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Ups and Downs with the Kona Gravity Team and the 2017 World Cup DH Season

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.


Connor Fearon

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.


Josh Button

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!


Tegan Molloy

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.


Anthony Poulson

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.


Keep up with Connor, Josh, Tegan, and Anthony on Instagram.

“Always up for a trail party…” NSMB.com’s Long Term Review of the Kona Operator DL

NSMB.com has just published their long term review of our Operator DL after joining us at our Retallack launch of the new 27.5″ platform last year. After nearly a year with the bike including lots of time at Whistler Mountain Bike Park, reviewer Tim Coleman was impressed by the Operator’s durability and fun factor.

“The Operator felt stiff in every direction, which works well with my riding style. I think all these choices by Kona fit the design philosophy and geometry of the Operator. All the decisions are middle of road, nothing extreme in any one direction. All pointed cohesively towards one goal; a fun and accessible downhill bike that most folks can go out and enjoy.”

Read the full review at NSMB.com.

Check Out the Kona Gravity Team’s Custom World Championships Operators!

Photos by Boris Beyer.

As has become tradition at this time of year, Kona Gravity Team manager Mathieu Dupelle has been working hard on custom graphics for Connor Fearon, Anthony Poulson, and Magnus Manson in anticipation of this weekend’s 2017 UCI Downhill World Championships.

The Operator frames that the Gravity team rides are the same frames that you can buy at your local shop or through Kona Ride Online – and we’re happy to announce that the new Operator models with trunnion-mounted metric shocks, revised leverage curves, and updated spec and graphics are now available for purchase

Head over to Konaworld.com to check out the new Operators, and peruse Connor, Anthony, and Magnus’ bikes below…

Connor Fearon – Team Australia

Anthony Poulson – Team Canada

Magnus Manson – Team Canada

Connor Fearon bags another Top Ten World Cup result at Leogang

Thanks, in part, to a crazy start to the season the 2017 UCI DH World Cup is shaping up to be one of the more exciting events in recent memory, and Connor Fearon is right there in the mix. Just three rounds in he’s sitting comfortably in the top ten and despite the fresh names surrounding him, this is, without a doubt the fasted World Cup Field ever. On Sunday morning Connor rode to his third top ten result of the season, solidifying himself as a real contender this year. 

The course at Leogang had been drastically changed from recent years, changed from the course where Connor finished in second place. The rocks (and some roots) were now gone from the track and riders had to do battle on what some deemed as a pure bike park track, one rider even rode practice on hard tail to prove that point. The lack of technical features on the hill meant that times would be tight and any errors would be costly. Connor rode a consistent race run that was by no means conservative, but it was void of some of the risk and flair we’ve seen earlier this season from the guy many on the circuit believe to be the fastest corner destroyer in the business.

His days efforts would be rewarded with a solid 10th place, which see’s him now sitting eighth overall in the standings with four rounds to go. And if you like stats, this race marks ten World Cup events in a row where Connor has finished in the top 15, eight of those being in the top ten.

“I’m happy with how the weekend went. 10th is good, the track doesn’t suit me as well as it did a few years ago. There’s a lot less turns and fewer tech sections. The track is basically a flow track for 80% of it now. I think I was capable of a better result, I just didn’t risk it enough which you need to do on a easy track like this. But I’m leaving full of confidence and looking forward to Andorra.” Connor Fearon

After a conservative qualifying run that landed hin in the 55th spot Josh Button was ready to show everyone what he was made off and back up that amazing Cairns 5th place podium. Unfortunately for Josh, a heavy crash took away that chance, he stormed on like a trooper and managed to finish his race run, crossing the line in 73rd, more motivated than ever!

Magnus Manson, coming off some solid results Stateside, suffered a rotor bending crash in his qualifying run that meant his bike would not move, after bashing it into shape he managed to get it down the hill but not in enough time to make the top 80. It’s just a matter of time before Magnus pieces together an Elite World Cup event and reminds us of the speed and style we all saw when he was a junior. The guy was winning practice at Leogang thats for sure!

Sophie’s New Bike Day and First Trip to Whistler Bike Park!

At Kona, employees don’t have company cars, but they gave me a staff bike, which is more expensive than my car in France. Not too bad.

Photos and words by Sophie Bossier.

I’ve been an intern at Kona, in B.C., for two weeks now. In last week’s article I told you about the advantages of working in the bike industry. At Kona, in particular, I have the privilege to take any bike I want, when I want, for my weekend rides or as a commuter bike. But the bikes I really love are the downhill bikes.

As the opening weekend at the lift-accessed bike park in Whistler approached, Kona suggested I take a staff bike, which was thrilling for me. I could choose any one, and – of course – I chose an Operator, in my favorite color, which I will be able to bring back to France. After a few weeks’ riding I’ll do a brief review of my feelings and experiences with my Operator. Don’t hesitate to follow my futures articles if you have interest in this bike!


Whistler Mountain Bike Park is like Disneyland for riding enthusiasts. Everything is bigger, higher – more trails, more jumps, more thrills. The trails are considerably more maintained than our French ones, and it feels good to ride on smooth and well-shaped trails.

There are trails for every taste. For big jumps, speed, and big thrill enthusiasts, go ride and whip the A-Line. For girls like me, who are afraid of these crazy riders who do backflips and ride the A-Line without braking at all, Crank-It-Up is for you! Anyways, if you like rock gardens, roots, berms… you’ll find your paradise here.

And I’m not talking about the village, the center of Whistler. It’s so huge. Shops, everywhere. You have both stereotypes: the first one is the girl who loves shopping, and the second is the girl rider who always wants new bike gear. Now, imagine me in Whistler’s streets – for once, my boyfriend is not reluctant to accompany me on my shopping.

After a season in Whistler, I will have tried so many different kinds of trails that I will be able to ride everywhere – or at least, I hope. I have a real desire to improve my skills. And from my weekends in Whistler, my daily rides during the weekdays, and my work at Kona, I live bike, I think bike, I work bike, I dream bike. It’s crazy – and it’s a change compared to my weekly ride when I was in France. One thing is certain: when I return to France, nothing will ever be as it was.

My Work at Kona Bikes

In last week’s article I told you about my colleagues. I work closely with the marketing team. But what’s marketing, you may say? The marketing team here at Kona works on a wide variety of different projects. On the surface level, you would be able to see that they manage the Cog blog, where I am publishing my articles, as well as Kona’s global social media channels. They write and photograph and make videos throughout the year, and also do communication for employees, dealers, and customers. They answer all of your requests too. And many other things I will discover in the next few months.


On a daily basis, I help them on the social media and the blog. With my fran-glish, it’s a little bit complicated, but some of my posts are liked by more than 3,000 followers, it’s not too bad. I have fun playing with Kona’s Instagram: I can test and learn with an account followed by more than 80k followers. I enjoy that lot!

My Most Important Work

Then, the most important part of my work for these first weeks is to translate in its entirety the writing for the 2018 website into French. It’s super cool and one of the perks here is that I can have a look at all the new models for 2018, which makes me dream, sweet!

But don’t get me wrong, translation is not an easy job! Even if I’ve done a lot of translation in my studies at school, it’s always more difficult when it’s the reality, for a real website, and it’s complicated. For example, how do you translate singletrack, or shred, or flat mount into French? If you have an answer, I would be pleased to receive it, haha.

In English, one word can mean a lot of things. In French, we like to describe things precisely. For one word in English, you’ll have sometimes six or seven words in French. As a result, to maintain the same number of words in accord with the room dedicated for it on the website, you have to make some choice, or sometimes change the sentence completely to keep the main idea in a different sentence.

In a nutshell, you will understand the website, so enjoy it – maybe even be a bit indulgent. It will be nice that your 2018 Kona website will be translated into French and German and Spanish. You’ll be able to spend even more time on it to read the description of your favorites bikes, in your language.

Roos Op de Beeck Wins Belgian National Championship on Her Kona Operator

Kona Grassroots rider Roos Op de Beeck has won the Elite Women’s Belgian National Downhill Championships in Bouillon in Belgium’s Ardennes region. Besides winning the national title she took also the overall win in Bouillon in the Lotto DH1 series. Having won the first round of the Lotto DH1 series in Chaudfontaine, Roos is the overall leader in the series. Congrats Roos!

Photos by Luc Delhaye.

Vital MTB Reviews the Kona Operator DL: “Park Friendly, World Cup Approved”

Vital MTB has just published a very thorough and positive review of our Operator DL.

“Whether you spend $3,200 on the baseline model or $7,500 on their highest end build, you still get a durable, well-thought-out machine with good geometry, a solid suspension platform, all in a mega-stout package that should take a beating for many seasons to come.”

“Kona’s updated Operator DL is a solid downhill bike with a build that strikes a nice balance between performance and budget.”

Read the full review at Vital MTB!

Dirt Mountain Bike’s 27.5 Kona Operator Long Term Review: “We totally love it…”

Dirt Mountain Bike has just posted their long term review of Operator. With notes on the history of our race-ready downhill machine, Ieuan Williams gets into just what our lineup of DH shredders is capable of.

“The RockShox Kage rear shock together with the suspension system is a real gem of a pairing – smooth, supple over harsh high frequency terrain but also has a progressive curve to help deal with big hits without blowing through the travel. We totally love it.”

“We rate this bike highly and the ride characteristic offers superb traction together with a silent ride.”

Read the full review at Dirt Mountain Bike!

Magnus Manson Wins NW Cup Round 1 at Port Angeles

If you’ve been following early season DH news, you may have caught wind that young BC ripper Magnus Manson is riding a Kona Operator this season. And just this past weekend at the NW Cup race in Port Angeles, Magnus has taken his first win aboard the Operator.

Magnus Manson (Pro Men).

Eric Ashley was at the race shooting photos, and wrote an in-depth race report which you can check out over on Pinkbike. Watch the recap video below and read all about Magnus’ season plans in his Getting to Know article.

Magnus Manson (Pro Men).

Photos by Eric Ashley.