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Kona’s Dr Fine is one of the new breed of disc brake equipped, flat bar urban bikes. Kona say the twist here is that the Dr Fine offers the rare combination of internal hub gearing and powerful hydraulic braking. So how fine is this Kona?
My first ride was from Bristol to Bath, along the cycle path. It showed the 8-speed Shimano Alfine gearing range off well but didn’t demand anything from the brakes. So I headed into heavy traffic in the town centre. Here the Dr Fine didn’t disappoint. The brakes were powerful and progressive, and the gears changed smoothly with no slip or lag. And unlike with derailleur systems, I could shift right through the gears when stationary at traffic lights.
The riding position is quite upright, which left me feeling somewhat exposed to the wind and rain. It’s good for looking around in traffic, however, and the frame’s sloping top tube allows for good stand-over clearance, which is always nice when riding in traffic and having to stop and start regularly. The 7005 aluminium frame itself is lightweight, strong and stiff.
Some hub gears can feel draggy in the lowest gears, but Shimano’s Alfine feels slick and efficient throughout. In a city as hilly as Bath, the range is a bit narrow for your average cycle commuter. I got up most hills, although some were a struggle. On flat or rolling terrain, the range is fine with the 45-tooth chainring. If you’re going to ride in hilly areas often, you’ll want to get your local shop to fit a smaller chainring and/or a larger sprocket.
Kona haven’t scrimped on the finishing kit. The Kona-branded bars, stem and grips aren’t exceptional but you do get a decent WTB saddle and quality Continental Contact tyres. Sitting this upright you’re never going to race along. The 700x32C size rolls okay, nevertheless, and the bigger air pocket copes better than faster, sportier tyres on the rough roads that are everywhere after this winter’s frosts.
Shimano’s hydraulic discs front and back are superb, providing powerful and reliable stopping in all conditions. The Dr Fine has been out in freezing fog, winds, rain, and snow. Nothing fazed it. This is the selling point for me: the gears and brakes will cope with anything, making it a fine all-year commuting machine. Its hub gears are protected from all manner of road grime and wet weather, while its disc brakes don’t depend on completely true or clean rims to operate effectively.
A tough, low-maintenance town bike with weatherproof gears and brakes
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Make and model: Kona Dr Fine
Size tested: 56cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Kona say the Dr Fine is an elegant, smooth, strong urban bike aimed firmly at the cycle to work market. It fits the bill well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
While only having 8 speeds, the internal Alfine system that the Dr Fine is equipped with will cope with most inclines and offers a level of protection to key components that is valuable, especially with the weather we have had over recent winters. The gearing system should last significantly longer than on a derailleur-equipped commuter bike. Hydraulic discs from shimano perform very well and allow for a confident ride.
No complaints. Not the lightest bike in the world but with an Alfine hub you can't expect it.
Big sluggish but superb in terms of gear shifting and braking.
Hydraulic discs will help lengthen the life of the rims.
A fairly weighty bike due to the Alfine gear system and a strong set of wheels. Nothing wrong with this but it is a bit of a slog up a straight, steady incline into a headwind.
The WTB saddle was fine. The reach was reasonable although the extremely upright position took some getting used to.
You may feel that there are better bikes for the money, but take into account running and maintenance costs. Rims on this will last longer than conventional canti or V-brake wheelsets, the hydraulic discs are good quality and will look after you much better than cheap cable versions, and the 8-speed Alfine system will be protected from the worst of the muck and grime so should outlast traditional gear systems.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It wasn't rapid but was comfortable and reliable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The excellent brakes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't enjoy the riding position, as it was too upright for me.
Did you enjoy using the product? I did, in short bursts - which I suppose is the aim.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd buy a bike with these brake and gearing options, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A good effort by Kona that will rightly have its admirers. If you are in the market and intend to ride all year then this deserves consideration.
Age: 24 Height: 5ft 10 Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: felt ar4 My best bike is: i like my felt and my orbea ora tt bike equally
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, triathlon