I was able to hop on the Major Jake, same geometry as the Super Jake, back in July when I spent some time with the Kona crew for the video shoot we did for the Major Jake release.
The setup on that bike was the OEM spec, which was just fine and comfortable for shredding around on single track, bunny hopping logs, and doing skids. Though, I was curious how it would feel with an Elite level CX race setup.
Last night at the Jingle Cross C1 cross race I piloted my race ready super jake for the first time. This year the Kona CX Team has a full partnership with Shimano, which I am unbelievably happy about. Therefore, we have Pro stems and seat post, Dura ace wheels, hydro brakes, shifters, and drivetrain. With all these parts integrated into the frame, it makes for a seamlessly eye-catching bike that handles in a very predictable way.
Some of the geometry changes put me in more of a mountain bike position, longer head tube and slacker head angle, which is different but in a good way. I felt very confident leaning in the corners last night and found that I was hopping the barriers faster every lap just to try and see how the bike would react.
I didn’t notice the lower BB as much as I thought I would. I was sure I would clip my pedals more, however, not only did I find that I didn’t but I wasn’t changing my riding style to compensate.
One of my favorite features of my race rigs this year is the upgrade to Di2. Shimano hooked us up with the 9170 group, the new road hydro Di2 group. The shifting is so precise and instantaneous; I am coming from Ultegra cable shifters so this change may be exponentially more noticeable for me. The shifters themselves are smaller and more ergonomically comfortable. There is also the addition of a shift button on the top of each hood, which can be programmed to shift either the front or rear derailleur. I have mine to work the rear derailleur. This feature is super handy when I am really wrenching on the bars. I don’t have to allocate fingers to shift the levers and instead, I can grip the bars as I want and simply reach my thumb up for another gear. I use it off the start line the most!
While my bar tape pops and is colorful it serves a purpose besides looking fly. The Lizard Skin DSP 2.5mm bar tape is extremely grippy. I then pair it with their Monitor SL gloves and it becomes glue like. I love it for muddy races or fast and bumpy down hills when grip can give you an extra boost of confidence.
I have been working with Donnelly Sports, you may know them from their past name “Clement”, for the last two years and I am happy to be partnered with them again. Their “tubeless” tubular is always reliable and predictable. The fully vulcanized system is extremely durable and the tread patterns cover all the condition requirements. Last night I ran MXP’s front and rear (intermediate tread pattern) because it was so loose and dusty I needed more knob than a file to bite. However, I am thinking of running full file tread, LAS, for the World Cup on Sunday or the “mullet” setup, which is a knobbier tire up front with an file in the back, (MXP in the front and LAS in the back) the best of both worlds.
All and all I still have to put some time in the saddle before I become completely confident in the bike but I have good sensations from last night’s first ride. I think I will feel at home in no time, which is good because we are only two weekends into CX season and there are a ton of races left on the schedule.