Kona Operator

Super Grassroots rider Nathan St. Clair Reports on his First DH Race of the Season

Kona Super Grassroots DH racer Nathan St. Clair lined up for his first race of the season at Race 1 of the Downhill Southeast Series Race at Bailey Mountain Bike Park. The field was stacked with local rippers as well as some World Cup regulars. Check out his race recap below and be sure to check out his blog and Instagram for regular updates. (more…)

Check out Aggy’s Full DarkFest Photo Gallery

I have to apologize. We have been sitting on Ale Di Lullo’s full DarkFest photo gallery for a couple of weeks now. With the epic Digging for Galena video dropping, we didn’t really want to clog your social media feed with so much Aggy radness. Now that you have all watched Digging for Galena though, the time is right to revisit Aggy’s trip to South Africa for the first stop of the Fest Series, DarkFest.

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Dark Fest was Aggy’s first major outing back on a big bike since his crash at Rampage and he wasn’t wasting any time making it seem like he hadn’t been off the bike at all, slaying the beyond massive jumps and overcoming his fear of heights just scaling the drop-in ramp.

Dark Fest has been an amazing journey for me, not only was it my first trip to Africa, but it was also my first time truly back in the saddle after my hip injury at Rampage last year. Crew vibes are always key on trips like this, and with the Fest Series it’s always guaranteed that energy is going to be high!

Our Ride When We Want to Ride motto ensures that we only ride when conditions are safest, and this allows us all to ride as progressively as possible. We suffered slightly in South Africa with the weather, luckily though there were no shortage of things to do on the rain days. We got to touch elephants, dive with sharks, surf and even get a quick tattoo to remember the trip by.”

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Aggy Touches Down at Dark Fest

Fest Series fans rejoice! The first stop on the 2017 event calendar has arrived, and we’ve just received our first update from photographer Ale Di lullo who has joined the invite-only list of athletes in South Africa at the Pure Darkness compound for Dark Fest.

“I can’t believe we’re in Africa right now, the lines here at #DarkFest are seriously some of the gnarliest features I’ve ever seen!” – Graham Agassiz

The Dark Fest lines and features are etched in most MTB fans’ minds, I mean it’s hard not to think of Matt McDuff’s Loop of Doom crash when you look at photos from the site. Even Aggy is a little nervous “Trying to get over my fear of heights, not easy when you’re standing on top of a 75ft roll in! Huge props to everyone involved in putting this masterpiece together!”

Ale and Aggy will be updating us over the next few days, so stay tuned for more insane images and riding.

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Kona Gravity Rider Tegan Molloy Wins Australian National Series Downhill at Thredbo

Tegan Molloy has just come off the top step of the podium at the second round of the Australian National Downhill Series. With a second place at the first round, Tegan has a solid shot to claim the overall series title at the third and final round at Mt. Beauty, Victoria later this month. Here’s her report from Thredbo with some photos from RF Photographics

This weekend saw Thredbo Resort host round two of the Australian National Series on my home trails. Practice kicked off on Friday with a bit of a slow start as I already knew the track quite well I had a bit of a late start to practice. On my fist run I clipped a rock and had a big crash, I sat it out for a little while before having a few cruisy runs to finish off the afternoon.

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Photo: RF Photographics

Saturday rolled around and it was time for seeding. After three solid practice runs, I felt ready to race. For seeding the plan of attack was to throw down a solid run as there was a possibility that the seeding run could count as a race run due to high winds expected on race day. I was really happy with my seeding run, I hit all my lines and rode as smooth as I could trying to stay out of all the holes, crossing the line as the fastest qualifier. This meant that for racing I would be out of the gate last.

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Photo: RF Photographics

Sunday morning started with a short practice session and then it was straight into racing. I had two runs just to check out the track and see how it was holding up after the last few days. The track was so dusty and blown out, some of the roughest conditions I have ever experienced at Thredbo. My race run was wild, swinging off the back through the rough sections and pedaling where I could to try and make up time, I crossed the line as the fastest rider with a new personal best time, over eight seconds quicker than second place. I was stoked to have such a good run in front of a home crowd and come away with a new PB.

One week off before I head to the third and final round in Victoria, which will be the ultimate showdown between Danielle and I as we battle it out for the overall.

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Photo: RF Photographics

Aggy Puts the Shovels to Dirt at Red Bull Rampage 2016

The 11th edition of Red Bull Rampage is going down in Virgin, Utah next Friday, October 14th, and Kona Gravity rider Graham Agassiz is on site getting his line prepped. The desert spectacle has been freshened up with a new event location and some different guidelines for riders. We caught up with Aggy as he began work on his new line with his builders Taylor Holsteadt and Ron Penney.

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Kona: How’s the body? You took a big slam at Retallack a few weeks back, is everything 100% leading into Rampage?

Aggy: I’m going in as healthy as I can, sucks that I went down at Retallack last month, I’m still a little bruised but I’m just dealing with it at this point. My hand is also feeling pretty good, it definitely gets sore after picking away at the rock all day long, but yeah, I’m hanging in there.

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Kona: There are lots of changes this year for Rampage. How are they working out – the fresh zone, the smaller build crew, and things like limits on sandbag use and so on?

Aggy: It’s actually going really well, having the fresh site was needed for sure, it’s really let us use our creative abilities to our advantage. That said we seem to have found ourselves in an interesting scenario again, we’ve got ourselves committed into a pretty gnarly entrance, but it looks rideable.

It’s real nice having a smaller crew out here with you and it makes us work together with other teams. I’m teaming up with James Doerfling on the upper section and with Kurt Sorge on everything down below, it’s good, everyone is just having a good time.

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Kona: What’s the general vibe amongst competitors?

Aggy: The vibe has been really great, no complaints really, everyone except for a couple of people have been awesome. I think the majority of us get it, that we have to work together to do more and make things a lot safer, it’s just better if we team up on things. There’s only so much room up there and there is always the odd guy here and there that doesn’t want to work that way, but you just have to move on… Other that the vibes are high.

Kona: Other than the heavy entrance can you share anything else about your line?

Aggy: Besides the top, which is going to be one of the more standout bits of the line, just diving right into the face, once you clear out of the chute it heads onto a pretty big booter that the catch berm leads into. It then gets into the ridge and a bunch of step downs. There’s also a pretty big drop near the end that will be calling for something… I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do, but there is definitely going to be a lot of heavy hitting going on. I’m just super excited.

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Kona: And have you decided what bike you’ll be riding?

Aggy: I pretty sure I’m going to be riding the new 27.5 Operator, Mathieu Dupelle is out at SRAM in Colorado working on the bike now. He’s sent me some pictures, I’m really stoked on how the build is looking, we are going to play around with different tires and spring rates once we get it out here. That bike is going to be a beast, I’m really just looking forward to getting on it and getting after it.

Follow along with Aggy’s build progress on his Instagram, and on the Kona Bikes Instagram, and tune in on Red Bull TV next Friday, October 14th.

Connor Fearon Qualifies 9th and Josh Button 15th in Cairns

Following up on his top ten qualifying and finish two weeks ago at round one of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Lourdes, Connor Fearon is back at it this week, this time on home soil and landing himself 9th in qualifications yesterday. After the mixed weather and track conditions of Thursdays timed training and a few little showers in the morning the sun came out and finally provided a slightly more predictable course, playing into both Connor and new teammate Josh’s hands.

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Connor Fearon. Photo: Duncan Philpot

Connor had a great day out there and finished up right where he wanted to be “I’m pretty happy with another top ten result for qualifying. This is where I want to be every race so I’m stoked. I think I have some time up my sleeve for tomorrow and i’m really looking forward to racing”. He’s also stoked about having a new training partner in fellow Aussie and recent Kona team addition Josh Button.

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Josh Button. What alien tree? Photo Duncan Philpott

Who is Josh Button? Josh is an Aussie and former Kona Grassroots rider who suffered a massive injury back in 2010. He’s been back on the bike a while and this year finished 3rd at the Australian National Champs behind Connor and Troy and ahead of Sam Hill and many others. With Andrew Crimmins taking the year off racing to finish his apprenticeship, adding a shredder like Josh to the team is a real coup. Having someone to talk to in your camp about line choice, and race preparation is a real advantage and will help both riders come race day. Josh has only been on the bike a few weeks but is clearly feeling at home, pulling off a 15th in qualifications and landing some much needed points. “I’m pumped on 15th today in qualifying. The new bike is absolutely mint and I’m hoping to light it up for finals tomorrow!”

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Due to not having enough UCI points Josh had to race in the Australian national jersey with a wildcard entry, finishing 15th will earn him some points, a similar result in finals will see that number drop and the white top kicked to the curb. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Theres a 10% chance of rain tomorrow for the finals. No one wants a repeat of what happened two years ago! Photo Duncan Philpott

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Connor making short work of the Alien Tree section of track. Photo Duncan Philpott

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The Beasties boys clearly weren’t mountain bikers, but i’m guessing “Fast and low, that is the tempo” just didnt have the same ring to it. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Kona Team Mechanic Mathieu Dupelle “Gettin er done”

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Kona’s Gravity Team hit round two of the UCI World Cup in Cairns.

South Australian based Kona rider Connor Fearon and fellow countryman Josh Button have wasted no time getting up to speed in the humid tropical rainforests of Cairns. You may remember last years event turned chaotic (and a tad comical for for some) when a tropical cyclone rolled through town, drowning the pits, riders and the media a like in a heavy deluge of biblical proportions. Well it seems after a dry track walk on Wednesday, the predicted rains have arrived for this the second UCI visit to Cairns, and they made for an exciting timed practice. “Track here in Cairns is sweet unless it’s pissing down with rain, which is half the time it seems like! – Connor Fearon. Qualifications are tomorrow (well today in Australia) and here looking forward to seeing Connors number nine plate to move even lower. You can show the riders your support by following them on Instagram and letting them know your backing them! Connor Fearon can be found here and Josh Button here.

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Everything in Australia can kill you… Except this freaking huge spider. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Connor Fearon is stronger than you. Photo Duncan Philpott

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After a solid result last week Connor has dropped his starting position into the top ten. He’s now rocking the nine plate. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Orange is the old Green. Josh Button getting to grips with the track and a new bike. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Josh Button hitting berms for dayz. Photo Duncan Philpott

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Who wants to see this number decrease even further?  Photo Duncan Philpott

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Those roots are going to be slippery when wet! Photo Duncan Philpott

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