Caleb Smith

The Kona 2017 Demo Tour is Rolling Through North Carolina this Weekend

The Kona 2017 Demo Tour heads through North Carolina (the home of Superchunk, Merge Records and The Archers of Loaf!)  this week and weekend!

Bring your helmet, riding gear, and ID, and swing a leg over a 2017 Kona!

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*UPDATED* Connor Fearon and Tegan Molloy Battle the Rain and Mud in Rotorua

Nothing about yesterday’s opening EWS round in Rotorua could have been predicted. The top riders on the EWS circuit and the entire women’s pro field got caught out in an hour-long rain shower that turned the already challenging trails to complete goop. Lines ridden in practice all but disappeared, replaced with axle deep ruts. Controlling the bike in many cases became a lottery, and the biggest names in enduro were crossing the line in positions they were not at all accustomed to, sometimes in the triple digits.

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Connor and Tegan, like most non-locals, were not immune to the conditions. Aiming for a top 30 finish Connor laid down a storming first run on the opening stage finishing in 3rd, as the day went on his results reflected not only the drying trails but also the level of fun he was having, posting solid results on stage three with a 7th and a 16th on stage five to finish the day in 20th place, well within his top 30 goal. The day wasn’t without controversy for Connor though, a timing chip error had him finishing a full two minutes off the pace in 143rd place, when alerted, the EWS event organisers were quick to fix the issue and reveal Connor’s true opening stage result!

“I really had no idea how hard this enduro was going to be. It was 8.5 hours of the hardest riding I’ve ever done. I had a few really good stages with two top 10’s and a few shocking stages. The highlight of my day was riding stage 1, which was a super gnarly track and I finished 3rd. At the end of the day this had me in finishing in 20th overall which I’m pretty happy with. It goes without saying though, that the top 30 who raced some time after me were at a huge disadvantage, as the weather and tracks were worse.” – Connor Fearon

Cworx_RotoruaBB-2723Tegan who was having a similar day, had it all end, when she missed here stage six start by 30 seconds. With the top 30 pro men bearing down behind her, officials refused to let her take her run, rendering Tegans day as a DNF. Tegan will be heading to round two of the EWS in Tasmania in two weeks time and no doubt will be looking for redemption!

Cworx_RotoruaBB-0573In the meantime (well after cleaning the bikes) Connor will be heading home to Aussie to continue pre-season testing before the DH world cup kicks off in Lourdes at the end of April.

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The Kona Gravity Team Take on EWS Round One

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Tegan Molloy and Connor Fearon have made the short trip from Australia across the Tasman Sea to race the first round of the Enduro World Series in the mountain bike Mecca of Rotorua. Round one of the EWS kicks off the team’s first official outing for 2017 and after two days of long and hard practice race day is here. In fact, Connor will be rolling down the start ramp in just under ten minutes at 8:41 NZ time.

“I’m pretty excited for the EWS in Rotorua. I’ve just come here with the mindset of riding some sweet tracks for three days and getting some good training in. Half of the tracks are really technical and fun which suits me and some look really physically challenging… My goal for today is to finish in the top 30.” – Connor Fearon

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Tegan and Connor, will have a long day in the saddle ahead of them, with seven stages to race, 65km of total riding and over 2000 meters of climbing (over 6,500 feet) it ain’t going to be easy, especially with that forecast wet weather.

Unfortunately for us (and you) it’s nigh on impossible to provide coverage of an enduro event on the same level as a world cup DH race, so no live video stream. But there is a live race feed that you can follow here. You can also find the EWS Rotorua start list here, this has all Tegan and Connor’s stage start times so you know just when to put the phone down (or when to pick it up).

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Connor and Tegan’s good buddy and fellow Aussie DH racer Shelly Flood has joined the crew for the trip and will be racing as well.

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Gravity Team Manager Mathieu Dupelle may well have joined them on the practice days, but he wont be joining them on the trails come race day.

“Round one of the EWS has been a great team building event so far, it’s been really great riding all the stages with the team and it’s a fantastic beginning to the season” – Mathieu Dupelle

Bicycling Magazine Reviews the 2017 Sutra – “The Kona Sutra Will Make You Want to Quit Your Job”

“The Sutra is a dangerous bike—not because of any structural issues, but because it’ll make you want to ride out of your office on a Tuesday and keep pedaling until you’ve reached the opposite coast.” – Caitlin Giddings

In Bicycling magazine’s April Buyers Guide issue and online they have published a solid review of Kona’s venerable touring bike, the Sutra. It’s very clear that reviewer Caitlin Giddings well and truly gets this bike.

Click here to read the PDF and scroll down for a few detail photos from the review

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Super Grassroots DH Racer Rae Gandolf Finishes Fifth in Season Opener

It wasn’t just our Pro’s racing in the weekend. With the ProGRT kicking off in Windrock, TN two of our Super Grassroots riders put down the hammer for solid podium finishes. Back from two years of injuries, Rae Gandolf is on a mission this year and at this weekend’s race she laid some solid foundations. Below is her in-depth race report thats well worth a read. You can follow Rae on her Instagram here and on Facebook here. (more…)

Kona Gravity Racer Josh Button Wins Gold at the Oceania Championships

IMG_3167 Josh Button is well and truly back! After his show-stealing performance at the Cairns round of the UCI Downhill World Cup last year he suffered a massive injury, taking him out of rest of the season. He was able to ride in the World Champs but he was not 100%. Well as of the weekend, it’s safe to say that Josh Button is back, he beat a stacked field of Austrailia’s and New Zealand’s top DH riders to take the 2017 Oceania Continental MTB Championship Gold medal in Toowoomba. We just received the below race report from Josh to accompany Ryan Finlay‘s amazing photos, have a read and get excited for the 2017 World Cup DH Season!

IMG_2553Australia hosted the 2017 Oceanic Championships in Toowoomba this year. I decided to make this race my return after having an old thumb injury fixed during the off-season. A classic Australian, dusty, blown out course was on offer. I’d been a little sick over the last few days so I took practice easy. Saturday we had seeding, I had a really solid run, and managed to hold out in fourth. Times were fairly tight and I was confident I could find a few more seconds.

IMG_1489On Sunday morning we noticed a big inside line had been bunted back to its original path, slowing the track down by a few seconds. I had a shocking morning practice having a small crash, and feeling a little off. After some good food and an afternoon nap, I felt much better come race time. I put to together a really good run, with only a few minor mistakes. I focused on staying smooth, holding good exit speed and not getting caught up in the holes. I posted a time of 2:46 which stood the rest of the day to take the 2017 Oceania Championships. A really good start to my 2017 season.

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Three Bikes in One: Pedal Bicycles on the Kona Major Jake

We’ve always known that our Jake series of cyclocross bikes is highly versatile. Something about confidence-inspiring geometry and room for higher volume tires makes for a bike that naturally gets put to use outside the tape of the ‘cross course. For many years, riders have chosen the Jake for club rides, winter training, everyday commuting, around-town, and of course, gravel (before it was even called that).

With a simple swap of the tires, Tim Krone from Pedal Bicycles in Kalamazoo, Michigan shows off the Jake’s versatility perfectly. From the high volume and grip of the WTB Nano 40c to the cushy 30mm Roubaix slicks to the 33mm Clement MXP ‘cross tire, the multiple faces of Tim’s Jake only prove what we knew all along. Some might say that our Rove series is more suited to broader purposes, but we won’t argue with people who just want to use their bike to its fullest. Here are Tim’s thoughts on his Jake: 

I was talking to my Kona guy yesterday (yes, it does make me feel special to have a Kona guy) and somehow got to bemoaning the way the bike industry feels like it has to slice everything super-fine so there are a million different products and no one knows what the hell they’re talking about or how to differentiate them. I was specifically complaining about adventure vs. gravel vs. cyclocross bikes. “Cripe!” says me. “It’s nothing you can’t fix with some tires, and my Jake will take all sorts of tires.”

That’s how we started talking about Carbon Drop Bar Bikes in which you could (and might!) have a bike upon which you could mount slicks and get out there for the Wednesday Night Ride or something knobbier for CX racing or something burlier still if you just want to get out there and take what nature serves up.

This afternoon I figured I’d demonstrate this premise on equipment that I own. First, here’s Jake with the setup I used all last summer: WTB Nano 40s set up tubeless. Pros: bring-it-on width and tread pattern + smooth ride with low pressure. Cons: pretty heavy even when tubeless, so acceleration is less than thrilling.

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Next up: road ride. Same bike and wheels with some 30mm Specialized Roubaix tires. This is terrific setup if you’re gonna use your cross bike for road riding in the summer. Tons of grip, smooth ride and only a bit heavier than the race tires you’ve been using on your road bike.

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When CX season rolls around, Bang! 33mm cross tires. I found these Clement MXPs tucked away somewhere and was instantly reminded of the fun times I had racing on them in years past.

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The above pics highlight why Jake is probably my favorite drop bar bike of all time. It’s a very versatile bike, and gobs of tire clearance is one of the things that contributes to the versatility. Another thing is the way it’s built, with a comfortable ride. I’ve ridden cross bikes that were so stiff that they crossed the line into the kingdom of Harsh. While those were pretty darn good cross bikes, they weren’t something that I’d get all fired up about riding all day on skinny tires pumped up to big psi.

Last thing on this subject, Jake has good geometry. Due to their need to provide clearance for pretty big tires and mud, cross forks are “taller” than road bike forks, so the bars on cross bikes tend to be higher relative to the bottom bracket than road race bikes. In fact, they get pretty close to the endurance road geometry that’s so popular these days.

Does this mean that I advocate against “pure” road bikes. Absolutely not. I have a road bike in my garage that I enjoy enormously. What I am suggesting is that, with ample tire clearance and disc brakes, the idea of “one bike” is perhaps more attainable with less compromise. I’m also suggesting that it’s not a bad idea to look beyond the way a bike is spec’d on the floor, and think about what might actually work, tire-wise.

While I’ve gone on about my carbon Jake, the argument works just a well for aluminum bikes. Further, I think plus size mountain bike tires and bikes are doing the exact same thing for the “one bike” crowd who desire something with a flat bar and single-track capacity.

Hei Hei Trail Included in The Best of the 2017 Bike Magazine Bible List

Bike Magazine has just posted up their editors picks that form The Best of the 2017 Bike Magazine Bible story and our newest full carbon 140mm trail bike, the Hei Hei Trail made the cut. Picked by legendary MTB journalist and longtime Bike magazine contributor Mike Ferrentino, the Hei Hei Trail surprised Mike in a very good way. In fact he loved it so much he absconded from the Bike Magazine Bible Test Sessions with the bike, we haven’t heard from him since and he’s not answering his emails!

Every year at this shindig, I end up having to re-evaluate my biases. This year, as with the previous two, I ended up liking something that was totally not what I expected to like. The crow-pie this year came in the form of the Kona Hei Hei Trail DL. It’s a light, snappy, very sweet-handling bike that scoots uphill with more alacrity than the stated travel would lead one to expect. Normally, I look at rear suspension that utilizes a flexstay to simplify the rear triangle and allow the linkage to still do its stuff as something best avoided. They usually tend to be less comfortable across a broad range of impacts than more sophisticated suspension. In this case, that may be true to an extent, but I didn’t care. Muttering something about short femurs, steep seat angles and Strava times, I loaded the bike into the back of my van at the end of Bible camp and headed west. – Mike Ferrentino

You can check out the full story here  and Mike’s original review from the Bible here. Below you’ll find a few photos of Mike at our launch last year on his very first ride on the Hei Hei Trail in Squamish, BC.

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Kona Dream Builds: Graham Beaumont’s Hei Hei DL

We spied this gem of a Hei Hei DL on Instagram a while back and just had to share it. It turns out that the bike belongs to UK Super Grassroots rider Graham Beaumont. Graham has a penchant for all things anodized (hence the insane amount of Hope Tech bling) and is a mountain bike guide and coach in the Lake District and he has fallen completely in love with this do-it-all bike.

If you’ve got a custom Kona you’d like to share, hit us up on the #KonaDreamBuilds tag on Instagram or send us an email at dreambuilds@konaworld.com.

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Super Grassroots rider Nathan St. Clair Reports on his First DH Race of the Season

Kona Super Grassroots DH racer Nathan St. Clair lined up for his first race of the season at Race 1 of the Downhill Southeast Series Race at Bailey Mountain Bike Park. The field was stacked with local rippers as well as some World Cup regulars. Check out his race recap below and be sure to check out his blog and Instagram for regular updates. (more…)