Kona Hei Hei DL 29 - Review

Sep 26, 2016
by Vernon Felton  

The Hei Hei has been kicking around Kona’s line-up for just shy of an eternity now. In 2016, however, the company give it a major overhaul—ditching the previous rear suspension design and borrowing a bit from their Process models’ low-slung and capable geometry. In April, Kona leaked this all-carbon, early-release 2017 version. We featured a First Look at the time. In the months since, we’ve been rallying around on the thing. It’s time for the review.

Kona Hei Hei DL 29 Details

• Intended use: XC/Trail
• Wheel size: 29
• Head angle: 68°
• Carbon front and rear triangles
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight (as shown, size L w/o pedals): 27.6 pounds (12.51 kg)
• MSRP: $4.699 USD (€4,999)
www.konaworld.com.com / @konaworld

As I noted in that 2017 Kona preview a few weeks back, the Hei Hei line is growing leaps and bounds--from two Hei Hei models in early 2016 to a total of eight models for 2017. Prices run from $2,499 to $7,999. It’s a much more diverse range for 2017 that includes straight-forward XC race bikes, more aggressive 29ers (such as this one), and some 27.5-wheeled, trail-bike Hei Heis boasting an additional 40 millimeters (1.5 inches) of rear suspension travel.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The chain and seatstay pivots are, er, not there. Kona's Fuse Independent Suspension design eschews them entirely.
Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The Hei Hei frame has ports for internally routing both the rear derailleur and dropper post lines. The rear brake line is externally routed.

Frame Details

When Kona set out to re-design the Hei Hei, they wanted to create a race bike that could tackle more technical courses—a more versatile flavor of cross-country. They were also looking to drop some frame weight. Making a bike more capable in rowdy terrain while cleaving weight from the chassis aren’t always goals that party well together. Kona accomplished it this time around, however, by making, in essence, a lighter, simpler and slightly steeper version of the Process 111. To that end, the new Hei Hei features massive standover clearance, a longer front center, lower bottom bracket and a considerably shorter (15 millimeters) rear end than Hei Hei models of yore.

The frame is a sleek, low-slung affair. Though the images here show both the dropper post and rear brake line running externally along the downtube, there is a port near the head tube that allows you to run the entire dropper-post line internally through the frame.There are no ISCG mounts on the Hei Hei, but given the bike's XC lineage, that's not a huge surprise. The bike comes equipped with a fairly pinned 2.2-inch Maxxis Ikon out back, but there's just enough breathing room in the rear end for some 2.3-inch tires, if you're so inclined. If you're in the market for a cross-country frame, it's worth noting that Kona also sells the carbon Hei Hei 29 frame (along with a Fox Float Performance rear shock) for $2,599.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
If you love front derailleurs, you get no love here. The price you pay for those shorter (16.9-inch) chainstays. If you need to get a lower granny, it's easy to swap rings on the Race Face crank.
Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Note the flattened seatstay sections. While the lack of seat or chainstay pivots may seem freaky, the concept goes back, at the very least, to the late 1990s Ibis Bow Ti models.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.

Suspension Design

Though the new Hei Hei drinks heavily from the Process Kool-Aid, it is certainly not the same bike. The Hei Hei is configured around Kona's new Fuse Independent Suspension system, which has no pivots at the seatstay/chainstay junction. Instead, Fuse relies on a small amount (about 1.5 degrees) of vertical flex in the seat and chainstays. Light, simple, laterally stiff and efficient under pedaling—those were the goals with the new design.

The Fuse design is, in fact, lighter than the 2014-2015 "Beamer" walking-beam design it replaced--240 grams (a half pound) lighter, to be exact. What kind of weight savings did Kona achieve by going to a complete carbon frame? Kona says the carbon Fuse frame is a full 1.5 pounds lighter than the aluminum version that debuted in early 2016. I was skeptical about that claim at first, but sure enough, even with the addition of a dropper post, this bike weighs a solid pound less than the aluminum version I tested in early 2016. Kona claims that going to carbon wasn't merely an exercise in shedding weight, but also a means of stiffening up the chassis. To that end they also moved to Boost 148 for the 2017 models.


When I said that the new Hei Hei is something of a simpler, lighter 2014-2016 Process 111, I wasn't exaggerating. Same head and seat tube angle and, same chainstay length. The Process had 13 more millimeters in the top tube (though only five millimeters more in actual reach since the Hei Hei sports a longer stem). The Process 111's longer top tube gave it a longer wheelbase, but otherwise, from a geometry perspective, the bikes are nearly identical.

What does this mean in practical terms? For a bike that resides in XC and trail bike land, the Hei Hei DL 29 is a rowdy little thing, with geometry that's similar to what you'll find on an Evil Following (set in its
Kona Hei Hei DL Geo
high mode with a 120 fork spearheading it), Pivot Mach 429 Trail or Ibis Ripley LS. The 68 and 74-degree head and seat tube angles (respectively), 1161-millimeter (45.7-inch) wheelbase (size Large), and 430-millimeter (16.9-inch) chainstays would have been at home on an all-mountain bike a few years ago, before everything got enduro-slack.

Release Date July 2016
Price $4699
Travel 120 front, 100 rear
Rear Shock Fox Float Performance
Fork Fox Float 34 Performance Air 120mm
Headset FSA No.57B
Cassette Shimano XT 11-42t 11spd
Crankarms RaceFace Aeffect cinch 1.x
Bottom Bracket Shimano Deore PF92
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT M8000
Chain KMC X11
Front Derailleur None
Shifter Pods Shimano XT M8000
Handlebar Kona XC/BC 35 Riser bar
Stem Kona XC/Road 35
Grips ODI Ruffian MX
Brakes Shimano XT
Wheelset WTB KOM i29 TCS w/Joytech hubs
Tires Maxxis Ardent 2.25 front/Ikon 2.2 rear
Seat WTB Volt
Seatpost KS Lev Integra w/Southpaw Lever 31.6mm
Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.


The Hei Hei DL 29 comes out of the box wearing a Fox Float Performance rear shock and a 120-millimeter travel Float 34 Performance fork. There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles to twiddle with here on these mid-tier Fox products, so I promptly set the sag at 25 percent. Running any less in my neck of the woods is just a recipe for rattling the fillings from your teeth. Running more on a bike with 100-millimeters of travel usually feels like too much of a good thing—you’re already running out of travel faster than you’d like when that’s all the squish you have at your disposal.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Can a slacked-out XC bike still keep up on the climbs. Yes, yes it can. The Hei Hei DL 29 is no slouch when it comes to gaining elevation, though there is a bit of pedal kickback in the mix.


The bike weighs 27.6 pounds and sports a suspension design that’s supposed to lean towards the efficient pedaling side of the spectrum—the Hei Hei DL 29 should climb well. Not a huge surprise, it gains elevation easily. Suspension squat is minimal, even with the Float rear shock run wide open. In fact, traction on loose and rocky singletrack climbs suffers a bit in the firmer “Medium” mode, so I only opted for the extra compression damping when climbing fire roads.

Is the Hei Hei DL 29 an absolute weapon on the climbs? If you are comparing it to the likes of the Process 111, it’s practically a rocket. It’s not simply lighter—it also accelerates like nobody’s business. But let’s get more apples-to-apples here. Compared to some bikes more apiece with the Hei Hei--say the Ibis Ripley LS or Specialized Camber--the Hei Hei DL 29 holds its own in the climbing department, but isn’t top of class. The Hei Hei displays a bit of pedal kickback when you're humping the bike up particularly chunky climbs in low gears. It's the flip side/necessary evil of all the chain growth (and resulting anti-squat) that also makes the bike such an efficient pedaler. I’ve certainly experienced more dramatic tugging on the pedals with other bikes, but the kickback on the Hei Hei DL 29 is noticeable all the same.

Despite the relatively slack geometry, I had no difficulties winding the bike through tight uphill switchbacks. None whatsoever. If you’re coming off of a more traditional cross-country race bike—say, an older Epic or Scalpel—you might find your comfort zone more quickly on the more traditionally spec’d Hei Hei Race 29 model, which bears the same frame, but has a 100-millimeter travel fork up front. That bike might feel more “normal” and if you are that guy who rides around with his suspension always locked out, it might be the better choice. But I’ll be honest here: I think going shorter with the fork travel would be a loss. The longer, burlier Fox 34 fork and the slacker front end geo that comes along for the ride bring something special to this bike.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
There's only 100 millimeters of rear suspension out back--you realize that every once in a while because the Hei Hei DL is the kind of bike that encourages you to ride at your limits.

My first thought when I hit the bottom of that first big downhill aboard the Hei Hei? I’m going to need some fatter tires. Usually bikes that climb this well give up a lot on the downhills. Not this one. This is the kind of bike that has you pushing yourself and the limits of the components—like those skinny XC tires.

I’m not suggesting that the Hei Hei's 100 millimeters of rear suspension somehow feels like 130 millimeters. It feels every bit the short-travel machine that it is—you realize that when you hit a jump or a drop…the kind you might normally not even try on a bike with this little travel.

The Hei Hei DL 29 is a true trail-bike wolf in cross-country sheep clothing. Not terribly surprising, I suppose, when you consider that this Hei Hei is closer (genetically) to the Process line than to its own Hei Hei ancestors. That Fox 34 (and the slacker front geometry that it brings to the table) also deliver in spades. This, frankly, is why I wouldn’t opt for the Race version of the Hei Hei 29 with the skinnier, shorter-travel fork. The Fox 34 is a great match for the frame’s overall geometry.

You do, however, feel the frame reaching its limits—the Hei Hei doesn’t feel as calm in the truly hectic, high-speed stuff as, for comparison’s sake, its Process 111 sibling. You also realize that while the Hei Hei can do outrageous things that’d have dedicated cross-country rigs running away with their tails between their legs, it doesn’t afford you the same wide margin for error that you’ll get with a bike that possesses more rear suspension.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The 120-travel Fox Float 34 Performance Air is more fork than you normally see on an XC bike. It's a good deviation from the norm.
Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The KS LEV Integra dropper post worked flawlessly and its Southpaw lever tidies up the handlebar nicely.

Component Check

• Wheels and Tires: In keeping with the Hei Hei's lineage, the bike's 2.25 and 2.2-inch Maxxis Ardent and Ikon tires are all about reducing rotational weight. That's great and all, but the Hei Hei encourages aggressive, risk taking and you soon outride the limits of those two tires. The 2.4-inch Ardent is a quick-rolling tire and a very different beast than the 2.25--I'd slap that on in a heartbeat. The good news is that Kona equipped the bike with light-yet-wide WTB KOM i29 rims, which will provide plenty of sidewall support for fatter treads.

• Shimano XT/Race Face Aeffect 1x11 drivetrain: Quick, solid shifts....that's what you get here. According to the Kona website, this model comes equipped with a 34-tooth ring. Ours, mercifully, wore a 32. Regardless, if you need to drop down to a 30-tooth (or smaller) ring, Race Face's Cinch system makes chainring swaps as complicated as buttering a slice of bread.

• Fox Float Performance shock/Float 34 Performance for: You don't get Kashima coating on the stanchions nor the 22 clicks of compression-damping adjustability in "Open" mode that you'd find on a Fox Factory Series fork, but the mid-rung Fox Performance Series forkdoes feature the excellent FIT4 damper and enough adjustability to keep most riders happy. Both the fork and rear shock are good kit.

Vernon Felton testing bikes on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Hei Hei DL 29 is a testament to how much more versatile shorter-travel bikes can truly be. Sure, it's a lightweight and efficient pedaling machine, but it's also as competent a descender as some trail bikes boasting more suspension. That said, the Hei Hei doesn't afford you the same safety net for riding blunders that you'd get with a heavier, longer-travel bike. The Hei Hei DL 29 is a crazy-capable switchblade of a bike, but it is still a switchblade, not a bazooka. - Vernon Felton

Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review

MENTIONS: @konaworld / @vernonfelton

About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 44 • Height: 5'11” • Inseam: 32" • Weight: 175lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
In 1988 Vernon started riding mountain bikes—mainly to avoid the people throwing cans of Budweiser at him during his road rides. At some point, roughly when Ronald Reagan was president and Hüsker Dü was still a band, he began loving mountain bikes on their own terms. Vernon Felton spends most of his time riding bikes, thinking about bikes, thinking about riding bikes and then riding some more around Bellingham, Washington. If it has a greasy chain and two wheels on it, he’s cool with it. Except for recumbents. Well, okay, maybe those too. Nah, forget it. No recumbents.


  • 132 2
 +1 for not having a "climbs like an XC bike, descends like a DH bike" in here anywhere !!
  • 12 24
flag mhoshal (Sep 26, 2016 at 4:12) (Below Threshold)
 Good old flex point... I wonder if the chainstays will snap just like alot of giant stances have been.
  • 23 0
 When I saw the "wolf in sheep's clothing" I told myself "here we go again". There's a few "more capable than it seems like" lines but the assessment of the bike seems to be pretty well balanced overall without falling into the clichés too heavily. Good review. I've been liking felton's contributions to the website so far.

To be fair with them though, unless you're reviewing a special unicorn, all the bikes in a specific category are probably very similar aside tiny tweaks here and there so you're bound to run out of things to say over the long run, especially after reviewing 100+ of them. It is also worth noting that manufacturers don't seem to send them many (any?) purebred XC rockets so all the trail bikes they get are biased toward the "pedals good, descend even better" side of things, which makes their reviews look even more homogeneous.
  • 22 12
 We don't exactly live in times where there are major differences between bikes. When I was buying Nomad in 2007, it was outstanding. Todays Nomad drowns in other options. The only thing coming close was Intense 6.6 and SX Trail. The rest was either mediocre or utter crap. Canyon Strive from 2008 and current Spectral are worlds apart. We also live in era where you have a shock like CCDB CS or FLoat X2 with climb lever while in 2007 if you weren't fettling with DHX 5.0 Coil's Pro Pedal you either had sht time on a climb or on descent, while DHX 5.0 Air was utter sht. These days components from various companies are also reliable and very comparable in performance. So it's very hard to whine on current bikes. You'd have to set your point of reference very carefully to make a good comparison. Finally a swap in components can change everything. Take a stock 153, put different tyres on it, carbon rims and some high end shock and fork cartridge on it and you have a whole different bike.
  • 19 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Meh, I beg to differ. Threw a leg over a 2007 stumpjumper a few times last year which had a higher end spec at the time. I immediatly noticed how outdated the geo was but I can't say I found the components varied dramatically over time. XTR shifted flawlessly, juicys did the job, fox suspension worked just fine and at ~26lbs it was a respectable weight for a 9 years old bike... which sold for about 2500$ at the time, maybe 3k if you consider the upgrades.

Are things better now? Of course. Is it by a big margin and are they worth the ~3k-4k premium? I have my doubts on that one.
  • 7 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I had a Marin rift zone 2008 I think for years put a short stem and wide bars on it. Its still one of the best bikes I've ever riden good fun downhill and a pretty good climber. Just a quality trail bike.
  • 9 2
 Just to be the devil's advocate, I'm going to point out there was a "Feels like it has more travel than it actually has" in there.
  • 5 0
 @bridgermurray: I also found the "efficient pedaling machine, but it's also as competent a descender"
  • 10 13
 Bottom line on Santa Cruz V10cc:

Amazing downhiller, rips DH tracks apart, descends like nothing else, but Jesus fricking Christ, rolling on flat is a pain in the butt and climbing it is virtually impossible!!! If you are into lift assisted downhill then this thing will please you time after time again, but if you are into mountain biking, try something with less travel and climbing friendly geometry.
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Pretty much. Nitpicking aside though, I thought Felton did a great job at explaining how the bike differs from other offerings for a designated category in the climbing/descending parts and this is exactly what I'm looking for in a review. Most bikes within a certain travel range will feel relatively similar, its about finding the one who will suit you the most so identifying the small quirks of a bike is probably the most valuable information we can get from this.
  • 3 0
 @PLC07: Things are only really better because the frame tubes are at slightly different angles/ lengths now. No justification in my mind for these crazy prices.
  • 8 0
 @PLC07: I think you may have missed what Waki was trying to say; He wasn't trying to compare today's bikes to yesterday's bike, he was trying to compare today's bike industry to yesterday's bike industry. Viable 6" trail bike options circa 2007: Nomad, SX Trail, Reign, 6.6. That was it. Today I couldn't even list off all of the solid high performing enduro bikes. Same goes for trail bikes. Same for XC bikes. And on top of that, the differences between all of those categories is less than ever. Case in point: Hei Hei "XC bike" vs Process "trail bike".
  • 31 0
 I'm not in the market for a new bike. I only come to see reviews of the review.
  • 3 1
 @bridgermurray: he specifically said it doesn't feel like it has more travel than it has
  • 2 0
 @jrbrandon: haha, my life
  • 17 0
 My dream bike! I'm more of a free ride / downhill guy, but who only has access to XC trails (nearest DH is 5 hours by car, and I don't have a car). I hate how most XC bikes are steep as road bikes and feel like they're going to throw you over the bars when you hit the XC descents at full speed. Where as my enduro bike is actually too heavy and slow for decent XC riding (it takes me too long to get on top of the hill, so I can do less descents in one day). The Hei Hei series are perfect for a rider like me. Hope to buy myself the Hei Hei 29 next year Smile

Also I hope that now that the 2.6" wide tyre is slowly becoming a thing, the 2018 Hei Hei models will be able to fit those. Would be a perfect match since it gives you more grip and less rolling resistance.
  • 11 3
 or...you can pick up a used Spec. Stumpy EVO carbon 2013-15, 140 mm up front and 135 mm in the back. Great geo; climbs like a goat and stable as heck, pointing it downhill. With a solid set of wheels it rides like a dream!
  • 3 1
 29" that is!
  • 17 2
 I hate to break it to you but a 2.6" tyre will give you more grip, more rolling resistance compared to a 2.35" tyre.

Don't let marketing tell you otherwise!! More rubber on the ground = more rolling resistance. Lets also not forget about how much more material you're adding with these wider tyres, and adding more weight to a rotating mass is quite noticeable.
  • 1 0
 Mattin, This bike works with those tires already. I have one built with a 3.0 Rocket Ron on the front and a 2.8 Rocket Ron in the rear on American Classic Smokin' Gun. The rear is very tight but no rubbing so far after 5-6 rides. Also the bike is lighter with this wheel and tire combination than the way it comes out of the box.
  • 2 0
 Try looking into the Yeti 4.5. It's an awesome bike and may cater to your downhill tendencies a little better.
  • 3 2
 @Royy: I'm sorry but you're wrong. The thing is that wider tyres don't have a bigger contact point, but they are differently shaped and that causes them to have less rolling resistance. Which is why both mtb and road cyclists are slowly switching to wider and wider tyres.

If you don't believe me, there have been several experiments and wider tyres ALWAYS ended up being faster (at least on off road).
Here's one for example: www.mtbonline.co.za/downloads/Rolling_Resistance_Eng_illustrated.pdf
Also: www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6TMA2vI8bA

And there have been more test with the same result, just too lazy to look them all up.
  • 1 0
 @Alexdeg: sounds good for sure, but that's too much travel for the local XC trails here
  • 3 2
 @Mattin: Wrong. If wider tires were at the same pressure, they would have the same size contact point as narrower tires, but who buys 2.8 tires to run them at 27psi? All the propaganda for plus sized tires involves being able to run them at lower pressures. I frequently see an optimum pressure listed as about 18psi. If you're running 18psi in plus tire, vs 28 psi in a 2.35, then your contact patch is going to be about 55% bigger.

So, they do have a bigger contact point in practice.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: Sure, but lower air pressure means you'll have less rolling resistance on off-road, just like the article shows. And it's actually logical, because if the tyre easier wraps itself around uneven parts of the road (for example bumps, roots, rocks), the less it will push you and your whole weight upwards. The fact that a root or a bump pushes your whole weight upwards is the thing that slows you down most, because a percentage of the forwards momentum changes into upwards momentum, which is all lost speed when you try to go forwards.

This is also why more flexible tyres have less rolling resistance, the easier it can deform, the lower the rolling resistance is.
  • 1 0
 @yuengling440: Just a small guess, I think you went 27+ right? I'm hoping for 29x2.6 (especially since with many tyre companies the real width will become 2.5", so you'll get an XC tyre with the width of an enduro tyre, which is exactly what I want).
  • 4 2
 It depends on a terrain you are rolling on. Less tyre pressure means the terrain deforms the tyre more and thus creates less vertical displacement of the wheel. So if majority of the surface of your trail is covered with rocks and roots and you are not able to unweigh the bike to go over them, then plus tyre will roll quicker. However if your trails are relatively smooth then Plus indeed does little for you.
  • 2 1
 @Mattin: I agree that lower air pressure equals less rolling resistance on rough surfaces (to a point of course) for the reasons you've stated. I've explained that to others many times. I was just pointing out the error that plus tires have the same size contact patch as normal tires. It's simply not true in practice.
  • 1 0
 @Mattin: Heck, I wouldn't mind the seeing the Butcher 2.6 that Graves was trying out in a 29" version. I just started running the DHF in a 29x2.5, and the increase in rollover-ability was instantly noticeable, almost like going from a 26 to a 29. That same sort of "I seem to be going a lot faster through rock gardens without any increase in effort" factor. Not to the same degree as 26>29 of course, but noticeable. Makes me want to try the Butcher 2.6 in 29.
  • 3 1
 @TucsonDon: Funny you say that about 26 vs 29 because I have never experienced easier rolling of a 29er but on rather smooth surfaces. I mean I haven't felt it, but I haven't measured it with clock either. Please note, I am a huge 29er believer and fan. The difference I have noticed is the grip. On loose climbs I can stomp on pedals like an idiot, while on 26ers AND(!) 27.5 I have to modulate power. In corners 29er seem to be a bit better, but it cannot compete with having let's say a Butcher GRID stacked against Minion Maxx Grip. Minion will win even on 26. Now plus tyres are a completely different story, especially at lower and medium speeds. I can go full Moto GP, leaning the crap out of the bike, or rather myself over it.

For me the "downside" of big wheels, already in regular 29" form is the necessity of keeping them rolling, I can't afford to stall the bike, because then it really taxes my muscles. In case of plus bikes, stalling on steep climb is a hell of a pain. It is something to get used to, but gets tough at the end of a 3h+ ride, where both power and focus are not there anymore. All in all, I find 29ers quicker (as long as we compare similar geo/travel bikes with different wheel sizes), they just cut through the trail like a knife through butter, in a way that they seem to save every bad decision on worst of rocks or roots. The Stumpy 29 Evo from 2012 was the only longer travel 29er I rode properly and it's been just incredible. I waited 4 years to ride a bike that will top that and it's my 275, 160 bike, but mainly due to amazing suspension, be either by kinematics or by CCDB Coil CS. If I got myself a Fox 36RC2 it would be just pure pornography. I hope SAR springs will make a coil kit for my Lyrik.
  • 1 0
 Sounds like many of the new 29er 120-130mm bikes would work for you. Devinci Djang and Norco Optic both come to mind quickly but I like real Canadian bikes.
  • 3 0
 I see many people change the subject to plus tyres btw. That's not what I ment. I tried several bikes with plus tyres but my favorite thing to do on trails is corner so fast that your tyres start losing grip and you start drifting. Really pushing the max of how fast you can go. And I feel with Plus that it's too numb for that and it takes away the feeling of it. But my 2.5" enduro tyres are perfect for it. I see the 2.6" trend as XC tyres in enduro tyre widths. Wider than 2.25" for control and smooth rolling, same width as enduro tyres which is perfect, and narrower than 2.8" which feels a bit numb already.
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: So basically if you have little skill and rely solely on the bike to do all the work, plus size is for you.
  • 3 0
 @DiveH: so is lots of travel. But off course not on Pinkbike. True Downhillers of Pinkbike are higher beings, they use their 8" of travel to increase their excellence, not cover up for lack of skill, God forbid! They never wear lycra, don't ride Enduro and don't get itchy arses either. You are probably one yourself!
  • 2 0
 @Alexdeg: Or a SC Blur XC. Pick a carbon one up for under $1500.
  • 19 2
 Let's count how many times Waki commented on this article! I counted 7 ! Get over yourself bro...
  • 3 0
 He's at 9 as of this count, Mattin also is at 9. Shoot, I can't believe I just counted...
  • 1 0
 @davidsimons: 10. I win.
  • 7 0
 Very happy to see a review of a non-factory level Fox Shock/Fork.

Does anyone have the Performance Level Fox 34? Costs a lot less and looks like a good upgrade for my Fox 32. Do these weigh a ton? Fox website didn't have weight info for the lower cost performance line...
  • 4 0
 Just got a bike with the Performance 36 and did the most technical and fast trails in our local circuit yesterday. Balls, that's a good fork. Don't be afraid! Felt very comparable to my Pike.
  • 2 0
 34 is a really nice fork. I had a 2016 factory model. But I also had a talas 160 model. They surprise you for sure. If you put the air tokens in it defitely makes it a beast. If you set it up right with air pressures and such and really pay attention you can get the fork to be really plush and do really surprising things. My go to fork for trail and rough trail. It can also do a bike park well. But Id say to save that kind of a beating for a 36 or a 40.
  • 2 0
 Im pretty sure that the only difference between the factory and performance series is just the kashima coating and the dampener. I dont think that affects the weight from the two a whole lot. The fork will weigh more than a 32 for sure. But if youre an agressiev trail rider, I recommend a 34. If you arent racing with it, youll have a lot of fun.
  • 13 3
 Looks like one Hei of a bike
  • 15 2
 Hei Hei, I see what you did there!
  • 6 1
 @handynzl: Hei, where'd I put my seatstay pivots?
  • 9 2
 @saltheguinea: lost in the design PROCESS
  • 7 1
 ''Kona claims that going to aluminum wasn't merely an exercise in shedding weight, but also a means of stiffening up the chassis. To that end they also moved to Boost 148 for the 2017 models.''
You mean carbon?
  • 6 2
 No, their aluminum frame is actually 680g lighter. That's why it's cheaper, to keep the price-weight ratio reasonable.
  • 13 0
 Oi. Yes. Apparently I hadn't had my coffee yet. One of those cases when you type the exact opposite word.
  • 2 0
 @vernonfelton: Vernon, you're too young to be getting up this early (unless you're presently on the east coast, in which case, plz disregard); beware the telltale signs of advancing proclivities for getting your weekly "Matlock" fix!

That Syncline you were riding? As always, thanks for your lucid and entertaining reviews!
  • 18 1
 @saltheguinea: Got up at 3 AM this morning to catch a flight to the Yukon...via Bellingham, via Seattle, via Vancouver, via some old dude next to me falling asleep in the prop plane and drooling on my shoulder. That said, going to the Yukon is going to be rad, so I will stop complaining as of right now. BTW, Matlock is/was dope. I watch it while guzzling Metamucil and vodka. Highly recommended. Cheers.
  • 8 0
 Oh, and yeah, that was Syncline. Pretty as all hell up there, isn't it? I'm a fan of Hood River.
  • 4 1
 @vernonfelton: Indeed, the west end of the Gorge is an amazing place! Raised in Coeur d'Alene but living in Colorado now...really miss the area! Have you ever read "The Good Rain" by Timothy Egan? Excellent oral history of the PNW.

"Vodka & Metamucil" - priceless Vernon!

Safe travels, looking forward to reading about your Yukon exploits soon!

  • 1 0
 @vernonfelton: some flurry activity today. The alpine is sometimes clear still. Bring warm socks/gloves/helmet liner. Who/Where you going?
  • 1 0
 @vernonfelton: I love syncline, it's one of the places that get me stoked on fall-winter-spring
  • 2 0
 @the-couch: Just landed and, yeah, I shoulda brought some warmer clothes. So much for the online weather report... I'm too old to be this dumb. Or not.
  • 1 0
 @saltheguinea: Tim Egan, so rad. All of his books.
  • 2 0
 @vernonfelton: Killer spot and killer pics!
  • 1 0
 @mikeynets: Glad you agree Mikey, that book really instills a sense of place, a place I really miss!

Do we need to begin a "Pink Bike Book Club"?
  • 11 4
 I will never understand this carbon trend. High cost, minimal weight savings, more vulnerable in a crash. Where is the advantage?
  • 2 0
 I with you on that. Racer types might benefit, but the average Joe? I really doubt their times or funs would be improved in a blind test.
  • 1 0
 Carbon to some companies eyes is meant to stiffen a frame up and make it more durable. Carbon is surprisingly durable when it comes to hitting things, bending and stressing. I think this little trend is great. Get the bike. Toast the drive train and get new suspension and maybe different wheels. And boom you have the bike you want exactly and youre around the same price point as an equivelent bike with a different build kit of different brands that you may not like as much.
  • 2 2
 @chillrider199: But I did'nt think we wanted stiffer frames. Isn't that why everybody keeps saying " Steel is real".
  • 7 2
 @DJ-24: The "steel is real" club meets regularly on (get off my lawn) MTBR, but is barely represented here. I'm not sure, but the membership dues might also require penance of six months on a single speed, with at least one exploding knee.
  • 1 0
 Carbon can be repaired, check out Calfee
  • 11 5
 That tyre clearance... I know one thing about carbon, it doesn't like to be constantly rubbed by mud and rocks... A replacable thin, metal plate would solve that
  • 4 2
 I dont get it on one part he says there is just enough room for 2.3 tires and then in the componente check says hed put 2.4 tires.

I think is dumb to have a xc/trail bike with 2.4 tires no matter how rowdy it can get. you are losing so much in the climbs that might a well get on one of the E word bikes.
  • 3 6
 @fercho25: it is a bit weird to have 2.4 tyres on a short travel bike but this is how all that trend looks like: sells 160 bike saying it's too big for what he does, buys 100-120 frame saying he wants more feedback and pedaling efficiency. Then first thing he does, he puts a Pike and 2.5" Minions into it. I've been there and I was saying I never had it better. Then I rode Kona 153 and 167 and said, fk that sht! I want a big bike back...

I'd love to try a 100mm bike with a really long and slack geo like UNNO or Pole. But I'd have a 120 fork in it, and then Maxxis Beaver - like tyres in 2.25-2.35". Maybe combo of Bonty XR3 and XR4.
  • 5 1
 I rode the 2016 model for a while and the tire clearance was similar. It's really not enough. Any mud at all will pack it right up, to the point I had to stop and clear it out every few Km's. Also there was no way you could fit a bigger tire in there, consider that 2.2 ikon a permanent part of the bike.
  • 3 4
 @Dano-01: the biggest problem is that carbon doesn't take it well. I saw it on few XC frames at my buddies shop. Scraping tire will eat carbon away much sooner than it would with alu.
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Why would you bother with such a bike? You'll ride it like your 160mm bike (since the geometry is the same), bottom it out continuously, break shit, and wonder you just don't ride a 160mm bike.
  • 1 0
 @Dano-01: I ran a 2.25 ardent on the rear with approx 1/2 inch of clearance on each size. Road through chilcotin muck with zero build up or rub issues.
  • 1 0
 @scottiemac: hmm, they must have improved it a little then, I was on a 2016 with the alloy frame and it was seriously tight back there. It still had a front derailleur last year and the tire would actually hit the mech and buzz loudly when near the bottom of the travel, I talked to the shop about it but they said that's how it is.
  • 5 2
 Here is something I can't get regarding Hei Hei trail. It's basically the same geo and travel like Process 134, however Kona's user manual puts it in the category of "XC/Trail bikes", which are not intended to get any air time. Now, can anyone explain me, how one should ride a bike with 140 mm suspension without hitting even half meter drops?
  • 5 0
 Always take the chicken run, bud.
  • 4 1
 Travel: 120 front, 100 rear... Where did you get 140? This travel is totally in XC category...
  • 8 1
 Who says you can't get air on a trail bike?
  • 8 0
 The reason they label it XC / Trail is that you don't buy it as your bike park machine. The world has changed and drops and gap jumps are normal nowadays at XC races. This bike will easily take anything your XC / Trail routes will throw at it, including the drops and jumps (since they're never the same size as on a free ride track). Just don't use it to do 2m high drops off north shores etc.
  • 6 0
 @Mattin: In general I agree with you... But also, I think that the real use of the bike depends a lot on rider's weight and skills. One of my friends is twice of my weight and I think, if he jumps on my bike the same way I do, he would "kill it"... So common sense is the most important in choosing bike for each type of riding and rider. IMHO
  • 5 0
 There's no reason you can't get air on an xc/trail bike. I've got the aluminum hei hei and I've done some pretty stupid stuff without too much fuss. 3ft drops to flat of my porch and some pretty large doubles are a few examples.
  • 4 0
 @ivankvkharkiv: It's indeed common sense for sure. But don't forget that companies have to deal with legal stuff too. So sure, maybe if you're a light and super clean rider who always lands super smooth, you'll get away with it, but if you publicly say so... People are retarded and will huck the hell out of it on gnarly freeride trails, thinking they're smooth but actually they are the exact opposite. Then they break something and go mental on the internet screaming how bad your company is and how easily it breaks. So as a bicycle manufacturer, you're better off by keeping it safe and saying people are not supposed to jump with it.
  • 2 1
 @src248: Kona's user manual, that comes with the bike.
  • 3 0
 Is the shock "metric" ? It seems not as it doesn't have a trunnion mount.
Can you please PB tell us in your reviews if the new frames adopt the metric shock size, so we can know if it's better to invest in a metric or non metric shock frame. Thanks
  • 7 1
 Metric. Just like with 650b wheels, already I can see us as consumers being rail roaded into the new products and standard, so why not just jump in head first when you get the chance. Tbh it does make sense, shock sizing has been a bit ridiculous for years, and the trunnion mount is a brilliant idea if you ask me.
  • 9 7
 @Sylvain-F : metric is nothing more but great news for people who just bought a bike with an non metric average shock. This spring you'll be able to upgrade to the best shocks out there for pennies. I am sharpening my voulture teeth for a Cane Creek DB or Float X2 for my wives bike that has 7 year old Float R in it.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Yes but I already have a CCDB air in 216mm on my bike, this shock is worth nothing now and I can't mount it on a metric shock frame :/
  • 11 6
 @Sylvain-F: MTB bikes and parts losing value dramatically over time has always been the case - it is the fourth law of thermodynamics. Second hand market is a treat to buyers and hell to sellers ever since I can remember. I got so disgusted as a seller that I always give low price, just to skip talking to dumb a-holes standing for 90% of buying population. And I will never again service sht before sale. Against all reason, nobody appreciates it.
  • 3 0
 @Sylvain-F Metric is just a set of standard shock sizes for the industry to develop around that also helps improve shock design. Most new frames are using metric shocks. I'd invest in metric.
  • 2 0
 Ok I would like to reassure myself on the fact that these sizes are standard to avoid obsolescence and scarcity of shocks. So it is interesting know what are the most common metric sized used. Like the 216mm length which was used on almost all the enduro frames.
  • 5 0
 Nope, not Metric. This bike was an early release--I've been tooling around on it since April--so it kind of presaged the whole Metric movement.
  • 3 0
 @zephxiii: well, they could've made metric close enough so legacy shock sizing might kind of fit just with shorter stroke: 180x35/50, 200x45/50, 220x55/60

alas, they did not. add it to the list of things to complain about we'll all probably collectively forget about in a year or two
  • 3 0
 Great review Vernon, I got to ride this bike at the Kona Demo tour and if I had not just finished ripping it up on a Honzo CR Trail I would have said this is the cats meow, sign me up I want one. It needs more tire, way more tire, I was pushing it beyond traction in the corners very easily. The set up of the rear shock and suspension isn't as inherently playful as other full suspension bikes and the Honzo. I don't know why, but maybe because I'm an oldster I found it hard to load up and pop it off of trail features. That being said I could easily see myself using the Hei-Hei as a daily driver, if I had not just ridden the Honzo.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, the geo and general capability have you out-riding that tire real quick--at least it's an easy/simple upgrade.
  • 1 0
 @vernonfelton: looks like you might be limited on tire choice. 2.3 high roller 2 fit?
  • 3 0
 The issue is the Honzo CR doesn't fit much more tire. I have one and I tried a 2.35 Racing Ralph on a Derby 29mm ID (brand new and true) and it rubbed. I switched to a 2.25 Nobby Nic to get the required clearance. In fairness, I haven't tried any other brands or models but it's baffling bikes like the Honzo CR and HeiHei DL can't handle more tire in rear.
  • 2 0
 @vernonfelton: Since it seems to be a hot topic in this discussion, are you able to add some clarity as to what tires may, or may not fit between the stays of the Hei Hei?
  • 4 0
 @UtahBrent: I fit some other (2.3) tires out back, but haven't tried the High Roller 2s on there yet. I'd run down to the garage and give it a go, but I'm on the road at present. If you can wait till Friday, I'll have an answer for you when I get back to the States. Cheers.
  • 2 0
 @UtahBrent: This is part of the reason I'm buying a Specialized Fuse... and the Fuse has a much better build kit for $200 less than the Kona. When I'm tires of the + tires I'll ebay some nice hubs and build up a set of 29" wheels for the Fuse.
  • 1 0
 @TheFunkyMonkey: That is baffling, I didn't look at the chain stay clearance on the Honzo, I didn't mind the Maxxis Ardent on the rear but I usually run Specialized 2.3" Ground control on the back which has a fairly wide profile. I would hate to be stuck with one brand of tire or something too narrow. The honzo is designed to be slammed around pretty hard so you would think it should handle a decent sized knobby tire.
  • 2 0
 @Highlander406: chainstay length > tire clearance, even in the muddiest state of the union, apparently.
  • 1 0
 @vernonfelton: Thanks for the info, any chance you put some 2.35 Schwalbes in there? Curious about he HRIIs as well. This bike's at the top of a short list for my next bike, very curious.
  • 4 1
 Does anybody know if the rear suspension stiffens up under breaking with a suspension design like this? This is basically a single pivot design where the carbon offers some flex, if I’m not mistaking?
  • 4 0
 All rear suspension stiffens somewhat under braking. How much it stiffens depends on the angle between the rear tyre contact patch and the pivot point - the steeper the line, the more it stiffens (squats). This will behave like a single pivot.
  • 4 3
 "This is basically a single pivot design where the carbon offers some flex, if I’m not mistaking?"

You're right. Kona uses a single pivot on all their frames, which I find very strange...
  • 1 4
 Even if you wouldn't count the flexing pivot, you can still count 2 other pivots. So how could it possibly become a single pivot? It's basically a 4-bar linkage design, where one bearing is replaced with extra flex in the stays.
  • 1 0
 It's 100cm of travel without sag so it got to be somewhat stiff or you would bottom out all the time.
  • 3 0
 @Mattin: Single pivot is single pivot because the pivot locations are fixed and do change throughout the bikes travel. Compare that with a four bar and you can graph out that the acutal pivot location changes throughout the travel.
  • 2 0
 @Mattin: wheel rotates around 1 static point: single pivot.
  • 4 0
 I bet I'm the only one who believes a Hei Hei should be a titanium hard tail like it was intended. Love being stuck in the past.
  • 2 1
 Nice write up Vernon. Wish there was more direct comparison with this and similar bikes ment two serve the occasional semi competitive xc racer who still wants a bike they can take out for a fun trail ride. Mach 429sl, new tallboy 3, Ripley ect.
  • 5 2
 so heavy...
  • 4 0
 I was thinking the same thing; my friends enduro 29er is 27.5 pounds, and my aluminum one with a burly setup is 29 pounds
  • 8 7
 Did the pour molten lead into the bike before weighing it?

27lbs (without pedals!) for a carbon XC bike is embarrassing.
  • 6 0
 Pivot 429 is 27.9 without pedals. I'd be interested to know what trail oriented XC 29ers with 34mm forks you are aware of that weigh so much less than this as to make this "embarassing"?
  • 6 0
 @codypup: I'm running a Salsa Horsethief w/ Pike that comes in at 24.9 lb w/out pedals. That's w/ 2.35" tires, 180mm rotors, and 150mm dropper.... Of course it cost quite a bit more to build up than this Hei Hei, which looks rad btw. I think if someone is to race this bike in a very competitive class, it is too heavy. It will take a custom build, or one of Kona's more expensive builds.

The only potential issue I see with this bike for it's intended use is rear tire clearance. I'm very curious what will, and what won't fit in there.
  • 2 1
 @codypup: The Yeti ASRc and many other bikes come in much lighter for a similar build and intended purpose.
  • 2 0
 @LeDuke: Yes, but most bikes at this price point, w/ dropper & 34mm fork are about the same weight as this Hei Hei. Even the ASR-C (Enduro/carbon level frame) is about the same price & weight. It looks like it's $4k & 26.2 lb, with a 32mm fork and rigid post. Add in a dropper and 34mm fork, and it's pretty much at the same price and weight.

I'm sure with a significant amount of $ invested, this Hei Hei would be competitively light. I do wonder what the true weight of a Hei Hei carbon bare frame is.
  • 1 1
 @UtahBrent: Agreed that Kona has weight issues in general and not sure why. It would be nice to see the 111 and 153 go on carbon diets.
  • 1 0
 @codypup: I think Kona overbuild a lot of their frames for warranty reasons (they have a limited lifetime warranty on the alloy frames). I would love a 111 in carbon (with a bottle mount inside the frame please!).
  • 3 3
 Am I the only one afraid by a frame with fuse technology. Fuse! Next one is "expendable"?
  • 2 3
 Yes. It works fine. See Yeti ASRc most notably and a few others.
  • 2 1
 @grgsmith: I don't think you understand
  • 1 0
 @grgsmith: "fuse" ? No?
  • 1 0
 TLD Skyline jersey and short, TLD Speed knee guards. Sick bro! Wink
  • 2 1
 Smoking on hei?
  • 2 5
 Looks boring

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