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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