Kona have released details of the 2010 range and there are some interesting looking road bikes in the mix. Standout items are two new steel street singlespeed/fixed bikes plus a new cyclo-cross machine, also a singlespeed, and a new hub-geared flat bar road bike plus a very interesting new town bike.
The other big news is that they reckon they have dropped the weight of their bikes by an average of 8 per cent right across the range. That translates to some pretty impressive numbers, Kona are claiming a weight of 16.8lb for the Haole steel road bike in a 54cm and 17.9lb for the aluminium Major Jake 'cross bike.
This year's road range features a fair smattering of steel and the usual Kona trademark design touches: sloping top tubes for increased standover height and short, tight rear triangles – the benefit here is a stiff and responsive back end. All of this is a result of Kona's mountain bike heritage, but it translates equally effectively to the road – which is why so many other manufacturers take the same design approach. No word as yet on pricing, that should be firmed up in early September, availability? This lot should be hitting the shops some time in early October. Right then, let's have a look at the bikes.
The first two bikes to really jump out at us are a pair of urban fixed/singlespeeds the Bandwagon and the Grandwagon. Although the name of the former suggests that those ever-honest Canadians at Kona are coming clean about grabbing themselves a slice of the fixed market, the truth is that they've actually been a presence there for quite some time courtesy of the widely respected Paddy Wagon (and yes, it is a big seller in Ireland… Really).
The Band Wagon essentially is a juiced up Paddy Wagon for “hipsters with a bit more cake” as Kona so eloquently put it. So the frame geometry (and indeed the frame itself condidering they're both made from butted chromoly steel we'd reckon) are the same as the Paddy Wagon, but the finishing kit is a tad higher end and the powder blue paint finish is unique to the Band Wagon. Geometry is pitched between road and track and that matched up to those short stay should give very nimble handling – particularly in the smaller sizes where the seat tube angle steepens up too.
Aside from the paint job the other most noticeable difference are the Orange deep section Alex R600 rims… which will both look good and hone your handling skills in a cross wind. Amongst the other upgrades are Shimano R400 brakes in place of the Paddy Wagon's Tektros and and FSA Vero crankset instead of an FSA Tempo (on both bikes they are available in a choice of sizes – both bikes come with a 42T sprocket). The Band Wagaon also boasts ian upgraded bottom bracket and upgraded saddle and seat post.
There are six sizes available ranging from 49cm through to 60cm.
If you're a hipster with even more cake than is requred for a Band Wagon then Kona hope you'll be tempted by this which moves their fixed range into proper bling bike territory – with no doubt a price tag to match… thinking about possibly the name is a giveaway to the likely amounts of 'cake' needed to buy this ride.
The frame geometry might be the same as the other two Wagon's but the frame itself isn't – dunno about you but that top tube looks a lot more, dare we say it? Horizontal than you might expect on a Kona. The difference extends to more than the angle of the top tube too instead of butted Kona Chromolly you get lugged, Dedacciai SAT bronze-welded Chromoly tubing. Classy stuff and it's matched up to a Mavic Track Ellipse wheelset with Continental Ultra Gatorskin 28mm tyres.
That certainly scores on the bling factor and we're guessing there will be a price to match, but the other upside is that there should be weight saving and performance benefits too. Plus, according to Kona at least, you'll be riding around on a “bipedal work of art”. Whatever, but it sure is a pretty bike.
Drive train comes courtesy of a Sugino SG75 crank arm and Sugino 45T chainset pushing a 16T flip/flop hub. Brakes are upgraded to Shimano R600s with R650 levers, bars and stem are Kona Rat Pack and the saddle is a Selle Italia Flight Retro. Aside from the Kona Retro fork, which features on all of the Wagon series, and the bar tape pretty much everything else is upgraded – well nearly everything, it does share the same Kona Deluxe seatpost as the Band Wagon.
We've featured a couple of Kona's ultilty bikes on road.cc lately (the Ute and the Africabike) and we like them both. The World Bike is a new addition to the range.
The details we have so far suggest that Kona are on to a winner here, the World looks to be the ideal low maintenance commuter with added benefit of a butted chromoly steel frame – which should not only up the comfort quotient, but in the unlikely event that you manage to break it does hold out the possibiltiy that you can get the frame mended again. Rider comfort is further aided by a set of high volume1.95x 26in tyres that should cushion you from all but the worst potholes. Rain protection comes via a set of mudguards – the press shots suggest these come fitted as standard although the spec lists them as extras, along with a chainguard, bell and basket.
Drive train is a fuss free Shimano Nexus three speed unit operated by Shimano SL-3S35E twist grip shifters. The World Bike is available in five sizes 14, 16, 18, 20, and 22in.
The Dr Fine is another take on the fuss-free commuter bike angle – this time with a performance twist to it. Part of the Kona, long running and very successful Dr Dew series of flat barred urban road bikes. All of the Dew range are known for their speed, ride quality and handling. The extra wrinkle with the Fine is that instead of getting the usual derailleur set up the drivetrain is an eight speed Shimano Alfine hub set up matched up with a set of Shimano hydraulic discs.
For the urban rider this promises some pretty nifty perfomance, the Alfine hub is matched up to a 45T chainset at the front, execellent stopping power, courtesy of those Shimano discs and very low maintance. Yes disc pads wear out, but not as fast as rim brake pads plus there is no rim wear either. The drive train too should be fairly low maintenance with one chainring at the front means a nice clean chain line – so lower chain line, and providing you don't live anywhere ultra-hilly all the gears you should need.
Unlike the World Bike and the two Wagon series of bikes, the Dr Fine is made from hyrdromformed aluminium, 7005 series to be precise matched up to a Kona P2 steel fork. Geometry is more upgright and MTB oriented than some classic flat bar road offering, but that's what set the original Dr Dews apart from the crowd – these days you could argue that it's a road-going 29er. Either way, in our experience that set-up is ideal for riding on busy urban streets.
There are 8 sizes available ranging from a petite 45cm (Kona have always been excellent at catering for smaller riders) right up to a big-boned 62cm.
Fram the same Dew line-up but an altogether different beast is the Super Dew… according to the Kona blurb it's the “ultimate downtown ripper, designed for cyclists who ain't riding to talk, who love letting poseurs feel their wrath”. If that sounds like you, before you kick sand in my face let me tell you about the butted Scandium frame and carbon, pretty much everything else, and rather nice FSA wheelset. That certainly sounds like it should be a fast, light, bike.
The big deal with Scandium is that when you alloy with aluminium it aligns the grain structure of the metal in the same way (in some ways like unidirectional carbon fibre) what this mean is that the resulting tubes are lighter and stronger than conventional aluminium alloy tubes with their multi-directional grain, Scandium is said to be twice as strong for a given weight as 6061 or 7005 aluminium. What that in effect means is that you can produce lighter, thinner tubes, without sacrificing weight – the big claim made on Scandium's behalf is that produces an aluminium frame that rides more like steel. It's reputation as a wonder-material for bike building was eclipsed by carbon but it has continued to enjoy a place in the affections of some MTB manufacturers – it's one reason why Kona claim to have shaved between 10-15% off all their 2010 alu frames. ]
Drive train is a mixutre of Shimano Ultegra (front and rear mechs) with Shimano 105 chain and freewheel, braking is also courtesy of Shimano – 575 Hydraulic disc, you also get a decent pair of their clipless pedals thrown in too. FSA supply the triple chainset an SLK with carbon cranks and 50-39-30 chainrings, bottom bracket, headset, carbon bars and the over-sized stem and seatpost, plus of course the RD460 Wheelset. Like the Dr Fine sizes range from 45 through to 62cm.
The other new addition to the Dew range is the Dr Lisa – yep it's a commuter bike for women. So the top tube slopes even more indeed it has an almost Haro-esque kink to it and the size range errs towards the small 45 – 54cm, the frame is made from butted 7005 aluminium.
Although it's a 700c bike the majority on the drive train on the Lisa comes from Shimano's MTB groupsets, Deore and Acera with the former supplying the rear mech and the latter the shifters. Shimano also supplying the hydraulic discs 486s, front and back. Like the Dr Fine the fork is a Kona P2.
Aside from the kinky top tube the geometry appears to be the same on the Dr Lisa as it is on the Dr Fine – you do get a comfort saddle with the former, but that aside I'm not sure why Kona felt the need to introduce the Lisa, maybe there has been a call for it from women riders, but one of Kona's big strengths has always been that they produce good bikes in small sizes – which is one of the reasons we thought women so often bought them – whether they were intentionally women specific or not.
Picking up the singlespeed them and running with it some more is the Major One – no urban machine this, (although we reckon it would make an excellent round town ride). The hears of the bike is the same Kona Race Light Scandium butted frame as the Major Jake – just without the gears, and built up with a different spec. You get a Kona Carbon Cross fork in place of the Alpah Q CX fork on the Major Jake, a different headset, and own brand brakes mated to Tektro levers rather than 105. On the other hand you have the pleasure of knowing that you're unencumbered by superflous gearing – it's a 42-18 btw and there's none of your flip/flop huberrry here… Kona might be aiming this bike at “social deviants” but they obviously realise that the fixed 'cross niche is probably not a profitable one.
If you fancy a do it all urban singlespeed that can handle a bit of off road, or you simply want a bike with an in-built excuse for the start of your 'cross career – look no further. Available in seven sizes from 49cm through to 62cm and I'm on the phone to Kona right now trying to get one in.
While I'm at it I'm going to ask for one of these – not a new bike for 2010, although, as we mentioned earlier, Kona reckon they have made the frame lighter – it's just a lovely looking piece of kit. A beautiful sem-compact TIG welded frame in Deda Zero Replica Chromoly, built up with Shimano Ultegra and an FSA compact chainset all turning Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels. If it rides as nicely as it look on paper it'll be a very fine bike indeed.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.