Not your average carbon race bike

Product Overview

Kona Hei Hei Race DL 2017


  • Fun and snappy ride that loves tight singletrack and smooth, flowing descents


  • The Trail version is slacker than this Race, with more travel up front, so it’s a better all-rounder


Kona Hei Hei Race DL (2017) first ride


Price as reviewed:


Need to know

  • Carbon-fibre version of the Hei Hei with Flex pivot suspension to save weight and cost
  • Slacker trail-friendly geometry for a short-travel 29er
  • 100mm RockShox suspension front and rear
  • Single-ring only design with 1×11 drivetrain

Kona Hei Hei Race DL


A short-travel, carbon-fibre XC race bike is not the ideal companion for a day in the Alps, let alone an Austrian bike park where the steep slopes combine with long descents for some pretty epic riding.

It’s quite something, then, that the Kona Hei Hei Race DL, with its 100mm suspension and lightweight design didn’t suck at the Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis bike park. In fact, not only did it not suck, this clever little bike delivered a fun, playful and comfortable ride on terrain that really should have shaken its poise.

The Hei Hei isn’t exactly new, introduced last year and based on the Kona Process’s excellent trail geometry, but for 2017 the range is expanded, with an impressive nine models to choose from. It’s a bit confusing, but you can split the Hei Hei range into two camps: those with 27.5in wheels, longer travel and more relaxed geometry; and the 29er versions. You can get a bike made from alloy or carbon in either Hei Hei type, with this Race DL version sitting high up the pecking order in the 29er race category.

>>> Orbea Occam TR H30 (2016) review

The Hei Hei Race DL is not your average carbon race bike though, twinning trail-friendly geometry with flex-pivot suspension that does away with the seatstay pivot. Instead, the stays flex a few millimetres as the suspension compresses. The system is called Fuse Independent Suspension and the idea is to save weight and complexity while increasing stiffness.

Trail-friendly geometry and flex-pivot suspension make the Hei Hei stand out

Trail-friendly geometry and flex-pivot suspension make the Hei Hei stand out

Stepping off the chair lift and before the first downhill I worried about that undamped flex effecting the suspension performance, but of course Kona has allowed for that and I ran the shock with the rebound set fairly open and felt no kicky side effects. The suspension felt fun and trail-bike orientated rather than race-ready, complementing the fairly relaxed geometry — 69° head angle, short chainstays and a decent-length wheelbase.

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It’s great that Kona has modernised the Hei Hei too, with all the bikes in the range now single-ring only and all with plenty of standover clearance to let you tap into the playful attitude. We’d opt for the Hei Hei without the ‘Race’ moniker though, because it’s a degree slacker, gets 20mm more fork travel and comes with a dropper post.



Frame:Kona Race Light Carbon 100mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch RL
Fork:RockShox Reba RL Solo Air 100mm
Wheels:Joytech hubs, WTB KOM i25 TCS rims, Maxxis Maxxlite 29x2.0in tyres
Drivetrain:RaceFace AEffect 34t crank, SRAM GX shifter and r-mech
Brakes:SRAM Centerline 180/160mm
Components:Kona XC bar and stem, Kona Thumb seatpost
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:12.2kg (27.0lb)
Size ridden:L
Rider height:6ft 1in
Head angle:69°
Seat angle:75°
BB height:330mm
Front centre:728mm
Top tube:618mm