Caleb Smith

Enduro Ripper Jordan Regnier Joins Kona’s European Grassroots Team

We are happy to announce that we’ve just added French enduro shredder Jordan Regnier to our European Grassroots team. Jordan raced motocross in his early 20’s before discovering mountain biking in 2008. Since then he’s had some solid results rising through the European Enduro ranks, he finished 8th in the Megavalanche on Reunion Island in 2012 and finished 21st at the Valloire round of the EWS in 2014.

For 2017 he’ll be continuing a domestic focus onboard his Process 153 racing the Enduro Frenchcup, the Maxiavalanche and the Mégavalanche as well as the French and Italian EWS rounds.

Kona Dream Builds: Clayton’s Purple Rain Process 111

Words: Clayton Wangbichler Photos: Abner Kingman

Roughly eight years ago, I walked into a bike shop with the simple aim of getting brake pads for a Walmart hardtail I was borrowing from a buddy. Next thing I knew, the shop owner was trying to pitch me a great deal on a new bike. One thousand dollars for a brand new, size-small Kona Stinky.

It didn’t make any sense for a broke college student who was six feet tall, but I couldn’t pass up the deal. I walked next door, applied for a credit card, bought the bike and traded in the hunk of Walmart steel for a set of pedals to ride home on.

I returned to the shop the next week to ask some maintenance questions and found the space to be empty, doors boarded up and no signs of life. Turns out the owner was being indicted for tax evasion and had been liquidating his shop before leaving the country. The deal now made sense. I’d give the shop owner his plane ticket to freedom and he had provided me a lifelong love for Kona. Fair trade.

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Need a visual? Here is how I got into riding on that very bike back in 2009. Pro-Tec helmet, pink short shorts that eventually ripped mid-air, Vans that always folded around the pedals, and my buddy Cory always doing lunges in the background.

Since then, I’ve owned and ridden a handful of Konas. Process 111, Process 167, CoilAir, Jake the Snake… I rode them because of the simple fact that I knew they wouldn’t let me down. I didn’t know the folks who were masterfully materializing bikes at Kona, but I knew I shared with them a common view of what makes a solid bike. What makes a bike fun, where it needs to be strong, how it needs to corner at speed and what should be expected of component spec. I knew all their bikes were made with speed in mind, because that is where Konas have always performed best. Pinned, through hairy sections of trail.

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Buried in last winter’s West Coast snowpocalypse, I needed a way to satisfy my two-wheeled addiction without being able to actually ride. I figured it was time to give my Kona some one-of-a-kind love. The direction I went with it was born out of nostalgia. When I was about six years old, my dad bought me my first dirt bike after years of riding three wheelers. He restores classic cars and told me he would paint it any color I wanted. Any color. I chose purple and without my input he added a pink pearl that glistened in direct sunshine. I’ve owned a few dirt bikes over the years, but none provided me the same elation I experienced while riding the purple machine that shined pink in the California sun.

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But let’s be clear, the paint job alone wouldn’t provide the experience that my first dirt bike did. After my previous job provided me the opportunity to ride about sixty bikes in the last three years the Process 111 proved itself to be an incredibly capable short-travel 29er that didn’t come with some painfully unattractive price tag. Suited for daily trail laps while also proven to handle 30-foot senders. Built stout, yet comfortable for gruellingly long days in the saddle. I love this bike, so it only made sense that I show her the same love she’s shown me. The purple theme is a personal throwback to the endlessly blissful days I had on my first custom painted dirt bike.

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Once Kona got wind of the build, it only took a couple emails for Gavin Stewart, Industrial Designer at Kona, to get stoked on creating some customs decals. “Subtle, yet poppy” was probably the most confusing direction I could have provided him, but he nailed it. Thank you, Gavin. You’re a wizard of design. Our graphic designer at WTB, Joey Hale, also put together some color-matched rim graphics for me and next thing I knew I had the baddest looking bike on the block. Infinite thank yous to the Kona and WTB crews for making my dream a reality.

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Ryan Gardner and Alexander Kangas take on Round Three of the EWS in Madeira

Kona had two of its enduro riders attend Round Three of the Enduro World Series on the small Atlantic Island of Madeira this past weekend including Alexander Kangas (SWE) and Ryan Gardner (USA). This was the first EWS stop held on the remote island and riders could only speculate on the conditions that would await them. After two days of practicing the nine stages that would span two race days, riders were forced to come to grips with a veritable cornucopia of trail conditions. The island, it turns out, is a gem of many facets. Stages started at over 6,000ft on the ancient volcanic island (one of the oldest in the world) and dropped from wide open alpine feeling meadows into deciduous forests which could have been somewhere in the Northeast of the United States. Other trails fingered down ridgelines with sheer drops to the ocean on one side and 30 million-year-old forests filled with prehistoric cycads on the other. Still, other trails dropped riders down treacherous rock strewn paths and ended in wide open eucalyptus groves. All of this was mixed with around 4k feet of climbing per day and stages which stretched to 9+ minutes. To say this EWS was a test is an understatement. The worlds best battled through the four days of riding and broken bikes and bodies were not uncommon.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

All Photos: Sven Martin

Alex had a bit of a tough start to the weekend taking a header into a very stout pine whilst hucking a big line on a slick and root strewn section of stage seven. A stage which would go on to take more than a few riders down. When Alex “woke up on Saturday for the first day of racing, I honestly felt like shit, I had a headache and felt dizzy, I hate making excuses but honestly, I wasn’t feeling that good! But I felt like I was gonna be able to ride my bike.” And so he soldiered on through the most pedally and possibly most technical stages of the weekend and wound up 61st on the first day.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Ryan Gardner made the trip from California to Madiera for his first EWS of the season. Coming off a podium in CA the previous weekend, Ryan was looking forward to seeing where he fit in amongst the world class crowd. He was quickly introduced to some of the slickest and rowdiest trails he has had the good fortune to ride. “Some of the tracks were honestly a little intimidating to race” he said. Day one started off with an incredibly physical track which seemed more uphill than down and lasted a solid 10 minutes. After this, the tracks stayed slippery and wet, but went increasingly downhill. “I had a tough time getting used to the icy red clay after a winter of riding hero dirt in CA, but managed one of my best stages of the day on stage three which had been giving me anxiety all week”. Two crashes (one each on stage tour and nine) put Ryan back in 82st after day one, a position more than a few places lower than he had hoped.

On Sunday Alex continued to improve through the day and started to attack the track on his Process 153 in a style more fitting to his abilities. He ended the day with a solid 44th on stage nine. His day two stylings bumped him up in the overall to a very respectable 56th in the stacked 200 rider deep open field. Alex heads on to Ireland in two weeks looking to continue building momentum.
Day two also saw Ryan improve on his performance clawing back nine places to finish 73rd overall and the fourth fastest American at the race. “I was really happy to have a clean race today. Stages five and six were really wet and I was having a hard time finding the pace. These were some of the most slippery trails I have ever ridden!”. As the day went on the tracks dried considerably and Ryan started gaining back some confidence on the bike and avoided any major mistakes, helping him in the overall. “This was the hardest race I have done so far and I learned quite a bit about what you need to be successful at this level. It seems like every year the pace is increasing and the tracks are getting harder! I’m really happy to put together a big two-day race without any major crashes or mechanicals!”.
Both riders finished within the top 80 and will, therefore, receive those coveted EWS points.

“I managed to sort it out when it counted…” – Magnus Manson Takes Second Place at the Port Angeles ProGRT

Stevie Smith Foundation rider Magnus Manson made the short trip across the border with his Kona Operator DL this weekend to take on the Port Angeles, WA round of the Pro GRT series at Dry Hill. It turns out though, that in true Pacific Northwest fashion, it was anything but dry, with a massive deluge soaking the course and turning things into one seriously slick affair.

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All Photos: Zach Falkner

“I took a little ride on the struggle bus this weekend, right up until the race run it seemed like. Usually I like riding in the mud, but the soft dirt made for slow rolling conditions. I managed to sort it out when it counted and I’m happy to come second, only .05 off the win! On to the US Open!”

Magnus won here just a few weeks ago, but the strong competition and trying conditions made for a real challenge and a second place finish. After a disappointing first World Cup round, this is the just the motivation Magnus needs heading into the US Open and round 2 of the World Cup in Fort William.

“Fort William will be an interesting one! I haven’t ridden there much and it seems experience is a big role in that race. But I’m excited as ever and can’t wait to put the tires in the dirt. I’m learning a lot in the jump to pro and I think in the long run making a few mistakes now will teach me some important lessons for the future.”

Riding like a man possessed, Magnus Mason is on a mission here at [not so] Dry Hill. 11th in Elite Men, 5.65 seconds out of first, he looks capable of finding that time in Finals.

 

Got Mud? Ryan Gardner and Alexander Kangas Embrace Yet Another Wet EWS Round in Madeira

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Alexander Kangas chases Ryan Gardner down one of Day 1’s slippery stages during the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal. Photo Sven Martin

California-based Kona enduro pro Ryan Gardner and Swedish Grassroots rider Alexandre Kangas have made the trip to Madeira, Portugal for round 3 of the Enduro World Series. The pair headed out today to practice on stages 1 through 4. “It’s crazy how different each trail is as you work your way down the mountain.” Ryan is not alone with his statement here, as both riders note that every stage is like an entirely different ecosystem, each containing differing terrain as the race drops from the alpine to sea level.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Alexander uses his tires to soak up that pesky mud during the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal. Photo Sven Martin

It seems like every Enduro World Series event of late has been battling the elements. Riders who were early to arrive to stop three in Madeira have been enjoying dry weather and riding this past week. But it seems as though the EWS might just be cursed, the moment the official practice kicked off earlier today, the rain arrived.

Looking at the forecasted weather though, it does look like we will see a reversal of the first two rounds, with overcast and sunny days on the horizon. Always looking on the bright side, Ryan was quick to point out that it wasn’t wet all day. “First day of practice was full on! We had a good bit of rain on the higher elevation stages (1+2), but the sun was shining on and off once we made it down to the lower ones.”  Alexander echoed his sentiment “I’m very happy with how the day went, I felt fast and strong all day, the rain made it tricky here and there, but I think it will make for some good racing come the weekend!”

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Ryan Gardner finds off camber gold/loam. Photo Sven Martin

After today’s practice, both riders are pumped for the weekend’s race days, stages three and four in particular. As Ryan puts it “Stage 3 is super gnarly with slippery rocks up top and high speed rough sections down below. The final stage of day one (stage 4) is completely different with deep ruts and good dirt. My process 153 is doing a phenomenal job eating up the chunk add I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s practice brings! So far this island is incredible!” Alexander agrees “The first day of practice was great but challenging, we had rain showers on most of the stages today which made things super tricky! Stages 3 and 4 are in my opinion the best, but they are also the most challenging ones!”

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Photo Sven Martin

With tomorrow’s practice looking it might be free of rain, things should go a little smoother for the two Process 153 riders.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

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During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

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Mountain Bike Action Hei Hei Trail “The Hei Hei Trail is one Seriously Fun Bike to Rip.”

Mountain Bike Action has recently reviewed the Hei Hei Trail in their May issue and we have the full review right here on the Cog.

“If there is any bike that will put a smile on your face when ripping down the mountain, the Hei Hei Trail is it. Almost every bit of singletrack had our test riders searching for bonus lines or hips to push the Hei Hei off.”

Click here or on the image below to read the full review in high res PDF.

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Kona Dream Builds: James’s Pink Princess, Samantha

We spied this rad looking custom steel Honzo on Instagram a few weeks back and just had to hit up the genius behind this bike for a few more detail shots. James Lewis, the owner of the bike obliged and provided us with a couple of other tidbits of info.

This is my pink Honzo. Her name is Samantha. Some call it a unicorn. She is from Laguna Beach, CA but often travels the West. This is the best bike I’ve ever owned. She’ll pass carbon enduro bikes with ease. Kona for life.

Rumor has it that Samantha might be getting a big sister in the near future. We will keep you posted!

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Roll With Vincent as he Raises Money for Lesch-Nyhan Disease Research

Vincent is a Frenchman cycling from New York to San Francisco to raise awareness and money for the little know Lesch-Nyhan Disease. It’s a genetic disease that affects mostly boys from age 1. There is no current cure. He’s halfway through his journey across the USA on board his Kona Sutra and has just rolled into Colorado. You can follow along with him on his journey and donate here. #KonaSutra #KonaBikes #RollinWithVincent

You can also follow Vincent on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

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The Kona/Dharco team dominates The Dirty Sanchez Enduro

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Derek Teel tackles the Vigilante rock garden. The legendary WTB tire gets its name from this brutal and unforgiving section of trail. All Photos Ryan Wiegman

Last weekend a mixture of Super Grassroots riders and Kona Gravity Pro’s made the journey to the Sierra foothills to race the infamous TDS Enduro. Our five riders all had solid performances and as Kona Enduro Pro Rider Ryan Gardner mentions in this great write up, the Kona crew dominated.

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Ryan Gardner keeping it low and fast.

I first attended TDS (The Dirty Sanchez) 5 years ago. Back then the race was less race and more, as Ron Sanchez himself likes to call it, “18 guys getting drunk in the woods and riding bikes”. From these humble beginnings the TDS, hosted on the Sanchez Family ranch, has morphed into something completely different. With some of the fastest riders in the world know to show up the competition has continued to rise year after year.

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The Crew. From left to right, brother and sister duo Becky and Ryan Gardner, Derek Teel, Scott Countryman and the always jazzed Ali Osgood.

The ranch itself has undergone a tremendous change over these years as well. Stone terraces have risen from the red dirt to host industry tents and a Redbull Truck. A full on Skybar built out of shipping containers now gives spectators unprecedented views of the RC car track and moto sender. Dirt bikes and side-by-sides operate constantly as they shuttle racers, spectators, and marshals around the property, and the competition to become next years “spirit leader” (accomplished by crushing the race and party scene with equal prowess) is always hotly contested. To add to the incredible atmosphere which has been lovingly crafted by the Sanchez Family and their friends a whole crew of Semper Fi service members were at the race this year both racing and spectating and their inclusion really added something special to the event.

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Scott Countryman making his way up Ass Slap Alley.

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This year racers were challenged by 14 total stages over two days with only 1 practice day to check them out. This schedule results in a best-case scenario of 1 run on each course, upping the sketch factor as the spider web of absolutely ripping trails begins to blur together by the end of the day. This year was pretty special for team Kona as a whole heap of riders made the trek to the Ranch. Becky Gardner flew in from Colorado, Scott Countryman drove up from Arizona, Ali Osgood made the drive down from Humbolt, and Derek Teel, Luisa Houseman and I lucked out and made much shorter commutes. The team battled all weekend and had some solid results to show for it. Derek was on a ripper sitting as high as 7th before a mechanical took its toll, Becky had a great first race back after injury this winter and took 6th and got faster every run. I was stoked to meet my goal of a top 10 after a big training week and Louisa sent her 111 into some super hairy sections and came out with a solid 16th. Even after sustaining a shoulder injury (after hucking a sizable road gap to a missed left-hand catch berm to tomahawk) Ali managed to score some solid stage results including a very promising 2nd in the most pedal intensive stage of the day.

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What could have been? A winter of training has Ali’s fitness backing up her burly riding skills, an unfortunate crash stopped her finishing but there’s no doubt she was en route to a podium. We can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve for the rest of the season.

But the real story had to be the heroics of Scott Countryman. A self-proclaimed long course specialist, Scott stormed all 14 short, rocky, high intensity, courses winning one, coming second on two more, and claiming third overall for the weekend aboard his Process 134.

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With an incredible start to the season in the books and major successes across the board (besides not winning the spirit leader award) the team is looking fast! It’s going to be a great season!

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Scott Countryman in the third spot behind local shredder Marco Osbourne  and Dan Chiang

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Becky Gardner is clearly bouncing back from injury, riding to sixth place after the 14 stages.

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Derek Teel opens his 2017 season account with a 12th place at the TDS, not a bad start at all to

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This was Scotts second ever TDS, last years event wasnt really one with remmebering, after 3 consecutive flats Scott pulled the pin, looks like the WTB tough casing tires did their job.

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Rumor has it that Scott was taking crazy creative lines that other riders wouldn’t even touch.

German Grassroots rider Markus Ziegler sits atop the Bike The Rock Throne (German)

Markus Ziegler, one of our German Grassroots riders from the Kona Bike Ranch Team competed recently in the Bike the Rock Marathon race. The race offered riders the choice to choose just how many laps of the 21km course they would complete with Ziegler opting for three. You can read his report in German below.


Markus Ziegler vom Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team aus Schonach startete beim Bike-Marathon in Heubach. Bei diesem Rennen gab es die Besonderheit, dass sich die Fahrer während des Rennens die Distanz aussuchen konnten. Die 21 Kilometer lange Stecke konnte maximal dreimal umfahren werden. Dies nahm Ziegler sich zunächst vor. Die Abfahrten waren durch die Regenfälle der vergangenen Tage aufgeweicht und schmierig. Hier konnte Markus ordentlich Boden gutmachen. Nach einer Runde befand er sich auf Rang 4. In Runde zwei tat er sich mit einem weiteren Fahrer zusammen und profitierte auf den langen Ebenen von dessen Windschatten. Als es auf die letzte Runde ging, hatte er bereits Position 3 inne, allerdings auch 3 Minuten Rückstand auf den Führenden. Es standen einige Überrundungen an, doch direkte Konkurrenz war keine zu sehen. Erst gegen Mitte der Runde konnte Markus einen weiteren Mitstreiter überholen. Ein letztes Mal meisterte er die immer schwieriger werdende Abfahrt und bog in das Zielareal ein. Markus, in Hausach beim Schwarzwälder Täler Cup noch Fünfter, durfte sich diesmal als Sieger feiern lassen und durfte auf den “Bike The Rock Thron” steigen.

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Ti Tuesday: Tim Wiggins, his Ti Rove and the Dirty Reiver

It’s time for something a little different for Ti Tuesday. UK Kona Grassroots rider Tim Wiggins recently took part on the 200km (120 miles) Dirty Reiver and chose his Ti Rove to tackle the gravel course. We are going to kick things off with his race report and then get into his bike check. Read on.


Dirty Reiver 2017 - 45am. The sun glistens on the reservoir and bounces off morning dew. Kielder Forest – the largest forest in the UK, sits silently; its paths and tracks ready to welcome the largest gravel event in the UK – The Dirty Reiver 200.

A Reiver was a border knight – an armored horseback rider, patrolling the border between Scotland and England.

Today, 800 riders will take to the same trails and tracks that were ridden by the Reivers; except these riders will be on a plethora of cyclocross bikes, ‘gravel’ bikes and mountain bikes.

The Ride

Massed in front of Kielder Castle, the pre-event kit chat continues; as it has done for the preceding months.What tire width are those? How’s that Lauf suspension fork? Have you double wrapped your bar tape? Personally, I’m more concerned about how many flapjacks I can wolf down at each feed station, and whether I have enough supplies in my back pocket…7am. We roll down the hill from the castle, along the road for a short section, and then plunge into Kielder Forest.Gravel tracks take us from shady forest onto open heathland. Miles of expansive trails, punctuated with surprise climbs and off-camber gravel bends. The mass start is soon strung out. I decide to split from the small group I find myself in; opting instead to ride within my

The mass start is soon strung out. I decide to split from the small group I find myself in; opting instead to ride within my limits and play the ‘tortoise’ race tactic, which has worked well for me in the past. By 10 am the sun is strong, and I’ve passed through the first well-stocked feed station. I’m pleased to say I managed to grab 4 pieces of flapjack, and a banana #fuelfortheride. 90 kilometers in, and my legs are feeling accustomed to the challenging terrain; whilst my mind is getting accustomed to the rear wheel drifting around the gravel apex of every corner.

110 kilometers. Two feed stations passed (more flapjack, banana and Jaffa Cakes consumed). I am riding solo, and picking up several places from riders who went into the red early on.

At 140 kilometers, I pass a duo of riders. Ant White (a well-known endurance mountain biker) is one of the pairs and jumps on my wheel as I pass. For the next 20 kilometers, Ant and I swap places and shelter behind each other in the building wind. We rush into feed station #3: he foregoes the food, whilst I miss the drink. 200 kilometers on 2 bottles was not on the plan, but I dare not lose that wheel…

By 170 kilometers, we can see the Kielder reservoir coming back into sight. Having ridden a lap of the lake the day before, I move my hands down into the drops and push on: a smile spreading across my face as I take in the swooping pinecone strewn trail.

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As I roll onto Kielder Dam, and then onto the final ‘straight’ home, I glance back to see that Ant has dropped off. There’s nobody in my sights ahead, so I just lay my forearms on the tops, and push on for the final road section. A little bit more twisty singletrack, one last energy gel, a sprint up the hill to the Castle, and I cross the line.

07:51:04 hours of riding. 3,250 meters of climbing. 4th place out of 800 riders.

The challenge, excitement, and diversity of mixed surface endurance racing makes it clear why this kind of event is getting such a great following.

One big day out. One great day in the saddle.

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Clothing

My clothing choice was all about being versatile and comfortable. I opted for ¾ length Windstopper shorts from Gore Bike Wear, as well as the Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Power Zip-Off Jersey.

A GripGrab Cotton Cap, GripGrab Raptor Gloves, and GripGrab High-Cut Summer Socks protected my extremities. The only other piece of kit I took was the superb Gore ONE 1985 SHAKEDRY Jacket (which luckily remained stuffed in my Restrap framebag for the duration of the event).

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Accessories

To keep me grinding through the gravel, I took a few additional accessories to normal.

These included a Lezyne Rap20 Multitool (so many tools!), a Lezyne Road Drive Pump, 3 spare tubes, a spare gear cable, and a few other bits. My navigation came from the the Lezyne Super Enhanced GPS.

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One for your bucket list

The Dirty Reiver took inspiration from the Dirty Kansas – a huge gravel race in the USA. This second edition on UK soil has the same incredible mix of fun, drama and challenge. I can see this event growing rapidly year-on-year, and I thoroughly recommend adding it to your bucket list. I’ll be back for sure; and I am also avidly hunting down other ‘gravel’ events, both in the UK and abroad. ‘Gravel’ is growing, because it is such great fun to ride.

Kit Choices

Despite trying to abstain from the rampant kit-chat, I had made some customizations to my bike and kit for this event. In fact, it was pretty much a custom ‘gravel’ bike build, and a very carefully selected set of clothing and accessories.

The Kona Rove Ti

Built around a titanium Kona Rove frame, my bike for the Dirty Reiver was fitted with a Lauf suspension fork, 44cm carbon handlebars, and a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain – all to provide added comfort for hours in the saddle.

The day before the Dirty Reiver I made a very good decision to upsize my tires to the Panaracer Gravel King 40c Tubeless. The added grip, bounce, and puncture protection was very noticeable and very beneficial.

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CX Magazine posts their First Look at our 2018 Major Jake

Andrew from CX Magazine swung by our booth at Sea Otter to check out our new drop bar bikes and quickly absconded with our brand new Major Jake. They teased us with an Instagram post from the show but have now posted up this in-depth First Look on their website.

“At Sea Otter 2017, we got a first look at the new carbon 2018 Major Jake cyclocross bike, and it looks like Kona did its homework with this new frame.”

Read Andrews’ First Impressions at CX Magazine here.

Sleek lines and thin seat stays offer up a smooth look, and reportedly, a 10% smoother (more compliant) ride. The new 2018 carbon Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike. 2017 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Sleek lines and thin seat stays offer up a smooth look, and reportedly, a 10% smoother (more compliant) ride. The new 2018 carbon Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike. 2017 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine