Caleb Smith

Sampling the Goods at the 8th Annual Kona Ride Launch

For the second year in a row, hundreds of Kona dealers from across North America – and even some from as far as Australia and South America – descended on the quaint little logging town of Squamish, British Columbia for the 8th annual Kona Ride.

They were there for the trails, they were there for the sweet local beer, they were there for the company of their favorite Kona sales rep – but most importantly, they were there to check out and ride our new offerings on some of the finest singletrack that Canada offers as well as some seriously picturesque multi-surface drop bar routes.

Unfortunately for you, a lot of what the dealers and media rode is still under wraps but we can give you an ever so slight sneak peak into what went down at Squamish’s Executive Suites.

Kona’s Writer and Content Manager Morgan Taylor MC’d the week’s events.

But it would not be Kona Ride without a speech and welcome from Jake Heilbron, Kona’s co-founder.

Got Screens? The recently revamped Norman Rudy’s restaurant at the Executive Suites served as the base of operations for the Kona Ride.

Trevor Porter, Squamish local and Kona Gravity and E-Bike Product Manager, talks DH with the North American dealers.

Joe Brown fields questions on arguably one of the most popular bike at this year’s Kona Ride, the Rove LTD. You can read about it here.

Pat White probably designed the first Kona you rode.

That Reynolds 853 Rove LTD sure is a thing of beauty.

It’s not all meetings and close-up bike analysis. The dealers also get to ride the bike on the local trails; here Dillon from Tantalus Bike Shop tests out the new Unit X in Coho Park.

The Kona Remote with Bosch pedal assist was insanely popular and could regularly be found out hitting some of the more technical trails in Squamish’s Alice Lake area.

Kona sales rep Angi Weston pilots the Remote on a classic slab of Squamish granite.

Kona Cyclocross star Kerry Werner, fresh from 12th place at the US MTB Nationals, guides a group of fast dealers on high pace XC Jaunt through the technical BC trails.

There’s that Rove LTD again, those big tires love a little singletrack and, obviously, so do we!

…but they really love a mix of gravel…

…and paved road.

Each year brave dealers can participate in a series of often embarrassing endeavors known as the Kona Hunger Games in hopes for some amazing prizes from many of Kona’s OE partners. This year Kona sales rep Joe Hamilton came up with an amazing obstacle course involving fat bikes, frisbee golf, the Kona Supremes, two wet suits and a tent full of suspended pickles.

Dealers and Kona Pro athletes alike competed in the Hunger Games, a playing field anything but level.

Aggy reaches for the pickle, while adhering to the “feet on the pedals” rule.

Joe Hamilton, full-time Kona sales rep, part-time party coordinator.

No doubt the Kona Supremes had the Benny Hill theme song running in their hazing tent.

What happens at the Kona Ride, stays…

Stay tuned here on the Cog blog and on Konaworld.com for updates on new models becoming available. In fact, a whole bunch of new bikes are already up on the site now and ready to pick up at your local dealer. Enjoy!

Layton Meyers wins USA National Champ Enduro title at Snowshoe

Our trip started at 5 AM on Sunday. We flew to Baltimore, and from there we drove five hours on some West Virginia back roads up to Snowshoe Mountain. On our way, we encountered tons of deer, a pack of raccoons, and a massive opossum. We arrived up to Snowshoe at around 11 PM East Coast Time. We woke up early the next morning for a riders meeting then out for the first practice session. This race was a two-day, eight stage enduro. I rode all four of day one’s stages on Monday. Stage one was the pedally stage which was called 6,000 steps. This trail was literally like you were riding on 6,000 steps. There were more roots than dirt on this six minute stage. Stage two was up next and this trail was more fun. It was all downhill with lots of roots and line choices. The tight trees and tight corners made it hard to gauge how fast you could come into these corners. The terrain on Stage three was very similar to Stage two but the trail was a little bit more high speed and straight on. Stage three was the shortest of day one, being under two minutes long. Up next was Stage four, which took place in the downhill area. We rode parts of both the pro and amateur downhill course. This stage was the gnarliest stage on day one but also my favorite! This side of the mountain was rockier than the other side. It was high speed and super techy, with a couple of rock gardens and flow corners.

Tuesday was day two practice, so I headed out to Stages five and six. Both trails were on a flat, dried up riverbed. These were the pedally Stages for day two. Big rocks, slick roots and muddy corners made for a couple physical stages. Stage seven was my favorite stage of the whole race. The whole trail was loose with moist loam and many different lines to choose from. After that, we headed back over to the downhill area where Stage eight took place. This stage was a flowy trail with a couple techy rock gardens. Not nearly as gnarly as Stage four but still one of my favorite trails!

Wednesday. First day of racing. I was a bit nervous on our way up to Stage one but excited to get going. Stage one went well for me, no bobbles or anything. The main thing I focused on was trying to pedal everywhere I could. Stage two was up next. All went well right up to the end where I took a wrong line and it shot me into a tree. We then took a short transfer to Stage three. I nailed every line I took in practice on this stage. This trail was about trying to pump everything you could to find the right rhythm. Stage four was up next. I was stoked to race this trail but a bit nervous because I got super squirrely in one of the rock gardens in practice. Right when I dropped in I felt like I was in the flow. I took it pretty easy in one of the rock gardens then let it rip in the lower section to finish my first day. I was only six seconds behind first place.

I woke up Thursday ready to race, and knew what I had to do to make up those six seconds. We all headed out to Stage five and six. Both of these stages at race pace were the most physical stages I have ever raced in my career! Both went well for me, just my only thought was to pedal, pedal, pedal! The transfer to seven was around 30 minutes of easy climbing. As we made it to the top of seven, fans were lining both sides of the track. Since this was my favorite stage, this is the trail I wanted to rip. Right when I dropped in I felt like I skipped over every root. I was in my rhythm the entire time on the trail, roosting corners and getting loose in some of the steep sections! Last stage was eight. Since this was the final stage of the race, I wanted to give it my all and pedal like a mad man. I dropped into eight feeling good. I scrubbed everything I could and tried to pump through the root sections. I tucked through the bottom section and ripped my way through the finish line.

Now the toughest part… waiting. As the first set of results came, mostly everyone’s Stage eight times were incorrect. So the officials had to get everyone’s time off the manual timing system for the last stage. We waited up until 2 AM when we got the email that said I was the 2017, 15-18 USA National Enduro Champion by an 11.5-second margin!

I am super stoked with my finish and how I rode at Nationals! Due to the timing issues, the podium ceremony was postponed until Friday evening. Unfortunately, I had to miss it because we had to start our long trek back to the Pacific Northwest!

I am super excited to achieve my very first national title of my racing career!

Thank you to Kona Bikes and to Jim Brown and RAD Racing NW for your sponsorship and support!

Scott Countryman and Becky Gardner report from Aspen EWS

All Photos: Sven Martin

Becky Gardner and Scott Countryman gathered with the top enduro athletes in the world at the World Enduro Series, Aspen recently. Racing enduro takes skill and strength but racing an EWS is a whole different animal. Racing the best in the world takes a lot of training both physically and mentally. With over 100 pro men and 40 pro women, a rider needs to work hard to get a top spot. Here is a perspective of racing from both the men’s and women’s field.

Scott:
I can not remember the last time I was as scared on my bike as I was at the Aspen Snowmass EWS. I don’t get scared or intimidated by steep, rough, or technical trails but the sheer speed a rider is capable of achieving on the tracks that we raced turned what would normally be a blue trail into a high adrenaline test of balls, for lack of a better term. Average speed for all six stages was 20.6 mph over nearly 50 minutes of racing which racked up over 15,000 ft of descending! Don’t forget this all took place over 8000 ft elevation. Can you feel the burn yet?

The race hosted some of the best trails I’ll race all year. Aspen and Snowmass really welcome the event and allowed new trails to be built just for the weekend of racing. By the end of the four days of riding and racing, the new tracks had developed serious ruts and bomb holes. In the end, riders were tested on nearly every aspect of racing; steeps, high speeds, switchbacks, berms, off-cambers, jumps, single track, double track, fresh loose dirt, blue groove, sprinting, flowing, etc. I was hoping for dry and blown out conditions but a rainstorm the night before the first race day, unfortunately, left us with serious hero dirt and a few wet roots. Oh well!

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

I’ve never had a huge desire to compete in the Enduro World Series. Don’t get me wrong, it is something I will take advantage of if the opportunity arises but I feel I have more to gain racing national events. After racing the Aspen Snowmass EWS this past weekend, that all changed. I’m not sure if it was just a matter of time or if the surroundings of incredible riders flipped a switch in my brain but I suddenly saw that there is potential for me at this level. I can see the path to being competitive at the world level, have changed course, and am starting down that road. Can’t wait to start training for next year!

Becky:
This was my second year racing the Aspen EWS. Last year went…. not quite to planned with a lot of crashes and mistakes by the end of the race. However, last year’s race was a turning point for me. After switching from DH to enduro, and only racing a few enduro’s previously before the EWS I knew I had to start training differently if I wanted to compete at this level of racing. So I switched up my training and worked on my endurance all year. This included long training rides in the high country, more races, and hitting the gym all winter.

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

Going into this years EWS I felt ready, and it really showed. I felt good in practice and was excited to see the courses had been ridden in more since the previous year. They also added a new stage 5 that was steep, rocky, and loose. This course I knew would be my favorite coming from an East Coast riding background. Both practice days were sunny and dry, until the night before racing commenced, it started dumping rain! As racers awoke and chaos started to set in about what tires everyone was running I couldn’t help but crack a big smile. I simply love riding in the rain and wet conditions. Although the rain did stop before racing we all knew to expect some slippery courses. Excited to get the day started we headed to stage one where we discovered some prime riding conditions. The rain made these dry courses exceptional all day. After three clean runs, I was sitting mid pack and ready to kick up the pace for our last day of racing.

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

Sunday brought the sunshine and the trail’s carried over moisture from the following day. The days’ courses involved one super pedal course and two downhill style courses. I knew if I pedaled hard and used my DH skills I could take make up some time. I ended the day with another three smooth and clean runs and found myself sitting in 21st just a few seconds outside the top 20. I was stoked to have felt strong all weekend with clean runs after last years sub-par performance. Aspen left me eager to push my riding even harder and keep racing strong.

Stage Racing the North East Kingdom Way

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom has always been a place that contains multitudes. Dairy farmers brush shoulders with hippies at the bar, tractors share the roads with SUVs, and more than one piece of singletrack shares the forest with vast networks of maple syrup sap lines. Since the 90s, the N.E.K’s mountain bike scene has started and stopped in most folks’ minds with the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, a trail center boasting over 90 miles of singletrack that attracts visitors from all over the US and Canada. But, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, networks grew up all over the Kingdom, turning the region into a mecca, with sculpted flow trails sharing the spotlight with classic New England rocks and roots.

Tucked in the southwest corner of the Northeast Kingdom you’ll find the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, a four-season resort best known for its Nordic skiing and rowing (and its growing fleet of Kona rental bikes). With years of hosting elite-level Nordic events under its belt, along with an XC race that has become a popular annual stop on the Eastern Fat Tire Association circuit, the Outdoor Center is undertaking a new venture: a weekend-long stage race that showcases some of the best under-the-radar singletrack in the Northeast Kingdom.

The VT3 (“vee-tee three”) is the brainchild of Ollie Burruss and Sheldon Miller, Outdoor Center employees and riding buddies. Miller brings an extensive mountain bike background to the Outdoor Center, having spent years as a mechanic and racer. Burruss came to Craftsbury as a Nordic racer, competing for the Outdoor Center’s Green Racing Project elite team, but mountain biking has become his off-snow passion since he retired from elite competition. With Miller providing the spandex perspective and Burruss the trail rider’s passion for fun, the VT3 was born. A race by riders, for riders, with courses that focus on placing fun first and foremost in XC competition.

The VT3 opens on Friday, August 11th at the Hardwick Trails in Hardwick, Vermont. The network in Hardwick is one of the best examples of community-driven trails. The small network contains a mix of Nordic trails and singletrack, the majority of which was hand-built by a small community of riders and volunteers. A paired time trial (two racers every 30 seconds, each against the clock), Stage 1 pits racers against an up-and-down ~5-mile course with tight lines and an old-school feel. To quote MTB media luminary, Thom Parsons, the Hardwick Trails “are the kind of stuff you see in videos of kids ‘enduro-style riding,’ where it’s loamy, it’s steep.”

If Stage 1 was an homage to N.E.K. riding’s technical, hand-built roots, Stage 2 is a vision of the present and future. A 20-mile XC course on the side of Umpire Mountain at the Victory Hill Sector, a well-known enduro venue that will host an EWS qualifier on the very same trails the weekend before. Victory Hill is a collaboration between the vision of John McGill, an avid road rider who bought the land to turn into bike trails, and Knight Ide, the godfather of Vermont freeride and trail builder/inspiration for the Burke Bike Park. John and Knight have collaborated to create a network of scratched in, rake-and-ride trails alongside modern enduro tracks, carefully sculpted by Ide and fellow builder Ryan McEvoy.

Stage 3 brings racers to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for the final day of competition. The Outdoor Center network has grown in the last few years from old school singletrack linked by ski trails to include machine-built trails that flow up and down the hillside of the Black River. Riders will transition from grin-inducing flow to challenging tech and back throughout the 11-mile course, with ski trails scattered in to allow for ample passing opportunities on the final day to improve one’s GC position. After Stage 3 riders will enjoy a post-race BBQ and awards ceremony, along with a Longest Wheelie competition and a Pumptrack Elimination Challenge.
We hope you’ll join us for the first running the VT3.

Registration is open now and there are still some spots available that include lodging at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center (including three meals a day from our excellent all-you-can-eat dining hall buffet!). Questions? Email bikes@craftsbury.com.

Bonus : Watch all of the VT3 course preview videos, plus a tour of one of the new Craftsbury Outdoor Center cabins you could stay in, courtesy of DirtWire.tv:

Kona Supreme Operator Wins World of Mountain Bike Magazine’s Bike Park Award (German)

German magazine World of Mountain Bike recently reviewed the Kona Supreme Operator as part of a massive nine bike DH Group test. The green machine earned the magazines gold award in the bike park category.

“The Kona Supreme Operator impresses with its agile ride behavior and provides a lot of fun in the bike park.”

You can check out the full review (in German) as a PDF here.

Garry Davoren – My Kona

Bike shop owner, whiskey drinker, trail builder, sponsor, husband, friend, skate park designer, fat bike advocate. You can pick any of these to describe long time Kona friend Garry Davoren.

Garry’s passion for fat tires – and more importantly, for cycling as a whole – is unequaled. Whether it’s supporting up and coming Irish riders, maintaining local trails, or exploring the boggy and rugged hills of Connemara on his prototype Wo, Garry approaches everything in life with the same 110%.

He’s also on a not-so-subtle mission to convert the world to the virtues of the fattest tires available. If you didn’t know you needed a fat bike, a day with Garry will have you genuinely questioning how you might find space in your garage for a Wo or Wozo.

This My Kona video, the first one featuring someone not directly working for Kona, really captures the essence of Garry Davoren. He’s just a kid in a giant fat bike candy store.

MBR Magazine give the Hei Hei 9 out of 10 in latest review “Kona has taken the Hei Hei to another level”

Alan Muldoon from UK magazine MBR recently requested our base model alloy Hei Hei for review, the bike retails in the UK for £2,399.00 ($2499 in the USA and $3499 in Canada), we were pretty excited to see what their verdict would be on a bike that we absolutely love and are immensely proud of! Well we weren’t disappointed, as the brutally honest MBR magazine (a magazine that pulls no punches) gave the bike a 9 out of 10 rating.

“The Kona Hei Hei is on another level. Tight responsive ride. A fast efficient bike. None of the twitchy-ness associated with short-travel rigs.”

You can check out the review published in full online here.

Singletrack Magazine Posts Their Honzo CR Trail First Impressions “Who ever said that a hardtail couldn’t be as fun as other trail bikes?”

Wil Barrett at Singletrack magazine has hopped off the Hei Hei Dl and straight on to our Honzo CR Trail DL for his next review. Going by the First Look report he’s posted on the sight he seems pretty damn stoked. We can’t wait to see what he thinks once he’s ridden it!

You can check out the full post here.

Alexander Kangas Reports on His Best Ever EWS Result

Words Alexander Kangas Photos Sven Martin

I flew out from Stockholm on Sunday and arrived late in Toulouse, it felt great being at the venue a few days prior to the actual race weekend start, stress levels were way lower than normal.

I walked stage five on Tuesday, it contained a lot of switchbacks and steep corners (overall a good stage by the looks of it) then on Wednesday the first day of practice was underway, we got to practice stages two and four between 9am-1pm and stages two and three from 2pm-6pm. The stages had a big variety, but all of them were steep and contained a bit of everything, in my opinion, just how Enduro should be.

Practice went well, we were allowed to do only one run on stages one, two, four, five, six, eight and nine (nine and five were the same stage). The public uplift situation was a bit shit, in my opinion, we had to wait a long, long time standing in line all day.

The second day of practice was good, the stages ( five, six, seven, eight, nine) were steep and technical, just the way I like them!

The first day of racing on Friday started off good on stages one and two, the liaisons were terrible, they were so steep we had to walk them, I had a small crash on stage three, and as well a small crash on four. Stage five was the best stage of the day, and by far my quickest with a third place on that stage and I sat in 22nd place overall after the first day of racing, which felt great.

Saturday, the second day of racing, just went through problem free for me, I felt a bit conservative throughout the entire second day of racing, no crashes, no sketchy moments at all, and that’s normally a sign I’ve been going a bit too slow, I felt that I wanted to have a result with me from the weekend instead of crashing out or having a mechanical.

I ended the weekend in 31st place, my best EWS result so far!

Now I’m back training in Sweden getting ready for the upcoming North American rounds of the EWS at the end of July.

Super Grassroots Rider Chad Cheeney Chases Insta Fame

Words Chad Cheeney Photos ultraromance

A life cyclist buddy of mine rolled into Durango and was gingerly struck by a vehicle upon arrival. He tweaked his wing a little, but we still made plans to head to the hills on our MTB’s and do some fun wandering. With his wing busted, he dove into his point and shoot and assumed the role of photographer. He’s often the photographed and you may know him as @ultraromance, his Mom calls him ‘Boltar” and this time it was him behind the lens.

Fort Lewis Cycling college friend and current fellow coach at Durango Devo Bredan Shafer and I where the talent on this day. We looked up at lines and made them happen for the vantage point of the wandering “Boltar.” He slowly crept around the hills, we hiked and did what he did. We yelled, pointed and then did what we did. The few hours were a funny flashback to our first trifecta of shred back in college, different zone in town, but same stuff. We rode like kids that day.

I think Boltar did a great job with his camera. Brendan and I had some good freeride PR’s and laughed a ton at the many mistakes. It should be noted that I chickened out of an off camber drop line that was probably dooable, but I blamed in on the 29er wheel and the racey xc tyres, Oh and the baby at home. Brendan did it. But then I nailed the high line on a wall ride and they gave me great applause. Fun stuff.

Theres nothing special to note about this day of photos, or these words. We were all tired and blown out, we wanted to do silly tricks for the camera in our backyard, thats all and maybe each get a fun Instagram shot at most while catching up on life. The main deal is that I love this sport, the friends I’ve met and the places it takes me. I feel very fortunate for every minute i’m out the door and pedaling my bike with the wind in my hair. It keeps me young and I hope to never forget that feeling.