When Brian at Bonzai Bicycle Werx received this Kona Esatto Ti Frame a couple of months ago, he had no idea what he was going to do with it. The Covid Bike Boom had caused a bicycle shortage and he wanted to get as many frames as he could afford on his shop floor. If nothing else, it would be a fun project to build if he didn’t sell it as a frame. A month or so later…

Enter the newest ‘Built By Bonzai’ creation. I planned to build this bike in the $4-6k Retail range as somewhat of a showpiece and something I would like to ride. I did get it in my size ;). It’s a Titanium frame.  Who doesn’t love Ti? Late nights looking at bike parts, perhaps a beer or four and, you know, one thing led to another… Well, I may have gone a bit overkill. And I’m sure glad I did! This bike is a thing of beauty. It rides better than it looks if you can believe that!

I decided during parts search that I was going to build a $9-10k bike, It’s going to be a showpiece. Not necessarily one to stand around staring at it, which happens… ALL the time… But to show off what ‘Built By Bonzai’ means. ‘Built By Bonzai’ is the culmination of decades of experience in the bicycle industry picking and choosing the right color, the right part to create a truly custom riding experience. Honestly, if I have ever built a bike that I would consider “Bike Porn” well, this one surely would be it.

First I started with the Kona Esatto Ti frame in a 56CM built by Lynksey in the USA to Kona’s specs. I knew I would be using ONYX Racing Hubs and NOX Composite Rims, but what color scheme? I recently have fallen in love with Purple on my personal Honzo ST build. Why not Purple? But not too Purple. Just enough Purple. I wanted to build this bike into a Silent Sleeper. One that looks great yet subtle from a distance, enough to pull you in to admire the real details in what had been done.

So we have the rough color scheme – Ti and Purple. I know I want SRAM AXS. Red or Force… Hmm… a couple beers one night solved that debacle. RED AXS it is. FULL RED AXS – except brakes 🙁 (The Esatto frame is made for long reach brakes. SRAM RED is not long reach compatible). We’re talking Cranks, Chain, Cassette, Derailleurs, Shifters, Blips. I wanted the gearing to be one for everyone. So I chose 10-33 Cassette and 48-35 chainrings up front. Give a nice solid range to conquer most anything you want in front of you. I heavily debated making it a 1x road bike. But I figure if I am going to sell it, it should have a double.

For the Bottom Bracket I chose the Kogel DUB Ceramic bearing bottom bracket. Why? Honestly, there literally were no other choices at the time due to Covid. However, Once I got my first set of Kogel bearings in the shop I am very impressed. SUPER smooth and makes a perfect match for this Ti build.

The Stem and Seatpost are from Easton. EC90 seatpost and an EA90 – 90mm –  stem. Handlebar is the Whiskey No.9 12F (12* of Flare) and 44cm wide. I like wide bars no matter what I am on. And no, I did not and will not “Slam That Stem” Come on meow. A Cane Creek 110 Headset to hold the controls to the full carbon Kona fork. Saddle is a Fabric Scoop Flat Carbon Rail and Carbon Base saddle – we had one left over at the shop. Always loved the Fabric saddles, very very comfy.  I installed my tried and true TIME ATAC MTB pedals (I’m a mountain biker first and a roadie… in a previous life).

Then we move onto the bits that bring it all together. Wheels and Bar Tape. First we used 2 Lizard Skin 3.5mm bar tapes (Black and Purple) in a Harlequin design.

Last but certainly not least… Wheels. We pride ourselves in our wheel building skills for our ‘Built By Bonzai’ Wheelsets. We guarantee our wheel builds for the life of the wheels (As long as they are ridden within the parameters they were designed and we use parts purchased from Bonzai Cycle Werx). For the wheels, we chose our “Bonzai’s Favorite” build. This includes an Onyx Racing Products Hub set (Classic Helix up front and Vesper in the back in a beautifully subtle Black Aura color – Looks black from afar but up close its got a bass boat shimmer).  Sure they may be a little heavy, but a silent hub is a priceless experience on any bike. Add into that the instant engagement and American Made in multiple colors and styles. They will also custom engrave their Classic MTB hubs at no extra charge. Then NOX Composites Falcor 36r Carbon rims. Holding it all together is Sapim’s CX-Ray bladed Spokes (24 front, 28 rear – lightweight strength for any size rider – I am 240lbs) and Sapim Polyax Alloy Secure Lock Nipples in Purple. The rubber hitting the road is Continental’s Grand Prix 5000 TL tires set up tubeless with Orange Seal and Peaty’s Purple Valves.

We have had excellent outcomes with our wheels using these three brands. Onyx for their plethora of colors and options, silent instantly engaging hubs. NOX’s solid rims that don’t break the bank, have a lifetime warranty and always lace up perfectly. Sapim’s spokes for super strong and light spokes and their Secure Lock nipples make the wheel truable long term without needing heat to loosen loctite to true a wheel.

Hope’s classic floating rotors keep the blue theme going, and in a shock twist, Garry has gone for the complete Reynolds TR 307 (30mm internal) carbon wheelset with their upgraded TR6 Freehub (for 5º engagement, instead of 10º).
That’s the what and the why, but how does it ride? Imagine your perfect road bike… Imagine how it rides, I guarantee this rides better. Titanium is a unique riding experience. Butter smooth, effortless, smiles for miles. Right from the first turn of the crank you know you are on something special. The instant engagement of the hub propels you forward, the wheels feel like they will roll forever with that one turn of the crank. You roll over some rough roads that make your teeth chatter on your normal bike and think… Is this that same road!? Did they finally repave it? This bike turns every road into glass. So smooth, and quiet. The SRAM Red AXS drivetrain was an excellent choice with a simple interface and the blips hidden under the bar tape makes it easy to shift from my usual positions. The chain, pulleys, cassette are all very quiet. But that’s not the best part. The best part is when you stop pedaling at speed. Silence. No annoying clicks from the hub, no vibrations from the clicks felt in the seat or handlebars. Just you, on a glass road, the sound of the wind and tires on the road.