Brand new for 2016, and just arriving in the road.cc workshop, is the Roadhouse, Kona's brand new disc-equipped, steel-framed do-everything bike.
The Roadhouse is crafted from high-quality, and desirable, Reynolds 853 tubing, with details including a tapered head tube and, drawing on the company's mountain bike heritage and experience, a Maxle 142-12mm bolt-thru rear axle. The Maxle is a thru-axle system developed by suspension manufacturer RockShox and works very much like an ordinary quick release - flip open the lever and unwind to release. Oh, another nice detail is the chain pip on the rear stay. Immensely useful.
The carbon fibre fork also features a 15mm Maxle thru-axle at the dropouts, making this one of the few disc road bikes with thru-axles at both ends. And in fact, I'm struggling to remember any other steel bikes with bolted axles at both ends. To attach the disc brakes to the frame and fork, Kona has used the latest Flat Mount standard, which gives the bike a cleaner appearance with a tidier caliper design.
We've got a 56cm in for a test, one of six sizes, and perhaps as you'd expect for this sort of bike, the geometry leans towards providing a stable ride with a comfortable position. The reach is 383mm and the stack is 596mm. Some other numbers for you; the head tube is a lofty 175mm, the wheelbase a stretched 1,015mm, and the bottom bracket drop is 74mm – gravel bike territory.
Of course, there is space for some quite large tyres. The bike comes fitted with Schwalbe's excellent new G-One 30mm gravel tyres (we're really liking this tyre at the moment), and there's no shortage of clearance at all. There are eyelets for fitting mudguards as well, and there's nothing to stop you fitting a rear rack, ideal if you want to do some light touring, an Audax or just for commuting to the office.
The Roadhouse is only available in this single £1,699 model. Along with the tyres we've already mentioned, the bike is fitted with a mixed Shimano 105/Ultegra mechanical groupset, with an RS500 compact chainset and Shimano's brand spanking new RS505 hydraulic disc brakes with 140mm rotors. You get an 11-32t cassette which, along with the 50/34t compact chainset, should mean plenty of pulling power up the steepest hill.
The wheels are Novatec Road 30 Discs and the bike is finished with Kona branded aluminium handlebars, stem, saddle and bar tape. The Roadhouse is available in just this one colour, gloss red with cream and orange decals. It certainly got some admiring looks when it was pulled out of its box the other day. On the scales, the Roadhouse weighs 10.3kg (22.7lb). It's no featherweight, but in the right area for this sort of bike.
Based on an initial inspection, there's a lot to like about the Roadhouse. There is also a lot of competition if a steel endurance bike with disc brakes is high on your shopping list. Just of the top of my head, there's the Genesis Equilibrium, Mason Resolution, Charge Plug, and many other very similar bikes. The Roadhouse is being tested as you read this (well, not literally) so watch out for the full review soon.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.