rider would buy such a frame? We all lust for a titanium hardtail and the Kingdom Vendetta Boost is an excellent example of the increased compliance and spring that the exotic metal can bring. Combined with plus sized tyres the Vendetta is most at home on flowing, fast trails with off camber turns and high-speed corners. If this sounds like where you ride, then, in this build, there are not many bikes out there that could pull away from its runaway-train speed! If you are looking at titanium hardtails, then you probably already own a full suspension bike, so, in that case, the Vendetta makes the perfect N+1 bike, a desirable luxury that offers more than just good looks.

The Kingdom Vendetta Boost racked up more test miles than most, everyone wanted to try it!
The Kingdom Vendetta Boost racked up more test miles than most, everyone wanted to try it!

Bottom Line

There are many ‘hardcore’ hardtails out there, mixing 150 mm of front travel with slack angles, and we cannot fail to fall for the clean lines and nostalgic appeal; but often the horribly harsh ride leaves us grimacing as full sussers disappear into the distance. The compliant and ridiculously rapid Kingdom Vendetta Boost is a hardtail that changes the rules, a perfect match for plus tyres it defines a category all of its own. It’s a bike that really can mix it with the long travel crew, showing them some tricks while being versatile enough for long day rides and winter hacks. Built up with plus tyres the Vendetta is a true missile on flowing trail, and once you get to grips with the rounder tyres and get off the brakes it will deliver far more speed than you’re ready for!

For more information you can check out the Kingdom website.

Words and photos: Trev Worsey

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