Alasdair’s Retro Builds: Part 4 – 1997 Kona Hot

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.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

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!

Alasdair McAlley
Alasdair McAlley
Alasdair McAlley

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.

Alasdair McAlley

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.

Alasdair McAlley

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.

Alasdair McAlley
Alasdair McAlley

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.

Alasdair McAlley

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.

Alasdair McAlley

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final instalment of this weeks’ special 1997 retro dream-build celebration.