Kona's new Process 134 CR was inspired by the Process 111, the short-travel, big-wheeled ripper that developed a legion of loyal fans. A carbon version of that bike never materialized, but the new carbon Process 134 was designed to deliver a similarly fun ride, with the benefit of 23 additional millimeters of travel.
The Process' model name gives away the rear travel amount, and up front there's a 140mm fork with 51mm of offset. There has been all sorts of debate over offset this year, and most new bikes seem to be launching with reduced offset forks, but Kona's test riders preferred the handling of the 51mm offset fork, so that's what they went with.
Process 134 CR DL Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 134mm / 140mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 66° head angle
• 427mm chainstays
• Alloy 29" and 27.5" models available
• Price: $5,999 USD as shown
There are a total of six new Process 134 models – two with 29” wheels and carbon frames, two with 29” wheels and aluminum frames, and finally, two with 27.5” wheels and aluminum frames. Prices range from $5,999 USD for the CR DL 29 model pictured here, down to $2,399 USD for the base model alloy version. Frame Details & Suspension Design
This is the first full carbon Process frame in Kona's lineup – the front triangle, swingarm and rocker link are all made from the fantastic plastic. The 134's lines are similar to the Process 153, but the overall look is much sleeker, with a thinner top tube and more compact rocker link.
There's clearance for up to 2.5” tires on the 29” models, and 2.6” tires on the 27.5” models. Nobody likes the sound of chainslap, so Kona positioned the chainstay yoke as far down as they could in order to maximize the distance between the chain and the frame. The new rubber chainstay protector also has raised and ribbed portions on it, an increasingly common design feature that works well to silence the slap.
Along with room for bigger tires, the frame design allows for greater seat post insertion depth, which makes it possible to run a longer travel dropper post without running into obstructions. There's also plenty of room for a water bottle, a design feature that's made a welcome comeback over the last few years.
Riders who run their brakes moto-style will be happy to see that their cable routing needs weren't overlooked – there's a port for the rear brake line on both sides of the frame. The internal routing follows tubes molded into the frame, which meet at a Y junction before continuing towards the back of the bike.
The Process 134's suspension curve is slightly more progressive than the Process 153 in order to keep it from going through its travel too quickly. For comparison, there's an 11% leverage rate change in the last two-thirds of the 134's travel, versus an 8% change on Process 153. The bikes come with one volume spacer in the shock, which means there's room for riders to add or subtract spacers in order to tailor the ride feel. It's frustrating to open up a shock in the hopes of adding more volume reducers only to find out that it's already maxed out, so it's nice to see that Kona's designers were thinking ahead.
Along with giving the 134 a more progressive suspension curve, the main pivot location was moved forward in order to keep the amount of anti-squat more consistent throughout the travel. Geometry
Kona was one of the early arrivals to the longer front center party, and the Process 134's reach numbers fall right in line with what's quickly becoming the norm. The 29” wheeled bikes are available in sizes small to XL, with reach numbers ranging from 425mm to 510mm. There's also an XS 27.5” model, which has a reach of 400mm.
Other numbers of note include the 66-degree head angle, 76-degree seat tube angle, and short, 427mm chainstays. The geometry numbers for the 27.5" model are nearly identical, with the exception of the amount of bottom bracket drop and the chainstay length, which is two millimeters shorter than the 29" version. Models
My ride time was spent on the Process 134 CR DL 29, which is equipped with a 140mm RockShox Pike Ultimate, Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, SRAM G2 RSC brakes, X01 12-speed drivetrain, and a 2.5 / 2.3” Maxxis Minion DHF tire combo. • Process 134 CR 29:
Carbon frame, SRAM GX, Fox 34 Performance & DPX2 Performance Elite, Guide R - $4999• Process 134 DL 29 or 27.5:
Alloy frame, SRAM GX / NX, RockShox Pike Select, Deluxe Ultimate, Guide R - $3,699.
Kona launched the Process 134 in Bellingham, Washington, which meant that instead of struggling to ride through a jet lag induced haze I was able to get in two days of riding on trails I know like the back of my hand. Those trails also happen to be where much of the 134's development took place, full of fast and flowy sections with just enough techy, rooty awkwardness thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.
Day one started off with a few miles of climbing up a logging road, which the 134 handily dispatched. It's a calm and efficient climber, especially during seated pedaling. Sure, if you get your weight forward and out of the saddle the shock will cycle through its travel a bit, but during normal, non-goonlike pedaling it's very well mannered. Tighter, more technical singletrack was easily handled as well.
With a few clicks of compression dialed in on the Super Deluxe Ultimate shock I was able to easily find a setting that worked for both climbing and descending, with no need to reach for the blue lockout lever. That piggyback-equipped shock may not be what you'd expect to find on a shorter travel trail bike, but it's a good indication of how Kona expect this machine to be ridden. The same goes for the wide tires and big rotors – it may not have a ton of travel, but the 134 is well equipped to meet the needs of riders whose preferred trails are on the rowdier side of the spectrum.
Short chainstays aren't always the answer, especially on longer travel bikes where high-speed stability is a necessity, but the Process' stubby, 427mm back end seems well suited to its playful nature. Put a few tight corners in front of it and the 134 will snap through them with ease – it's nimble when it needs to be, but without any twitchiness.
This isn't a super slack and squishy enduro monster (and it's not meant to be), but the 134 can hold its own in rougher terrain. I'd probably put one more spacer in the rear shock for a little extra bottom-out resistance, and maybe a higher rise bar to get the front end up a bit, but otherwise the bike felt very well balanced and poised. The 140mm Pike never felt undergunned, and delivered a very good blend of comfort and support. I'll often start daydreaming about putting a longer travel fork on a bike like this in order to increase its downhill capabilities, but at the end of the two days of riding I realized that thought hadn't even crossed my mind, a testament to the bike's ready-for-anything demeanor.
We'll see how it handles on a wider variety of terrain and trail conditions when we get one in for a long term review, but so far the Process 134 is shaping up to be a very promising addition to Kona's lineup. But I'm still not going to give up my dreams of a carbon Process 111...