Leah Maunsell

Kona Enduro Riders Take Over the U21 Podium at EWS Round Four

Sven Martin Lucy Schick

Round four of the Enduro World Series saw one massive contingent of Kona riders descend from all corners of the globe. Rhys Verner and Miranda Miller of the Kona Gravity Team were of course in attendance, also flying in from Canada was east coast cross country weapon Rebecca Beaumont and Vancouver Island U21 shredder Lucy Schick. Alexander Kangas made the trip from Sweden and Junya Nagata from Japan, Leah Maunsell fresh off her Irish national title win had driven down and Australian DH rider Jackson Frew also threw his hat in the enduro ring. We even had some staff racing, our Czech distributors marketing manager (and absolute pinner) Jakub Riha rounded out the huge Kona crew in Canazei, Italy for what was to be one HOTLY contested race.

Sven Martin Leah Maunsell,

In the Under 21 women’s category Leah and Lucy would battle it out for the top spot all day, Lucy in her first EWS race in Europe would take stages 1 and 2 while Leah would put in a solid showing on the epic 17 minute Queens stage. After the loam settled Lucy would be standing on top of the U21 Podium with her 27.5 Process proudly on display.

Some extremely tight racing made for an epic day on the bike, and I couldn’t be happier to take my first ever EWS win! It was a hot and challenging race, and I was happy to cross the finish line! Thanks to all the Kona guys for the support this weekend and to everyone back home who got me here. Ready to battle it out again next weekend in France! – Lucy Schick

Sven Martin

You’ve got to take the good with the bad sometimes. I had a slow start to my day but left it all on the Queen Stage to pull back a heck of a time but it wasn’t enough. Ended up in second place by just 1 second. It was a tight battle and I enjoyed the close racing. Absolutely buzzing for the Kona 1-2 with Lucy. I’ll be back to battle next week in Les Orres for sure. Also, a huge thanks to everyone for the help and support over the weekend! – Leah Maunsell

Sven Martin Rhys Verner

Rhys Verner didn’t have the start he wanted to the 2019 EWS season. After struggling with injuries he’s been trying to find the right balance of speed and consistency, so far this season he’s had a top 50 and two top 40’s. Well, he found his pre-injury form on stage 1 on the loamy Italian trails, posting the 13th fastest time on the long 10-minute stage. He’d sneak back close to the pointy end on stage 4 with a 25th place and would finish round 4 of the EWS in 26th place. This solid result sees him move up into 31st in the overall series rankings.

Sven Martin Rhys Verner

Coming into race day I felt like I had a good shot at a solid result on stage 1. The long stages normally suit me, so I really went for it on this one. I’m really happy with how that stage went and I ended up 13th overall at the end of it. I really left it all out there on that stage and was completely spent after. It took me a few stages to feel good again and I came back strong for stage 4. In the end, I finished up in 26th place, my best result of the year so far. It was awesome to see such a strong showing in the U21 women’s field for Kona with a 1-2 as well! – Rhys Verner

Sven Martin Miranda Miller

Miranda Miller’s first full season of enduro is motoring along, the World Champion downhiller is new to the discipline and has been working on different training/practice strategies over these first few rounds. The change from riding one track all weekend in DH to having to memorize up to an hour of trails in Enduro is not a small change. A big crash on stage 4 took its toll and eliminated the gains made by solid stage results. Miranda would finish the day in 11th place.

Sven Martin

For having very little liaison climbing, this race was insanely hard. My strategy for the weekend was to increase my practice pace, without walking the tracks but trying to ride a faster first lap. I was happy with how I reacted based on instinct vs memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into any sort of rhythm for my race and struggled most of the day. A big crash on 4 put me way back and I lacked the umpf to make up significant time on stage 5. Very proud of Rice Burner on his performance this weekend, as well as both Lucy and Leah. – Miranda Miller

Sven Martin Jakub Riha

And then there are the privateers. Our Czech distributor’s marketing manager, Jakub Riha, put down some solid stage times on his Process 153 CR 29 to finish the day in 44th place, not a bad effort at all.

Sven Martin Alexander Kangas

Swede Alexander Kangas, who for the first time in the last few years is not racing every EWS round, posted a respectable 52nd.

Sven Martin

And Junya Nagata, who made the long trip from Japan, struggled with the European heat wave and managed to end the day mechanical free in 117th.

Sven Martin Miranda Miller

There’s no rest for Miranda, Rhys and most of these enduro privateers as they head to France for round 5 of the EWS at Les Orres this weekend. Connor Fearon and Jackson Frew, will be heading to Vallnord, Andorra for the fourth round of the UCI DH World Cup.

It’s going to be an exciting weekend of racing!

Kona Ambassador Leah Maunsell is the Irish National Champ!

Leah Maunsell has repeated her title as Irish National Enduro Champion. We are beyond proud of the talent and hard work she continues to show! Congrats, Leah!

“This weekend was the Irish National Enduro Champs in Ravensdale. There is always so much at stake at this race with only 5 stages to determine who would come out on top. It was certainly not going to be an easy battle for that top step. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The classic Irish wet weather threatened to come all weekend so it was not only a race against the clock but also a race against the forecast. Luckily the rain held off and we got to race in relatively dry conditions. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Although it didn’t rain over the weekend, conditions were still quite slippy due to the wet week we had leading up to the race. The stages were quite fast so any mistakes were going to be costly. With that in mind my aim was to have a smooth race with no major mistakes. I had a fairly consistent day so I was excited to see how I got on but I knew the times were going to be tight and it was going to be all to play for. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

They withheld our results until the podium so the nerves and suspense were building. It was such a relief when they called out my name for P1. I am so proud to run the Irish sleeve for another season and I can’t wait to wear it abroad for the remaining EWS season. 

I would like to thank Kona Bikes greatly for all their continued support and the amazing Process 153 CR/DL 29 which I am absolutely loving this season!” -Leah Maunsell

Leah Maunsell Wins the Latest Round of the Irish National Enduro.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Photo by Yaroslav Alpizar

Kona Ambassador Leah Maunsell is well into her racing season and hitting her stride, taking a win in the most recent round of the Irish National Enduro Series aboard her Process 153 CR DL 29.

“After less than a week at home after the EWS, I decided to race round two of the Irish National Enduro Series. It was a great weekend with unusually sunny weather and dusty trails. I had the best two days at home on a bike in a long time and I’m delighted to take the win in Pro Women to consolidate my series lead. I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the new bike.
I have a few weeks at home now before heading off to the next two rounds of the EWS.” -Leah Maunsell

Kona at EWS Ainsa Spain

Last weekend members of Kona’s enduro team hit the Spanish countryside for a weekend of heated (literally) enduro racing. With temperatures topping out near 9oF/32C, racers were battling the intense sun, extreme heat, and a whole lot of challenging terrain.

Swede Alexander Kangas finished up the two days of racing with a 46th place.

American Ryan Gardner raced in his first EWS of the season and was amazed by the speed of the pack. Gardner finished in 87th place on the weekend and is looking forward to testing his mettle in the final round in Finale, Italy this weekend.

Becky Gardner, also racing in her first EWS of the season pushed through the heat to end up 28th.

 

Under 21 racer Leah Maunsell of Ireland is fresh out of high school and ready to put the pedals down hard. She finished the weekend with a 2nd place in the U21 class.

 

Next up: Finale Ligure- perhaps the most beloved course on the EWS circuit. Riders are looking forward to the tracks and race. Practice starts tomorrow!

 

 

 

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

big_honzo_dl

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.