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Kona’s road bikes have never quite made it on to my short list when I’m searching for a new bike, they always catch my eye in the preliminary rounds with snappy colour schemes and loud graphics but have been let down by lowish spec levels considering the price. On the 2010 Haole things have changed though!
The Deda steel frame and carbon fork are carried over from 2009 but virtually everything else has been upgraded a notch and all for the same price as last year. A full Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset (excluding the chainset which is taken care of by FSA), Ksyrium Equipe wheels and a smattering of FSA finishing kit complement the frame building a superb all round road bike.
I love a steel frame, the way they look with their thin tubes but most of all the way they feel, especially one as light as the Kona. Using Deda’s Zero Replica tubeset to create a semi sloping frame, a blend of classic with a modern twist. The Zero Replica tubeset is basically a good quality chromoly as far as I can tell although Deda claims this "new generation" tube can be used to build lighter, stronger frames… it's got to be said the Haole is light. Beautifully finished in terms of welding and painting it is one of the best frames I’ve seen.
The test model was a 53cm which I was worried might be a touch small for me being 1.80m tall but after adding a 110mm stem as opposed to the 90mm supplied it fitted fine. The small compact frame gave sharp handling and was any absolute joy to descend on with perfect feedback being sent back to the rider without any road buzz at all. My second ride, a hill climb up Bowden Hill, Lacock proved it could climb (it also proved that I couldn’t!!) with no flex apparent anywhere even on the steepest sections where I was flinging it side to side in an effort to find another 0.001mph but the descent after was unbelievable. Bowden Hill has a rough road surface but even with lactic acid in all my muscles the Haole was sure-footed and planted even under hard braking into the corners on the way back down to the HQ.
The Deda Fin fork's chunky lines look slightly at odds with the thin frame tubes but it certainly delivers in the handling stakes, no flex can be felt at all. With a steel steerer it’s no lightweight but this never shows and adds to that planted feel of the frame.
Mavic's Equipe wheelset also add to the overall package, I’ve ridden all kinds of Mavic wheels from handbuilt Open Pro’s and CXP22’s to Cosmic Carbone’s and never once had one lose tension or snap a spoke and the Equipes were no different. My own Ksyrium Elites have done 15k miles and haven’t ever needed truing. The Equipes on the Kona are really stiff with no noticeable flex, the hubs were smooth running straight from the off and the braking surface didn’t even need running in. They are shod with Conti’s UltraRace clincher, a fast training / entry level race tyre which actually rolls well. Grip is also good wet and dry, and when traction does break it’s very progressive. In typical Continental style the rear one started to go square after 1500 miles which makes fast cornering fun.
The new Ultegra 6700 group is virtually identical to Dura Ace 7900 in looks and feel with the exception of being a touch heavier and a considerable amount cheaper. I actually preferred the Ultegra shifters as they have a slightly heavier feel to the gear change. The ergonomics of the carbon levers are much better than previous incarnations coupled with the hidden cables makes for a very clean uncluttered front end. Braking from the Ultegra callipers is also much improved with great modulation through the lever which is great on fast technical descents. Shimano’s new pad compound is also a massive improvement especially in the wet, which was their aim as the blurb states a 100% increase over the previous pads. They work brilliantly for the first 100 miles then they seem to fade off into a bedding in period of 200ish miles, then they return to full performance from there on in. The rear mech looks smart and also the gear change is very precise over the 12-25 cassette even under load. The front mech has also been redesigned and shifts positively with the FSA Energy 53-39T chainset (a compact option is also available) which looks smart in gloss black and priced at £200 in FSA’s catalogue is a decent performing piece of kit. Using FSA’s MegaExo bottom bracket with outboard bearings it’s a good stiff setup with no flex at all.
Finishing kit is also supplied by FSA, the wing shaped handlebars have a very shallow drop which is perfect for the non competitive rider that wants a slightly aero position that's comfortable too. A matching alloy stem completes the cockpit, it’s nothing flash but everything works together providing good solid handling and very little flex. The alloy seatpost is another quality item, easily adjustable and a good tight fit in the frame. It’s odd not to see carbon at this price level but a good quality alloy post easily out performs a cheap carbon one in both weight and longevity. At first sight the Selle Italia XO SE saddle looked far too soft and squidgy to be any good on a race bike but I must admit it was very firm but comfortable and all credit to it, it remained so even after 5 hours in the wet.
The Haole is a very well thought out bike,with a cracking frame, good wheels and a high level groupset backed up by sensible finishing kit.It's a great all rounder that is so easy to ride and the more experienced rider can really chuck it about to get the best out of it. Top marks for Kona's design team, they have built a classic.
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Make and model: Kona Haole
Size tested: 53cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Deda Zero Replica steel frame,
Deda carbon fork (with steel steerer),
Ksyrium Equipe wheelset,
Ultegra 6700 groupset,
FSA Energy chainset & BB,
FSA alloy finishing kit
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Whether it was Kona's intention or not this is an ideal bike for the sportive/weekend rider. Comfortable for long hours in the saddle but also with the speed there when you need it. Thats not to say you couldn't race on it, the stiff frame and wheels make it hugely entertaining at speed and the handling is as good as it gets. According to Kona's website the Haole is the product managers favourite bike, I can see why.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Frame is beautifully welded and the paint finish is perfect. Nice colour as well!
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Deda's Zero Replica steel is alloyed with small pieces of carbon,magnesium, chrome, molybdenum & vandium to make it stronger and easier to work with.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
frame size: 53cm
top tube: 535mm
head tube: 150mm
head tube angle: 72 deg
seat tube angle: 74.5 deg
fork offset: 43mm
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Everything is pretty standard in terms of dimensions. The test bike came with a good amount of steerer tube left so you could get your position right before you trim it.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride quality was very good, comfortable in a way only steel can be. no road buzz at all
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Out of the saddle efforts seen no flex whatsoever from the frame or compenents but the ride still maintains its comfort levels
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Nothing is wasted, through the frame or wheels.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
A little, if i was buying the bike myself though I'd go for the 56cm which would cure it
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Great feedback at all times, high speed cornering is just as composed as filtering through traffic. Weight distribution feels good and the hole bike is perfectly balanced.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Most of the comfort comes from the frame but the saddle is very supportive as well
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame, fork, handlebars and chainset are all stiff wasting very little power
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
As above but the wheels also come into play here. being able to brake so late into corners helps increase the overall efficiency as well
excellent after initial bed in period
Much better value than Dura Ace and no different in performance
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The new brake levers are a brilliant shape, and look great in carbon. gear changing can be a little difficult with thick winter gloves on as the lever behind the brake lever is a little vague and has to be swung in a perfect arc or it jams
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The test period was a mixture of wet and dry weather and the wheels and tyres worked well in both. I suffered one puncture out on the road and the Conti's were easy to remove and refit with cold hands and in the dark.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
By choosing more mid range items for the controls the budget can be spent on the frame, wheels and drivetrain. saying that though the FSA components work brilliantly. The shallow drop bars are also perfect for smaller riders.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Seriously considering it
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? yes
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
If you're in the market for a new race bike try and get a test ride, you'll be impressed
Age: 31 Height: 180cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Schwinn Fastback Pro My best bike is: Dolan Chrono TT Custom
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!