Jason Hardy loves everything about his Kona - except the fork and the price

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Kona Process 134

Pros:

  • Smashing the Cresta Run trail on holiday in Bubión, Spain. Never been so thrilled and relieved to get to the bottom of a trail.
  • The Shimano Deore brakes. Not the strongest outright stoppers, but you can’t put a price on the reliability.
  • The riding performance of the bomber-solid frame and rear suspension.

Cons:

  • The underwhelming RockShox Sektor fork was a constant source of irritation. Heavy steel stanchions?!
  • A bit like the rider, there’s no denying the Process is on the portly side.
  • The stingy overall spec for the money.

Product:

Kona Process 134 (2015) longterm review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,199.00

Why it’s here

It’s big and burly, just like the rider!

Need to know

  • Mid-travel bike in the Kona Process range
  • Long front end, chunky rear
  • 134mm of travel with 140mm fork
  • 40mm stems on all four sizes

What attracted you to the Kona Process 134?

I wanted something a bit burlier with 650b wheels that would give a bolder riding experience. Also, mbr has only had good things to say about the Process, so I felt confident it would be a good long-term companion. In fact, we’ve had 10 glorious months together.

Jason Hardy Longtermer Kona Process 134 Pitch Hill by Roo Fowler 05

The Process offers bomber-solid frame and rear suspension (Fowler)

Did you change anything straightaway?

The Kona-branded 760mm bar and 40mm stem were a great fit straight out of the box, so I never felt the need to make the standard mbr swap.

Getting the Process in midwinter, however, meant that I quickly exchanged the fast-rolling Maxxis Ardent tyres for some Maxxis Shortys; the chunky knobs instantly restored confidence, even on the wettest, muddiest trails. Further down the line, the annoyingly short-travel 100mm dropper post was swapped out for a 150mm drop KS Lev Integra.


Watch our review of the Kona Hei Hei


Was the bike easy to set up?

Yes, just the usual fork and shock set-up, although the rebound adjuster on the Sektor fork was pretty feeble; the flexy tab at the base of the fork felt like it could snap at any moment.

How did it ride?

Awesome! The lack of flex in the stout rear end meant the bike tracked well, giving no unnerving creaks or groans. I’ve been hitting bigger jumps and drops on it than any other bike.

Despite it being almost 15kg (just over 33lb) I didn’t feel too penalised. The solid and reassuring build of the frame and rear suspension contribute to the great ride, so for me the extra pounds on the bike weren’t a huge issue.

Beefy rear triangle makes for a direct, lively ride (Fowler)

Beefy rear triangle makes for a direct, lively ride (Fowler)

Did anything break or wear out?

Despite my new hooning confidence, the bike (and my collarbone) stayed intact. The Sektor fork developed a light knocking noise, which was remedied under warranty (a failed O-ring), but apart from that it has hung together well.

Considering the Formula braking woes on my previous longtermer (Roo, I feel your pain), I have to give massive praise to the Shimano Deore stoppers — for reliability and stopping power they’re incredible.

If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?

The Rockshox Sektor fork was the fly (and a big one at that) in the ointment. For a £2,400 bike this level of fork really shouldn’t be fitted as standard. It just didn’t have the small-bump sensitivity or controlled progression on the bigger hits to suit the character of the bike.

RockShox Sektor fork lacked finesse (Fowler)

RockShox Sektor fork lacked finesse (Fowler)

I borrowed a RockShox Pike when I took the Process to Bubión, Spain, which really allowed the bike to shine in the tough conditions (if you’ve ridden the Cresta Run trail after it was washed through by a storm, you’ll know what I mean). Suddenly the Process became the all-conquering beast I knew it could be.

Would you buy this bike?

Despite having such a fundamental weak point in the fork, I always loved swinging a leg over the Kona. It’s just a super-manoeuvrable bike that never feels sketchy. The rear suspension is amazing and the bombproof frame has loads of standover clearance, which means it’s really easy to move around the bike uninhibited.

Creta fun: Jason's fork swap transformed the Process in Spain (Fowler)

Creta fun: Jason’s fork swap transformed the Process in Spain (Fowler)

Would I buy it, though? Probably not. Even if I can’t fault the ride quality, compared to a slew of great bikes available on the market right now it’s just not very good value for money. Even ignoring internet-only brands, the price tag and spec on the Process 134 simply don’t add up.

Kona Process 134 packshot longterm_edited-1

Details

Frame:Kona 6061 butted aluminium 134mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch R
Fork:RockShox Sektor Silver Air 140mm
Wheels:Shimano Deore hubs, WTB SX23 rims, Maxxis Ardent 2.25in wire bead tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano Deore chainset and shifters, SRAM X5 f-mech, Shimano SLX Shadow+ r-mech
Brakes:Shimano Deore 180/160mm
Components:Kona, KS Eten R
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:14.98kg (33.2 lbs)
Size Tested:L
Head Angle:67.7°
Seat Angle:68.3°
BB Height:342mm
Chainstay:425mm
Front Centre:747mm
Wheelbase:1,172mm
Down Tube:710mm
Wheel size:650b