This drop barred version of Kona's classic Dew is a great, if hefty, do-anything bike built around Avid's brilliant BB7 brakes.
At road.cc we usually review bikes that distributors send us. I've been after a Dew Drop to cast an eye over for some time now but as I'm the impatient type I took advantage of our work's Cyclescheme and went shopping instead.
Kona's website doesn't tell you anything sensible about what the Dew Drop is for, but one look at the overbuilt frame, disc brakes and drops and it practically screams 'light tourer/sturdy commuter'. That's pretty much what I bought it for and the £650 price sits well under the Cyclescheme limit.
The USP of the Dew Drop is the Avid disc brakes. Discs are a great advantage on crappy Devon lanes and the BB7s stop on a sixpence. They have dials on the front and back of the pistons so they're dead easy to set, way easier than V brakes or regular calipers. A drop bar bike with discs is a rare beast indeed. I can only think of a few others, the Marin Toscana, Genesis Croix de Fer, Trek Portland or the Salsa Fargo and they are all a lot more expensive.
The compact frame is standard across the whole Dew range and it's a hefty piece of kit with more than a nod to Kona's mountain bike heritage. Made from 7005 aluminium the tubes are enormous and very, very stiff. Happily the long seat post and fat tyres take the sting out of what could otherwise be a very harsh ride.
Kona have taken notice of grumbles about the 09 model and moved the rear disc tabs from the seat stays down to the chain stays. This clears the way for fitting a regular rack as opposed to a disc specific rack. That said, of the two holes drilled to take a rack and mudguards, only one is actually usable. The top hole is far too close to the metal of the seat stay to allow a rack or mudguard. It's not insurmountable, you'll just have to put the rack and mudguards on top of each other, but it's an annoying flaw and one that could have been avoided with just a little thought and 5mm more metal on the tab. Having to stretch the rack over the mudguard loops also makes it much harder to cleanly insert the bolts when fitting the rack and, having removed the rack a couple of times, the soft aluminium thread inside the eyelet has already rounded off which meant a trip to the LBS to have it re-tapped. Very annoying indeed...
Spec-wise you get modest branded kit. Sora levers are a well known budget favourite, as is the Deore rear mech. Bars, stem and saddle are Kona's own and work perfectly well. There certainly isn't anything there that needs changing and putting more exotic kit on a meat and spuds bike like this would be pointless anyway. The tyres are about the only thing that I'd change as they feel sluggish and slow, but even then I'll wait until they wear out. I did raise an eyebrow at the huge 34t Megarange sprocket on the back. It looked a bit too civilian for a gnarly old hand like me, but on the March Hare audax I was damned grateful for it and if I was hauling luggage or a trailer then all such snobbery would evaporate completely. So far I've rattled out over 600 miles and nothing has broken or caused any grumbles.
Overall this a sturdy and thoroughly likeable workhorse of a bike. It isn't fast and it's not in the same league as the likes of the Salsa Fargo that the inhabitants of road.cc Towers have been drooling over of late but it does a grand job for a lot less money.
If the Dew Drop was a horse it would be a Shire, or possibly a Clydesdale. Hefty but with a great ride and a charm all of it's own. Shame about the poorly designed rear eyelets though.
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Make and model: Kona Dew Drop
Size tested: 52cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame tubing: Kona 7005 Aluminum Butte
Fork: Kona P2 700C
Crankarms: FSA Alpha Drive (45-54=170, 56-62=175mm)
B/B: RPM 7420
Pedals: Wellgo LU-A9 / Xerama SP-50
Chain : KMC Z-72
Freewheel: Shimano HG40 (11-34, 8spd)
R/D: Shimano Deore
Handlebar: Kona Sweeper (31.8mm x 620mm Wide)
Grips: Velo Wrap Gel
Brakes: Avid BB7
Brake: Levers Shimano
Front hub: Formula Disc
Rear hub: Shimano M475 Disc
Spokes: Sandvik Stainless 15g fr/14g rr
Tires: Continental CountryRide 700x37C
Rims: Alex DC25
Saddle: Kona Comfort
Seatpost: Kona Road
Seat clamp: Kona QR
Colour: Metallic Black or Matte Black
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?
Kona say- "Now things are getting serious. You've got some miles to bang off, and it better be quick. Take the paradigm shifting frames of the Dew series, throw on drop bars for road bike like posture and speed, toss in Avid road disc brakes for control, long-lasting durability and stopping power on the mean, wet streets of the inner city. You're hardcore, your bike is your chariot, and we're feeling wonderfully fantastic to have made it for you"
Thanks for that guys, I'll just go translate marketing burble into English shall I?! I'd guess that a bike like this is going to be primarily for light touring, commuting and load hauling.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The P2 fork is an old favourite, tried and trusted. The frame is good, but the paint has already rubbed off one of the seat stays where a pannier bottom has chafed it.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Steel fork, massively oversized 7005 aluminium for the frame.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Relaxed and steady. No twitchy racing angles here!
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Despite being a 54" frame it has a very small cockpit. That's not a problem but the riding position is very upright and I ended up flipping the stem to drop the bars a little.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's a lovely ride, helped by the upright riding position, long seat post and fat tyres. The short cockpit pretty much forces you onto the drops, which isn't a bad thing as they fall nicely to hand and the extra bar length helps to take the sting out of crappy roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The tubes are huge, especially the head tube, which adds up to a very stiff frame. Even with a couple of panniers on the back it doesn't flex.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It's not a speed machine but if you're hauling luggage it's as stiff as you need.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
No problem, even with mudguards.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? It's neutral and very stable.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
You never feel like you're astride a thoroughbred but the stable handling is reassuring and designed for load hauling and long distance touring. Unladen it's not a sparkling ride, but that's what race bikes are for.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I thought I would need to swap the saddle but it's actually very comfortable. I did flip the stem to drop the bars slightly but I wouldn't swap out any of the components.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
No, it's a good balance of very stiff frame with 'soft' components like the long stem and tyres which take the edge of the frame's harshness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The tyres help with comfort but they are slow and a little dead in feel. The Conti City Contacts fitted to the Kona Ute I tested last year were much better.
Ideal for a load hauler
Pretty glacial but the tyres don't help
Even the Manx Missile would struggle on this beast
It's not a climber, but the tiny 28/34 bottom gear should get you up almost anything.
Solid and reliable kit
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The cassette goes from 11t through to a huge 34t using only 8 sprockets. It's very gappy and finding the right gear can be a bit of a challenge. Having said that, the 34t came in useful on a recent audax, so I wouldn't lose it!
Good strong wheels, the rim wear indicator is a nice touch on disc wheels!
They should last ages
I haven't weighed them, but you can feel that these are built for comfort, not for speed
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?
You could certainly build up something lighter, when they finally wear out, but these aren't out of place on a bike like this. The real weakness is the tyres. They feel slow and dead and I suspect that a change of tyre would make a big difference to the way the bike handles. The front wheel was out of true by a couple of mm, easily fixed, and I tightened up the rear wheel which was built quite soft.
Sora type levers aren't my favourite but they work well enough
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Sora style levers aren't my favourite. The sweep of the big lever is very, very long which might be an issue for some and the thumb lever is only reachable from the drops if you perfect the 'Sora thumb lunge'. I'd prefer Tiagra but I've learned to live with Sora, they do the job well enough and they're a reliable choice.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
It's modest but respectable. The highlight is the Avid BB7 mechanical discs, which are great.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes - 1000 miles so far and counting...
Would you consider buying the bike? I already have!
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
Nice bike and very versatile. The only let down is the poor design of the rear eyelets.
Age: 40 Height: 5\' 8 Weight: er....86kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,