It’s the time of year when winter begins to blend into spring. We start to look at our skis and bikes at the same time and wonder if there’s a way we can enjoy both things at once. Kona Ambassador Colt Fetters has it all figured out and filmed Hannah Birdsong an avid skier and cyclist doing her daily commute—the Colorado Commute—combining skis and bikes to get around town.
“The chassis feels simultaneously unflappable and yet still gets bounced around in the endearing way that hardtails do. And in the end, that’s what makes the Wozo so good for a rider who’s used to modern trail bikes: it feels normal, and that’s how it should be ridden.”
At the beginning of winter, we sent Bike Mag reviewer Jonathan Weber the latest iteration of our Kona Wozo fat bike. Bike describe the Wozo as the “Progeny of a coked-up tour-bus fling between the Wo and the Honzo” and they aren’t wrong (well maybe about the coke). The Wozo’s fun and modern trail bike geometry set it apart from other fat bikes out there and that is not a point that’s lost in this review.
You can check it out in full here on Bike Magazines website.
Words: Matt Falwell of Gear Up Cycles in Kentucky
My granny’s people lived on the banks of the Tennessee the river and were forced out by the TVA during the reclamation of floodplain areas in order to usher in the advent of affordable hydropower for the common man. When dammed, the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers rose to create an unintentional recreational area that resulted in 170,000 acres of “Land Between the Lakes,” home to a wealth of outdoor activities, such as water sports, cycling, fishing, hunting and the like. I spend most of my time on the bike solo in these woods, on lonely back roads poking around the remnants of often-forgotten communities and homesteads. The plan for this trip came about while on these back roads–the idea of bridging together the two worlds of bikepacking and hunting. Squirrel hunting does not require a massive firearm. In fact, you can legally hunt them with a slingshot if you have the dexterity. It is also a social activity that can have several people out together walking the ridgelines and hollows, sharing conversation and stories that continue post-hunt back at the fire.
I truly love traveling by bike. It is often with the mindset, though, to get to and from a destination with the minimum amount of equipment as fast as possible. This trip would be in the winter months with temperatures hovering in the 30’s. So slower, more comfortable travel was made with the intent of riding to an isolated primitive camp. Said camp hopefully would be full of squirrels to provide a meal and tales of daring bushwhacking and the eventual outsmarting of our prey. I invited my longtime friend, Nathan Brown–artist, and avid outdoorsman, and Rockabilly music legend–along with my eldest son Isaac, also a musician and accomplished adventure paddler, to come out with me and wander the woods. It had been a long time since we last camped together. We packed light, as far as equipment, although, I carried equal the weight in fresh food. With the potential of possibly not shooting any squirrels, my “Be Prepared” attitude kicked in. Loaded, we rolled off into the forest. With a few water crossings and pauses to watch our bushy-tailed prey flit back and forth taunting us, we made our way into a series of remote glades that typically are flush with rabbit, squirrel, and birds. We rode overgrown roads, past remnants of farms, further back into the hollows.
Once we arrived at our destination, we set to the business of making camp, filtering water, gathering firewood, and building our cookfire. It was clear and cold with the temperature just above freezing. We warmed ourselves by the fire and had an appetizer of Brie and crackers with hot tea and bourbon. We are not savages after all. Foil packs of roasted veggies and a squirrel I had shot and marinated beforehand were our supper. That would be the last squirrel we would see for the rest of the trip. The freezing rain that night drove all the wildlife deep into their winter burrows. We awoke the next morning and shook off the ice. Strong cups of coffee were made while bacon warmed in the skillet. The sun began to show its face above the ridge, setting the glade ablaze in golden warm light. We spent the day wandering from hickory tree groves to tall stands of oaks, finding piles of empty eaten nut shells and worn entrances to hollow trees. Our bushy-tailed friends eluded us.
As the day drifted into dusk, we loaded our bikes and rode back to the trailhead, eyes at the ready for signs of movement in the trees, just in case. We had returned empty-handed with no meat for the pan. Yet the time away from the hustle of daily life was reward enough. A day in the open and a night on the ground, the song of the wind in the trees, or the laughter of a friend while feeling the warmth of the fire growing in your toes is what we really brought back. I remember my granny always ready to set a place at the table for family or friend that came to her house, with a gesture of time and a warm plate. I believe it is the shared experience that is the meal that feeds the heart–the meal oftentimes skipped in our daily rush. There will be future days riding in the woods with lone solitude or with the harmony of friends. Till then, I look forward to the abundance of nature and the freedom the bike provides, while I roll my way through my granny’s land between the rivers.
TVA: Tennessee Valley Authority
XL Kona Wozo stock
MD Kona Big Honzo
54cm Kona Sutra LTD frameset, 27.5×2.8 WTB wheels w Arisun tires, Sram Freagle 12 spd Eagle drivetrain with 11 spd microshift thumb lever set on friction, Crust Jungle runner bars, Brooks C17 saddle with Specialized CGR seat post. Shimano hydro disc
Fat-Bike.com Reviews the Kona Wozo “Kona has proven once again that they have some of the most capable and enabling bikes”
“It is capable of handling some of the most aggressive trails with its burly spec and near perfect geometry taken from its skinny brother, Honzo.” – Aristotle Peters
Aristotle Peters from Fat-Bike.com has spent the last few months riding our Kona Wozo around his snow-covered Wisconsin trails. To say he gets the bike would be a bit of an understatement, with a Kona Honzo as his personal bike, Aristotle found the transition to the Wozo seamless and could not help but get playful on it.
“The short chainstays had me wanting to bring the front end up and pop off of everything. Hopping on the Wozo is easier than any fat-bike I have ridden and will give any rider more confidence in their abilities.”
You can read Aristotle’s full review on Fat-Bike.com here.
Bike shop owner, whiskey drinker, trail builder, sponsor, husband, friend, skate park designer, fat bike advocate. You can pick any of these to describe long time Kona friend Garry Davoren.
Garry’s passion for fat tires – and more importantly, for cycling as a whole – is unequaled. Whether it’s supporting up and coming Irish riders, maintaining local trails, or exploring the boggy and rugged hills of Connemara on his prototype Wo, Garry approaches everything in life with the same 110%.
He’s also on a not-so-subtle mission to convert the world to the virtues of the fattest tires available. If you didn’t know you needed a fat bike, a day with Garry will have you genuinely questioning how you might find space in your garage for a Wo or Wozo.
This My Kona video, the first one featuring someone not directly working for Kona, really captures the essence of Garry Davoren. He’s just a kid in a giant fat bike candy store.
“And you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles” – Flann O’Brien, Irish novelist and playwright, The Third Policeman
Kona friend Garry Davoren of MBW Bikes has been keeping busy helping out his local tourism board with his enthusiasm for exploring all terrain on his Wo and Wozo fat bikes. Here’s a short video; check out the full story at the Wild Atlantic Way.
Interested in reading an in-depth review of Bluto fork and fat bike tire setup as well as three riders’ experiences on the Wozo on dirt and snow? NSMB.com has just published their three-rider review of the Wozo, and they’ve done a great job of encapsulating the Wozo experience during an unusually cold North Shore winter.
“With some mostly clear trails, I upped the pressure in the tires a few pumps to resist roll over and hit dirt with much more consistent results. It’s actually crazy how far a mere mortal – such as myself – can lean over the Wozo without actually laying it in the dirt. Even in flat corners. Even at slow speeds. Uphill on steep and tight switchbacks! Wheelbase is not an issue when you tip the bike over at a 45 degree angle.” – Andrew Major
“I loved carving lines in snow banks to the side of trails, going through trees off- piste (on top of snow so I was not damaging forest floors) like I was tree-boarding. It was great fun when snow turned to dirt and I was hound-dogging friends on trails ranging from intermediate flowy to advanced gnarly Shore tech.” – Trevor Hansen
“There isn’t too much for me to add except to say that the Wozo is a surprisingly fun bike on dirt and snow. Anywhere except perhaps pavement actually. I would even recommend it to friends considering adding a hardtail to their collection – independent of snowy climes. The big tires, with their correspondingly large cushion and grip, encourage aggressive riding, and the geometry and fork play along nicely.” – Cam McRae
Photos by Dave Smith.
Microadventure: an adventure close to home; cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.
This story begins at my house, in a small village in the west of Ireland where bank holiday weekend biking plans are being made. My usual plan involves packing a van, a motorway dash, service station food and a late night drive home. Our rule of thumb states that the time spent on the bike should be at least twice as along as the journey. So a two hour drive should equate to a four hour bike ride. A big day out on the bike might involve hitting the road the night before to conform to this rule.
Lately, however, I’m on a newfound quest to make my biking life more adventurous by taking inspiration from the British explorer Alastair Humphreys and his idea of a microadventure. A microadventure, in Humphreys’ world, is an adventure that is short, simple, local, and cheap. By this reckoning, my usual weekend biking routine fails to measure up. It lacks adventure. It isn’t local. And it seldom works out cheap.
So working from this premise I started with three basic principles. Firstly there should be no cars involved. Secondly there needs to be camping involved. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the mountain biking has to be worth the effort.
This quest for adventure had been sparked a couple of years ago by my purchase of my first fat bike, a Kona Wo. Living in the west of Ireland official bike trails are very limited yet the Atlantic coastline – more recently christened The Wild Atlantic Way – is a landscape calling out to be explored. My fat bike opened up trails and areas previously ignored because of the type of bike I normally rode. No matter where you end up the fat bike will allow you to have fun and link sections of interest together.
I had just taken delivery of my new fat bike… a Kona Wozo. This is a fat bike with trail ambitions, an evolution of the Kona Wo that started me on this journey and a bike that just might be a match for my now-neglected full suspension bike on more challenging terrain. This adventure had to involve some good trails to have a blast on and see how a fat bike would ride the more technical and fast trails.
A plan started to unfold.
Deciding that this trip deserved company, I pitched the idea to Garry, my biking buddy and local bike shop owner who had input to the design of the Kona Wozo. I plotted a route, linking various roads and bits of trail I had ridden over the years.
So the day came and myself and Garry headed off out my driveway to embark on this bikepacking microadventure. Bikes were loaded with gear and we were giddy with the thought of the 24 hours ahead.
On the road, we quickly settled into the natural rhythm of pedaling and banter. Ten minutes out from the house and the frantic life at home was quickly slipping away. As we came through Kilchreest, a small one-pub village (that’s how we measure the size of a village in Ireland) we passed the window of a small rural shop. I had passed this little shop numerous times in the van on the way to a local gravel grind and had always wanted to call in.
The shopkeeper and a local farmer were inside chatting. It was a small room with basic wooden shelves stocked with everything from blue rope to beef nuts to porter cake and bread. A definite slice of nostalgia. A bit of chat and the inevitable checking of family lineage until ‘sure I knew your father well’ said the farmer, declaring his sadness when I mentioned my father’s passing two years previous and his sincere apologies that he hadn’t heard sooner.
On a bike the pace of life changes and stopping at a small shop and taking time to talk to local people, though strangers, seems perfectly normal. A simple pleasure that now passes us by in the blur of a car window.
The route sees us cross the Slieve Aughtys, an upland in the south of Galway County. It’s an area off the beaten path and sees few tourists or visitors. The route is a mix of small country roads, gravel trails and singletrack.
We were aiming for the small lakeside village of Mountshannon (this one a three-pub village making it a ‘good size’ of a place). We needed to start covering ground and put a push on. Little gems of trail are unearthed along the way by way of small sections of sweet forest trail or classic gravel descents. It’s a magical time, a landscape of golden yellows, burnt oranges and amber browns. There is nothing subtle about this landscape. It’s a feast for the eyes.
Arriving in Mountshannon I thought it would be rude not to reward ourselves with a quick pint. This is where things quickly deviated from the plan. It was small country pub. No TV, open turf fire and one of the aforementioned little grocery shops attached. Seven locals sitting at the bar. The sight of two fully loaded fat bikes being wheeled into the pub immediately spun the locals around on their bar stools.
Garry was assured the bikes were fine in the pub and would be watched as we had our dinner across the road. Upon our return to the pub Garry was in shock. The bikes were gone. In their place were two old high nelly bikes fully loaded with our gear. The bar erupted in laughter. The locals had switched them and had been awaiting our return.
The next few hours were spent chatting, explaining the weird bikes and laughing with an incredibly welcoming and open group of people. A few more pints, and a whiskey or two and it was time to go get some sleep.
A little fire and a huge starry night sent us off to bed. The pints always help with sleeping and I was almost instantly asleep. However as I have discovered previously I was almost as quickly in need of the toilet.
The morning came. I was feeling sore from the previous day’s ride and fuzzy headed from the socializing but it was a fine dry morning so stoves were lit and coffee was quickly brewed. That was about all that happened quickly but eventually we hit the road.
We spent the morning grinding out the distance on tarmac to get to the trails but these quiet country roads are a pleasure to ride. There is always something over a wall or around a bend to catch the eye and not much by way of traffic to intrude.
We stashed away the bags and dropped our seats. The trails here are steep and fast and just what I was looking for to test the new bike. The Wozo really is a trail bike and the big wheels give the confidence needed to stay off the brakes. You know (or hope) they will eventually grab something and keep you pinned to the ground.
Between trail sections, Garry explained the details of the bike that he helped design with Kona that give it trail credentials. Super short chainstays, long reach, aggressive geometry. Stuff I always read about in magazines but never really pay attention to.
We had a great day riding super trails which are a real credit to the local trail builders. The day finished as we sat on a bench high up on the hill overlooking Lough Derg and the hills we crossed to get here.
We managed to leave from the front door of my house on bikes and have two days of adventure, with the feeling of so much more accomplished than if we’d sat back and done our usual motorway trip. The idea of a microadventure, something small yet achievable by anybody, changes the way you can approach your regular spins. Adventure biking doesn’t have to be far away in some exotic corner of the world. It can be found just outside your front door.
Keep up with Garry and William at Disruptive Adventure.
For their microadventure, Garry and William rode our Wozo fat bike. For all the details on the Wozo and our original fat bike, the Wo, head to konaworld.com.
The Wozo is a hit over at fat-bike.com! From Colorado’s Wasatch Crest to Moab’s Captain Ahab and the Whole Enchilada, Dustin Carlson fell in love with the Wozo’s capabilities as a year-round trail bike:
“The testing period of the Kona WoZo has been an odyssey for me. I keep trying to find a trail or a line that this FAT BIKE can’t take. I haven’t found it yet. It has become a thing that I keep bringing this bike on rides that everyone thinks I’m crazy for doing. I’ve become that guy who keeps fat biking everything, even though there isn’t any snow.
I beg you not to roll your eyes at this next sentence. I think that a person could have just this bike, and ride any reasonable trail in the world. A hard tail fat bike that is a quiver killer?! For $2400?! I have said it, and it is on the internet, so it has to be true.”