Check out the latest installment in Missoula Bicycle Works’ Hahanna Challenge where shop staff take this entry level mountain bike and put it through the rigors of aggressive riding and racing. Read up on past episodes of the challenge HERE

With the Missoula XC only days away I knew it was time for the Hahanna to take on a professional level race course. This would be a great test for both rider and machine. So far the Hahanna has performed well on the bike paths and local trails around Missoula. The XC race course is a different story all together. It is steeper and a bit more technical than anything I have ridden it on.

The Wednesday night Kettlehouse Beer league races would be the proving grounds. I lined up behind the rest of the 3 lap “A” group hoping that I could keep some riders in sight for the duration of the race. From the gun I knew that the race was going to be more difficult than on my lightweight race bike. I didn’t initially feel the weight penalty but I wasn’t able to move up the hills as fast as I normally do. Much to my surprise the Hahanna, with its additional weight actually climbed rather decently. In fact I was impressed with the bottom bracket height. There are several sharp turns and roots on the climb that I will occasionally pop with my pedal or shoe when i am on my race bike. I was able to ride the climb very clean on the Hahanna. KONA’s magic geometry never ceases to amaze me.

The descents were a bit of an adventure. The tires are on the skinny side and the brakes, while powerful do not provide any modulation. They are either on or off with barely any in-between. The descent on the Missoula XC course can be quite steep with some hard cornering involved. The tires, with all their skinny-ness did manage to grab very well. It is just their width that takes away from the confidence factor. I tempered my speed a bit but made it down quite fast and safe – only one crash and that was actually my fault and not the bike’s fault. It was rather satisfying catching and passing folks on the way down; especially when more than one was riding a sweet carbon rig with some especially nice componentry and suspension.

Chad Harder, one of Missoula’s finest photographers used his skills to capture me moving at blinding speed. As a testament to his skills he even got me in focus. Ah, well maybe I wasn’t going that fast.

The bottom line is that the Hahanna took on the Missoula XC course and succeeded. It performs better than one might expect for a bike that retails for $425. Sure the bike is rather heavy, and for a race course the brakes are not ideal but I did get in my laps (relatively) unscathed.