Kona Operator 2017 - First Ride

Oct 3, 2016
by AJ Barlas  


Kona first showed the world what they had in store for 2017 back in July, and their DH flagship, the Operator, has seen a number of changes to bring it inline with the current direction of bikes in this category. As noted previously, the 2017 Operator has moved to slightly larger 27.5" shoes—a move brought on by the needs of World Cup DH racers, Connor Fearon and Tegan Molloy, but there are a number of other subtleties that Kona says the team requested for the updated bike.

Kona says that the updated Operator was influenced by geometry changes in other areas of their lineup, notably the Process in this instance, and the reach measurements have grown to match. The XL size has a reach of 485mm, giving it one of the longest front centers of any DH bike on the market. They have also foregone a size small in the 27.5” wheeled Operator, noting that they feel it would be difficult to garner the same benefits from a bike of that size with this geometry. Kona also notes that the bike is overbuilt in order to survive the demands of World Cup racing, and claim that Connor used the same two frames all season long (a practice/faffing about bike, and a race bike).

Kona Operator 27.5 Details

• Intended use: Downhill
• Rear wheel travel: 200mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• 63º head angle w/ 200mm fork
• Oversize bearings
• Widely spaced pivots
• 12x157mm rear axle
• MSRP: $3,199 - $7,499 USD (complete) w/ three model options.
www.konaworld.com, @konaworld
Updating the Operator

When updating the Operator, Kona looked to Aussie downhill phenom, Connor Fearon, to see what he needed. Aside from the jump to the larger wheelsize, they said that Connor was looking for a little more progression from the bike's suspension in order to handle the hits and speeds a little better. On the previous 26” wheeled iteration of the bike the leverage curve became more linear towards the end of the stroke. For 2017 Kona says they have continued the progression from the mid-stroke through to the end of the bike's travel.

Kona also mentioned that the new Operator has been adjusted to limit the amount of chain growth, stating that the suspension can perform better with less influence from the drivetrain —the result can lead to improved traction and stability. The obvious negative is the potential for a more sluggish pedaler, but that’s hardly the primary focus of a DH bike. The rear pivot for the chainstay/seatstay had been moved, a change that Kona’s product manager, Ian Schmitt, said improved braking slightly, with the brake mounts now found beyond the pivot.


Images from the Kona Operator 2017 First Ride Article
The chainstay/seatstay pivot has moved up the seatstay a little, allowing the brake to mount below it.


The Operator continues its use of large, oversized bearings, with Kona noting that this improves durability, and when combined with the wide spaced pivots makes for an especially stout rear end. In a move that's becoming increasingly common as companies look to increase small bump sensitivity, Kona have incorporated an axle that rolls on two large bearings that are found in the rocker link rather than using a DU bushing in the shock eyelet.

Other details include the use of a 12x157mm thru-axle to secure the rear wheel, which is unlocked from the drive side, releasing a keyed portion on the non-drive side. The 2017 model continues the use of integrated fork bumpers, utilizes a press fit 107 BB and has a tapered, internal headset.


Images from the Kona Operator 2017 First Ride Article
Wide spaced bearings and cartridge bearings rather than a DU bushing for the shock.
Images from the Kona Operator 2017 First Ride Article
A look at the axle setup for the rocker shock link.



Images from the Kona Operator 2017 First Ride Article
Kona Operator geo 2017



The day I spent with the Operator took place on the trails at Retallack, near Nelson, BC. The morning shuttles consisted of a variety of raw trail with the odd catch-berm thrown in for good measure, a number of jumps and a little bit of pedaling. The trails were moist from a few days of light rain before our arrival, creating 'black gold' - the dirt at Retallack being different to almost anywhere I’ve ridden. Velcro traction would be an understatement, and unless on a section of rock, which at Retallack can be slippery when wet, breaking traction in the woods was not an issue. The afternoon consisted of a mountain top drop and steeper trails with some drier conditions making for more loose riding.

I rode the mid-range Operator DL which retails for $3,999 US. This model comes equipped with primarily SRAM/Rockshox components; a Boxxer RC Coil fork and Kage RC shock, a set of SRAM Guide R brakes and a GX derailleur taking up shifting duties. The cranks are of the Shimano Zee variety and it is fitted with a 10-speed, 11-28 tooth cassette. The cockpit was made up of an assortment of Kona brand bars and stem, and a WTB Volt saddle. The bike is also fitted with some quality Maxxis Minion DHF rubber in the 3C compound wrapped on classic Mavic EX729 rims.

Being a lightweight rider who also happens to be tall (I'm 6'3") can prove challenging at times, and setting up the Operator required a quick swap of the rear spring. The size large comes fitted stock with a 500lb spring, which Kona says is set to cover a rider of about 170lbs. Their medium sized Operator comes with a 450lb spring, which they say should cover riders in the 150lb region. Once we set it to the lighter spring I was able to get adequate sag in the rear. The Boxxer up front was left with the firm spring in place and had time been on our side, I likely would have opted to swap this out. As it turned out, the firm sprung fork was okay, as I do tend to run the front of my bikes firmer than most.

During the first runs on the bike the mostly pre-set damping (external adjustments consist of low-speed compression and rebound on the fork, and rebound on the shock) of the mid range suspension became evident. Through the chatter I tended to find the bike skipping about a little, which was a little unnerving at times given the occasional damp roots, and the bike felt a little over-damped. Berms, compressions and lips were no problem, and the bike liked to propel me forward out of each.


Images from the Kona Operator 2017 First Ride Article


It wasn’t long before squaring up corners and dropping the back end into compressions became the name of the game as I looked for bonus fun on the trails. Breaking loose proved difficult, with a combination of the conditions and the bike's ability to track tending to keep it on rails. The suspension set as it was demanded higher speeds and harder hits—add to this the stout frame, especially through the rear, and you’ve got a bike that begins to show its downhill World Cup influence. The frame is not as forgiving as others, but the result is something that inspires confidence if you’re willing to grab the bull by the horns.

By the time the afternoon and the mountain-top drop rolled around the conditions had dried out some, allowing us to let it hang out more. The bike remained super composed in all situations; steep, loose scree pitches were no issue, and nor were overshooting landings or romping through high speed chatter. To be honest, the only concern was whether or not I would flat on the super sharp shale that is prominent in the area, something that could happen at any moment and to any tire in these conditions.

One day of riding in foreign terrain is by no means equal to a full review, but the time that was spent on the new Operator left me interested in seeing more of what this bike is up for. Initial impressions are that it is a very lively ride, thanks especially to the progressive suspension, but it is very stable when ridden with purpose, and really rewards a take-charge style of riding. The geometry was very comfortable, and my riding position on the bike fely quite neutral, making it easy to get on with from the outset. It seems this would not only be a great option for a racer, but also for the rider looking to have fun in the air and that likes to spend some time on the back wheel.


Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this First Look.




208 Comments

  • + 104
 Kona, why the hell did you spec the supreme operator with that discount rockshox kage RC? I mean come on a 7k+ bike and you go with that....... I'm a big fan of Konas but that's a joke. And no the excuse of trying to keep the price down doesn't work for me.
  • + 20
 This was my exact thought when the lineup came out. The prices for the new operators seem out of sync when you compare them to the rest of the manufacturers.
  • + 5
 Agreed, I'm going to be purchasing one of the supreme frame sets and its a bummer that I'm going to have to swap the shock out right off the bat. A bike of that caliber needs better. What's even weirder is that last years carbon frameset was about the same price and came with a vivid coil.
  • + 24
 He said he tested the mid-range Operator DL for $3,999 USD.

I've never tried the Kage, but wouldn't want to if I can have a Vivid.
  • + 7
 He was riding the $4k version I believe.
  • + 4
 I stand corrected. I just checked the specs on their site. Kage RC?
  • + 6
 for what i know, a kona dealer who got the bikes said the supreme came with a vivid, not a kage
  • + 1
 @Petre: Lets hope thats what happens. Because otherwise Kona definitely f*cked themselves this year
  • + 11
 Kona would of specd the Kage shock cause of the small top end knock that all Vivid rear shocks have . Its very noticeable on some bikes . The kage is still a very capable shock but just less adjustments, it will probably have a pretty ninja tune as well !!
  • + 3
 @chillrider199: by specing their lower end builds with lower end components? Pretty sure all their competitors will be doing the same!
  • + 5
 @Rubberelli: The Kage is also specd on the supreme as well
  • - 3
 Pathetic, saving cash on the most important component after tyres and brakes, on a bike that's all about tackling rough sht...
  • - 1
 @Deadskittles:
I had the same with a Process 153 I bought big price tag and a below average spec.
  • + 1
 @Petre: which dealer?
  • + 9
 Completely disagree. The Kage is a very capable shock and must suit the suspension design on the Kona. What's the point in using a more expensive shock that doesn't improve the ride?
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: Nonsense.
  • + 6
 @thewho07: tuneability
  • + 2
 They may have put on the Kage so that you could switch out shocks at a lower price.
  • + 16
 I emailed them about this issue of specing a Kage and not a Vivid. Their simple answer was that the Vivid wasn't ready for distribution when this frame was ready to come out so they skimped and went for the Kage. Also rumors of the Supreme coming with the Vivid are FALSE, all bikes come with the Kage. This info is straight from Kona themselves. Horrible move on their part. Maybe they should hit up Fox if they have this much trouble with SRAM.
  • + 4
 @thewho07: intercourse.

Dimetera413 - sorry, that's typical for bike industry.

Then maybe they should have bumped the price up by 250 and get a Float or Cane Creek? Vivid isn't exactly a Top shock either, just like any RS product. Would you hear such excuse from Kawasaki or Yamaha? Hell fricking no. Nobody takes anybody seriously here. You made a shtty frame or fork? Warranty will cover that. That's a solution to everything. How to rebound? Make a few new standards and call it innovation, then make people on the internet fight for every single word from the press release. Pour a couple of beers into a Fox Racing Shox employee and ask him if he'd rather work in MTB division or in moto, or automotive.
  • + 9
 I love my Process 153, but you can get a Saint build Pivot Phoenix for the same price as the Supreme Operator . . .
  • + 9
 You can get a commencal or a YT with a vivid for less than half that
  • + 4
 @chappers998: the 153's have a very capable spec. Competitive with other brands and better than most. Please elaborate.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: They are also saving cash on the frame not being carbon. Kona is selling bikes based on good geometry and bearings only and skimping everywhere else. They aren't the bang for buck they used to be. I'm glad I got one of the last scandium frames before they went all 6061 only.
.
  • + 3
 @choppertank3e: I don't think they are even using the best bearings. My 153 bearings were shot halfway through the season. I love the bike though, just wish the bearings would've lasted longer.
  • + 5
 @thewho07: the kage is no good, many peoples literaly snap in half like mine did on my operator. Great bikes, shit shock.
  • + 3
 @chappers998: same issue on my 153dl. Rockshox is great and swapped it out for me with 2017 debon air free of charge. Ed at Kona was a useless for a customer service rep. I sure expected more from Kona than be left hanging. I'm starting to think that MOST of the industry only cares about getting your $. There seams to be little to none service after the high dollar sale. Thank you ROCKSHOX. P*SS THE F*CK OFF ED @ KONA.
  • + 3
 lol literally no reason to buy a Kona then
  • + 3
 @chappers998: How much research did you do? I pored over many different brands before I settled on the Process 153. No other manufacturer offered the quality of build (wheels, dropper, drivetrain, suspension LIFETIME WARRANTY) for the same $3,400ish price point.
  • + 3
 @Fluidworks: Or just buy the frame, cherry pick all the parts, build it your self, get exactly what you want. My custom build was cheaper than off the shelf. Just score some sales and get a better ride for hundreds to thousands less. Every build I've ever done has come out cheaper than stock.
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: I think you are a Jackass, but for once you speak the truth. Our industry is behind the times but think about how many bike manufactures, okay companies that buy frames from a few factories in the east, then resell them as their own. Kawi or Honda actually build shit.
  • + 3
 @RLEnglish: No thinking required Wakidesigns is %110 JACKASS and 1 out of a million posts may be true. You just need to shovel through the tons n tons of bullsh*t to get to his truth.
  • + 2
 Joey wants a X2 Joey wants a X2
  • + 14
 @chyu: it's just about the fact that it is a 7,5k bike. I don't give a damn if it has carbon on it, but shock is bloody important. If bike isn't balanced it just cannot be ridden fast with confidence, it can't. Bike has to carry your weight through obstacles and features and squat in a balanced way. If it doesn't everything gets fkd.

MTB industry is so silly with carbon there, carbon over there, changing hub width making electronic gears hanging off the rear. What kind of twat, pedals his arse off, hangs for life on XC or Endro bike and thinks to himself... I hope my XTR shifted smoother... that never happens, NEVER! Eagle what?! If you crank 36t chainring at 90RPM on a 29er with Eagle, you go at 8km/h. Nino Shurter or Jenny Rissveds haven't ridden their bike so slow since they were 10. They just don't ride that slow EVER. Piece of utter bollocks only a twat of product manager could come up with. At 7,5k a mountain bike should be on the edge of going full retard with last things to put on being ENVE rims and some dumb component from Tune or other Fag-lightness company who makes stuff for anorexic thriathlete fans with carbohydrate allergy driven by pseudo scientific nutrition sht from internet.

And most of these poor people who pay for this sht have no fricking way to evaluate it, they are not even encouraged to evaluate differences between components. What is this bollocks in RS and Fox manual about how to setup suspension? Low speed compression knob changes low speed compression, pedal bob. More for less, less for more. What the F... Sex education by catholic church is more entertaining and informative. Why does a small company like Cane Creek has to make the only suspesnion setup manual that makes sense?!


I am so angry todaaaaaay!
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Man if it´s any good for you, you made my day. I think exactly like you haha so don´t be so angry, ur not alone. Biking industry is f*cking ridiculous, and if someone came along with a suficient amount of money and invested in the market,started doing things properly, probably would become number one brand in no time. I mean just look at yt, and all they did is offer bikes at less prices because of direct sale, and they don´t even have a complete range! But ouh well, by now I just try to look for what makes sense and not fall for marketing stupidity. One day Waki when I have the money, I will come back and invest in the biking industry, with a brand that makes sense, satisfying all of the mtbkers needs .... Specialized, Kona, Santa cruz... beware
  • + 1
 @johannensc: I had the base spec 153 the suspension I could live with as could 90% of the cycling population. the cost of the bike was on par with Spec enduro comp but sadly it came equipped with shitty Shimano Hubs (enduro has decent sealed bearing hubs), very poor spec drivetrain, brakes and headset.
Shame the bike rode well better than the Enduro it just required constant tinkering.
  • + 0
 @properp: I get where you are coming from but not all the industry is focused on $ I've just bought a Canyon Sender (lower spec ie Sender CF7). They quoted me 3 weeks delivery but had it to me in a week after I spoke with the UK service center. On top of that I had a damaged decal on a fork leg on delivery. They offered to collect the bike and swap it for another or if I placed an order for parts cover the cost up to £50. I chose the credit as it seemed crazy to send a bike back for such a small issue so I placed an order It came to £57 they covered the whole cost.
At the time I was in the market for a YT but they too too long to respond to my request. I had looked a Devinci Wilson but spec was very poor and the only other bike I was considering was the Solid Strike as my son rides one and loves it.
  • - 2
 @chappers998: "I get where you are coming from but not all the industry is focused on $ I've just bought a Canyon Sender (lower spec ie Sender CF7)"

Kona or Spec, or Trek are started by people who were good at riding, by riders who rode hard and wanted bikes suiting their MTB-libido at the times were such constructions were thin on the ground. Canyon or Rose are started by people who like bikes and can't do much on them, they wanted to have a business selling bikes, so it is the money that's been driving the thing more than in case of "hated huge companies". In 2008 Canyon bikes were a laugh, frames were crap, they were worse than anything other than frames at Wallmart (ok Mongoose or Haro were sht too) They now roll on hard work of others (hated huge companies), and roll mainly on great geo.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Fk'n good bike, great value for money and top notch customer service, good business model I'd say.
No one hates huge companies so F**k Knows where that came from.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: You are an uneducated,overposting,nutjob doodler who spends more time on these forums than on your bike. The Kage RC is just fine for the bike, the only additional adjustment on the vivid is ending stroke rebound. Internally, every adjustment dial has to either close or open orifices via needle or ports, ormove a shimstacks relative position. Anyone who knows sus knows an ideal preset tune is wayyyyy better for most so they dont go and dial their shock out to fkd up. Take RS mission control dh damper for example.... all them clicks, yet you don't want to get the HSC/LSC settings too far apart cuz at the end of the day it's still an emulsion damper, Functioning just like MoCo IS with a knob to control HSC shim position... rear shocks aren't that different and realistically there's no goddamn need for ending stroke rebound, just a need for a well matched shock. Quit typing and and start riding waki.
  • - 3
 @OldSkoolAK: yes off course OldSkoolAK, Kage and Vivid are fantastic while Cane Creek, Float X2 to not even mention Öhlins, EXT is just bollocks for dentists. Good luck! Perhaps you ride too little to appreciate it. Why don't you just use Monarch R? Preload and rebound are basis for good suspension feel after all.

Yours truthfully bag of troll sht, that makes you feel better about yourself. Unducated... Thank you Professor Krauss, please pee on me, I'll be honored.
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: Just go ride your Ebike and stay off PB
  • + 0
 And by the way @OldSkoolAK I'd agree with you on Kage if that bike costed max 4k. But this is premium 7,5k sht pretending to keep you 1m behind Remy Metailler through Garbanzo.
  • + 2
 @chappers998: when I asked canyon about the spring that was installed on a canyon sender 7.0 size M, they replied me "spring rate? It's a 200mm fork" so for me customer service 0/10
  • + 1
 @zede: Medium spring maybe you should deal with the UK customer service. I've had similar experiences when at a multi discipline dealer asking a roadie about Mountain bikes is pointless.
  • + 1
 @chappers998: yeah that's what I thought, it sucks if they pay roadies to answer to DH bikes related questions.
  • - 3
 @zede: it's been just last few years when good riders started working at bike shops in Sweden and Poland. And to add to that, in my town it's good riders without freaking attitude. Not that kind of sht kid on summer job that will tell you that Highrollers are crap and Minions are much better, and then you tell him you want a tyre for XC bike and he loses interest in talking to you and looks for some other employee to serve you. I don't want to know how it looks like at those call centers...
  • + 0
 @properp: Why would you expect Kona warranty a Rockshox component?
  • + 2
 @somethingwith69or13init: it came on the bike from Kona. You have to go through the manufacturer for warranty. If you buy a Kona you have to go through Kona authorized dealer for warranty on whatever part it is that is specred on the bike. That would be like buying a brand new Honda with a faulty alternator in going after the alternator manufacture. You would still have to take your car back to the dealer to get it warrantied.
  • + 0
 @properp: Two completely different industries that are not really comparable. Again, Kona manufactures frames, not components. The Authorized Kona Dealer (or any shop) could have just as easily called Rockshox and got you all squared away.
  • + 2
 @OldSkoolAK: Right on!
#STFUwacky!
  • + 3
 WWIII going on in this comment thread...
  • + 2
 @chappers998: I haven't ridden any recent shimano hubs, but their older hubs are frikin bomb-proof (thats the point of the bike). And god forbid you have to deal with a "crappy" Pike RC and the somewhat low end Deore brakes. That headset is pretty crappy compared to a cartridge headset, but it works well. Overall the spec is really good for the money and alot better and more reliable than other companies. Canyon and YT dont count because you cant actually ride one until you spend your money on it.
  • + 1
 just give the kage a try. its way better than you would think. i rode both. vivid and kage (tuned) i prefer the kage!
  • + 8
 @properp: I just created a chrome extension to block his comments if you like. goo.gl/WKTigp
  • + 1
 @johannensc: The Pike RC was a good fork did me OK. Hubs were shit needed constant maintenance far from bomb proof. BTW yes I do know how to strip, clean, grease and adjust hubs properly.
  • + 1
 @CommencalDHnz: The marz moto c2r also has a top out knock feeling

I had the cage on my operator and it worked fine until I snapped the eyelet off during normal riding, I should say that rockshox has updated to part since then in 2014
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: not automotive, that I can tell you from experience
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Also, when are you pouring the beers?
  • + 1
 @somethingwith69or13init: it was mail order. You just take your mail order item into your local shop and see what kind of treatment you get there.
  • + 2
 @cueTIP: best thing I've heard on pink bike in a while
  • + 1
 @somethingwith69or13init: also this is the problem with the modern-day world. It should be the salesman's responsibility to cover the hassle of warranty an item. They are the ones that sell it they are the ones that make the profit. But no everyone wants to pawn the buck off on to someone else.
  • + 1
 @chappers998: I've never rode a Canyon yet. I do here good things about them. If I get the chance to beat on one I will not pass it up. I've only ever seen one here. It was at Snowshoe bike park.The rider did not speak English so we didn't chat much.
  • + 1
 @properp: First bike I've ridden I've not had to size up. I'm on a small and it has the same reach as a Med Demo, Really confidence inspiring. It was a toss up between a Solid Strike, YT Tues and Devinci Wilson but i had tio size up to The large to get the right fit for me although the seat tube was really tall and the build kit was below par I really didn't want the Boxxer RC and rims were flimsy.
The YT comp was out of Stock until Nov.
I'd have gone for Solid but the only bikes available were the wrong size and I'd have had to wait until the end of September but Solid was top of my list.
Still I'm over the moon I bought the Sender.
  • + 1
 @DirtyHal: I have gotten three years out of the main bearings on both my Konas but I don't ride as much as I'd like to have and both caused contact when worn resulting in damage. One just a spoke when the tyre hit the seat tube the other a depression in the chainstay when the link hit the seat tube. I still ride it with the damage but I'm looking to replace it @ $340.
  • + 1
 @properp: Kona won't sell frames in Australia and other places. I had to buy mine from BC.
.
  • + 1
 @properp: who makes your alternator?
  • + 41
 Wait, so you just said you are 6'3 in the 150lbs range? Forget riding bikes man you need to eat some food...
  • - 3
 Funny, nobody would say: "You are 5'8 in the 340 lbs range? Forget riding bikes man you need to stop eating food" In other words - why the f*ck do you care?
  • + 9
 @adam102: I would say ride your bike more and stop eating food fatty fat pants.
  • + 6
 @adam102: he cares because that actually sounds unhealthy.

its the internet man, you gotta chill.
  • + 30
 As unofficial leader of the TRANBAGS (Tall Riders Always Needing Big Ass Gravity Sleds) I approve this bike for tall rider use. God bless the 485 mm of reach
  • + 36
 You may want to rethink your acronym
  • + 6
 @jsspreier
Where do I get my membership form?
  • + 16
 @Travel66: the forms are at the post office on the top shelf.
  • + 1
 100% agree with that, finaly bike with reach that does not cost likee Pole Big Grin
I Will probably buy one XL too Big Grin
  • + 2
 Glory 27.5 size L here at 183cm on the dot, can't find reach numbers but i'm sure it's over 470mm or so, works well
  • + 1
 @DJR9000: Glory also comes in XL, with around 480mm reach.
  • + 2
 @MTB-Colada: Indeed, not here in Oz though.
  • + 26
 I own a Kona so i'm cool with saying this, but I feel like 1 year ago.... everyone hated Kona. Now they are loved. What happened and am I wrong? BTW, I love my Kona.
  • + 14
 I think its because Kona does things right. They always have had their numbers dialed and everyone is starting to notice. Now I think a lot of hate was brewed from the sight of Aggy destroying their carbon Operators. (Literally. Along with other people.) But thats the past.
  • + 3
 But Im also not to sure. Just things I hear from other locals.
  • + 23
 It's been a few years ... Kona been killing it for a bit
  • + 21
 Dude they nailed the Process, so a lot of people started loving Kona more than a year ago.
  • + 10
 Essentially they started making better looking, better performing bikes. It's been a little bit more than 1 year but It seems like they just started making better bikes and finally shook the reputation on the old super heavy but indestructible days of the stinky. One bike that really helped with this is the process which was revamped along with most of their bikes in 2014.
  • + 7
 @DARKSTAR63: Kona been woke.
  • + 17
 Connor Fearon happened, now it's cool, it's that simple
  • + 1
 @macropod People got off the band wagon...
  • - 2
 @Macropod I agree with you entirely, but I think its 100% to do with Conar Fearon making the brand look buy-able again.
Nothing else
  • + 1
 @IllestT: I wouldn't say 100 percent, but maybe 80.
  • - 6
flag IllestT (Oct 3, 2016 at 12:49) (Below Threshold)
 @bigburd: well what else made them buy-able again? The only thing that's changed in the last 15 years is the sponsored rider.
I'm not being sarcastic, I love Konas, but the bike is essentially the same. The last time they were selling DH bikes (properly) was 2002 when Fabian was winning on one
  • + 6
 @IllestT: The mostly untrue. They changed the aesthetic of the frames, less cartoonish graphics, more progressive designs. I agree that seeing the bike at WC's again provides a boost, at least to this crowd, but the bikes themselves were decisively changed a few years ago.
  • - 9
flag IllestT (Oct 3, 2016 at 13:06) (Below Threshold)
 @DARKSTAR63: They haven't even changed the colour! Here's a 2001 Kona DH
www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/download/file.php?id=291769 (source: Google)
It's basically the same. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's bad, just that the design isn't why they've suddenly become a viable option now
  • + 10
 @IllestT: It absolutely is. I have to respectfully disagree lol.
  • + 0
 @IllestT: you must be blind if you think those bikes look the same lol rear end is completely different front triangle also completely different rockers are as ugly as shit on the stinky too!!!
  • + 1
 @IllestT: it does have a better fork though!!!
  • + 3
 @IllestT: It's basically the same? Lol. the geo of the frames has drastically changed. are you saying that a 2001 stab or stinky is the same as a process? and you are focusing too much on how it looks, not what it is. People have been buying them long before Fearon started riding for them.
Having people like Graham Agassiz and Antoine Bizet on their team helps too, a freerider and Dj rider
  • + 1
 There was a brief period when they weren't making very good gravity bikes, most notably witnessed many headtubes shearing off - that has been corrected for several years now
  • - 2
 I love my Kona I hate their useless customer service.
  • + 1
 @bigburd: Aggy happened before him and helped on the entourage the forbear of the process style geo. Andreu, Bass, Fabian, Mosely, Bourdo and Cowan before him. Kona had a gap between Andreu and Aggy and a huge gap between Fabian/Mosely and Conner. No Cross country riders outside North America as far as I know and they still don't know how to market Bizet.
  • + 25
 No mention on how it climbs ?
  • + 31
 "climbs like a goat"
  • + 24
 " Descends like a goat too "
  • + 5
 i actually used to climb a dh bike all the time (older demo Cool and while it is a pain to lug that much weight with you, the amount of traction on some gnarly climbs is kinda awesome.
  • + 4
 @adrennan: i used to ride triple black world cup runs on a tricycle, it was hard work lol
  • + 3
 @tigerteeuwen: ...But does it descend like a true DH bike??
  • + 7
 I know... to help it climb they could fit some form of motor to it, but maybe only have it work when you are pedalling too so it's not just a motorbike. I reckon the MTB community would absolutely LOVE that! :-D
  • + 17
 Can you actually buy a bad new bike these days? Technologies/ geometry is pretty much on the money for most new bikes now
  • + 19
 One word... Mongoose. Ill start packing my bags...
  • + 17
 Ellsworth?
  • + 8
 @micahaalders3: Got to admit it but Ellsworth is getting better.
  • + 3
 Yep ellsworth still stuck in 2000
  • - 3
 Yes, the bike tested here, cause it has a fucking RS Kage!
  • + 6
 Okay. I love this bike, looks really cool, and i would love to ride one. glad to see they are moving up to 27.5 now, and keeping with trends (nothing against 26 of course).
However...

£7900 (over 10K dollars) for an aluminium bike with a kage rc. on top of this, for that much i could get a full SC build (carbon bike, fox 40s, x2, full xo1 or saint, nice wheels etc, and have 600 spare for future parts) that being the CC version as well. I mean, what??

Really nice bike, not sure on the price and spec though...
  • + 1
 its not 10k dollars bro, the nicest build is $7500 still overpriced in my opinion.
  • + 5
 I want my old Kona back. They days of the brand who took care of the average Joe's and offered killer bikes at good prices seem to be going away.

As someone who is a religious Kona rider... I just don't see the same "f*ck you I won't do what you tell me" style coming from them...
I hear big things to come from them in 2018 let's hope some that comes back! We don't need anymore f*cking overpriced bike brands...
  • + 6
 $3200 for a complete bike sounds reasonable to me. $4000 for the one reviewed sounds like good bang for your buck.
  • + 6
 YEEEEYYYYYYYY!!!!! Geometry for people over 6 foot. That makes Kona one of about three brands now with modern Reach measurements
  • + 3
 i cant understand one thing, why company's have to make all their top DH bike only about DH WC, why they cant make bikes for WC and bikes with 26 for every day people, how dosn't challenge time on clock every day, but just want to ride and have fun???
the same like in car industry they have super cool street legal cars and super cool track cars...
They could get much more money than just to try to sell this 27,5 crap all the time.....
  • + 33
 Scientificly impossible to have fun on 27.5... everybody knows that!
  • + 11
 Why are you complaining though? 26" wheels and bike frames have become extremely cheap to buy so if that's what you like then you are in luck. Leave the 27.5 for people who want to spend their money wisely or not.
  • + 15
 Been on 26" wheels all my life till a few months back, honestly the difference is so tiny, hardly anything at all but it's there, but my point is 27.5 feels just as playful and easy to turn as 26 on our local, steep, switch back filled tracks and jumps and skips on our more freeride style stuff, the limiting factor is in peoples heads.
  • + 2
 @bigburd: I agree, hence why the whole thing was marketing rubbish
  • - 2
 27'5 is way better in bombhole, good for beginners too that could stop fckn brake everywhere on bikepark trail...
  • - 3
 @maxgod: i spend every year 10 k eur on new bike, this year i got intense m16 with DVO. i try to ride in morzine france around 4-6 weeks no stop plus 2 weeks in italy in september and i love to ride, but i dont want to ride old cheep bike, than i can take my intense m9 (2015) from garage, i want new bike every year and have fun with it not race f^^^ time..
if industry had race line 27,5 and dh bikes 26 all would be winners.
  • + 0
 @fracasnoxteam: wait for few years and tracks will be all with brake bums any way, only brake bumps will be bigger because 27,5 Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

first year when every one was riding 27,5 the wc was won by guy how ride 26 sanat cruz Big Grin
  • + 2
 26x275 argument is bollocks unless you put 26" wheels on a 275 bike and stuff an angle set into it. Since the last 26" DH or Enduro bike was made, forks got better damping, shocks got better, brakes got better and most of all geo got better. We also got more bikes with more rearward axle paths. Oh, the rims got wider and no boost and electronic shifting are out of equation. So a few small bits changed, forming a percievable change that cannot really be put on tiny increase in wheel size.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: you can put 26 wheels in 27 frame and you will feel the difference, you can use the same settings and you can feel the difference Wink
  • + 3
 I might be the dissenting opinion on this but a 423 mm chainstay on a 460 mm reach for a size Large isn't balanced at all. Especially with a 63 deg HA. I love my Carbon Operator but after trying out both a TR500 and a new V10 I felt instantly more balanced and at home on the bikes with longer chainstays.
  • + 7
 So nice to see more and more companies sizing up their bikes.
  • + 1
 Hell yeah 460mm reach on a large? That's rad, and bigger than a lot of extra larges. Hopefully this trend continues, just look at Danny Hart riding a large mondraker this year
  • + 6
 can I get some of that firewood?
  • + 1
 I'm getting back into biking what should I doooo? No for real though we should all be thankful that such higher powers bring dh into sport! But uh this is what's good real quick... Some of you say components suck or even the whole damn bikes are sht but it depends on your balls (or durable vags for those rad girls) and how fast and high you get your ass to go. Now go work some (shifts), hustle and go have Yee fun!
  • + 5
 looks like a ...........operator
  • + 3
 "The frame is not as forgiving as others"
"The bike remained super composed in all situations"
These two statements seem to contradict each other
  • + 0
 Ok so let's see...This or YT TUES COMP, YT TUES AL, Phoenix Carbon (with saint), Commençal Supreme V4....there are also others alu dh bikes in the market that I dont remember...

...it seems that Kona has changed from designer but also from CEO...and this CEO doesn't knows zero from others market offers...

....Kona DH is going bye bye in 3 years...
  • + 0
 Kona does not have a CEO I assure you. Same two owners since day one.
  • + 3
 7'500USD for the top-of-the-pops model, damned, what a price! oops, sorry, 7'499USD. That sounds cheaper now.
  • + 3
 If you want to pay more for less buy it. But other brands aren't losing sleep or sales to this.
  • + 4
 any mention about the reason of switching back to aluminium?
  • + 10
 Al is better.
  • + 11
 Only now kona is switching to 650B, in general, all new models starts with alloy version... Then go to carbon. Devinci is an example.
  • + 2
 @LucasAugusto: This is the correct answer.
  • + 2
 The carbon frame had some issues like cracking, not Kona's fault but it was a problem from the carbon factory that constructed the frame.
  • + 1
 @RaZias: So people say but I have only ever seen two pictures of a snapped carbon Operator.
And lol at people downvoting the person giving the actual answer to the question.
  • + 1
 Actually Kona had a lot of issues in the past with Al frames, since the frames would not have any kind of heat treatment after welding. But in 2009 they began to treat the frames (or so I heard).

The problem is that they got quite the fame for snapping, and then the problem with carbon operators brought the issue back to life.
  • + 2
 Man having ran a Boxxer RC for a few months before upgrading to a charger damper....makes me cringe.

Why are the RC's so bad?
  • + 2
 Anyone have one of these bikes? I'm curious how plush they are for racing, it doesn't seem to be a very popular racing bike in my neck of the woods
  • + 0
 Sure don't see many at NW cups. Being local too. Kinda weird!
  • + 1
 I'm a strong believer in if a bike has a good chassis good suspension good brakes and tyres and most important a good rider that's all you'll need
  • + 0
 You know a bike is not selling in heaps when they omit sizes from the extreme ends. It really unnecessary to come up with reasons like sluggish ride or that the top tube hits the piggy back stock.
  • + 2
 I´ve seen a 650b operator carbon on race...why are you waiting!?
  • + 1
 It's funny because on the Canadian site, the Operator supreme is not available.
  • + 1
 Bushings are light. bushings are cheap. Bushings wear out fast so bushings are crap. bearings for every pivot. Nice touch.
  • + 1
 I can't help but remember the old orange kona stinky when I look at this bike.
  • + 2
 Worth nothing now that it is 27.5"
  • + 2
 Better go for a YT TUES ALU...cheaper and the same shock....
  • + 2
 The cartridge bearings for the rear shock sounds good.
  • + 0
 Put that pivot wherever you'd like on the seat stay Kona, It won't change the braking characteristics unless it's on the CHAINSTAY!!! It's either a Faux bar or a 4 bar.
  • + 1
 I also wonder why they say it improved braking, as the brake is still mounted on the chain stay.
  • + 2
 sick photoshoot
  • - 1
 Not hate or bandwagon jumping, but my buddy has broken 2 carbon bikes riding bike park. Sucks that the quality remains the same.
  • + 1
 How well does it climb?

"climbs like a goat"
  • + 1
 colorway reminds me of the Stinky I had...
  • + 1
 How much did this mid level build weigh? Did not see it in the article.
  • + 1
 I want one!lol
  • + 1
 Looks badass
  • + 1
 OHH...Yess!!
  • + 1
 Assassins
  • + 1
 Assassins
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