Kona Dream Builds: Paul’s Multi-Surface Shred Machine AKA his custom Unit X

Words/Photos/Build: Paul Garcia

It starts with inspiration! Have you ever had a moment when something happens to fall in your hands and sparks a thought process that you begin building an idea around? For me, it was the Salsa Cutthroat fork. I had a buddy who was looking to unload the fork for a reasonable price. His build had changed and he was not going to need it. Before I accepted the offer on the spot I had some research to do. The fork met the aesthetic criteria. Straight blade 29er fork that had a ton of capabilities and was able to clear most plus tires. I was in 100%.

The second part of this build was major. The frame. The industry has built lots of bikes that really want to meet every person’s needs and at times, still miss the mark. Form follows function, the frame had to follow the forks lead. An aero carbon trail fork that was a practical design and was highly functional. In comes the Unit X.

Kona bicycles is not an ordinary bicycle company. I have owned a Kona Unit before. I had also worked for a shop that sold the brand and I really admired how they had maintained an “off the beaten path” philosophy. This bike build would have tons of capabilities and then some. The Unit X frame had a Reynolds tube set with a 44mm headtube, cable guides throughout the frame, slider dropouts, plus tire capabilities and a traditional threaded BB. Did I mention rack mounts throughout the frame and through axle capabilities as well as a third bottle cage mount? After months of combing the internet looking for the Swiss Army knife of bikes for my needs, I ordered a Kona Unit X.

The call was put in as a favor and the bike was now on its way to me as a complete build. This meant I would have to strip some of the existing parts off for my new creation. My idea was to replace the original fork for the Cut­throat and remove the 27+ wheels and install new 29er wheels. The front handlebars would be replaced for a Salsa dropbar flared touring combination to match the stem and seatpost combo. That placed the NX shifter on the bar via Paul Components adaptor. The original NX crank came off and I installed a better suited crank for my size which was a 170mm and new 38t ring with a Paul Components chain guide. I was able to lighten the rear end a bit by adding my SRAM 900 hub and XD driver system with the 1150 SRAM 11-42 cassette. For my bearing surfaces, I went with a Cane Creek headset and Wheels Manufacturing angular BB. On my touch points, I went with some Brooks tape and an All City saddle that was a carryover from a past build. Well broken in for this occasion. My rubber of choice are Maxxis Ardents on Raceface Arc 35’s.

The bike works as designed, a multi-surface shred machine that works for any variety of roads or trails and lots of bikepacking opportunities. Much love to Kona bikes for making rad bikes for everyone!