Benjamin Seltz heads to the Cabin House Trail aboard his Kona Operator.
Thanks to Four Four Three bikes for the video.
Ryder Schwartz put together a cool little video from Northstar recently. Thanks for the edit, Ryder! That Operator sure looks nice!
“This is a video I recently made at Northstar, CA on the infamous Live Wire trail. The riders included are Karsten Hart, Jeremy Pascal, Soren Kraus, and May Seline. Enjoy!” -Ryder Schwartz
Connor’s manager and mechanic Mathieu Dupelle and his buddies at Impact Designs have made a habit of making life hard for themselves when it comes to Connor’s World Champs paint schemes. Each one topping the previous one just that little bit, I mean how many ways can you paint a bike green and gold? Well, it seems that Mathieu has found another way, and we think you’ll agree that this 2018 World Champs is a pretty bloody snazzy looking whip and could just be the best custom Operator Connor has ridden yet! #RooShooter
It’s been a whirlwind week as we wrapped up Crankworx Whistler, 2018 this past week. We rode the rollercoaster of a parched and smokey Whistler, BC for 10 days and what a ride it was!
With no official booth on site, we spent most of our week competing in events, catching up with old industry friends, and riding some of the best trails in the world.
Kona athletes had a strong showing in the EWS, Speed and Style, Air Downhill, Whip Offs, and the Canadian Open.
Tristan Lemere, who took first place in the men’s junior category for Air DH AND Canadian Open DH!
EWS racer Alexander Kangas
EWS racer Scott Countryman
EWS racer and Kona Supreme, Hannah Bergemann
Super stylish mega whip master, Caleb Holonko
Downhill racer Anthony Poulson
Downhill racer and current holder of the #10 world ranking, Connor Fearon
Master of style and going big, Graham Agassiz
Kangas on course at the EWS
Bergemann navigating the Whistler forests during the EWS
Countryman on his way to 69th place in the EWS
Lemere on his way to victory in the Air Downhill
Kangas finished 35th on the iconic A Line track
Connor Fearon seems to really love the number 10. 10th place in the Air DH for the Aussi.
Anthony Poulson on A Line
Caleb Holonko in Speed and Style
Fearon going big in Whip Worlds
Aggy always gets sideways during Whip Worlds. Unfortunately, he went down and broke his scapula. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery!
Holonko made it to finals and was boosting huge the entire session.
Holonko in the stratosphere
Connor on his way to a scorching 2nd place in the Canadian Open DH.
Tristan Lemere taking his second gold of the week at the Canadian Open DH!
Congrats to all of the athletes and their amazing results. That’s a wrap for Cranwkorx 2018!
Last weekend Kona downhill racer Connor Fearon traded in his Operator for a Process 165 and won the Bromont leg of the Canadian National Enduro series ahead of notable riders Sam Thibault and Keegan Wright.
Connor’s timing chip didn’t work on the second stage so he had to climb up and repeat the stage, adding a huge extra climb to his day.
Meanwhile, junior rider Tristan Lemire won the downhill Canadian National Championships in the cadet category, giving Kona racing a hugely successful Canadian weekend! Congrats to Connor and Tristan!
Val di Sole this past weekend marked the middle point of the UCI DH World Cup season and the return to one the more classic DH courses of the last decade. Val di Sole is not for the faint-hearted, massive roots, huge holes and its sheer steepness have always meant that the racing and results can be somewhat unpredictable.
Due to Connors hand injury, he missed last years final world cup round at Val di Sole where some major course changes were made. Arriving at the course for round four last weekend he had this to say. “The track looks good this year. Val di Sole is definitely the hardest track on the circuit. It’s just gnarly section after gnarly section the whole way down. I missed this race last year when they made lots of changes so about half the track is new to me. It looks like there’s some rain coming but the track dries up really quickly so I’d say it’s going to be dry come race day”
Connor was not wrong about race day being dry, however, the forecasted storms did arrive and timed training, practice and qualification bore the brunt of that. Rain on the track really shock up the qualifications with times posted before the downpour being considerably faster, a large number of riders from the back of the field made it to the main event while some heavy hitters, not able to cope with the changing conditions had to enjoy the non-quali-party. “The track is really hard to ride in the wet. There’s just roots and rocks the whole way down it’s hard to even steer straight” Connor, although protected and racing his qualification run in the wet, posted a solid 13th result, earning more points towards his overall standings.
Kona UK rider Josh Lowe took advantage of the somewhat drier qualification conditions earlier in the day and posted a 52nd, on race day he backed that up with a very respectible 49th!
“My qualification run was fine. Everyone knew it was going to be really hard to get down and the time gaps supported that. I had a steady run with no crashes and I’m super happy to get some points. Will be interesting if it’s wet like that for finals, but I think it will be dry!”
Connors positive predictions of a dry race day would come to fruition, if you hadn’t been there for the previous days you’d think it was a normal day in the Valley of the Sun. The only downside? No one had really had a chance to ride the track in the dry, and the Black Snake was for all intensive purposes a new course. A full days racing and practice in the dry had really shaken things up and when Connor crossed the line onboard his 29″ wheeled Operator on Saturday it would be for 19th place.
“I was pretty disappointed in how I rode for finals in Italy. The track was a lot different on race day because it had fully dried out and was much faster. We didn’t have much practice to get up to speed on essentially a new track. I just missed the speed a bit and didn’t send it hard enough. I still keep my 11th overall plate which is good. It has me fired up for Andorra where I know I can do well this weekend”
We think a top 20 in Val di Sole is pretty damn good!
It was a good day for the Kona riders in Fort William. Connor Fearon took the track by storm and finished with a scorching 7th fastest qualifying time aboard his fresh new Operator. On the women’s side Tegan Malloy laid down a 5:44 to qualify in 15th.
“I’ve been having heaps of fun at fort William as usual. I like the high speeds and turns the whole way down the track. I feel really comfortable on the 29er here… it’s the first world cup I’ve used it and I’m liking it! 7th is my best qualifying result at fort William so it’s got me confident for tomorrow. I think unless it rains a lot the times are going to be really tight for the top 20… so I’ll be trying really hard to be at the front of that bubble tomorrow!”
“The track here in Fort William is super hard packed and is running faster than ever. The new “woods section” has been replaced with a man-made rock garden that is running really quick from top to bottom. I’m going to run the exact same set up for racing as I did for qualifying, I felt comfortable on my bike with a few little things to tweak/ tidy up before finals tomorrow.” -Tegan Malloy
Congrats to both riders and good luck! Tune into Redbull TV at 4:30am Pacific Time to watch all the action live!
This past weekend Australian National Downhill Championships were held in Bright.
Leading the way for Kona was Connor Fearon, who, unfortunately, suffered some pretty bad luck throughout the weekend. He crashed in practice and suffered a nasty gash in his elbow. Not to be phased by the injury, he went on to race but suffered a flat tire in his run. He finished the race in 8th place. Not the result he was looking for Connor is happy to have that weekend out of the way and is excited to move forward with the core of the season.
On the ladies side, Tegan Molloy had a stellar weekend finishing second behind 10-time champion Tracy Hannah aboard her Operator. Congrats on a great weekend, Tegan!
All photos courtesy of @kaneophoto
Spring is just around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: bike season is near! We’re excited to kick things off by announcing our 2018 roster, which is chock full of speed, talent, and creativity, ensuring an exciting and memorable season.
On the gravity side Connor Fearon will be flying the Kona colors at the 2018 downhill World Cup races, set to kick off in Croatia in April. Connor will be running the Operator as he attempts to climb atop the podium throughout the season’s seven races. Also returning is legendary Kona athlete
Graham Agassiz. Whoever said, “freeride is dead,” clearly never rubbed elbows with Aggy and friends. Aggy’s goals for 2018 are to continue to push the limits of what’s possible on a bike, ride as many wild lines as possible, and create some interesting content.
New for 2018 is the Kona Global Enduro Team. The Global Enduro Team will compete in races throughout the world, including the EWS. Squamish ripper Rhys Verner, who saw strong results in 2017 will be leading the EWS charge alongside Ireland’s multi-national champion Leah Maunsell. Verner and Maunsell are joined by Swede Alexander Kangas and Americans Ryan Gardner and Scott Countryman.
Keeping the spirit of fun alive is the major goal of Kona’s Endurance and Adventure Team. Personality and talent run deep with this crew, and a good time is never far away. With 24 Hour Solo World Champion Cory Wallace in the mix, big races, and bigger challenges are sure to unfold. Finishing in 3rd place at US cyclocross nationals, Kerry Werner is back and ready to challenge for the top step of the podium. Americans Barry Wicks and Spencer Paxson are always up for whatever shenanigans they can concoct on their bikes and will be joined on big adventure days by Sechelt’s Kris Sneddon.
The 2018 Kona team covers a massive spectrum of riding talent and abilities and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store! Be sure to check out our team page on Konaworld.com for more info on each rider, and tune into the Cog throughout the season for updates on race results, expeditions, and adventure logs.
The 2017 World Cup season was one of ups and downs for the Kona Gravity team. There was much to look forward to with Connor Fearon coming off a great 2016 season, Josh Button and Tegan Molloy anticipating the World Championships on home turf, and young gun Anthony Poulson seeking to improve upon his last year’s results.
Throughout the season, the team was supported by team manager and all-star mechanic Mathieu Dupelle, keeping track of the team’s logistics and ensuring their new Operators were as perfect as could be for timed runs. A team is only as strong as their support crew, and Dupelle does a hell of a job for our team not only on race weekends but throughout the year.
With three of our four Pro DH riders hailing from Australia, the World Championships in Cairns was not only a focus for the season, but a highlight for all. Below we’ve compiled a short recap of the 2017 World Cup DH season from each of the four riders’ perspectives with photos from Boris Beyer. Enjoy.
Dupelle and the team after Mathieu’s victory at the Boxxer World Championships in Cairns.
Coming off my best World Cup season ever, I had big expectations of myself coming into 2017. My off-season was really productive, I felt fit and made a few changes with my bike setup – the biggest of which was moving up to a large size frame which felt perfect after a couple months of riding. I was riding the updated version of the Operator as well which had a few small but good improvements. Our off-season is very long so by the time Lourdes came around I was excited to go racing.
Lourdes was definitely the highlight of my season this year. The track is always fun and pretty gnarly, it was pretty much the same as the last two years apart from a couple new loam sections. I didn’t qualify very well at Lourdes. I don’t really know why but I just had a really average run. In finals I was able to put together a really good run and come away with 5th place. Being on the podium is the best feeling ever and it was awesome to come to the first race of the season with the number 5 plate and leave with the number 5 plate.
Round 2 was Fort William. It’s not my favorite track with heaps of gnarly rocks, lots of straight sections and the mud bog in the middle. That said it’s the hardest track physically and technically, and also presents a high risk of injury because it’s so fast the whole way down. I ended up 8th, my personal best result for Fort William, which I was stoked with. My time was pretty close to the podium times as well. So for a track I’ve always battled with it was definitely a boost of confidence knowing I’m improving on last year’s results.
After a 10th place at Leogang we headed to Andorra where my season would take a turn for the worst. On a really good run which should have seen me easily inside the top 10 again, I crashed in the second-to-last corner and I broke one of my fingers pretty badly. I still got 28th which was a pretty good result considering a huge crash. I tried to ride the next week at Lenzerheide but I just couldn’t deal with the pain/loss of grip strength in my hand. After Lenzerheide I got my hand checked out and actually needed to get surgery to put wires in my finger. That would put me out for the rest of the World Cups which was devastating. Injury is something that’s hard to avoid in this sport, yet I hadn’t missed a World Cup since 2011 – a pretty good run.
I made the decision to come back and try to race World Champs in Cairns. I had the best looking World Champs bike ever and racing and riding in my home country in front of a home crowd is something I’ll never forget. After 6 weeks of not riding any bikes or training properly, along with my hand not being fully healed yet, it quickly became apparent to me that I couldn’t ride anywhere near my full potential here. My goal became to just have fun and not crash and re-break my not-yet-fully-healed finger. I finished 24th which was actually better than I thought I could do considering the circumstances. I was pretty disappointed with the whole situation but apart from the result it was an awesome week back on the bike.
Another year of World Cup racing is complete. For me, it was a really tough one.
Lourdes started me off with a decent result, I was happy, and I was ready to build off of that. Unfortunately, a knee injury during my time at home before Fort William, left me having an arthroscopy, 4 days before flying out. So I was sidelined for round 2.
The next 3 rounds, I felt like I was playing catch up, my mentality wasn’t there. I felt OK in practice, but come race run, I just couldn’t find that intensity that you need. I had a really good break in Bromont before the next few races. I put flat pedals on, rode my bike every day, and just tried to get back to basics.
Mont Sainte Anne rolled around, and I felt much, much better. I was pushing myself in practice, trying lines, and being a whole lot more playful on my bike. Race run though, I was still having these “average” runs, and I knew it was all my race mentality and confidence.
We decided to sit out the final World Cup Round after Connor’s injury, which I was happy with, considering I had more time to prepare for World Champs in Cairns. Cairns rolled around, I really enjoy that track. I felt very comfortable all weekend, I felt I had a good result in me for sure. All my practices went really well, I was ready. Unfortunately, a little off track excursion up the top, and a small crash at the bottom, prevented any result from me. I was gutted!
I’m assuming I am just putting too much pressure on myself, because these stupid mistakes are happening even when I’m not pushing hard. I will spend the next few months reflecting on my season, working out what I need to do to sort myself out, and hopefully plan some races for next season.
Thanks again to Kona and all our supporters, you guys rock!
There are lots of highs and lows as this season draws to a close. This season has been a tough one for me. With a new UCI rule change that now only allows the top 15 women to qualify for racing I had my work cut out for me. After not qualifying in the first couple of World Cups I struggled mentally to be able to put together a qualifying run decent enough to even be allowed to race. I had a solid training regime over the southern summer so I knew I could do it, although my results did not reflect this.
Changing things up a bit this year I took on a few EWS rounds including New Zealand, Tasmania and Whistler, this was a new challenge. I had lots of fun practicing as a team, getting lost, and riding some sweet new trails. Crankworx Les Gets was one of my favorite races this season. I hadn’t been to Morzine/ Les Gets before but the track used for the downhill race was really good. With fast open grass turns, a super fun woods section and a few jumps in the mix, it was a super fun track to ride and race. I would jump at the opportunity to race there again.
I really enjoyed riding my DH bike in Bromont in between races, and not having to travel back to Australia was beneficial as riding back home is not an option due to the winter season. Mont Saint Anne was my best World Cup result this year as it was the only race where I qualified and had the chance to throw down a race run. I only wish I could have done this consistently throughout the season.
Being selected to race World Champs at home in Australia was definitely a highlight for me this season. Racing a World Championship is pretty special and is quickly made even more special on home turf. The crowd was ecstatic and having lots of friends and family there to support me was awesome. I didn’t produce the run I had in my head but at the end of the day I gave it 100% and came away with 12th. The atmosphere at this race was electric and something that I will not forget in my racing career.
A big thank you to everyone who has continued to support me; I appreciate being a part of the Kona Family and the experiences it has given me.
The 2017 season surely had some good highs and good lows but overall I’m happy with how it went. I didn’t get all the results written on paper but became a way better rider than I was before. I got my best ever World Cup result at my home race in Mont Sainte Anne, where I finished in 14th. I also had a podium finish at Crankworx Whistler.
My World Championships race run was going well too with top 20 splits but I went down near the end. Still one of my best races this season, the track was good and the weather was perfect. I was bummed to leave Cairns with no results but it definitely gave me some good motivation for next season and my move into the Elite category knowing the speed is there.
I’ll be making sure I will be the best I can be mentally and physically coming into the first race next season. I’m happy with my results this year but feel like I could have done it more often and even better – I just need to figure everything out to be the racer I want to be and to be consistent. Really happy to have the Junior years behind me and excited to go race against the big guys next year.
Earlier this week the Australian National DH team was announced and Kona Gravity team rider Connor Fearon made the list along with teammates Josh Button and Tegan Molloy. You may be wondering what Connor’s been up to recently and may have noticed his absence from the World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne.
We caught up with Connor and Kona Gravity team manager Mathieu Dupelle in Squamish during the North American Kona Ride launch to get the scoop on the situation. Connor gave it to us straight:
“Alright, so way back at Andorra World Cup I crashed 3 corners from the finish in my race run. For the next few days my hand was pretty swollen and sore from the crash but I could still ride and thought whatever was wrong would heal.
After 3 weeks of it really slowly getting better I got x-rays to see if anything was broken. Turns out my little finger was pretty much broken in half and I had to get a little surgery to put wires into my finger to keep it straight. This really sucked because it would mean I miss out on MSA and Val di Sole. These are the first and second World Cup I’ve ever missed since starting in 2011 (42 World Cup starts).
Thankfully, my hand will be 100% by cairns world champs. I’m so determined that this injury will not slow me down at that race. I can still do most of my training and my full focus is now on world champs!” – Connor Fearon
Mathieu weighed in with his side as the team manager for one of the most consistent riders on the World Cup circuit:
“Unfortunately, this is disappointing for Connor, but it’s part of every pro athlete’s career at some point to have to step down from a couple events to get better. Thankfully, he will be OK for the World Championships in Cairns, in his home country of Australia. He’s been looking forward to this particular race for the last couple of years.
Connor is a smart, hard working person that is determined with what he wants. He will do everything in his power to be 110% ready for the World Champs and will be even hungrier for a good result since he will have missed the last two World Cup races.” – Mathieu Dupelle
So there you have it: an update from Connor, a particularly gnarly x-ray image, and a plan for what is arguably Connor’s biggest race of the year, the World Championships in Cairns. We look forward to watching Connor and fellow Australians Josh and Tegan represent on home turf!