Our guide to the Canadian stalwarts latest range
The latest batch of Kona mountain bike models has seen the Canadian company take a step in the right direction with plenty of choice.
Kona is a name steeped in mountain bike history and has created some iconic bikes through the years. Let us take you through the full range and show you what’s on offer dependent on your style of riding.
Which Kona mountain bike is for you?
First up, Kona has one of the easiest website interfaces to navigate. Each category/model has a simple descriptor at the top to make it easy to work out just what you are looking at. Be aware that some model ranges are slightly out of synch, putting the highest end models somewhere in the middle of the mix. Kona are another company that like to use a lettering style suffix to denote frame material and position in the range. CR for carbon, AL for aluminium frame construction. High end models are often denoted by DL (for deluxe), some other models get SE (entry level editions) plus a couple of other random letters get thrown in with some mid-range versions.
What type of mountain bike are you looking for?
Chances are you already know what style of mountain bike you want. Whether that be hardtail, full suspension or e-bike. If you don’t yet know what type of mountain bike you want then head on over to our feature What to look for in a mountain bike. Once you do know what type of bike you’re after, read on…
What type of riding are you interested in?
let’s make one thing clear, all mountain bikes are versatile, adaptable and capable of many differing types of riding. That’s what makes them the best sort of bike in fact. So don’t worry that you’ll never be able to go to a bike park if you buy a XC bike. Having said that, you’ll have a better experience if you buy a bike that best suits the type of riding that you do the majority of the time. Don’t buy a that downhill beast if you only ride uplifts three times a year and spend the other 49 weekends slogging it around the local woods.
With your bike type chosen and your riding type chosen, all there’s left to choose is a budget. Choose one and stick to it.
Hardtail Kona mountain bikes
Right, listen up on this one. Kona do A LOT of hardtail mountain bikes. Some follow the standard model range pattern, using the same name throughout. But Kona also lumps a number of distinct bikes under its ‘MTB Hardtail’ category.
Within this category you will find a hardtail to suit every budget and for a wide variety of trail uses. At the entry point we have the £549 Lana’I (a lot of Kona’s bikes are named after Hawaiian and volcanic themes). It features a 6061 aluminium frame, 100mm travel Suntour suspension fork and Shimano 8 speed drivetrain. Wheelsize is mainly 27.5″ but it also includes a 26″ size option for smaller riders. For recreational tracks and off-road it looks like a great starting point.
Other highlights of Kona’s general hardtail bikes include the Unit and Unit X. Steel framed, with a rigid steel fork they are designed as a plus tyres bikepacking adventure and trail bike. The £899 Unit is based around singlespeed gearing; the Unit X, at £1199 includes a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain.
At the top of the heap is the Explosif. A name long associated with Kona’s steel hardtails, the new version remains the same. Albeit pumped up and ready for proper trail riding with slack angled geometry and a 120mm RockShox Revelation suspension fork. It’s a thoroughly modern bike with the Reynolds 520 steel frame adorned with a SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes and WTB STP i29 wheels. A Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre points to the intended use. The Explosif retails for £2599.
Kona’s largest hardtail range is the Honzo line. This is made up of seven 29″ wheeled bikes and two 27.5″+ ‘Big’ Honzo models. Kona market the Honzo as a trail ready hardtail, by this it means its a bike capable of riding a bit of everything from cross country/recreational to trail centre use. All models feature a low standover height and geometry aimed at providing confidence on the steeper stuff. The Kona Honzo AL, at £1299, comes well specced with an aluminium frame that should prove worthy for upgrades further down the line. Boost spacing is featured on the 120mm RockShox Recon Silver fork and Kona sensibly spec a wider Maxxis tyre at the front for confident handling.
The top three models all feature carbon frames but are split into two distinct options. The Trail versions feature wider rims, more aggressive tyre choices, dropper posts and stiffer forks. Whilst the top of the tree Kona Honzo CR Race (£5299) features a lightweight build with RockShox’s RS1 fork, lighter WTB i23 rims and faster rolling tyres.
Kona also off two female specific hardtails: The £659 Tika and £1199 Mohala. Both are based around the equivalent male/unisex versions but with specific female parts such as the saddle.
Kona Fat bikes
Kona are also still a brand continuing to produce fat bikes. This latest season see them feature two models in the range. The £1199 WO is a fully rigid aluminium framed monster with 4.8″ Schwalbe tyres. £2299 buys you the WOZO. This upgrades the fork to a RockShox Bluto suspension fork for even more bounce.
Full suspension Kona mountain bikes
Kona has started to redesign many of it’s long standing suspension platforms and this year sees the release of one or two new ranges.
Starting at the entry level Kona still has versions of the older Precept range still available in 2018. This currently has three models, each sharing the same linkage driven suspension frame and 27.5″ wheel size. Where they differ is in the amount of travel each provides. Dependent on the type of riding you want to focus on there’s the light trail Precept 120 (with 120mm travel front and rear), trail friendly Precept 130 (130mm travel) or the longer travel, enduro oriented Precept 150. Componentry is at the more basic end of the spectrum and for the 120 and 130 models you might need to consider budgeting for a dropper post. Currently Kona are selling the Precept 120 at a competitive £1039.
Kona Hei Hei
Another name that Kona has had in the range for a considerable amount of time. The Hei Hei is Kona’s cross country (100mm travel) full suspension model. However unlike many standard cross country machines the Hei Hei is based around a 120mm suspension fork, rather than the usual 100mm. Giving the Hei Hei a touch more versatility and broadening its appeal to not just XC racers. Six bikes make up the range, two aluminium framed models and four carbon. At £2499, the Hei Hei AL is the entry point into the range. This gets you a 120mm travel RockShox Recon Gold fork, SRAM NX 11 speed drivetrain and an aggressive/fast rolling Maxxis Ardent/Ikon tyre combo.
The Hei Hei also includes Kona’s most expensive mountain bike, the £8299 Hei Hei Supreme. No expense has been spared with an enviable kit list including Fox Factory level suspension, SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain and Level Ultimate brakes, WTB Ci24 TCS carbon rims on Hope Pro4 hubs, and RaceFace Next handlebar and seat post.
Kona Hei Hei Trail
Don’t get the Hei Hei Trail confused with the ‘standard’ Hei Hei. The only common theme is an emphasis on lightweight. As it’s name suggests, this is a true trail bike versatile enough to cover everything from the occasional cross country race through to trail centre black runs. 140mm of travel front and rear and 27.5” wheels give it a fun and capable status on the trails.
There are only two models in the range, both with full carbon frames. The Hei Hei Trail CR at £4099 and its higher end partner, Hei Hei Trail CR/DL. This particular version is adorned with a capable RockShox Pike fork, SRAM Eagle drivetrain, WTB carbon rims and a RockShox Reverb dropper.
The Satori is one of Kona’s brand new models for 2018. A short(ish) travel, trail friendly 29er perfect for riders wanting the speed of those big wheels but with the geometry of a trail bike. It comes with 130mm of travel out back and a 140mm fork at the front. If you like making a day of it in the hills but don’t want to be held up on the descents then you should consider the Satori. Like the Hei Hei Trail there are only two models. But unlike the Hei Hei Trail the Satori comes with an aluminium frame to put it in a lower price bracket. The Satori comes with a decent mix of RockShox suspension and a Shimano Deore drivetrain for £2499. Whilst the £3299 Satori DL improves on the fork and bumps the drivetrain up to 12 speed with a GX Eagle groupset.
Probably Kona’s most popular line-up currently, the Process range is based around all-mountain and enduro riding. Curiously there are three different travel options available but by far the most popular is the Process 153. This, as you guessed, has 153mm of rear wheel travel and is matched to a 160mm travel fork to create a platform capable of mixing it on any bike park black run. Seven Process 153 models are available including a wallet friendly SE version for £1999. This SE version features a different suspension system and lower spec shocks to reduce costs but still has relatively progressive slack angles and longer reach measurements. Kona also offer a shorter travel Process 134 in a SE version and a coil sprung Process 165 for the bike park freerider. All Process bikes are based around 27.5″ wheels and it is also available in either an aluminium or carbon frame.
Kona’s downhill race machine. Kona has a long history in downhill racing and the operator is their latest design. Now based around 27.5″ wheels it boasts 200mm of travel front and rear. only available in two models: £3499 Operator and £4799 Operator DL.