Leah Maunsell

All New Kona Process Tops the Podium at EWS Finale Ligure

Kona riders were out in force over this past week in Finale Ligure for the final round Enduro World Series. New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, France and Canada were all represented. The physical and technical nature of the seven stages did take its toll on riders, however: Jonathan Maunsell, Alexander Kangas and Jordan Regnier all had their weekends end abruptly, but our two U21 riders, Leah Maunsell and Rhys Verner, both had weekends they will remember forever.

Rhys had an absolute stormer of a weekend. Not only did he ride the all-new Process 153 CR/DL to the top spot in the men’s U21 category by over a minute, but his time was fast enough to put him in 13th in the pro-men’s field.

Leah, who led after the first day of racing, tried her best in the tightly contested women’s U21 field to lengthen that lead on day two. She’s no stranger to the podium at EWS events but the stop step has eluded her. The final of stage would be her undoing, losing precious seconds relegating her to second place. Not the top spot she was looking for but an amazing result for the young rider all the same.

We have both Rhys and Leah‘s race reports below, along with some fantastic photos from our EWS photographer Sven Martin.

Rhys Verner

What a week for me! This was pretty much a dream trip as far as racing and fun goes. The whole week leading up to the final round of the Enduro World Series was great, going for long rides and just taking in the amazing scenery of Finale! Pre-riding the stages I felt great and right at home on the new Process 153 CR DL and I genuinely couldn’t wait to get the racing underway. The weekend started out with a 20-minute stage from the highest mountain at around 1400m and descended almost all the way back down to sea level.

I’ve always been a fan of the long stages coming from XC but this stage went better than I could have hoped for. I ended up pulling a 39-second lead on the 2nd place U21 rider and had by far my best stage result ever with a time that would have had me 5th in the Elite men’s category. The rest of the day I tried to ride smooth and just stay within my limits as to not toss away the lead. I ended day one with a 36-second lead in U21 and ranked 7th overall.

Day two I woke up again ecstatic to get the racing underway and pedaled up to the stages full of energy and just living the dream. I again rode smooth throughout the stages and ended up winning stages four, five, and six, with one stage left to go I had a 1:14 lead on the nearest competitor. Stage 7 was a rough stage so I played it on the safer side as to get down in one piece and secured my first EWS win with an overall time that would have placed me 13th in the pro men’s field.

I am coming away from this race with a lot of confidence knowing that I can ride with the best and really couldn’t be happier with how the week went! – Rhys Verner

Leah Maunsell

Coming into day two with a 9-second lead after the first day’s racing was great, but I knew it was going to be a tight battle right until the end. With a 50km loop and 1300m of climbing to tackle it was going to be a tough day in the saddle. I was delighted to be battling it out for the top step right until the last stage but missed out by 12 seconds. I could say that I’m a little disappointed, but how could you after a great week riding in Finale Ligure. Getting to finish off my season with some really tight racing and ending it on the beach with some gelato with your mates was amazing! – Leah Maunsell

Kona’s Leah Maunsell is 2017 Irish National Champion in Both Enduro and Downhill!

Here’s an update from Irish Kona Pro Leah Maunsell, who’s proud to hold the 2017 Elite Women’s National Championship in both Enduro and Downhill. Congrats, Leah!

This year my brother Jonathan and I were delighted to have the opportunity to return to the Kona Bikes Rookie Camp in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis at the beginning of August. Jonathan acted as coach and I was the Kona Bikes Women’s Ambassador. I jumped at the opportunity to ride with and race against the best young girls in the world!

I really like the structure of the camp: it not only teaches the kids bike skills and how to approach racing but also that racing is not the be all and end all. Si Paton was on hand with loads of really helpful information for the kids about racing.

We also enjoy lots of off the bike activities during the week which are very entertaining. We spent an evening at the fun park at 1,800 metres altitude and and then took the “Flitzer” rail toboggan back down to the town. It is such an action packed week! I personally do think that the race is a nice way to finish up the week though! I really enjoy the challenging race track they have there. I was happy to finish 3rd U19 Women against the best up and coming European downhillers!

I did an Interview about our trip to the Kona Rookie Camp in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis which is now up on Pinkbike.


Photo courtesy Sven Martin.

Next up on the schedule was the Irish Enduro National Champs in Carrick, Co. Wicklow, on August 19-20. Carrick is home to the Emerald Enduro – a round of the Enduro World Series for the past 3 years – so to me it is a special place to have our National Champs. It is one of my favourite riding spots in the country and I was so eager to get out and ride there for the first time since the very wet EWS round back in May.

After a fast and dry practice day I was so excited to get racing! With rain forecasted for the afternoon I was happy with my early morning seeded position. It would be a mission to beat the rain! Despite a crash on Stage 3 I managed to keep it clean for the remainder of the day. I took 5 out the 6 stage wins. I was delighted to retain my National Title by taking the win in Elite Women. So that leaves me as 2017 Irish National Champion in both Enduro and Downhill – stoked on that! And all on my Kona Process 153 DL, what a capable machine!

After that it was a round of the Irish Downhill Series so close to my door in Mallow, Co. Cork it was hard to miss. During Saturday morning practice the track was bone dry but with the classic Irish rain in the forecast for the afternoon that dry track wasn’t going to last long. Lo and behold the rain came in and changed up the track. The open top section became quite greasy but the lower wood section really turned in to an ice-like layer of mud! This section claimed the most victims of the weekend and wasn’t long being christened ‘Carnage Corner’ I took a spill there myself during Sunday practice but luckily I was ok. I had a clean race run to take my Kona Process 153DL to the top spot in Elite Women yet again.

The following day I passed my Driving Test – woo hoo, watch out world! It’s not all just riding bikes 😂


Photo courtesy Sven Martin.

The final round of the Gravity Enduro Series took place in Djouce, Co. Wicklow on September 9-10. Due to school commitments I was unable to make the practice but still went up on race day. Djouce is a great venue with terrain to challenge every rider. The forest was littered with roots and loam despite the odd puddle! I made a few silly mistakes almost taking out the tape due to lack of knowing where I was going! I was really happy to hold it together to take the win in Elite Women and grab 2nd in the series overall having missed 2 rounds due to racing in Europe.

I have just written another interview for Prime Mountainbiking magazine in Germany, so I’m excited to see that as well.

Soon I will be leaving for the last round of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure which takes place on the 30 September – 1 October. I’m really excited to give it everything at my last big race of the season. Praying for a bit of sunshine!

Road Trip: Kona’s Gravity Team Rider Leah Maunsell Heads to France

We got the Ferry from Rosslare to Roscoff and drove straight for 11 hours to Morzine for a few days to break up the journey on the way to French Enduro Series. We caught the last day of Crankworx Les Gets and then rode in Morzine for the next four days. It was the perfect start to our road trip. We even fit in one of BikeMorzines infamous chain-less Mates Race’s, where Leah managed to grab third place!

We then drove another 7hr to Val d’Allos for the French Enduro Series.

We arrived on Friday night, pretty tired after a long day of driving, to set up camp for the weekend. It was a much earlier start on Saturday morning than we are used to in Ireland and the French also run with a completely different format which I found really interesting.

Saturday morning leaving the race village at 7.30am – Stage 1, (20 mins approx.) one practice run and two race runs
Stage 2, (12 mins approx.) one practice run and one race run

I was really enjoying the stages and happy with my riding but as I wasn’t seeded I was catching and having to pass a lot of riders but I just used this as motivation to do well in order to be seeded for the Sunday. I got a flat on my second timed run which wasn’t ideal costing me some time but I was happy to be sitting in 4th in a stacked Elite Women field after day one!

Sunday – Stage 3, (13 mins approx.) one practice run and two race runs
Stage 4, (5 mins approx.) one blind race run

The stages on Sunday morning were tough. Lots of off camber climbing and traversing at the beginning to keep you on your toes! I got in to it after the practice run and was happy with my runs. The blind stage was the shortest stage of the weekend and also the most gravity fed! I was really excited for this stage but unfortunately I had a mechanical and lost a position. But how could you be disappointed after a weekend in the French Alps with six timed runs and over 1hr 20 timed racing! That’s a lot of bike time when you are used to the Irish hills! I didn’t have the best weekend result wise, but now I am raring to go for the Enduro a World Series in Milau next weekend!

Leah and Jonathan Maunsell take first and first at Round 4 of the Grassroots Enduro Series

How fitting that our last race before we head off to France would be at home in Ballyhoura for Round 4 of the Grassroots Enduro Series. It would seem that this season has consisted of lots of wet races so why would this one different? It rained all week in the lead up to race weekend which would certainly affect the trails and make for a very exciting race. Especially considering the one day blind race format which is unique to this series – meaning that riders do not get to practice in advance, but can attempt the three stages as many times as they like before the cut-off time. Getting out early was going to be key if you wanted any chance of racing on clean stages. As we predicted the track conditions deteriorated throughout the day.
Team Maunsell had a great day and luckily put in some fantastic stage times early on in the day. Although the trails may have gotten slower throughout the day, it didn’t dampen the spirits or the fun. It was such a good day riding with all of the locals and catching up with familiar faces. You can’t beat that feeling of racing at home. Jonathan put in the fastest time of the day to win the Elite Men and Leah won the Women’s Category and posted a time that would have placed her 5th overall! Two Kona Process 153DL’s on the top step!

Leah Maunsell has a Craic at the Polygon Grassroots Enduro Series

This weekend’s racing was round two of the Polygon Grassroots Enduro Series. It is a series run by local clubs and having the craic is a priority. The one day blind race format is unique in that riders do not get to practice in advance, but can attempt the three stages as many times as they like before the cut-off time (usually a maximum of two attempts per stage). The technical standard of the trails and venues is on a par with national enduro competitions so it is a great pre season warm up! It was the driest Irish race of the year so far!

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You can also run the stages in which ever order you like. So judging by track freshness and conditions I decided to do stage 3 first as I thought it would cut up as the day went on. I didn’t have the best start to the day as I had a bit of undergrowth lodge itself in my jockey wheel which jammed up solid so when I tried to put the power down to pedal hard it sent the chain into the spokes behind the cassette. It wasn’t a quick fix causing me to stop and remove it taking a few minutes. After losing so much time I decided to just cruise down the rest of the stage to check it out for my next run. Back up for a re-run straight away and I was happy.

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Next was stage 2, the shortest of the three stages but not without a few kicker climbs. I was happy with how the stage was going until near the end when I heard a really loud hissing from the rear tyre… Dammit a puncture. Back up again to repeat this stage. It wasn’t the best start to day but luckily things got better from here.
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Last stage, stage 1. This was a longer, more pedal heavy stage. I was happy with how this stage went for me but I decided to repeat it anyway because I had lots of time before the stages closed and hoped I could go faster on the second run.

So all in all, even after a few mishaps early on, I was still able to keep it together in my second runs to take the win! Thanks to everyone for their encouragement all day keeping the spirits high. You can’t beat local races for the craic. Cheers Kona Bikes for the awesome Process 153DL.

Leah Maunsell and the Kona Big Honzo in Ireland

The Kona Honzo was built for rugged terrain, and the Big Honzo is a natural extension of that initial purpose: all the fun of the Honzo’s snappy handling and progressive geometry, with the traction, control, and confidence of high volume 27.5+ rubber. In creating a video around this bike, we wanted to find a location that was suited to its character. We hooked up with rising enduro star Leah Maunsell and headed for her home county of Cork, Ireland.

The Sheep’s Head peninsula is a rugged sliver of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s southernmost tip. Big views and big skies set the tone as the landscape undulates, offering up some of Ireland’s finest coastal views. The trails here run along the spine of the peninsula on a mix of upland and rocky outcroppings, setting the perfect stage for Leah’s outing on the Big Honzo.

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Evolution

From a design perspective, the Big Honzo retains the successful DNA found throughout our Honzo line, with subtle adaptations that make it more than just a 29er with room for wider tires. A new yoke at the bottom bracket junction maintains the Honzo’s tight 415mm rear end, while the bottom bracket drop has been adjusted to optimize Honzo-like ride qualities around 27.5×2.8” tires. We call it an evolution of the bike everyone else is already chasing.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for the Honzo. The original steel prototype was the first Kona prototype I ever had the opportunity to ride. I came back with the bike and told my co-workers something to the effect of “well, that just ruined every other hardtail for me”. It’s been a long road of evolution and expansion for the Honzo line and I’m grateful to be a part of it. The Big Honzo embodies all the traits that “ruined” other hardtails for me and I can’t say enough positive things about the bike.” – Ian Schmitt, Kona Product Team

kona-ride-2017-8464Ian puts his pre-production Big Honzo through the paces in Squamish, BC.

Big Honzo DL

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Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
Wheel Size: 27.5+
Wheels: WTB Scraper STP i40
Front Suspension: 120mm
Fork: RockShox Yari 120mm
Crankset: RaceFace Aeffect SL
Drivetrain: SRAM GX 1x 11spd
Cockpit: Kona XC/BC 35 bar and stem, Kona Race Light Log grips
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic
Front Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Rear Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Saddle: WTB Volt Sport

Big Honzo

big_honzo

Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
Wheel Size: 27.5+
Wheels: WTB Scraper STP i40
Front Suspension: 120mm
Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL 120mm
Crankset: RaceFace Aeffect
Drivetrain: SRAM NX 1x 11spd
Cockpit: Kona XC/BC bar and stem, Kona Race Light Log grips
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic
Front Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Rear Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Saddle: Kona Trail

Get all the details on the Big Honzo and Big Honzo DL here.

Kona Super Grassroots rider Leah Maunsell wins at County Down

This weekend was the final Enduro race of the season for me and there was no better way to wrap it up! Team Maunsell made the five-hour journey up North to the FirstTracks Enduro Cup in Donard, Co Down. It was sure to be a great weekend with 5 natural stages at a new venue for us!img_5346

Saturday practice didn’t get off to the best start for me after suffering a muscle spasm in my back early on. But after a quick trip to the chemist to get some healing stuff, I was good to head back up the hill for more practice. It was a long day on the hill but it was worth it for the 5 amazing dry stages. The weather forecast wasn’t so promising for race day though!

Sunday morning came and it was a race against the rain! Dad and I headed out early and only got caught in one shower heading up for our final stage. Jonathan, however, had completely different track conditions later in the day after the rain.

The stages were technical and had quite a few tight sections. You really had to be consistent and not make too many mistakes as there wasn’t much pedalling to make back time. I was happy with how my day went, having consistent smooth stages. Time to head back to the paddock to check in our times.img_5347

There’s a first time for everything! Team Maunsell take a podium position each in their respective categories for the first time! Leah won the Elite Women’s category, Jonathan came third in Elite Men and Cieran (Dad/Mechanic/Driver) came third in his age category (old man category)! What a successful end to a fantastic Enduro season. All three Kona Process 153DL’s performed perfectly all weekend! Now onto the final race of the season, a downhill race next weekend.img_5348

Leah Maunsell takes the win at the First Tracks Enduro

IMG_4084This weekend Team Maunsell made the journey from one corner of Ireland to the other, heading to the First Tracks Enduro in Bigwood up north. It was an early start, leaving home at 6am on Saturday morning, but with the sun shining it made things a little easier. Team Maunsell had an extra member representing them this weekend too, with Papa Maunsell (Cieran) making a comeback from injury. It was a new venue for Leah and Cieran so the excitement levels were high.IMG_4086-1

Saturday was practice and although the weather was good, the tracks were still a bit greasy. Unfortunately Jonathan didn’t have much luck and suffered a really bad crash in practice on stage one taking him out for the remainder of the day. He hit a tree at full speed and suffered a very bad dead leg. Leah and Cieran finished out the day hassle free and were ready for race day. The stages were tough with lots of flat and uphill sprinting. Sunday was going to be a tough days racing.IMG_4087-1

After a full evening and morning doing everything he could to get his leg feeling somewhat like normal Jonathan wasn’t going to be able to race at full speed. He was still determined to get out and ride despite having no practice on the stages and suffering badly when it came to sprinting. Adrenaline kept him upright and he rode to a 12th place finish in Elite Men.IMG_4090

Leah had a good day, with consistent stage times taking her Process 153DL to the top of the podium in the Elite Women’s category. Cieran also had a really good day and his results prove that all that time off from injury didn’t hold him back too much. He came third in the old man category on his Kona Process 167!

 

Leah Maunsell reports from Round One of the Irish Downhill series

The first round of the Irish Downhill MTB Series kicked off last weekend. It was the usual one day of practice on the Saturday and one seeding run, followed by a timed race run on Sunday morning. The weather was very changeable on Sunday with the track running completely different every run down. It was a wet seeding run after practicing mostly in the dry.IMG_5567I had a good smooth seeding run putting me in first place for finals. I rode a good race run with no mistakes to take the win in elite women by 36 seconds.

Jonathan seeded in 4th in elite men on his Process 153DL, just 3 seconds back. In finals he was on a solid run until he had a disaster three feet from the finish line, crashing into a tree!IMG_5564

This weekend it’s back to enduro racing up in Northern Ireland for the us so stay tuned

 

 

 

Leah Maunsell reports from Round 3 of the Enduro World Series in Carrick, Ireland

Taking the win here in the U21 women last year had its pressures, with all of our crazy Irish fans expecting a repeat result again this year. On the other hand, I had so much support this weekend with people cheering me on all the way up every transition and down every stage.2016-Ireland-Race-2920

Not long after sprinting off the line of Stage 1 I had a mechanical. I wasn’t able to fix it mid stage so I had to ride the whole of stage one chainless. I pumped everywhere I could and rode smooth. I had to run the end of the stage because of the uphill. It wasn’t an ideal start being 37 seconds behind but I knew I still had six long stages to fight for some time back.

I had an over the bars at the start of Stage 2 but I still managed to get back 3 seconds.

Heading up to Stage 5 after lunch I was 23 seconds off the lead. I attacked Stage 5 hard and got back 20 seconds leaving me with a time fast enough for top 6 in Elite Women.2016-Ireland-Race-2923

Coming into the field at the finish was nerve–racking sitting in the hot seat and watching the times appear on the board one by one! I was stoked to find out I had taken the win in U21 Women by 11 seconds! ‘

Jonathan punctured on stage 2 like so many others in the sharps rocks, he keep it going sending everything all day for the massive home crowds, but incurring a lot of time penalties after running late for two stages he was out of the running!

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