Kona hardtails will always have a special place in my heart. You could say I’ve owned a few over the years. 2000 Shred, 2005 Kula, 2014 Taro, and a 2018 Honzo AL but I’ve always had this fixation of owning a Unit. The search was on. A post was uploaded onto Facebook MarketPlace with the Caption being “I’m on the hunt for a Kona Unit, don’t mind what year, what color just needs to be a size large” three weeks and $700 later I had my 2015 Kona Unit sorted.

There’s something aesthetically pleasing about a steel mountain bike frame. The ride characteristics are something that cannot be described unless you’ve ridden one yourself. It’s just comfy and enjoyable and I just can’t wipe a smile off my face when I’m riding. My Unit started off its life as a single-speed, completely stock aside from tires, a Thomson Stem, and a pair of 780mm bars. I thought to myself “I’ll keep it single-speed, fewer things to go wrong and ideal for riding to work”. Can confirm that it didn’t last long.

The main concept I had for this bike was the “budget smuggler” but as we all know, the desire to upgrade bikes is endless and my hyperactive brain began to think into overdrive. Tour Aotearoa rig? Drop bar Gravel Bike (inspired by my friend Odin Woods) or BikePacking Weapon? I don’t exactly know but for now, I present my Unit 2.0 Build.

Max’s bike is propelled by a Pilo 36T narrow-wide chainring on some random SRAM Cranks, the derailleur is an Advent X 9-speed groupset with an 11-42 cassette. All mounted on an unbranded rear rim on an XT Hub. Both front and rear wheels are shod with Maxxis Crossmark 29 x 2.25 tires.

Jones SG H bars pop up on Unit builds all the time and you’ll find a set right here on Max’s build. ESI Extra Long Grips are the perfect fit for the Jones bar and put the XT brake levers in the perfect position.

A Thomson Elite Stem holds the bars firmly in place and clamps to a Kona p2 fork. 

Max’s build is rounded off with a Brooks Cambium C17 saddle

For now, my Unit will continue to live its “budget smuggler” lifestyle but one thing is for sure, it’s not in its final build. It’s a “project”. Good things take time, but for now, the times I’ve had in my Unit have always been good and it’s only going to get better. I have plans.