Just in: Kona Ute
A big boned load hauler to replace your car?
Our next test steed is literally a bike and a half: the Kona Ute. The long wheelbase cargo bike is a growing sector with people looking to replace their car for more and more journeys, with the Xtracycle standard leading the way in terms of modular design. The Ute isn't as long as an Xtracycle but it's a big old beast nonetheless with a wheelbase a foot longer than a standard frame.
The 7005 frame is pretty unexceptional (save for a pretty slack 71° head tube and a low top tube) until the seatpost area, where the top tube ramps up steeply and continues to form the top section of a huge rear rack, topped with a wooden platform. The seat stays are welded to the top tube and angle down very gradually to the rear wheel; the rack extends well beyond the rear axle. So nearly all of the changes are behind the pilot, meaning that when you ride the Ute you're oblivious most of the time that it's any different to a normal bike. Up front you get Kona's legendary P2 fork, which is still hard to beat for a utility bike.
You'll notice the difference when you've stuff to do though. The platform will easily take a passenger (side saddle is most comfortable) if you've got friends who need a lift, or you can lash anything that needs moving to it, within reason. The rubberised nylon pannier is truly cavernous, easily big enough for a week's worth of shopping, and to get back up the hill there's a 26/36 chainset (no need for a big ring) and an 11-32 MTB cassette to give some nice low winching gears. Shifting is via Deore mechs mated to Alivio flat bar units on Kona swept riser bars. A Hayes MX-4 mechanical disc up front and Tektro V-brake at the rear do the stopping.
As befits a working bike you get a full length mudguard at the front and the platform will keep rear wheel spray at bay. there's also a proper double kickstand which will be invaluable when you're loading the Ute up. We'll certainly be doing that over the next few weeks: watch this space for the review.