Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sophie’s New Bike Day and First Trip to Whistler Bike Park!

At Kona, employees don’t have company cars, but they gave me a staff bike, which is more expensive than my car in France. Not too bad.

Photos and words by Sophie Bossier.

I’ve been an intern at Kona, in B.C., for two weeks now. In last week’s article I told you about the advantages of working in the bike industry. At Kona, in particular, I have the privilege to take any bike I want, when I want, for my weekend rides or as a commuter bike. But the bikes I really love are the downhill bikes.

As the opening weekend at the lift-accessed bike park in Whistler approached, Kona suggested I take a staff bike, which was thrilling for me. I could choose any one, and – of course – I chose an Operator, in my favorite color, which I will be able to bring back to France. After a few weeks’ riding I’ll do a brief review of my feelings and experiences with my Operator. Don’t hesitate to follow my futures articles if you have interest in this bike!


Whistler Mountain Bike Park is like Disneyland for riding enthusiasts. Everything is bigger, higher – more trails, more jumps, more thrills. The trails are considerably more maintained than our French ones, and it feels good to ride on smooth and well-shaped trails.

There are trails for every taste. For big jumps, speed, and big thrill enthusiasts, go ride and whip the A-Line. For girls like me, who are afraid of these crazy riders who do backflips and ride the A-Line without braking at all, Crank-It-Up is for you! Anyways, if you like rock gardens, roots, berms… you’ll find your paradise here.

And I’m not talking about the village, the center of Whistler. It’s so huge. Shops, everywhere. You have both stereotypes: the first one is the girl who loves shopping, and the second is the girl rider who always wants new bike gear. Now, imagine me in Whistler’s streets – for once, my boyfriend is not reluctant to accompany me on my shopping.

After a season in Whistler, I will have tried so many different kinds of trails that I will be able to ride everywhere – or at least, I hope. I have a real desire to improve my skills. And from my weekends in Whistler, my daily rides during the weekdays, and my work at Kona, I live bike, I think bike, I work bike, I dream bike. It’s crazy – and it’s a change compared to my weekly ride when I was in France. One thing is certain: when I return to France, nothing will ever be as it was.

My Work at Kona Bikes

In last week’s article I told you about my colleagues. I work closely with the marketing team. But what’s marketing, you may say? The marketing team here at Kona works on a wide variety of different projects. On the surface level, you would be able to see that they manage the Cog blog, where I am publishing my articles, as well as Kona’s global social media channels. They write and photograph and make videos throughout the year, and also do communication for employees, dealers, and customers. They answer all of your requests too. And many other things I will discover in the next few months.


On a daily basis, I help them on the social media and the blog. With my fran-glish, it’s a little bit complicated, but some of my posts are liked by more than 3,000 followers, it’s not too bad. I have fun playing with Kona’s Instagram: I can test and learn with an account followed by more than 80k followers. I enjoy that lot!

My Most Important Work

Then, the most important part of my work for these first weeks is to translate in its entirety the writing for the 2018 website into French. It’s super cool and one of the perks here is that I can have a look at all the new models for 2018, which makes me dream, sweet!

But don’t get me wrong, translation is not an easy job! Even if I’ve done a lot of translation in my studies at school, it’s always more difficult when it’s the reality, for a real website, and it’s complicated. For example, how do you translate singletrack, or shred, or flat mount into French? If you have an answer, I would be pleased to receive it, haha.

In English, one word can mean a lot of things. In French, we like to describe things precisely. For one word in English, you’ll have sometimes six or seven words in French. As a result, to maintain the same number of words in accord with the room dedicated for it on the website, you have to make some choice, or sometimes change the sentence completely to keep the main idea in a different sentence.

In a nutshell, you will understand the website, so enjoy it – maybe even be a bit indulgent. It will be nice that your 2018 Kona website will be translated into French and German and Spanish. You’ll be able to spend even more time on it to read the description of your favorites bikes, in your language.

The First Week of Sophie at Kona Bikes!

More than being talented at work, Kona’s employees are killing it in their personal fields. It’s like that at Kona: they don’t hire you on your resume only, and even less for your educational background. They really look at who you are.

Photos and words by Sophie Bossier.

Last week I told you about my first impressions when I arrived at Kona Bikes for the first time. If you missed it, read my first article about my internship at Kona!

Within the Kona family where I work we have a World Champion of Downhill, a former top level BMX racer, a professional skier and mountain biker… and the list goes on. It’s so incredibly inspiring to be around people that push the limits, living life and exceeding their resumes.

The craziest is Richard, or Dik, or Richard – lol’ I don’t really know, this nickname is confusing for me – please refer to my first article and you will understand. Dik Cox was on the ground level of the MTB world you know today. He rode before there were trails built on the North Shore, and long before the mountain bikes that we see today existed. Dik has a big quiver, and he rides them, every day. He is THE guy, like the guy who gets up at five in the morning to do three hours of riding before going to the office. And everyone knows him in the bicycle industry here in B.C.

In my day-to-day I work closely with Kona’s marketing team. There is Caleb Smith, Kona’s brand manager, who is also a professional photographer. He was the founder of Spoke Magazine in New Zealand before coming to Kona. He speaks with a strange New Zealand accent, and sometimes I don’t understand him. In addition, he’s a strong advocate of New Zealand’s culture. He’s nice and very professional.

Next, Morgan Taylor is the writer at Kona. He has almost 15k followers on Instagram and is very connected to bicycle culture. He once lived in a house of twenty square meters in the forest and you have probably already heard about him in one of his funny videos or his article on the Radavist.

The head of marketing, Eddy Marcelet, is my internship supervisor. Eddy lives in another riding mecca, Nelson, B.C., and he likes really steep natural trails. And I would not dare to tell you anything funny or obtuse about him, sorry. I’m so happy to be part of their team, and I know I’ll learn a lot about marketing working with them.

Many of the employees have been working here for ten years, twenty years and thirty years. That says something about the commitment, the culture, and the great company Kona is. One guy worked here before Kona existed. This guy makes good coffee too – coffee is a religion here. I was almost fired when I said that I didn’t like coffee, haha.

More than half of the employees here work outside the office, from home, as they live close to the forest – because their playground is the forest and its various trails that it can offer them by bike.

I understand, behind Kona’s bikes, it’s all amazing and talented people. They take great care with the Kona brand and its bikes as if it was their baby. So when you ride a Kona bike, think about that.

If you want to know more about my colleagues, you can watch the series of My Kona Videos dedicated to them. There you will be introduced to the whole Kona family, including the Kona USA employees who are crazier than here, I am told, haha.

My First Days in British Columbia

I think I’m lucky, really lucky. My schedule is really cool. I am able to get into my biking gear, don my knee pads and my helmet and get on my bike for an after work ride in the forest behind my home – or to shape some trails and jumps that the teens of the family I am living with are making for fun with their friends.

Then, on the weekends, I have the opportunity to travel and do a lot of things with my two wheel machine and my boyfriend. All the more so as I’m able to borrow every bike I want in the Kona demo fleet. From road bikes, to enduro or fat bikes, to downhill bikes, the choices are almost endless. This week I chose a Kona Process 167, the perfect bike for what I planned to do.

Last weekend, we went to Squamish, between Vancouver and Whistler. Squamish has a long history as a MTB destination, and some of Kona’s employees live there. Lots of well-known personalities of the bike industry and lots of trails builders live in this town too.

The drive to Squamish is beautiful: it’s so nice to drive along the coast and some of the islands in Howe Sound. We rode the extremely steep 19th Hole, and one of Squamish’s most popular trails, Half Nelson. We rode Full Nelson too, which is very fun, flowy trail, with four kilometers of berms, rollers and jumps throughout.

I have stars in my eyes. Squamish is definitely such an incredible place to go, and it’s so close to my home. I am living the dream, my dream!

“A playful, smooth ride at a reasonable price” – VeloNews on the Kona Wheelhouse

VeloNews has featured the Reynolds 853 Wheelhouse in their recent Buyer’s Guide. The Wheelhouse’s steel frame and disc brakes stand out on a road bike, making it a unique choice with the unmistakable Kona ride.

“Riding the Wheelhouse is just plain fun. The steel frame is an anachronism amid all the carbon bikes in this Buyer’s Guide, but that’s okay. It offers a playful, smooth ride at a reasonable price.”

Read the full writeup at VeloNews.

Roos Op de Beeck Wins Belgian National Championship on Her Kona Operator

Kona Grassroots rider Roos Op de Beeck has won the Elite Women’s Belgian National Downhill Championships in Bouillon in Belgium’s Ardennes region. Besides winning the national title she took also the overall win in Bouillon in the Lotto DH1 series. Having won the first round of the Lotto DH1 series in Chaudfontaine, Roos is the overall leader in the series. Congrats Roos!

Photos by Luc Delhaye.

Vital MTB Reviews the Kona Operator DL: “Park Friendly, World Cup Approved”

Vital MTB has just published a very thorough and positive review of our Operator DL.

“Whether you spend $3,200 on the baseline model or $7,500 on their highest end build, you still get a durable, well-thought-out machine with good geometry, a solid suspension platform, all in a mega-stout package that should take a beating for many seasons to come.”

“Kona’s updated Operator DL is a solid downhill bike with a build that strikes a nice balance between performance and budget.”

Read the full review at Vital MTB!

Good Living and Good Times in Arizona with the Kona Adventure Team

The Kona Adventure Team has recently published a big photo story from their trip to Arizona for the first of the Epic Rides Triple Crown – the Whiskey 50 – and a multi-day bikepacking adventure on the Prescott Circle Trail. The Adventure Team is predicated on the idea that traveling to races provides the opportunity to slow things down and see another side of the places that host events. So far, it seems to be working!

“We travel for more than just racing nowadays. We travel for mountain biking and seeing the world and bringing our friends along for the ride. For some of us this is a vacation from work, for others, it’s an evolution away from the height of our competitive careers, and for a couple, it’s a route towards the next peak. For all of us, it’s good living and good times.”

Check out a few more photos from Patrick Means below, and the full photo story on Pinkbike.

 

Nostalgia-Free: Pizza & Bikes at the 2017 Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Festival

Our Endurance Team is deep into the 2017 spring season and this weekend are in Grand Junction, CO for Round 2 of the Epic Rides triple crown. They’ll be putting their Hei Hei DLs to the test across the rugged terrain of the Grand Mesa. Leading up to this weekend, team rider Spencer Paxson clues us in on a fantastic event held close to Kona’s home in BC, with some special heritage dating back to Kona’s founding individuals. Stay tuned for more action from the Endurance Team as this weekend unfolds. 

Words by Spencer Paxson. Photos by James Lissimore and Scott Robarts.

Before there were trails at Vedder Mountain, there was pizza and mountain biking. The year was 1984 and it was the first “unofficial” Canadian MTB Championships, comprised of a group of cyclists from Deep Cove and the BFJCC, including the eventual co-founder of Kona Bicycles.  The winner was Alex Stieda, who would go on to become a 2-time Olympian and, in 1986, the first North American to lead to Tour de France.  The route began in Yarrow and finished near Cultus Lake with après celebrations planned at Beethoven’s Pizza off the Columbia Valley Highway.

Today there is still pizza and mountain biking at Vedder Mountain.  Beethoven’s has endured and the trails have evolved.  In fact, the mountain bike community in the Fraser Valley (Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association) has grown in the last three decades to create a trail system that may be as timeless and pleasurable as a hot slice of pizza pie.  And so on the weekend of May 6-7, 2017, hundreds of cyclists and their friends flocked to the lakeshore for two days of mountain bike racing.  Day 1 was the Vedder Mountain Classic, a historic marathon cross-country race birthed from the original event held in 1984.  Day 2 was the Fraser Valley Enduro, a multi-stage downhill trail race and part of the more recent BC Enduro Cup and North American Enduro Tour.

During the post-race interview on Saturday, I was asked what is special about racing in this part of world.  My on-the-spot answer spoke plainly to the sense of fun, community and great trails that are so abundant in BC.  After the interview I had a further thought.  I’ve only been racing mountain bikes since 1998, around the time when the Vedder Classic went on a 16-year hiatus.  That said, I’ve raced all around the world since then, and have grown up with this sport and lived and breathed its evolution as a core participant.  What’s special about racing in this part of British Columbia is that there is no nostalgia around it.  The heritage and the heroes are still there, some are still fast as hell, all are still stoked, and some even share podiums with their children.  There’s no pretense to riding or racing here, no matter your skill level, and no need to waste time on reflecting on how it used to be, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is.  It’s a f*@#% good time!

So, thirty-three years after the first event, it seemed fitting that a few of us representing the now globally recognized Kona Bicycles brand could collect a few accolades.  I took the win in the marathon XC ahead of rising star Rhys Verner in 3rd, long-time Kona Legend Kris Sneddon smiling from mid-pack, and second-generation Kona Employee and core newcomer Seth Cox.  On Sunday, young Rhys showed us all how the new-schoolers get it done with a top-10 overall in the enduro, while I donned my goggles-and-a-half-shell to earn second fastest overall time in the XC + Enduro combined.  It was worth a few extra slices from Beethoven’s, and with specks of Vedder’s loamy trails and pizza grease on my face, I headed home happy and ready for more.

Factory Jackson is in awe of the Honzo CR Trail: “The Kona really has encouraged me to ride…”

Andrew Dodd from Factory Jackson has recently published an excellent long term review of our Honzo CR Trail. The Honzo inspired him to get out in sloppy conditions all winter and helped him to push his riding skills – exactly what we were hoping by sending over a long term tester.

“Unlike many hard tails that can feel a bit nervous when the going gets treacherous, the Kona Honzo CR Trail actually has more in common with the way you might ride a jump bike on a section of single track. It’s stiff and really inspiring to ride.”

“Overall – I bloody love this bike. You might have already guessed that.”

Without any doubt, Doddy is impressed! Read his complete long term review at Factory Jackson!

Dirt Mountain Bike’s 27.5 Kona Operator Long Term Review: “We totally love it…”

Dirt Mountain Bike has just posted their long term review of Operator. With notes on the history of our race-ready downhill machine, Ieuan Williams gets into just what our lineup of DH shredders is capable of.

“The RockShox Kage rear shock together with the suspension system is a real gem of a pairing – smooth, supple over harsh high frequency terrain but also has a progressive curve to help deal with big hits without blowing through the travel. We totally love it.”

“We rate this bike highly and the ride characteristic offers superb traction together with a silent ride.”

Read the full review at Dirt Mountain Bike!