I have heard it said that “ignorance is bliss.” In my case I’d rather be enlightened than left in the dark. I like to know, I like to be in control, I like to feel stable. In knowledge I find illumination, and in illumination my pride is slowly shelved as God does mighty works within me.
In the case of the many thousands of hours I have spent in the saddle and on the trail shredding every available inch of singletrack with my Trek I developed a great deal of pride. 2 years out of the saddle has awakened me to my ignorance of the sport I love. In an effort to turn the phrase “ignorance is bliss” to “simplicity is bliss” I purchased a new bike, selling the remnants of ridings past in the hopes of forging a new future, one without complexity.
Enter the Kona Unit, a bad to the bone, fully rigid chromoly steel, singlespeed 29er manufactured by a company that pushes the limits and strives to be unique in a world where derailleurs and suspension forks rule. They have created a piece of majesty for a relatively small niche market of riders looking to forge a new future without all the complexity of forks, cogs, and weight-they created it for riders like me.
If there is anything I have learned from riding a rigid singlespeed today it is this: brakes are for sissies. A rigid singlespeed at its core is pure, unforgiving punishment that rewards a vicious riding style. It harbors zero empathy for sloppy skills, and brutally introduces the uninitiated to a riding experience that challenges both the mind and body to achieve harmony with the machine. It’s supposed to be all about the connection between the pilot and the simple machine. But in the case of the Kona Unit it’s more about submission. You can’t beat this bike into submission-I tried and utterly failed. Instead its appetite for unadulterated thrills will devour you. It requires you to give and give and keep giving while it takes, and takes, and takes, offering nothing but the taste of bile rising in your throat as you ride to the very edge of your endurance and skill. The Unit forces you to navigate the razor’s edge between control and recklessness, caution versus irresponsibility, and sanity over madness. This bike will pull every ounce of effort out of you and leave you spent on the side of the path, wanting to quit-yet desiring more. You can’t beat this bike into submission. The only other alternative is to swallow your pride (or is it ignorance?) and bow down before its superiority. Then, and only then, when you have given your will to the bike will you know true bliss. What a demanding challenge this bike spells out. Give your will to me and I will fulfill you. This bike doesn’t ask, it demands.
Previously, I set out to give this bike a name. My first true trail ride gave the bike the opportunity to slap me awake to the reality that this bike already has a name-UNIT, and it’s the only name it needs. Here’s to a simplicity filled future of pain and gritted teeth. UNIT, I accept your challenge-break me. 9 hours ago.