Daily Archives: 06/28/2018

Kona Dream Builds: Paul’s Multi-Surface Shred Machine AKA his custom Unit X

Words/Photos/Build: Paul Garcia

It starts with inspiration! Have you ever had a moment when something happens to fall in your hands and sparks a thought process that you begin building an idea around? For me, it was the Salsa Cutthroat fork. I had a buddy who was looking to unload the fork for a reasonable price. His build had changed and he was not going to need it. Before I accepted the offer on the spot I had some research to do. The fork met the aesthetic criteria. Straight blade 29er fork that had a ton of capabilities and was able to clear most plus tires. I was in 100%.

The second part of this build was major. The frame. The industry has built lots of bikes that really want to meet every person’s needs and at times, still miss the mark. Form follows function, the frame had to follow the forks lead. An aero carbon trail fork that was a practical design and was highly functional. In comes the Unit X.

Kona bicycles is not an ordinary bicycle company. I have owned a Kona Unit before. I had also worked for a shop that sold the brand and I really admired how they had maintained an “off the beaten path” philosophy. This bike build would have tons of capabilities and then some. The Unit X frame had a Reynolds tube set with a 44mm headtube, cable guides throughout the frame, slider dropouts, plus tire capabilities and a traditional threaded BB. Did I mention rack mounts throughout the frame and through axle capabilities as well as a third bottle cage mount? After months of combing the internet looking for the Swiss Army knife of bikes for my needs, I ordered a Kona Unit X.

The call was put in as a favor and the bike was now on its way to me as a complete build. This meant I would have to strip some of the existing parts off for my new creation. My idea was to replace the original fork for the Cut­throat and remove the 27+ wheels and install new 29er wheels. The front handlebars would be replaced for a Salsa dropbar flared touring combination to match the stem and seatpost combo. That placed the NX shifter on the bar via Paul Components adaptor. The original NX crank came off and I installed a better suited crank for my size which was a 170mm and new 38t ring with a Paul Components chain guide. I was able to lighten the rear end a bit by adding my SRAM 900 hub and XD driver system with the 1150 SRAM 11-42 cassette. For my bearing surfaces, I went with a Cane Creek headset and Wheels Manufacturing angular BB. On my touch points, I went with some Brooks tape and an All City saddle that was a carryover from a past build. Well broken in for this occasion. My rubber of choice are Maxxis Ardents on Raceface Arc 35’s.

The bike works as designed, a multi-surface shred machine that works for any variety of roads or trails and lots of bikepacking opportunities. Much love to Kona bikes for making rad bikes for everyone!






Ryan Gardner Reports from Mammoth

Words by Kona enduro racer, Ryan Gardner.


2018 marks my 10th year of racing mountain bikes. During this time I have had seasons where everything seems to go as planned and the flow just came naturally. Others though required a bit more work. This season started off as the latter. With each race came a new hurdle. Mechanicals took me out of contention in Mexico and the TDS and a tough race in New Mexico had roused those little voices in the back of my mind that suggested that I might not have what it takes this year. As I continue to grow at my 9 to 5, the responsibilities there have become more demanding, personal relationships all require time and energy, and the number of hours in the day seem to disappear quicker each year. But despite all the fits and starts of this season, the effort it takes to rally after a 10-hour work day and get out for a training ride, and all the other little sacrifices it takes to be competitive at racing bikes, I keep coming back. It’s the little tastes of success, of progress, that makes all the work worthwhile. So after three lackluster races, it was time to pack up the van and head to my first California Enduro of the year, Mammoth Bar.

Mammoth Bar is not my favorite race of the year. It’s really pedally, really dry, and often really hot. But the racing is tight and it’s a good chance to get into the swing of things. After working three-quarters of a day I ducked out early and got a practice lap in on each stage Friday night for Saturday’s race. With only four stages of racing, each stage required 100% effort. I did my best to remember the stages, stay off the chicken levers, and put power down wherever I could. When it was all said and done I was able to round out the podium in 5th place. Though not the result I was aiming for, it was a step in the right direction; no mechanicals, improved riding, and a podium spot. I even got a feel for my new Satori which has been surprising me with its quick handling and snappy feel. It’s a much different bike from the Process, but its well suited to the fast and flowy singletrack found at many of the CA Enduro Races.

With the season moving into full swing, I’m going to keep focusing on finding the flow, enjoying the ride, and savoring those small victories week after week. Sometimes things don’t come easy. But that’s exactly when the most progress can be made.