While many other companies have produced multiple downhill bike designs over the years, Kona's Operator has seen more of an evolutionary approach than revolutionary. Kona would likely admit that this ethos hasn't made their Operator platform the most popular downhill bike in recent times, but we have to applaud them for sticking to their guns and refining the design rather than starting from scratch every other year. 2014 will see the Operator take its next step forward, though, with Kona employing a carbon fiber front triangle that they are claiming sheds quite a bit of weight while also measuring up even stronger than the aluminum version in the test lab. If that line sounds familiar, it is because the "lighter but stronger" proclamation is one that we've all heard before, but Kona is promising that the new bike will include a surprising factor that will set it apart from its super-bike competition. What could it be? You'll have to wait until early April for the Pinkbike exclusive launch to find out.
Judging by the very finished look of Graham Agassiz's team bike pictured above (which Kona says weighs dead-on 34lb with a Vivid Air RC2 shock), Kona is well on their way to a final production version and we don't expect to see much in the way of any major changes compared to the model that will be released to the public. Besides the front triangle's move to carbon, there are some big differences between the bike pictured here and the 2013 aluminum version, with changes that alter the bike's suspension kinematics, and some important technical updates to the bike's pivots. Those developments were tested in secrecy on an aluminum version throughout the summer in the Whistler Bike Park, with work going ahead on the final carbon version in December.
2014 Carbon Operator
• Intended use: downhill race/freeride
• Rear wheel travel: 200mm/7.8''
• Carbon fiber front triangle
• Aluminum rear stays
• Aluminum rocker link w/ carbon bridge
• Head angle: 64°
• Press Fit 104mm bottom bracket
• ISCG-05 chain guide tabs
• 12 x 157mm rear axle spacing
• Integrated fork bump stops
• Internal or external cable routing options
• Availability: TBA
• MSRP: TBA