Steve Penny grew up working at The Bicycle Shop in Sarnia, Ontario, in fact, he says he never really stopped. “I guess I never really stopped working there; to this day, stopping in to say hello usually results in helping customers and servicing bikes. Luckily for me, they’ve been a Kona dealer for well over 20 years, so I’ve seen my fair share of these beautiful bikes.”

“I purchased a complete Unit X in 2018 after my first multi-day bike-packing trip. Large sections of the trip were spent on sandy quad trials and loose washboard gravel rail trials. During the adventure, I realized that wider tires and a better riding position would have made a world of difference. At the beginning of 2019, my goal was to ride only this bike for the entire year, no matter what the terrain or conditions. The goal was inspired in preparation for the BT700, a 700ish Km bike packing trip through some of Southwestern Ontario’s most beautiful and challenging terrain. So, I commuted to work, I spent long days on gravel roads, and I enjoyed plenty of single track rides, all on this bike. Over the course of the year, I tried various different setups. Now, almost two years later, i’ve landed on what I feel is the perfect bike for all of my needs.

The first major change was the wheels. Swapping the 27.5 x 2.8’s for 29 x 2.6 changed the feel of the bike dramatically. The wheels have been through two variations, finally landing on Stans Sentry MK3 rims, Hope Pro4 rear hub, and SP PD-8X Dynamo front hub. The hub powers the kLite Bikepacker Ultra V2 light and USB charging system. 29 x 2.6 Vittoria Mezcal tires roll fast and provide plenty of grip.
The most recent addition is the Cane Creek eeWings cranks and Hellbender 70 BB. These things are a work of art that I just couldn’t resist. The remainder of the drivetrain has been left stock, keeping with the 11 speed SRAM NX shifter, derailleur, and cassette.
The geometry of the stock Kona Unit X was comfortable, but the slightly longer axle to crown measurement on the semi-custom TiCycles tiPAK 29” fork coupled with the external bottom cup of the Hope headset made it perfect! The fork in incredible, the flex reduces vibration to basically nothing and it has every mount option imaginable.
Additional beauty and comfort are provided by the gorgeous, Canadian made, RollingDale Cycles ti seat post. This post, coupled with the Brooks C17 Carved saddle is a match made in heaven.
I tried a number of different bars, but the Salsa Bend 2 bar with 17 degrees of sweep put my hands in the perfect position for both single track rides and long days in the saddle. ODI/Vans Waffle grips finish off this truly rad build.