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Kona Haole



Great frame, great price, great spec, great ride… a classic from Kona

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

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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. test report

Make and model: Kona Haole

Size tested: 53cm

About the bike

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.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork

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

wheelbase: 985mm

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.

Riding the bike

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

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
Rate the bike for acceleration:
Rate the bike for sprinting:
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
Rate the bike for climbing:

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:

excellent after initial bed in period

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
Rate the drivetrain for value:

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

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:

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.


Rate the controls for performance:
Rate the controls for durability:
Rate the controls for weight:
Rate the controls for comfort:
Rate the controls for value:

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.

Your summary

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

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

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 team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 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. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment


dave atkinson | 14 years ago

ours was fairly small too, at 53cm. not that it'd make 700g of difference...

dave atkinson | 14 years ago

We do weigh bikes, yes, on our office scales of truth. Kona had the weight of the bike as 7.6kg/16.8lb which was a bit optimistic, but it *was* light for a steel bike off the peg.

if we had the bike here we'd weigh it again to check for you, but sadly it's gone back to Kona central

jengy | 14 years ago

I like the sound of this bike and a nice review
Out of interest do you weigh bikes ?
You have this one at 7980g which is very light for a steely straight from a manufacturer - 'other' reviews have it at 8.72kg

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