I’ve been a Kona fan for years and currently run a 153 G2, a Wo fatbike, and a 1999 Pahoehoe as a retro hack. I’ve been dabbling with a bit of XC racing, and general trail riding where a 153 is simply too much bike so the Hei Hei was a natural choice. I wanted the Carbon version with the high shock, and from experience with these bikes in the workshop and knowing people who own them, it would be the perfect bike for ‘downcountry’ riding where you want a super light XC full sus bike, but one that is exciting to ride and less aggressive than a flat-out XC racer.

As stock, the bike is seriously well specced, with just a few cost-effective revisions to get the most out of it. I wanted a nice carbon bar and it made sense to inherit the position from the DL 2022 model, so ended up on the classic Race Face Turbine stem/ Next Carbon bar setup which is super light, great looking, and gives a compliant ride feel.

Working in the shop I often have customers ask about Oval chainrings so I contacted one of our new suppliers, Unite Co from Wales and they supplied their new chainring for Shimano direct-mount in a fetching bling-bling purple anodized finish. A few hundred miles in, and I’m convinced that my power spot is optimized and the oval has effectively smoothed lumpiness from my pedal stroke.

The new Hei Hei for 2022 comes with the DT 370 hubs which have been revised to run Ratchet LN rather than the previous 3 pawl hub, allowing me to cheaply improve my hub engagement to 56 points rather than stock 18 with absolutely no tools needed at all. Aside from the great buzz sound, it makes the bike super responsive which really helps with technical climbs.

Other small tweaks include Peaty’s Mk2 high flow valves which integrate a valve core remover and spoke key so fewer tools to carry on the bike. An XT 12-speed shifter rather than the stock SLX lets me dump-shift on the way up the gears, something I have been accustomed to on my Sram equipped 153. Gusset S2 soft grips are my choice on the 153 as well and fit my hand size and add the ride comfort that I’m used to. Wah Wah composite pedals in the ‘standard’ size = large and work great across all of my bikes with FiveTen shoes, are easily maintainable, and don’t break the bank!

I’ve not been a fan of bottles on bikes for a long time, but Peaty’s Fidlock equipped bottle means I can do some rides with no pack at all, and on longer ones use my Hydrapack or Hip pack as appropriate. It’s liberating riding without a sweaty back! The Fidlock mechanism works really well and as with the oval, it’s great testing a product we wish to stock in store so we can give real-life experience to our customers. The smaller variant will even fit a small Process 134, so is a great problem solver bottle for our smaller riders!

The bike rides super well, delivering exactly what it was meant to – a taught well supported, comfortable ride that is directly where it needs to be, and completely confidence-inspiring – to the point where it makes me want to take it where I take my 153! It’s much faster rolling and has far less pedal bob, making an average rider like me feel almost competitive.

I’ve worked at the Kona Bike Shop UK for about nine months now, and it’s been a blast. It’s a brilliant team, and now Covid times are passing, it’s fantastic being able to assist our reps at some events too. We have a super well-equipped workshop, a busy shop floor, and loads of amazing bikes – the main danger of working here is GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) – but that said, this Hei Hei hopefully rounds off my personal fleet… for now.