Justin Graves (2010 Div II Collegiate Nat’l Champ and 2010 NorCal Pro DH Series Champ)

Coming out of the box at under 40 pounds I knew there was something special about my new Kona Operator DH. Two seasons on the Kona Stab supreme had brought good race results, increased confidence and a love for the Kona design and suspension. Looking forward to similar qualities in a slimmed down raced out chassis seemed quite promising.

Beyond the weight the bike’s more aggressive downhill geometry was immediately apparent. The Operator sits lower, has an increased wheel base, 47.1 inches for the medium, and slackened 64 degree head angle from the previous Stab. Gone is the Stab’s adjustable shock mount to lower the bb, but the Operator leaves no wanting in the handling department. Kona nailed the geometry and so losing the extra wright of this feature has brought no drawbacks.
Next the bike’s stand over is lower and suspension linkage narrower than my previous bike, enabling greater handling capabilities, tighter cornering, and bigger whips. Sitting on the Operator the bike feels smaller and more maneuverable while simultaneously offering a longer wheel base and far greater stability.
The bike’s many minimalist touches are well balanced with modern downhill expectations. The rear through axle assembly is an elegant example or “less is more design”. The simple single pinch bolt system is lighter and much easier to use than the Stab and is in fact the easiest to use and slimmest I have yet seen on any downhill frame. Combined with beautiful anodized aluminum linkage hardware the rear end is an elegant piece of functional design. A tapered head tube and 83 mm bottom bracket make the bike stout and stiff where needed, keeping the Operator tracking tough and true in the gnarliest of terrain.
Overall I have found the Kona Operator to be a pure bred DH race machine. The rear suspension is bottomless and frame offers ample lateral stiffness. The Operator runs quieter and handles quicker than any DH bike I have yet ridden and is ready to tear up the most challenging of terrain.