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MBR Magazine give the Hei Hei 9 out of 10 in latest review “Kona has taken the Hei Hei to another level”

Alan Muldoon from UK magazine MBR recently requested our base model alloy Hei Hei for review, the bike retails in the UK for £2,399.00 ($2499 in the USA and $3499 in Canada), we were pretty excited to see what their verdict would be on a bike that we absolutely love and are immensely proud of! Well we weren’t disappointed, as the brutally honest MBR magazine (a magazine that pulls no punches) gave the bike a 9 out of 10 rating.

“The Kona Hei Hei is on another level. Tight responsive ride. A fast efficient bike. None of the twitchy-ness associated with short-travel rigs.”

You can check out the review published in full online here.

What It Takes to Climb 10,000 Meters in a Day on a Kona Hei Hei

Uphill. 10,000 meters. 32,000 feet. It’s become a bit of a theme for cyclists to base their attempts for higher heights on the world’s highest mountain – Everesting, they call it – seeking to climb 8,848 meters in a day.

Long time Kona rider Spencer Paxson, always the geographer, sought to base his attempt on the deepest depths of the ocean: the Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench at more than 10,000 meters.

On June 24, 2017, taking advantage of the maximum daylight of the summer solstice, Spencer set out to ride the Challenger High with his trusty Kona Hei Hei.

Head over to Bike Mag to read the full feature written by Lacy Kemp with photos by Paris Gore.

Kona Endurance Team Completes Epic Rides Triple Crown, Spencer Paxson 5th Overall in Series

This just in, Spencer Paxson set out to climb over 10,000 metres in a day on the longest day of the year. Check out his Instagram stories while they’re live for the next few hours, and read on below for his report on this year’s Epic Rides Triple Crown…

Words by Spencer Paxson.

Yes, I still own a skin suit! Amidst all of our backcountry adventuring, we members of the Kona Endurance Team have also been busy doing some good old fashioned bicycle racing. Last Sunday saw the conclusion of the 2017 Epic Rides Off Road Series in Carson City, Nevada.  The three-race series began in late-April through the cactus of Prescott, Arizona, the slick rock of Grand Junction, Colorado in mid-May, and wrapped up under the hot blue skies of the the Sierra Nevadas.

Painface on a knobby-tire breakaway for two laps before being caught by the pack. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

I can speak from experience that within the realm of endurance mountain biking, the Epic Rides Series has come to be the most distinguished race series in North America, attracting the entire tribe of top-ranked endurance racers this side of the Atlantic (and in some cases a few Europeans, too), all vying for a piece of the prestige and $100,000 prize. This year I managed to log consistent efforts and earn 5th overall in the series.

A podium finish eluded me this season, and snagging a top-5 overall admittedly had more to do with luck. I finished 9th in Carson City, and was a subpar 14th in the other two events.  Going into Carson City, a few riders in the top-10 were unable to contest the final event due to injuries, and there were some mechanicals in Sunday’s marathon that shifted things around even more.  Not exactly how you want to earn your marks, but then again, consistency and luck are a reality of the sport.

The Pro men start the Capitol 50 race Sunday morning. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

While the racing is serious, one of the greatest things about the Epic Rides Series is that it proves how well-done events go far beyond the racing itself.  Each event consists of a 3-day festival atmosphere where beginners, seasoned amateurs, and the world’s fastest pros come together to enjoy mountain bike culture, live music and world class singletrack.  A pro fat-tire crit kicks things off on Friday night (it’s all about putting on a show!), followed by great music and beer gardens Friday and Saturday nights. Amateurs race on Saturday morning, and the pros race on Sunday. Over a thousand racers partake in the events, and thousands more come to watch and experience the weekend.

Barrington Levy headlined the music festival on Saturday, providing mellow reggae tunes for the crowd. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

Each stop of the Epic Rides Series places a rewarding spotlight on its host communities, helping to promote community health, outdoor recreation and making a real boost to the local economy. As the Executive Director of the Carson City Visitors Bureau was quoted in the Nevada Appeal, “Epic Rides is more than just a good fit in Carson City. It has made an impact in our rebranding and we are seeing a dynamic change.” According to the Carson City Visitors Bureau, Carson City’s revenue in tourism increased 64 percent over the last four years, from $12.3 million to $20 million.

Racers take in a flowy descent on the Postal Run trail Saturday. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

Out for food on Friday night, we noticed that several new restaurants and other businesses had opened up in Carson City since the first event in 2016 thickened their circle on the map.  Significant buy-in from sponsors and host cities provides the largest cash purse in endurance mountain biking (split equally for men & women) along with a strong media platform.  That in turn attracts major industry players and their top professional riders to participate in a world class set of events.

The momentum is unquestionable, and the series plans to expand in 2018 and beyond.  Meanwhile, Todd Sadow, President and visionary of Epic Rides, looks to support groups within the host communities to build and maintain trails of the Off-Road series. The fundraising goal in 2017 is $30,000, and 100 percent of the funds will go to repairing, maintaining, and expanding existing trail systems — evenly split between the host cities.

Proud to be keeping Kona Cog a strong presence at the Epic Rides events since their inception as a noteworthy pro-am series. Photo by Patrick Means

It is a great series to be a part of – as an elite-level racer, as a member of the mountain bike tribe at large, and as someone who appreciates the value of a healthy, local community.

Needless to say, I’m stoked to come back for an even bigger and better series in 2018!

In the meantime…time to head into the mountains.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Kona Adventure Team’s “Cooldown Adventure”…somewhere in the mountains above Lake Tahoe…

Blazing through the streets of Carson City in Friday night’s street race. I nearly held off the pack for the win despite racing knobbies! After all, it is called a FAT tire crit.

The Kona Adventure Team, aka The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail

Photos by Patrick Means.

No, The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail is not an indie band name, but it probably could be.

Rather, it is the latest installment of the Kona Adventure Team, connoisseurs of two-wheeled outings, and their recent trip to the rocky trails of Colorado and Utah. There, they competed in the 50-mile Grand Junction Off Road, followed by a two-day, 165-mile ride along the Kokopelli Trail all the way to Moab.

Aboard their Hei Hei DLs (and one aboard a carbon Honzo), they endured hot sun, spotted dinosaur tracks, and fueled up on hot dogs. Read the full account as published on the front page of Pinkbike.

Long and rugged climbs through sandstone and desert sage give way to eventual singletrack and alpine shredding.

Cory Wallace Gunning For the Win at the 2017 World Solo 24 Hour Championships

After his win at the Nimby Fifty in Pemberton, BC last week, Cory Wallace is now over in Europe for the World Solo 24 Hour Championships. Just a hair off the win last year, he’s hungry! Read on below…

Words and photos by Cory Wallace.

The World Solo 24hr Championships are taking place this weekend on a scenic plateau above the Italian Riviera near the border of France.  After coming within 3 minutes of the title last year in New Zealand I’m grateful and excited to be back for another shot this year!  It’s shaping up to be quite the battle with riders from over 30 countries showing up to Italy, including 7 time World Champion Jason English, USA Champ Josh Tostado, a number of Europeans and some dark horses.

My friend Leighton Poidevin will be managing the Pit area with help from Hiran who is here with bags of Radical Lights to make sure the night riding is brighter then the day.  Leighton and I have been racing each other for years at 24 hour races around the World. He’s one of the most accomplished riders to ever come out of  North America and one hell of a friend to volunteer to come over to support this effort.  For this year I’ll be running 2 full suspension Kona Hei Hei’s which should help soften the blows on the rocky and short 8 km course.

Huge thanks to my friends and sponsors who have supported me over the years and have enabled this trip back to the start line at Worlds for another shot at the title.  Kona bikes has always had my back, local bike shops Freewheel Cycle in Jasper, Straight up Cycles in Victoria, and a huge thanks to Hiran at Radical Lights for flying over with the brightest and best lights in the game.

Live results from the race can be found starting at 10 am on Friday Italian time:  which is  2am Friday morning mountain time in North America on the www.tds-live.com website.

Off to work…

Kristien Achten Wins Transvesubienne on Her Kona Hei Hei

Kristien Achten of Swooth MTB Shop in Belgium has found redemption on the course at Transvesubienne. Kristien found herself in 2nd place at the end of the 2016 race and, setting Transvesubienne as a main target for 2017, took her Kona Hei Hei to victory in both the Prologue and the main race. While XC races are usually won on the climbs, Kristien notes that her carbon Hei Hei also lets her ride away from her competitors on the descents. For the rest of us, that stacks up to a competition-ready bike that is a lot of fun on the trail! Congrats Kristien!

Photos courtesy Art Reflex Photography.

Spencer Paxson Waxes About his 2-3 Finish with Kerry Werner at the Pisgah Stage Race!

Spencer Paxson and Kerry Werner went 2-3 at the Pisgah Stage Race on their Hei Heis. As usual, Spencer’s trip report is super thoughtful and interesting! Here goes…

Words by Spencer Paxson. Photos courtesy Blue Ridge Adventures and Icon Media Asheville.

If the Bible had been written in the Pacific Northwest, the expression “shake the dust off your feet” would go something like “scrape the moss off…” At least that was my thought as I hummed out of town in my moss-covered truck early one April morning for my first race trip of the 2017 season. It had been a long and wet winter in Bellingham. The longest in recorded history. I had let the legs go good and fallow since my last race in November, and then spent all of December off of the bike (on account of the snow). For the past three months I had been riding the magic carpet of loam on the trails around town to get back in shape. Now it was time to put it to the test and wake the senses from hibernation with a trip to the Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina.

Needless to say, I was keen to get out and stretch my legs in the old crumbly Blue Ridge Mountains and rhododendron groves of western North Carolina. The objective was the Pisgah Stage Race, a 5-day humdinger of a mountain bike stage race based out of the town of Brevard. This would be the 9th edition of the famous event and my first time racing it. Along the way I’d link up with new teammate and North Carolina native Kerry Werner and the good folks at Tennessee Valley Bikes (TVB) in Knoxville.

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There was no lacking in fine Southern hospitality as soon as I landed in Knoxville. In no time I had tossed my bag into the back of a big truck and was driving down the highway with a Nikki Lane song twanging on the radio as the sun set over the Smoky Mountains. A big dinner of hole-in-the-wall Mexican food with Scott and Eric from TVB and the road warriors from Kona Bicycles Demo Tour had me feeling fat as a tick. With a happy post-travel coma fast approaching, I passed out that night to the sound of the local crickets and katydids.

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We shook our legs out at the Kona Demo Day at the new Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail system, followed that evening my some official pre-fueling at TVB’s new shop grand opening. Kerry and I were elected as chief judges for a “guac-off”. We sampled 14 different kinds of guacamole scoring on 8 criteria each, then topped off on street corn and sausages before bidding farewell to Knoxville and caravanning down the Blue Ridge Highway to Brevard. We weathered a flat tire on the RV and made it to the Pine Ridge campground and my first night in the Pisgah Forest. Just before midnight I had pitched a tent on a little grassy nook next the Davidson River with the blue light of the moon shining so bright I could read a book without a flashlight.

Coffee, pancakes, and NPR News in the morning would begin the routine for the coming week as Kerry whipped up a mighty fine breakfast before our first day pre-riding some of the Pisgah trails. The weather was looking prime, with sun and short-sleeve temperatures forecasted for the week, maybe a frogwash or two along the way, but otherwise uncharacteristically dry for spring. Despite the warm temperatures, the trees had not bloomed yet, and the only green in the woods was the dark evergreen of rhododendron groves. The absence of leaves gave the forest a brisk and flinty appearance. I kept an eye out for the famous white squirrels of Pisgah and imagined old-time Civil War era history as we rolled out to the trails.

“This one’ll get a little loose,” noted Kerry before we dropped into the first descent of the day. I had expected Pisgah to be rough based on the stories I had heard, but that said, I was caught off guard after four months of riding the luxurious loam carpets of Cascadia. Yes, our trails in Bellingham can get rough and wild, but there’s a nuance to everything. The trails of Pisgah are refreshingly raw, rocky and rooty, ungroomed and unapologetic. Riding fast here requires a smoothness akin to the prolonged vowels of the Southern drawl. Managing traction and speed are as different here as the accent. Fundamentals are the same, but the expressions don’t work without the subtleties. I felt like I couldn’t carry my speed if I had a bucket with a lid on it! Let’s say my Yankee rigidity would hold me back through the first half of the stage race, but I eventually adopted a smoother Southern style.

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Racing arrived soon enough, and on the morning of Stage 1 the air was abuzz as the crowd of 200 racers from 11 countries lined up for the 5-day, 140-mile journey. We plunged through an icy stream and into the rhododendron forests. A group of four, including Kerry, a local elite rider named Tristan Cowie, one Mystery European and myself, quickly separated from the masses and soon we were all seeing double as we navigated our way up and away into the forest. The battle was on.

Kerry was the defending champion of Pisgah and bringing the thunder after a career best cyclocross season in 2016, not to mention a long history as one of the top MTBrs in the country. Tristan Cowie was no stranger to the top-level of mountain bike racing himself, having been a regular on the US National Team in the 2007-2009 period. And as a local, he knew each of the trails like a tree knows its roots. The Mystery European turned out to be from Spain and was an ex-World Cup dominator. With fast conditions and good legs, we blazed through the stage setting a course record a whopping 20 minutes faster than the year before! Midway through, Tristan launched a perfect attack into a long descent, placing the Spaniard between him and myself. Spaniard’s skill going down was not as good as it was going up, and Tristan began to float away. I eventually snuck around Spaniard, but I wasn’t riding very smooth either, and though I was reeling Tristan in, there wasn’t enough of the day left to close the gap. I came in second on Day 1 by 19 seconds, a gap that would ebb and flow through the week. Kerry rolled in third.

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Meanwhile, Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser was dominating the Open Women’s category, and would go on to do so through the week. Jena is beginning to rack up impressive results, with a top-3 finish a few week’s prior at the TransRockies Moab Rocks stage race in Utah. Desert to Appalachia, she is a Canadian force to be reckoned with. In the Open Men’s field and just a possum’s tail behind us was Super Grassroots rider Cory Rimmer, a young and rising star from North Carolina. Cory put the hustle to the enduro sections like a fart in a fan factory and would go on to take second overall in the Enduro portion of the race.

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At the front end of the field, the days at Pisgah are relatively short at around 2-2.5hrs each. The upside is that the fatigue doesn’t stack up the way it does in longer death-march style races where each day is over 4 hours. The flip side is that the short days make for very intense and fast racing. The pace each day is faster than green grass through a goose. Course records fell left and right as we stormed through the hills, beating times set by previous legends of the sport Jeremiah Bishop, Thomas Turner, Sam Koerber and Adam Craig. Was it the trail conditions, the modern equipment, the legs, or all combined?

Whatever it was, it made for a tight battle between Tristan and me. It turns out we were well-matched. I won three stages and chopped the gap down to as little as 9 seconds, while he won the other two stages. My advantage early on was in going uphill, a metabolically expensive option. Tristan was already strong as an ox on acid on the climbs, yet his advantage was in going downhill, a much more energy-efficient option. Each day we logged at least 10 minutes worth of sustained 6 watts-per-kilogram efforts, interspersed with plenty of digs so hard they could make a preacher cuss, and long descents that left the arms feeling like a pair of arthritic snakes full of hot sauce. By day 4, I was going downhill on pace, but just couldn’t close the gap. Despite my best efforts, I finished my now customary 2nd place by less than 0.2% after five days of racing. That’s tighter than a pair of pants on a bloated elephant, and something like my 6th consecutive stage race that I’ve finished as bridesmaid.

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Kerry wrapped up the week in third overall, and took the win in the Enduro, the race within the race, comprised of a timed segment of downhill trail on each stage. Kerry rode over those rocks, ruts and roots faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition, and was still there with a cheery smile to make breakfast for us every morning. When it was all said and done we basked in glory and downed several beers, sprawled under the sun in a grassy field at the after party listening to Nikki Lane live in concert serenade the crowd, grinnin’ like possums eatin’ sweet taters. It was a damn fine week.

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Check Spencer’s blog for the full article, and follow him on Instagram !

Jena Greaser on the Podium at the Moab Rocks Stage Race

Canadian Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser killed it with a time of 6:52:12.4 at the TransRockies Moab Rocks Stage race! Here’s her recap of three days of XC racing with her Hei Hei Race Supreme.

Words by Jena Greaser. Photos courtesy TransRockies / Moab Rocks.

Moab Rocks 3-day stage race successfully fulfilled my goal for racing this season: to find the best mountain bike races in North America! This was my first stage race. I gained mental, technical and tactical strength and experience that will go a long way into this season and beyond. Moab Rocks is certainly on the race calendar for 2018. It was an excellent, well organized event with tons of great people, trails and prizes.

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Day 1: Porcupine Rim
Distance: 25.3 miles. Elevation: 4200 feet.

After 15 miles of CONSISTENT climbing, myself and female competitor, Marlee Dixon, had maintained a steady pace to break away from 2016 bronze medal Olympian, Catharine Pendrel, in the last few miles of the ascent.

On this first day, I suffered from lack of “terrain knowledge”; chunky, technical rock, with multiple drops and various lines to take. Mechanically, I made the error of riding with too high of tire pressure as well, which didn’t help on the rough descent. I learned a lesson on climbing up into thin air this stage. Oops!

Take note, this is one stage that riding on a more “trail” style bike is certainly advantageous: The time you lose on the climb can be made up on the long downhill. Overall, it was a super long, dirt road/pavement climb, followed by an hour of some of the wildest, best descending you’ll ever do in a cross country race.

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Day 2: Klondike Bluffs
Distance: 25.8 miles. Elevation: 2800 feet.

This stage was the most “cross country” type layout of the three days. After a fast 3 miles of dirt road, it was a mass sprint up the first short slick-rock climb. At this point, I made my move on the rest of the women’s field. I knew that I needed to take advantage of my motivation and increase my lead. Lead I did; across the finish line to own an impressive stage win. Overall, this was the most exciting and best performance day in the saddle!

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Day 3: Magnificent 7
Distance: 28.6 miles. Elevation: 3600 feet.

Stage three had a mix of everything. Some steep climbs, some smooth flowy singletrack and of course, more slickrock! I had my most challenging day in the saddle, mentally and physically. Despite my legs not responding the way I had hoped and a few tactical errors early on in the race, I was able to keep a steady pace. In the final 8 miles of the race, I had a sketchy endo that luckily, did not leave me toothless or end my race! After feeling like my mouth was disconnected from my face and seeing stars, I somehow “found another gear” and charged onward to the finish; leaving everything I had on the Moab dirt.

At the end of the day, the rough terrain had worn me out, as any good race should. However, after taking on such an endeavor together with my teammate and partner, Dylan Bailey, we were all smiles; full of happiness, learned valuable lessons, and got to ride some of the best, most challenging trails we’d ever raced. Three days at Moab Rocks served as a great catalyst to stage racing, and prepared us well for the next event: the 5 day Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina April 11th – 15th.

Jena is raising funds to keep her US race travel going this spring. You can donate through this link. And in any case, follow Jena on Instagram!

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The Advantages of Riding at Altitude in Guatemala

To be one of the most accomplished marathon mountain bike racers in the world, you have to put in the work. Kona Endurance and Adventure Team rider Cory Wallace, well, he puts in the work. Year after year. After a good experience last year’s early season training at elevation in Nepal and India, Cory chose to head to Guatemala this spring. Below are a few excerpts, but there are lots of gems in the longer version, which you can go to Cory’s blog to read

Words and photos by Cory Wallace.

Marathon mountain bike racing is similar to being a smart investor as it requires a pile of time invested into training during the off-season to prepare for the payoff later in the season when the big races come around. It can be easy to lose your focus in the middle of winter when the weather is challenging and there’s no real immediate payoff for the hard work, but this is when seasons are made and lost. It’s common to be putting in 25+ hours per week on the bike so it’s nice to have accommodating weather!

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This winter Guatemala was chosen, partly to take part in the El Reto de Quetzal race, partly to study Spanish, and partly to try out an experiment and to see how training at altitude would payoff. Having good success riding at altitude in India and Nepal last fall and the amazing feeling of having 3 lungs after returning to lower altitudes it gave me the inspiration to explore this avenue a little further.

Doing a bit of research and with past experiences I’ve come to my own conclusions about what should work and it seems living and training at altitudes between 2200 m and 2600 m seems ideal. Anything lower and the concentration of oxygen in the air is still high enough that it may limit adaptations, while any higher and there is not enough oxygen to be able to push yourself hard enoughto keep your muscles strong.

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The idea is that the body will increase the volume of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, become more efficient at using oxygen, and due to the lack of oxygen both the lungs and heart will have to work at an elevated intensity. It also seems to be important to break up the altitude training with retreats to lower elevations to help with recovery to put in some strong efforts in oxygen-rich air, and once you return to altitude the body re-kickstarts the adaptations. Time will tell but things are on track right now with the body showing nice improvements every week.

Check out a few more photos below, and read the full story on Cory’s blog

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Ti Tuesday: Alex’s Custom Hei Hei

Photos by Caleb Smith.

Alex’s Ti Hei Hei is a great example of how a seemingly simple project can spin its way into complexity very quickly. Alex’s first mountain bike back when he was a teenager was a Kona Lava Dome, which his family still has to this day – though it’s on the small side these days. The Kona hardtail fire continued to burn for him, though, and last year, looking for a fun cruiser project, Alex started the hunt for a Ti frame from the same era.

He found the Hei Hei frame basically as you see it here, a blank slate on which to lay his own brush strokes, and the beginning of a search for just the right pieces to finish the build to perfection. The mango Chris King hubs and headset started a landslide of orange, including the King bottom bracket and the Salsa seat clamp that we’re seeing pop up on many a modern Ti Kona build.

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The orange theme continues with the Chromag cockpit and orange cable housing, leading to a 9-speed XTR group. The XTR parallelogram brakes are, to many, the pinnacle of v-brakes, and Alex was able to separately source an XTR drivetrain with the requisite titanium cassette. Add to that a Chromag single chainring, Paul Component brake levers, and skinwall Maxxis DTH tires, and Alex’s vintage Hei Hei build has just a bit of modern flair.

With the build being so fresh, Alex’s Hei Hei drew an audience when he dropped by our office to show it off. We pored over the details, but because the bike doesn’t have its original decals, we were unable to exactly pinpoint the year of the bike. With its signature bullet dropouts we do know that it was made at Ti Sports in Pasco, WA, between 1996-1999. While it took Alex about 6 months to put the build together, the result is clearly worth the effort.

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For more Ti Kona goodness, check out the Ti Tuesday archives and #TiTuesdaysWithKona on Instagram. If you’ve got a Ti Kona bike, please do get in touch!

Bike Magazine on the Kona Hei Hei DL: “Astonishingly Fun.”

Another review of the Hei Hei DL and yet another affirmation that its progressive geometry and balanced pedaling platform is exceeding riders’ expectations. Bike Mag‘s Ryan Palmer tends to favor a 29er that shreds over one more focused on going uphill, but the Hei Hei DL solidly ticked both of those boxes for him.

“In a sport in which a new niche develops every 30 seconds, it comes as no surprise to see a new one emerging out of the cross-country bike category. This still-unnamed sub group is basically an XC platform with a pinch of all-natural trail flavoring. What also comes as no surprise is that Kona, of all brands, would be among the first few to help form this particular niche.”

Read the full review online or in high res PDF and head to Bike Mag to see their subscription options.

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You can also view Bike Magazine’s first look at the Hei Hei DL in the video below:

Bike Rumor Raves About the Kona Hei Hei DL: “This bike is proof positive of XC evolution.”

Here’s yet another review lauding the 2017 Hei Hei platform, this time from Zach Overholt at Bike Rumor. Zach was a big fan of the Hei Hei DL’s 120mm Fox 34 fork and dropper post bringing the bike “from podium to play”, though he noted that the true evolution that has occurred with this bike its long reach and progressive geometry.

“Just because the bike is only 100/120mm travel, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the fun, playful natures of the bike. There are so many bikes that either excel at the up or the down, but the Hei Hei DL finds balance between the two. It’s still a bike that you could easily use to compete in local XC races, but this is the bike you want for the rest of the year when it’s all about fun.”

Read Zach’s full review over at Bike Rumor!

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