Bike Check: Connor Fearon's Kona Operator CR - Val di Sole DH World Championships 2021

Aug 28, 2021
by Matt Beer  


We've all had that sinking feeling overcome us when you're the last person at the baggage carousel, dubiously waiting for that precious cargo to appear from behind closed doors. Well, Connor Fearon's custom painted, freshly built World Champs bike fell victim to the air travel system. Luckily, he had his regular season bike on hand for the first day of practice.

We caught up with the Kona squad and got the details on the Australian's green and gold decked out ride after team mechanic Mathieu Dupelle drove six hours to retrieve the bike. I feel like he might jokingly hold this over Connor's head for a while.

Connor rides his size large Operator in dual 29" mode most of the time, but has swapped for an mixed wheel setup this weekend and chosen the longer 440 mm chainstay length.

There are a couple of outliers on the bike when we get up close. First, he's running organic brake pads on 220 mm rotors. Sintered pads deal with heat better, but Connor prefers the crisp bite at the start of a braking zone that the organic pads offer. Secondly, the headset is offset, but not in reach. It's actually a touch steeper, most likely to preserve the geometry when running the 29/27.5" wheel combo. Connor also runs his bars on the narrower side at 760 mm and opts for a smaller diameter, 31.8 mm alloy bar.

Connor Fearon // Kona Gravity Team
Age: 27
Hometown: Adelaide, Australia
Height: 178 cm / 5'10"
Weight: 72 kg / 158 lbs
Instagram: @connorhoyhoy


Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Details
Frame: Kona Operator (large), 440 mm chainstay setting
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe, 195 mm, 475 lbs spring LSC -5, rebound -4
Fork: Rockshox Boxxer Ultimate, 200 mm, 149 PSI, 1 token, HSC -2, LSC -8, rebound -4
Wheels: Chris King ISO hubs, Enve M9 rims (29" F / 27.5" R)
Tires: 2.5" Maxxis Assegai F / 2.5" Minion DHR II R
Drivetrain: SRAM XO1 DH
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 220 mm rotors F & R
Cockpit: Deity Blacklabel 760 mm wide, 31.8 mm diameter alloy bar and 50 mm stem.
More info: Kona Bicycles

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Wheels don't get more premium than this - Enve rims and Chris King hubs. There is a CushCore in the 27.5" rear wheel.

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Only a handful of riders are rocking flat pedals this weekend. Mega pins do their best to keep his feet in place on this relentlessly rough track.

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
A OneUp Components Bash Guide guards the chainring. The lack of a lower roller and the O-Chain system will make the suspension feel more supple.

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
The front end sits fairly low combined with the shorter 46 mm offset fork and steeper offset headset cups.

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator
220 mm rotors front and rear with organic pads for a crisp bite. JAB Ti bolts everywhere.

Connor Fearon s custom Kona Operator



39 Comments

  • 18 0
 O-Chain's got some crazy penetration in the World Cup scene. Wonder if this it's going to fizzle out or if it's here to stay.
  • 6 2
 Reminds me of those 'anti vibration' stickers tho, when I went single speed I did notice the rear suss feeling 'freed up' so maybe there's something in it
  • 10 0
 Try a neutral gear on your cassette - it replace one of the cogs with a spacer, that the chain just slips over. To some bikes it makes a difference, others not. I tried it last summer and can't say it made any noticeable difference on my Horst link rear end
  • 7 0
 @IllestT: I've heard of that before. I guess it's effectiveness depends of the amount of chain growth. I would probably forget it's there and crash trying to pedal hard out of a turn, ha-ha.
  • 13 0
 I'd be interested in a comparison between a set up with O-chain and the a high engagement hub that most high end wheels have Vs a standard drivetrain with a low engagement hub. Do the hubs with more slack in pick up counter chain tension enough to benefit the suspension? Would that be a more weight/cost/complexity effective set up? @seb-stott any chance of testing the O-chain?
  • 14 0
 @subwaypanda: Even though the degrees of movement in the O-Chain system are equivalent to a certain amount of engagement points (6°=60, 9°=40, 12°=30), I think the problem with a low engagement hub is that you aren't guaranteed to be between the engagement points so you could still experience pedal kickback if your resting crank position happens to be on or near where the pawls or ratchet engage.
On that note (shameless plug) if anyone wants to buy my 18t star ratchet and try it out hit me up in the buy/sell, hah!
  • 4 0
 @GBeard: good point, and great sales pitch!
  • 1 0
 Has there been anything with this level of World Cup rider adoption that didn't stick around? Must be something to it if this many of those guys are riding it. Of course, I assume it's level of effectiveness is entirely dependent on the bike's suspension kinematics.
  • 15 1
 They don’t sell a 2.5 DHR 2 unless it’s something they make for only racers.
  • 29 1
 It is.
  • 5 0
 Those 2.5 DHR2s have been around the EWS and WCDH circuit for a while now
  • 9 0
 @mikekazimer: why can't they make them for everyone?? We would buy them...
  • 1 0
 @MrZ32: it’s just a standard dhr. Maxx grip dh casing.
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: The tread and compound are standard. The width is not.
  • 1 0
 @BrambleLee: casing and compound are also a question mark. I think some of those prototypes had the K2 casing hot patch on them
  • 1 0
 Like Minaar's bike check a while back that had the unreleased 2.4" Assegai. Wish they'd make this for the general public.
  • 1 0
 @BrambleLee: aren’t all dh casing dhr 2.5 where the exo / DD are 2.4?
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I don’t think so? Am I wrong about that? Whenever there’s a bike check with someone running these in a 2.5 there’s always comments about it. I know there’s no 29” 2.5 DHR in any casing. Maybe there is a 2.5 27.5” DHR available to the public, but I’m pretty sure not. Happy to be told I’m wrong.
  • 1 0
 @BrambleLee: I’m not sure ether anymore. Seems strange that they would make a pro only version that’s 1mm wider ether side. Like what’s the point?
  • 10 0
 It's got a really sweet retro vibe to it. Love it!
  • 9 0
 Clean green machine!
  • 9 0
 I love single pivots.
  • 2 0
 It's good to see the National sports colours of the Green and Gold being used by Connor.

In '98, when I raced the Worlds at MSA, I had my Steel main frame painted Green, and the Aluminium swingarm anodized Gold. I refurbed it for a couple of seasons back home, for my use and a team rider, to White and Polished, respectively. The frameset hangs just a metre or two away from me in my workshop now, and I intend to re- do it to the MSA colours, some time. I just need to chase up Bob Barnett for new upper and lower fork tubes that I destroyed in a massive prang - if he can still supply some.

Kona sticking with a (relatively) simple single pivot? - good on them. With all of the endless complexity ( and, it's understandable - a frame is so visible, and manufacturers have to try to have USPs to get sales - it's a pity many are just so much BS) of bikes nowadays, I think there may be more 'difference', in the use of tried and proven designs.
  • 2 2
 That’s like saying an automobile solid (live) axle design is proven and is better then a new designed multi link electronic suspension . . . . . ha ha
  • 4 0
 Remember when we all used to lust after Konae? Stinky used to be the sickest bikes on the hill.
  • 3 0
 Love green and gold combo!
  • 1 0
 Good bunch of colours for an Aussie shredder!
  • 3 0
 You had me at green ...
  • 1 0
 negative rebound and compression???? that'd be a weird feeling fork.

sick bike tho and paint job.
  • 1 0
 Eibach spring? interesting
  • 5 0
 Its a SAR(super alloy racing) product and design. SAR has eibach make them. Eibach makes springs for many companies and applications and known as the best at it. SAR are a pleasure to deal with. Their POM's are super quality too
  • 1 0
 Such a good looking Bike. Love the Grip Collor.
  • 1 0
 I couldn't make out the pedal. Anyone know?
  • 1 0
 HT
  • 2 0
 Looks like a chromoly spindle and has color so a HT AE05. Titanium spindle would be gold and I think the magnesium pedal body only comes in black.
  • 1 3
 Need to talk to my dentist. Seems like It’s a little long in the tooth…

Reduced offset fork, steeper head angle cups… would love to see a geo chart on this beauty…
  • 2 2
 #flat pedras win medals

Favorite bike off world's champion
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