Connor Fearon and Graham Agassiz Rally the 27.5 Kona Operator at Retallack

The word is out: we’ve got a new Operator.

That word was out long ago. If you truly want to develop upcoming technology in race situations at the UCI Downhill World Cup, you’re going to show some of your cards. And if you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve been developing this bike for the past two seasons under Kona Gravity rider Connor Fearon.

You probably also know that the Operator is the bike Graham Agassiz sends to stratospheric heights at the FEST series and at Red Bull Rampage. Aggy and Connor push their Operators to the limit in different ways, and we needed to build a bike that was suited to their needs as much as it was to the privateer racer’s or to those banging laps in the bike park.

In creating a new Operator, we wanted to retain the traits that riders like Aggy really love, while continuing to develop the bike that Connor needs to compete at the top level. It’s gotta be agile. It’s gotta be planted. It has to be fun to ride, and it’s gotta rip around corners. In short, it’s gotta ride like a Kona.

In all cases the new Operator needed to be durable and well-built: a bike that our top riders could smash on race courses and big hits, day in and day out. Our riders and our bike park partners need to have confidence in a bike that will hold up, lap after lap, for more than just one event. Our bikes have been evolving for nearly three decades, and the new Operator is another step in that lineage. The evolution of a bike that can compete at the top level while still being the bike you’d choose to ride on your day off.

Two years in a row we’ve had Aggy and Connor join us at Retallack for test sessions on the Operator. For these two, whose schedules rarely coincide, coming together at Retallack is a bit of a celebration. Aggy’s spent a lot of time riding and building in Retallack’s high mountain terrain and Connor has fallen in love with the place. While they may both compete at the top level in their respective disciplines, the pure joy of ripping amazing trails on a bike you love is undeniable.

2015_08_bj_konaretallack-3051Retallack Lodge has etched itself high up in both Graham Agassiz and Connor Fearon’s top riding locations. Both riders have made multiple trips to this Kootenay, BC mecca of riding. The fun and playful riding styles both riders adopt when hitting the trails there just make you want to grab your bike and ride.

kona_275_operator_02-newAlthough Retallack has its fair share of alpine riding much of the good stuff can be found deep in the fir, spruce and hemlock lower down. Aggy in the trees.

untitled-3067Not at all fazed by the classic “one more time” Aggy and Connor ponder that fact that they have yet again been stitched up by the filmers.

2015_08_bj_konaretallack-3021_27-comp-v2Speed and Style: a Retallack hip, two ways. Yum.

untitled-2936Aggy leads Connor through a set of Retallack’s perfectly sculpted subalpine booters.

untitled-2679Retallack’s tight and technical trails received a masterclass from Aggy and Connor as the pair kept things low and extremely fast for the cameras.

untitled-2600With Connor firmly locked in his cross hairs, Aggy gets barreled in BC interior loam.

rampage-compRed Bull Rampage and Aggy are always a recipe for some of the tastiest lines and burliest moves. The big mountain freerider is a crowd favorite, but more importantly is highly regarded by his peers for his line selection and steeze.

rampage16_aggy_byadl5021There are not many riders out there that can manhandle a bike as effortlessly as Aggy.

rampage16_aggy_byadl-3471The 2016 Rampage blank canvas and its new format was welcomed by the riders, including Aggy, who teamed up with good friends James Doerfling and Kurt Sorge to build one of the rowdiest and most creative lines on the hill. Lofting above spectators and fellow competitors’ lines, Aggy pilots his 27.5 Operator on one of his final practice runs.

wc_leogang_practice-3314-copThe Dream Team. Kona Gravity Team mechanic and manager Mathieu Dupelle and World Cup racer Connor Fearon’s involvement in the development of the new 27.5 Operator platform has been absolutely vital. The feedback and input provided by the two helped Ian Schmitt and the product team produce not only a bombproof World Cup racing machine but also helped Connor finish the 2016 World Cup season on the podium!

wc_cairns_finals-4193The journey for the podium was a long one for Connor and the Operator, one that began at Lourdes in France where Connor kicked things off with a solid eighth place. His lucky 13 number plate replaced with a single digit, Connor then headed for his homeland of Austraila for the second round where, due to a slipped pedal on the final straight he finished in 12th place. His teammate and mentor Josh Button, however, rode Connor’s 2015 27.5 Operator prototype on to the Podium, shocking the field with a solid fifth place finish.

during the 2016 UCI MTB World Cup at Leogang, Austria.If there is one sure thing when it comes to racing World Cups in Europe, it’s that no matter what the forecast says, there will be rain. Leogang this year was no exception with the weather swapping constantly between full blown sunshine to a muddy and boggy rainfest.

wc_leogang_practice-8686After a tenth place at Fort William, Connor kept things low fast and stylish at Leogang wowing photographers and spectators as he piloted his Operator to yet another top ten finish, this time in eighth place.

wc_lenzerheide_practice-3100The track at Lenzerheide for round five of the World Cup would prove to be a near perfect match for the Operator and Connor’s aggressive riding style. With the single number nine back on the bike, Connor would demolish most of the field in a stellar run and find himself standing on the podium in fifth place as a reward.

wc_msa_finals-8235Round six brought Connor to Mont Sainte Anne on the east coast of Canada. The popular course proved as challenging as ever and a real mix up of riders finishing in the top 20 would assure that Connor would retain his season-high position of fifth heading into the final round in Andorra.

UCI MTB World Cup, Valnord, Andorra.After qualifying in Andorra Connor was just a single point ahead of his nearest rival in the hunt for finishing fifth overall in the 2016 World Cup Series. Connor would ride his Operator onto the platform in fifth place that day and solidify his and the 27.5 Operator’s standout season, finishing the overall in fifth place.

wc_lenzerheide_practice-3156


27.5 Operator Technical Details

The 27.5 Operator sees a number of changes which continue the evolution of our long travel platform. To retain the snappy and lively feel we’ve put a 423mm chainstay on all sizes, increased the reach across the board, and combined this with a 63º head angle. The Beamer suspension design has been updated with a more progressive leverage curve for increased bottom out resistance and a raised main pivot for improved pedaling performance. With bearings in all suspension pivots, and now in the upper shock mount as well, the new Operator will continue the legacy of Kona’s legendary durability.

heiheiop-2633

Supreme Operator

Frame Material: Kona DH 6061 Aluminum Butted 200mm Travel
Wheel Size: 27.5
Wheels: Novatec Demon
Suspension Platform: Beamer
Front/Rear Suspension: 200mm/200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer WC 200mm
Shock: RockShox Kage RC
Crankset: SRAM XO1 DH
Drivetrain: SRAM XO1 DH 7spd
Cockpit: ODI Flight Control bar, ODI Adjustable stem, Ruffian MX grips
Brakes: SRAM Guide Ultimate
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF DH 3C 27.5×2.5″
Saddle: WTB High Tail

heiheiop-2642

Operator DL

Frame Material: Kona DH 6061 Aluminum Butted 200mm Travel
Wheel Size: 27.5
Wheels: Mavic EX729
Suspension Platform: Beamer
Front/Rear Suspension: 200mm/200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer RC 200mm
Shock: RockShox Kage RC
Crankset: Shimano Zee
Drivetrain: SRAM GX 10spd
Cockpit: Kona DH bar, Kona Direct Mount stem, Kona Slog grips
Brakes: SRAM Guide R
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF DH 3C 27.5×2.5″
Saddle: WTB Volt Sport SE 250

heiheiop-2639

Operator

Frame Material: Kona DH 6061 Aluminum Butted 200mm Travel
Wheel Size: 27.5
Wheels: Sun Ringle MTX 33 Sleeved
Suspension Platform: Beamer
Front/Rear Suspension: 200mm/200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer RC 200mm
Shock: RockShox Kage R
Crankset: RaceFace Chester
Drivetrain: SRAM X7 9spd
Cockpit: Kona DH bar, Kona Direct Mount stem, Kona S-LOG grips
Brakes: SRAM Guide R
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF DH 27.5×2.5″
Saddle: Kona DH

2017-kona-operator-geometry

For more information on the 27.5 Operator and the rest of our 2017 bikes, head to konaworld.com.