Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Colt Fetters.
Last week I took the 35-hour drive from Colorado to Northern Vermont to attend the coveted NEMBA fest. During my time there, I met up with Wilson; the fun-loving and talented Kona Demo Tour driver and his loyal fur companion, Fred. After a fun weekend at the Kingdom Trails, we decided we were not ready to end the fun yet, and headed a few hours east to Highland Mountain Bike Park. Growing up on the east coast, I have spent many days ripping trails and watching this New Hampshire bike park grow into one of the best parks in the country. I was excited to show Wilson around, and we even convinced Kona CX Pro Becca Fahringer to come to take some DH laps with us.
We all met up in the morning amped on our new friendship and ready to make the most of this long summer day fitting in as much riding as possible. Luckily on this particular day, Highland offers lift access all day and then after hours pedal laps up the mountain until 8 pm making it perfect for our energetic crew.
After our meet up we took to the trails with our posse of Process 153’s. We rode everything from smooth jump trails to rugged and rooty race trails. The Process 153 is by far my favorite enduro bike I have ever owned, and Highland Mountain was the perfect place to showcase all of its capabilities. However, our day wasn’t all just fun and games. We took advantage of the wide variety of terrain Highland has to offer by doing some suspension testing and tweaking. Wilson worked some magic on my bike and suspension, setting it up perfect for my upcoming race this weekend.
Before we knew it, the mountain was about to close, and the lift laps were coming to an end. With a quick snack break and dog walk, the enduro phase of our day was about to begin. Highland’s “Wenesduro” has become the hot new hangout for all the locals. It is the only night that the mountain allows uphill traffic and riders like to see who can do the most laps of the evening. We took it pretty causal but used every once of light we could squeeze out of the day.
Beat from a day of park laps, filming, and pedaling, we all cruised up the road to a friend’s house. After another full day of fun, we once again decided we still weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to our new pals Wilson and Fred. We decided to keep the partying going by headed up north the next day to check out some more ripping trails and make the most of these endless summer days.
Double Top 10 for the Kona Gduro Team !
Rossbach, a very small village in the Spessart region was the second stop of the german Enduro One series. This was the second time Rossbach hosted a stop of the series and the first one already provided excellent trail riding with technical challenges in every stage.
Although this little town is in the middle of nowhere there is a strong mountain bike community all around and all citizens are keen to make this event a big family-like meeting.Just three of seven stages could be trained including the prolog / stage 7. All other stages had to race blind.
Early Sunday morning we mentioned that it had some heavy rain falls overnight in northern Bayern. That could have some extra salt on all the roots and rocks we ride yesterday. As suspected stage one was all in from the start. Beginning with some rooty corners the trail followed the fall line of the hill with rocks and offcamber sections paired with tight switchbacks and highspeed downhills. I found myself beside my bike a few times and hit a tree somewhere. Nothing serious but that stage was not mine. Matthias had made similar experiences but found the flow all around.
Up to stage two we took the same way but followed the fire road further thru the woods. Same game here – a few corners and down into the steeps with a roadgap and technical challenging lines. This one was much better but still not the race mode my Process an I were capable of. A long uphill took us to stage three, one of the trained stages. Beginning with a flat single track the trail got steep and steeper interrupted by a 400m fireroad section. I knew I had to put all in and it felt like my speed was spot on. On the upper double double I hit a cross root and punctured. Thanks to my Tire Trooper I ride this stage save to the bottom. Sometimes it is just not your day. But still four stages to come. Matthias got more and more in the race and improved his single positions from stage to stage. But I was confused for the day. Stage four and five felt really weird with no flow at all.
The last two stages I knew what to do but overall I didn’t found into the race this day.The expected Top 3 turned into a Top 10 in Rossbach. Matthias ended with another Top 10 position in his strong class. Good job, man! Kind of disappointing for me but there are more races ahead. Now I will concentrate on the 12h XC race in Külsheim.
Stay tuned !
The Kona Hot was the ultimate steel hardtail. Introduced in 1991, through to the start of 1996 it was built by Tom Teesdale, a true pioneer, and master of steel frame design and manufacturer. A made to order frame, you could choose from specific tube sizing variations, different cable routing options, and any color combination or design you desired. Sandor’s 1993 Hot dream-build is a great example.
For the 1997 season, production shifted to Altitude Cycles based in Chico, California who were contracted to produce the Hot, Caldera and Ku. The paint was applied by VeloGraphics in Bellingham, Washington.
Built in November 1996, number 34 in the first batch of 50, the original owner of this example asked to combine the “stars and bars” colors with the then-new “rasta flames” design. They also asked for 1996 decals instead of the 1997 jungle graphics. It’s truly one of a kind!
Like the Caldera, Mountain Goat drop-outs are used. No-one is sure what the rear triangle is made from but powers of deduction favor Reynolds 725.
The frame’s main tubes are Reynolds 853 and remain among the lightest and strongest tubing around. Back then they were new to the market and hard to work with. Coupled with more extreme riding conditions, rumors of frame failures surfaced. Altitude production ended after 6 months with the following seasons Hot and Ku produced by Enigma.
This frame had seen a lot of action, proving the frame design and workmanship was second to none. I wanted to combine some of the very best durable period-correct components to leave the frame do the talking. Shimano’s XTR M950 provides a butter smooth shifting with Race Face turbine cranks completing the racing drive-train. Iconic Syncros seat post and bars nod to Kona’s Canadian heritage with Avid Titanium V-brakes provide supreme featherweight stopping power.
The frame’s red front-end meant the logical choice of fork had to be the game-changing first generation Marzocchi Z2 complete with double disc mounts. Mavic CrossMax wheels help keep the total weight to around 24lbs.
As a result, it absolutely flies. As the most recent build I’ve not had the pleasure of riding it for long durations but early indications show, it has the rapid point and go you expect from a quality steel frame with a little more flex than an aluminum counterpart.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final instalment of this weeks’ special 1997 retro dream-build celebration.