I built my first Kona singlespeed in ’07 after we opened Life Cycle Bike Shop. Jimmy James came through and hooked us up with a couple frames that year, and the rest is history. For anyone who has ridden or rides a Kona 29r hardtail what follows will not be a surprise. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, please read on. To say that these bikes “rip” is an understatement. Our first ride on the new bikes blew us away and we have never looked back. A lot of people still believe that twenty-nine inch bikes don’t handle or corner as well as twenty-six inch bikes. This may be true when comparing some bikes..but Kona nailed their geometry right out of the gate. Quick, stable, and NIMBLE are the words that we continually use when describing how these bikes ride. As a busy bike shop we have access to a lot of different bikes and we get requests and questions about just about every bike out there. Over the years the questions may change a little, but the answer stays the same…If you want a twenty-niner..buy a Kona.
Flash forward to 2011. As an avid singlespeed rider/racer I have ridden a bunch of bikes over the years. I have ridden steel, carbon, scandium and titanium. Last season I strayed a bit from my “roots” and opted to race on a bike with an eccentric bottom bracket. Although the bike was high quality..the ride was less than inspiring. That was one of the reasons I was so excited to get back on a Kona. This year’s Big Unit is amazing right out of the box. A top shelf Reba, Stans wheel set, and Avid brakes round out this super trick scandium matte black stallion. I, like most racers, am very picky about how my bike is set up. But once again Kona nailed the spec. I replaced the Kona energy bar with carbon risers, and of course the saddle…that is it. Another nice touch was the fact that the Stans wheel set came with the rims already taped..ready for valve cores and silicone. We build a TON of custom wheels in the shop and our number one choice is the NoTubes line.
On to the first ride. I immediately felt comfortable on my new singlespeed. That locked into the cockpit feel I got back in ’07 was there and I couldn’t wait to tear up some single track. Usually it takes a while to get used to a new ride..but I had all the confidence in the world dropping into my first descent. I had a fantastic ride and came home tired and happy. The only black mark was the rear quick release. On hard punchy single track climbs it slipped a little in the dropout causing the chain to loosen a bit. I replaced it with a bolt-on style quick release and I have had zero problems. The bottom line is, if you like twenty-nine inch wheels or are thinking about giving it a try, make sure you test ride a Kona. There are lots of big wheeled bikes out there..but there is only one Kona! Cheers…Geoff.