Punches well above its weight in every department: silent, fast, capable and efficient. Sizing and geometry are on the money too.
For the latest Kona Process 134, Kona has combined the best parts of two platforms to produce a trail bike that fast, fun and ridiculously capable.
Kona Process 134 need to know
- Same travel as the old Process 134, but the latest version now rolls on 29in wheels
- Updated geometry and suspension make for a seriously capable trail bike
- Grippy Maxxis MaxxTerra Minion DHF tyres increase traction and confidence
- UK friendly cable routing for the rear brake and 200mm rotors for max stopping power
- Four models split evenly between carbon and aluminium, with the entry-level alloy Process 134 29 costing £2,399
It’s taken the 29in wheels, speed and progressive attitude of the old Process 111, a bike that was well ahead of its time in 2014, and combined these attributes with the modern layout and manufacturing methods used on the current Process 153.
The end result is the first full-carbon Process frame, and it’s super clean. The stays are narrower than on the 153 so you don’t get any heel rub, and the tubing profiles have been reduced substantially to make the Process 134 frame the best part of 500g lighter than the Process 153 29.
The seat tube also has less offset in front of the BB, so as you put the saddle up is doesn’t go back as far, which in turn help keep your weight forward for climbing, which is doubly important with Kona’s short 427mm chain stay length.
So the Process 134 is very much the product of two platforms, but it has its own identity too. By moving the main pivot forward the 134 has more anti-squat than the 153 so it pedals better. An additional bonus of this subtle, but significant change to the architecture of the suspension is that the anti-squat doesn’t fall off as quickly as the suspension compresses, resulting in more mid-stroke support.
This, combined with revisions to the leverage curve, means that when you pump the bike it reacts by accelerating rather than simply absorbing your energy. It also pedals like stink, but the suspension is still supple enough to provide good traction for climbing and braking.
While we’re taking energy absorption, it’s worth mentioning that I ran the RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock pretty much wide-open on both compression and rebound. At 83kg this was a great setting for me, but it makes all of the adjustments somewhat redundant and lighter riders may struggle to get the rebound fast enough.
When I brought this up with the team at Kona it was very open about the fact that the M/M shock tune offered the best ride quality, but the bracketing of the adjusters could be improved to cover lighter riders, much in the same way the high-speed compression adjuster on the new Pike Ultimate has a more usable range of adjustment. Hopefully RockShox will implement this as a rolling change.
Kona has really sweated the details on this bike. There’s cable routing options for UK/Moto brakes and the new captured mech-hanger/axle mount sticks out far enough to help protect the rear derailleur. The improved cable routing combined with the new full-length chain protection and the steeper angle of the chain stay yoke mean all you hear is the purr of the DT Swiss freehub and hooping and hollering as you blast down the trail.
Kona Process 134 CR DL 29: first ride review
Don’t let the numbers of this bike fool you. Sure it’s only got 134mm travel but it can be ridden almost as hard as many bikes boasting the enduro tag; Kona’s 153 included.
When it comes to cranking up hill or bombing along a flat section of trail though, the Process 134 retains the pace of a shorter travel bike; actively encouraging you to put the effort in as you are rewarded with increased speed and instant acceleration when you pedal or pump. It agile too, making it easy to dart around trees or hop over roots and holes that are too big for the suspension to handle. Yes, the top of the range Process CR DL isn’t the cheapest option, but after two day’s of solid riding it’s already proved that it’s a high performance bike that can hold its own in any situation and against the completion.