PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Kona Process 153 CR/DL 29
"I was in the air and manualing on the Kona more than on any other bike."
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Trevor Lyden
Kona deserves credit for embracing the new-school, long and slack geometry years before most other brands made the jump, but things have moved on since then and so has the Process lineup. Five years removed from that first Process launch and we have the latest version of their enduro bike in for the Pinkbike Field Test
, this time in carbon fiber (alloy chainstays) and with 29" wheels.
The rather bland-colored but swoopy-looking Process 153 CR/DL 29 sports 153mm out back, 160mm up front, and a $5,999 USD price tag that gets you a RockShox Super Deluxe RCT shock, Lyrik RC2 fork, and a set of Descendant Carbon cranks.
Process 153 CR/DL 29 Details
Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Head angle: 66-degrees
Chainstay length: 425mm
Sizes: med (tested), lrg, xlrg
Weight: 31.7 lb (w/o pedals)
Price: $5,999 USD
More info: konaworld.com
You don't need to spend that kind of coin to get onto a big-travel, big-wheeled Kona, though, with the aluminum entry point being Process 153 29 that goes for $2,999 USD. Prefer small wheels? The aluminum Process 153 27.5 starts at the same price as the 29er and options go up to $5,999 USD as well.
The Process' suspension is a linkage-driven single pivot layout that’s about as time-proven and gimmick-free as it gets these days, but you know it needs a name regardless. This ‘Beamer’ layout, as Kona calls it, is said to be easily tunable by their designers, and can be made to perform many different ways. Conventional wisdom says that this design isn't as active on the brakes or gas as other systems, but the fact of the matter is that some of the best, most successful bikes in history have used a similar system.
Kona used to have reach numbers that we thought were enormous back in 2013, but a lot can change in five years time, and now other brands are taking things even further. Our medium-sized tester sports a 450mm front-end that’s maybe just a touch compact for my 5'10" height, but the large has a 475mm number that, while working just fine, is a bit too roomy for my preferences. Thing is, the 406mm seat tube length on the medium had the bike looking like a meter of seat post was showing. Climbing
We're guilty of overusing using that tired ''This enduro bike climbs better than expected!'' trope that seems to apply to basically all the latest machines in this category, but while a lot of them are more than good enough to pass the test, the big Process is a cut above most competitors. The bike's rear suspension stays largely unfussed while you spin the cranks around, and it also feels like it sits nice and high in its travel.
Further helping the Kona's cause are its 29'' wheels and not too relaxed head angle, all of which makes the Process a pretty darn good climber relative to its direct competitors, and I'd go so far as to say that the 153 would be my pick of the litter if I had loads of human-powered ascending in my future.
A lot of enduro types are okay with just getting to the top of the mountain, and that's just fine. But if you're the kind of person who revels in a cleaned climb while also taking all the wild lines on the way back down, the Process is worth adding to the short list.Descending
The Process spent most of its time in the Whistler being pointed down all sorts of rocky, rooty, and often muddy chutes that are scattered throughout the valley, and the way it deals with that type of terrain is a little different than some other bikes of similar travel. First off, it could be the most solid feeling platform that I've had under me. That in itself might make you think that the Kona is a bit like that giant boulder that chases Indiana Jones through the jungle, but it's anything but a straight-line monster truck of a bike. Instead, it's quite easy to get airborne on the Process, and while its 153mm of travel isn't the deepest feeling out there - even at 35-percent sag - the flipside is that it makes for a bike that's always down for some bonus air or a sneaky manaul on either wheel.
The Kona brand has always had an air of fun-loving whatever-ness, and I think this bike exemplifies precisely that. The Process doesn’t feel like an out-and-out enduro race bike to me, and I mean that as a compliment. While a lot of these types of bikes are morphing into gooey, deep-feeling sleds that do nothing but mute the ground below you, the big Kona gives you all the travel you need without taking away the fun aspects of a bike that provides you with some feedback. It's not the most supple or active system out there, though.
Relatively speaking, it can also feel a bit chattery and rough when those same words could be applied to the trail, which is likely the flip side to those great pedaling manners. That means that I might not choose it as my race bike, but I'd certainly choose it as my fun bike.