Review: 2020 Kona Process 134 CR/DL 29 - A Quick Cornering Trail Bike

Jan 27, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  



The Process 134 disappeared from Kona's lineup for a couple of seasons as the bigger and burlier Process 153 models stole the spotlight, but the versatile mid-travel machine is back for 2020, with a 29” full carbon version added into the mix.

According to Kona, the much-heralded Process 111 was the inspiration for the new 134. The 111 developed a cult-like following due to its excellent handling, and Kona decided to try and catch lightning in a bottle a second time when they set out to update the 134.

In total, there are 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. All of the models have 134mm of rear travel and a 140mm fork.
Process 134 CR/DL 29 Details

• Wheel size: 29" (27.5" options available)
• Carbon frame
• Travel: 134mm rear / 140mm front
• 66-degree head angle
• 427mm chainstays
• 12 x 148mm rear axle spacing
• Price as shown: $5,999 USD
• Frame and shock only: $3,299 USD
• Weight: 30.6 lb (size large, as shown)
www.konaworld.com

It's the top-tier CR/DL 29 model that's tested here, which is spec'd with a SRAM X01 12-speed drivetrain, G2 RSC brakes, a 140mm RockShox Pike Ultimate fork, SuperDeluxe Ultimate shock, and Maxxis Minion DHF tires for $5,999 USD.


bigquotesThe 134 has a nice zippiness to it no matter what direction the trail is pointing – it feels like a true trail bike, as opposed to a slightly watered down enduro sled. Mike Kazimer




2020 Kona Process 134 review

Construction and Features

The Process 134's frame is carbon from tip to tail, including the rocker link. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to modern amenities – there's internal cable routing, room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, generous frame protection, room for up to a 2.5" rear tire, and a seat tube height that makes it possible to run longer travel dropper posts.



2020 Kona Process 134 review
That chainstay protector works well - the Process 134 is a very quiet bike.
2020 Kona Process 134 review
This is the first full-carbon frame in the Process lineup.



Kona Process 134

Geometry & Sizing

The Process 134's geometry numbers are more contemporary than crazy, with a 475mm reach for a size large, a 66-degree head tube angle, and a 76.3-degree seat tube angle. The chainstay length is a relatively short 427mm.

Interestingly, Kona went with a 51mm offset fork after trying various options with their test riders, a departure from the reduced offset trend that's swept through the mountain bike world over the last season or two.



Kona Process 134 review

Suspension Design

The Process 134 uses Kona's Beamer suspension layout, which is a link-driven single pivot. The 134 has a slightly more progressive suspension curve than the Process 153 in order to prevent it from using its travel too quickly - there's an 11% leverage rate change in the last two-thirds its travel, versus an 8% change on the Process 153. One volume spacers is the stock configuration, which leaves room in both directions for fine-tuning the amount of end-stroke ramp up.

The main pivot sits in a more forward location than the 153 in order to keep the amount of anti-squat more consistent throughout the travel. As the chart illustrates, the amount of anti-squat sits just above 100% at sag, and then gradually drops down as the shock goes deeper into its travel.

Kona Process 134

Kona Process 134


Specifications
Price $5999
Travel 134mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
Fork RockShox Pike Ultimate / 140mm
Headset FSA Orbit 1.5 E ZS
Cassette SRAM XO1 Eagle
Crankarms SRAM XO1 Eagle
Rear Derailleur SRAM XO1 Eagle
Chain SRAM GX-Eagle
Shifter Pods SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-Speed
Handlebar Kona XC/BC 35mm Bar
Stem XC/BC 35 Stem
Grips Kona Lock-on Key Grip
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC
Hubs DT Swiss 370
Spokes Stainless Black 14g
Rim WTB KOM Light i30 TCS 29”
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 29x2.5" F / 2.3" R
Seat WTB Volt Pro
Seatpost RockShox Reverb w/1x Remote Lever 31.6mm




2020 Kona Process 134 review








Test Bike Setup

Suspension setup up on the 134 was relatively simple, and it didn't take long for me to find my happy place with the RockShox Pike fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate shock.

After a couple of rides, I did end up adding in one more volume spacer to the shock, bringing the total up to two. That delivered the extra support I was looking for, and I kept that set up for the remainder of the test period. I set the shock up with 30% sag and 5 clicks of LSC from full open.

Up front, I set up the Pike with 88 psi, the high-speed compression at 2 clicks from closed, and the low-speed compression at 10 clicks from closed.

Testing took place in Bellingham, Washington, during the transition from fall into winter, which meant that trail conditions ranged from hero dirt to extra-soggy and slimy.



Me.
Mike Kazimer
Location: Bellingham, WA, USA
Age: 37
Height: 5'11" / 180cm
Inseam: 33" / 84cm
Weight: 160 lbs / 72.6 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @mikekazimer

Kona Process 153 review


Climbing

The 134 has a nice zippiness to it no matter what direction the trail is pointing – it feels like a trail bike, as opposed to a slightly watered down enduro sled. That trait helps keep it entertaining on trails that don't plunge straight down the fall line, and if your local trails are full of punchy, technical climbs the Process 134 could be the key to unlocking those tricky sections that require a little bit of luck and maybe some trials moves to clean.

The shock has a two-position lever, but I ran it in the open setting the vast majority of the time - by adding a few clicks of low-speed compression I was able to find a nice balance of support and traction. There's a locked out position if you need it, but I was content leaving that lever alone, even on smooth fire roads.

Stomp on the pedals and the Process 134 will accelerate without getting bogged down, which helps for those out of the saddle power moves. However, the seated climbing position was a little slacker than I would have liked – the effective seat angle is 76.3 degrees, but the actual seat angle is somewhere around 68-degrees. That seated pedaling position, combined with the shorter chainstays, meant I often found myself standing up out of the saddle or perched on the very front of the seat in order to maintain traction. I had to make a conscious effort to keep the front-end weighted, as opposed to being able to relax, sit, and spin my way through steeper climbs.


Kona Process 153 review


Descending

The energetic nature that the 134 exhibited on the climbs carries over to the descents, where it's happiest snapping through corners and being ridden on the back wheel whenever possible. Those short chainstays make manuals and wheelies a cinch, although there is a tradeoff for that easy maneuverability – the Process lacks the unflappable stability of something slacker and longer when faced with really steep terrain and at higher speeds. It's more of a play bike, a machine for jibbing and interpreting the trail in a creative manner, rather than an all-out speed demon that's only satisfied by being pointed straight down the fall line.

The Process 134 is an absolute blast on tight sequential turns - line up a few nice berms in front of it and it'll rocket through them with ease. The short back end is easy to set adrift and then bring back in line, and while that may not be the fastest way down the trail, it sure is fun. I did find myself wondering what adding an extra 10-15 millimeters of length to the chainstays would do to the 134's descending capabilities. We're starting to see more bikes emerge that allow riders at least some chainstay adjustment - Kona's own Connor Fearon was spotted aboard a Process 153 that had adjustable chainstay length last year, and I'd love to see that feature make its way to this bike.

The Process is a lively bike, but it also feels reassuringly solid – I never experienced any unwanted flex or strange behavior, even when hitting drops and riding in terrain that was likely a little more than it was designed for. Once I added an additional volume spacer to the Super Deluxe shock there was enough bottom-out resistance to deal with bigger hits, and plenty of support for pumping the terrain, popping off a lip, or tossing in a couple of pedal strokes in between features. The tune on the shock felt well-matched to the bike, with enough sensitivity to take the edge off of chattery sections of trail, and a calm and controlled response to bigger impacts.


2020 Kona Process 134 Review
Kona Process 134 29

Norco Optic C2 review Photo by Trevor Lyden
Norco Optic

How does it compare?

The Process 134 and the Norco Optic were both developed in roughly the same geographic location, which makes it even more interesting to look at the two company's interpretations of a modern trail bike.

Both bikes are spec'd with a 140mm fork, but the Optic has a bit less rear travel – 125mm vs. the Process' 134mm. When it comes to geometry, the Optic is the longer and slacker of the two. The reach numbers are relatively close, but the Optic has a 65-degree head tube angle, and longer chainstays on all but the smallest size. Norco gets a bonus point for the fact that they alter the rear-center length depending on the size – the back-end of the bike gets longer as the front end grows. On the Process, the chainstay length is 427mm no matter if the reach is 425 or 510mm.

I preferred the climbing position of the Optic over the Process – the Optic's actual seat tube angle is a few degrees steeper than the Kona's, which, combined with the slightly longer chainstays, made me feel more centered over the pedals.

The 134 has the edge when it comes to maintaining sharp, snappy handling at slower speeds – the Optic feels a little more subdued in mellower terrain. It's still very easy to maneuver, but there's a calmness to it compared to the Process' almost-frenetic eagerness to dart around tight turns.

Unless you're doing back-to-back laps, the difference in rear-travel between the two bikes isn't all that noticeable when descending, but the geometry differences are. They're both extremely versatile, but the Optic's extra length and slacker head angle helped keep it more composed at higher speeds and in steeper terrain – the Process felt a little pointier, and I had to pay more attention to my line choice.

As far as price goes, the Optic's aluminum rear end gives it a significantly lower frame-only price - $2,299 vs. $3,299. The pricing difference translates to the complete builds as well. The Process 134 DL and the Optic C1 are the same price, but the C1 gets niceties like a carbon bar and DT 350 hubs.



2020 Kona Process 134 review
Kona Process 134
<Deleted photo>

Technical Report


DT Swiss 370 hubs: On a bike at this price point I would have preferred to see DT's 350 hubs, which use their tried-and-true (and upgradeable) star ratchet design rather than the three-pawl design used in the 370.

34-tooth chainring: A 34-tooth chainring isn't completely out of place on a bike like this, and it worked fine for me, but I have a feeling than many riders would be better served by a 32- or 30-tooth ring in order to have an even easier climbing gear. Yes, swapping a chainring is easy, but not needing to swap it out in the first place is even easier.

Maxxis Minions DHF tires: The fact that proper tires are becoming the norm for trail bikes makes me happy. It's hard to go wrong with a set of Minions, and while the dual-DHF combo isn't quite as common as running a DHR II in the rear, it's a little faster rolling and very easy to get along with.

Guide G2 brakes: I ended up installing a set of metallic brake pads and a 200mm rear rotor in order to get the most braking power possible out of the G2's. That made a noticeable improvement, especially in wet conditions, although I'm still partial to Codes, even on a shorter travel bike like this.

RockShox Pike Ultimate: The Pike has settled nicely into its role as a capable option for short- to mid-travel trail bikes. After my initial setup, I didn't need to fuss with the fork at all, and I have zero complaints about its performance out on the trail.

Kona Process 153 review


Pros

+ Lively and energetic handling
+ Very easy to wheelie and manual
+ Loves tight turns

Cons

- Short chainstays have drawbacks at higher speeds
- Actual seat tube angle isn't that steep
- A few parts don't seem to match up with the price




Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesKona could have gone all-out and made the Process 134 as long and slack as possible, but they didn't, and that exercise of restraint has resulted in an energetic bike that's going to be well suited to a wide range of riders and riding zones. Not everyone has access to big mountains and ridiculously steep trails, which means that a sharper handling, easy to maneuver trail bike like the 134 is exactly the way to go. Mike Kazimer








290 Comments

  • 209 1
 What is this!? A trail bike with trail bike geometry!? How can we be expected to ride trails if we don’t even have dh bike geometry!? I don’t wanna hear your excuses. The bike has to be at least three times slacker than this.
  • 37 4
 Agree. A trail bike that actually makes sense instead of the increasingly usual handicapped enduro bike. The Giant Trance 29 seems to be similar
  • 72 2
 It's year of the rat. All bikes now are small and quick.
  • 12 4
 I feel like the Optic they compare it to is that bike that everyone loves to review, but not many people will actually buy it. Most people will just buy a longer travel bike instead.
  • 5 2
 He's absolutely right yakobean. Also short chain stays make me sketchy and floaty
  • 12 0
 @yupstate: Depends where you are I guess. Where I'm at the 120-140 travel bike has always been the #1 sold category. You gotta remember, most people who ride are moms and dads who don't read MTB media and will never go to a bike park Smile
  • 8 0
 You need to take into account location. Kazimer is from Bellingham where the majority of the trails he rides/we have are steep and burly trails you could get away with a dh bike on. If you're riding a proper trail bike with actual trail bike geo then ya he is going to feel under-biked, which according to vital is in for 2020.
  • 8 7
 @yupstate: Weight is what would stop me from buying one. Not travel.

Slack 120-130mm 29’s are the best all-round mountain bikes on sale.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: I rode a Process 153 29 for a weekend — just the Aluminum base model. It had to way close to 35 pounds. And still it climbed surprisingly well. The weight did get to me after a couple days of riding, but it didn’t factor in as much as I thought it would. This bike being about 4-5 pounds lighter would be nice.
  • 6 1
 @jstndnls: Bellingham is not all gnar-gnar, there's plenty of moderate stuff and XC, so if he's riding a bike it's getting a variety of use. I'd say that Bellingham riding is a fairly good test for most any bike and user unless all you do is ride desert or ultraflat midwest stuff.
  • 7 0
 @yupstate: yes and no. a short travel bike might not be a quiver killer for everyone, but it can be the second bike in a quiver of two, kinda like the Trail Pistol. Personally, I'd take more over less, and I'd take 27.5 over 29, but the stuff I ride is pretty rough. N + 1
  • 13 0
 @jstndnls: funny, i was talking with a guy who works at Fanatik bikes and rides a Sentinel, he's a total shredder. he described Bham terrain as mild and low angle, compared to other places he rides like the Shore or Nelson.
  • 30 3
 @TheR: I’d be happier with 28lbs max. The issue right now is many 120mm frames weigh the same as 160’s. I think manufacturers need to start putting rider weight limits on bikes. I never break anything and I’m tired of riding boat anchors.
  • 3 1
 @jclnv: that's is truth of the day
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: I hear you, but I think this is closer to the 140mm end of the spectrum than a 120, which in my head is supposed to be a little burlier. In addition to that, it's a Kona, and weight doesn't seem to be their tip-top priority. Also, I think if I were to buy this bike, there are a couple things I'd like to switch out that might shave some weight here and there, starting with better wheels.

But yeah, if it's not your thing, it's not your thing. Personally, I'd bump up to the higher travel model. Just my preference.

And finally, did I really write something "ways" closer to 35 pounds. Geez.
  • 9 0
 @j-t-g @jclnv @nurseben: I guess my point is; if you are going to buy a 31lb bike with a 65* HTA. What is the upside of 125mm of travel? I have never ridden one, so maybe I'll be surprised and tons of people will buy them. But my gut tells me people will just buy a lighter 120-130mm bike and/or a long-travel all-mountain bike instead.
  • 8 0
 What is this?!!! A trail bike for ants?!!
  • 9 0
 @yupstate: Upside is less effort to accelerate, faster response to input - direction change slowing down etc, the kinematics can have less small bump sensitivity without compromising pedalling efficiency as you don't need as much anti-squat because they ramp up faster after the smaller sag zone (meaning your mass is less on the chain and more on the air spring), they maintain their geo better due to less from/rear suspension travel differential when braking/climbing etc.

All that adds up to a bike thats more fun 90% of the time and you can ride for longer/faster overall. Well that should be the case if they didn't weigh as much as 150mm bikes. If they do then I agree, what's the point? Look at Santa Cruz. Why buy a Tallboy if it's your only bike? The weight is more or less the same as a HighTower.
  • 6 0
 @yupstate: i'm stoked on my Optic.. don't want any more travel in my home of the Peak district UK... just want too keep my local hills playful.. either of these bikes would be awesome for most UK AM / trail / weekend warrior fun i'm sure. my 160mm travel enduro sled is a bitch to haul up the hills I have access to.
  • 2 1
 @jclnv: "All that adds up to a bike that's more fun 90% of the time and you can ride for longer/faster overall"
That's quite an absolute statement, wouldn't you agree that's highly dependent on both the style of riding and the trails one has access to?
  • 4 0
 @Arierep: yup. My thoughts exactly. buying more travel for the sake of it...not what I want from my MTB life... it's that balance with the trails you have... and these days short travel bikes are wicked fun
  • 12 0
 @Arierep: Possibly but what if you can do one more lap on a shorter travel bike or go that much higher to get a longer descent. Isn’t that more fun?

I also think it’s way more fun being under biked on 20% of trails than over biked on 80%.
  • 2 0
 @yupstate: funny you say that because I've been itching to get one and frames are already sold out.
  • 5 0
 @j-t-g: preach. I'm 33 with a 10 year old and a 6 year old. I've got mouths to feed. My biggest issue with bike park riding is it's just to fast and the jumps are to big. There is a limit for me in terms of acceptable risk. Gotta make sure I can still go to work the next morning to keep food in those bellies.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: The Sensor
  • 3 0
 @jclnv: I will always take a slight weight penalty for rigidity and durability. Weight limits at the cutting edge of light weight components is for xc race bikes, Not trail bikes In my opinion anyways.
  • 2 0
 @yupstate: I don’t know.. I read the reviews, liked what I saw, demoed it, it checked out, and then I bought it.However, I do have a long travel bike too.....
  • 6 0
 @yupstate: Isn't the Optic kind of the pinnacle of this whole "trail bike with enduro geometry" movement? Every time I read a review I feel like it really should have been an enduro but someone in the last minute only gave it 125mm of suspension. And as a result, in a surprise to no one, it doesn't really climb or pedal that great.
  • 2 0
 @TheR: I needed a couple of seconds to figure out what you meant there with "ways".
  • 8 1
 @bainer66: How often do XC race bikes break? Hardly ever. That’s because they’re ridden by athletes who don’t weigh 90kgs and neither do people who are fit. Why should 8k MTB’s be built for fat guys? It’s like building track cars that understeer for people can’t drive.
  • 6 0
 @jclnv: It is however very debatable if the current crop of long, low, slack and downhill-focused short travel bikes with heavy components and sticky tires offer any significant uphill advantage over their longer travel cousins with identical spec.

Something like a Top Fuel or Spark with appropriate spec would surely allow you to go higher and farther before you are exhausted but that is not what is trendy right now.

Also, i'm all for weight limits on frames because, like you, i dont want to lug around a heavy monstrosity built for someone twice my weight. But looking at the shape of the general and solvent population, especially in the US, i don't see that happening. A feasible start would be to vary frame strength with frame size, however.
  • 3 0
 @TheR: Did you right that? The heavy/dense wood point that weigh.
  • 2 0
 Sorry dude, this trailbike is obsolete just before the birth. Please accept our excuses!
  • 1 0
 It has similar geo to the Jekyll 27.5 from two years ago.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: Agreed on current weights. Although I'd like the seat angle a bit steeper, I still think either the Trek Remedy 150mm/27.5" or Fuel EX 140mm/29" are the best all-round bikes going right now. Weight is ~28lbs...just pick your wheelsize and shred most any trail.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: You hit the nail on the head re sizing. I want a Spark with the geo/sizing of an Optic or SJ Evo.
  • 1 0
 @motard5: Yeah I don’t disagree. Scott Genius too but they’re expensive and oddly had to get hold of.
  • 3 0
 @yupstate: I understand the blowback, but my not terribly disimilarly equipped Ripmo weigh 28.5lbs w/o pedals, size XL. With that thick coat of blue paint and full Ride Wrap even. It's spectacularly capable, but I'm feeling a little like I bought too much bike and think about downsizing to a trail bike. Very difficult to imagine pulling the trigger on a trail frame that weighs the same (or so many of them more) with significantly less travel and not built for banging down the gnar at high speed. I'm sure it would be fine but psychologically difficult to say "I'm going shorter travel and heavier."
  • 1 0
 @Cemer: Congrats on your bike! Glad you like it.
  • 1 0
 @hankj: Exactly
  • 54 1
 I mean 370 hubs on a £6.2k bike lol
  • 39 2
 370 should be removed altogether from DT:s catalog really...a liability to the DT brand as you might think you get something better than it actually is.
  • 22 3
 @feeblesmith: can’t agree more with this. 370 are not DT Swiss product. They are the same junk that’s gets rebranded Novatec/Formula/Whatever based on which OEM is doing the bulk purchase. They are not worth of the DT Swiss name or being on a bike that costs more than 3k.

They exist only to make the unsophisticated customer think they are getting something decent.
  • 10 0
 Yes, but a full XO drive train instead of mismatch GX parts.
  • 23 7
 Idk what you guys are on about, the 370 is a perfectly reliable pawled hub in its own right, and if you know someone with the tools you can upgrade it to a star ratchet.
  • 9 3
 Yep, was demoing a $7200 (CDN... Carbon C, S build) Santa Cruz MegaTower... out on the trail and I was like, "wtf is happening on the rear end"... stopped to have a look... sure enough DT 370's... "WTF?!... on a MegaTower?"
  • 5 2
 @mnorris122: amen! I don't know what everyone has such a hate on for this hub. In my 7 years of professional wrench experience I've seen maybe one or two freehubs brake. The engagement leaves to be desired, sure, but so do most hubs under $400
  • 1 0
 @mnorris122: and I just swapped internals on mine last week. Not cost effective, unless you have a donor to get the parts from.
  • 8 1
 @Vikingdude: but they read it in PB comments.
It’s a lower spec / price point, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.
That said I had my first ride yesterday, on my 350’s and all I can say is wow.
  • 6 7
 @feeblesmith: they can also remove 350 rear hubs from aftermarket. Who wants to pay Hope money for 18 POE
  • 8 5
 @WAKIdesigns: who wants to pay Hope $ for Hope.
  • 10 3
 @CircusMaximus: I can and have paid Hope money for Hope. 3 times. It’s just that the first thing I would do after buying 350 would be to buy 36 or 54 ratchet which lands me at the total price of 240s. Love DT but would never pay more than 100$ for a brand new rear 350
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: Hahah.. mine have come loose so many times already the santa cruz carbon reserve rims are nice but I want to cut my hubs out completely after owning them for 3 & a half months.. Love me Megatower tho
  • 1 0
 Hang on a minute... is it because dtswiss only do super boost hubs in 370s?

I see pivot also use these shit hubs on £7.5k builds....
  • 3 2
 @Richt2000: Lots of great options in superboost... no excuse for 370's. That's just product managers doing a shit job of saving money.
  • 5 0
 Yup.

My two biggest pet peeves on cost savings by product managers is using dt 370 instead of dt 350, and also using shimano " resin only" rotors instead of a real rotor.
  • 5 0
 @mnorris122: Agreed. The hub is reliable, not prone to excessive drag or loosening like so many cheap hubs. Novatec, Joytech, etc. And you get microspline, XD and HG options. That's not a bad deal at all.
  • 4 0
 That hub is reliable and was a good choice for the £2k bike it came on for me.
Almost insulting to spec one on a £6k-plus bike though.
Care to comment @konaworld ?
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: What made you think "wtf?!" Was the hub not clicky enough for you?
  • 2 2
 What do you expect from Kona? Expensive, heavy, and not from Hawaii.
  • 44 5
 We want to see the Grim Donut test!
  • 7 4
 they know we're hooked and will keep checking pinkbike over and over until it's posted. pageviews = $. not criticizing it, it just is what it is for a free (for us) mountain bike website.
  • 29 0
 @gumbytex: or maybe we just need more time to make it as good as we possibly can. Smile
  • 3 2
 @jasonlucas: hey I'm not complaining, it's just the realities of ad-based revenue and I love me some pinkbike. If I were in your shoes I'd optimize post times and content to maximize revenue, no doubt.
  • 7 0
 @jasonlucas: If China can build a hospital in 6 days....
  • 29 1
 I know it goes against current trends, but I really the like having short-ish stays on my every day ride. I ride a large Fugitive, which isn't quite this short, but I really like how much easier it is to get around the tight turns and switchbacks I have vs the Jeffsy I had before. A short rear with a longer and slacker front is a great combination for the way a lot off folks ride. Most of the descending benefits, still maneuverable and the significant downside being giving up a little bit of stability at really high speeds, something I didn't even notice. For an XL, I can see these being a bit short, but I'm glad a few manufacturers are making geometry like this.
  • 7 3
 I mostly agree, although I'd limit it and say CS should stay at 430 or longer for full suspension bikes. The ultra short trend was dumb, and the ultra long trend on non-dh bikes is also dumb. Longer CS give you more stability and speed on the downs, but guess what does even better is more travel. Longer CS mute the trail too, kinda defeating the point of less travel.
  • 2 0
 How do you like the fugitive? Where I live (Alabama) climbing and descending single track are equally important, and it’s hard to tell if the Fugitive has the punchy climb ability I’d want.
  • 3 0
 Agreed. Some of us are after the fun of whipping through corners more than flat out point it until your face melts enduro race results. Not a drawback here, but a design feature.
  • 3 0
 I agree, and think that's the real beauty of Norco's RBG, having the CS length vary with the bike makes a lot of sense, and still allows the longer bikes to have a rear end that matches the front, as far as the ride goes...
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: I'll take your word for it on the 430. I haven't ridden anything shorter, but that's what my Fugitive is and it's never left me wishing for shorter.
  • 7 0
 @BamaBiscuits: I live in western Va, so I think our terrain is pretty similar. "Fast" for me isn't carving big swooping turns at 35, it's more often 20mph down rock gardens and messes of roots, then we gotta ride back up it. I really like it for the traction it provides over the root/rocks. I've seen it get knocked for low AS values and/or supposedly not being terribly efficient, but I honestly have never touched a platform switch and only have noticed any pedal bob when hammering out of the saddle with my weight bobbing all over place. If you can stay seated it still rides great even in a 50t up crazy steep stuff.

If you're a racer (or wannabe racer) constantly sprinting over 2-4min hills chasing guys on xc rides, it's probably not the right choice.

Overall, I love the bike. I'm on the 120 and about to put a coil on for when I want to run 135mm. It's not light, but weight is overrated anyway. That said, I'm sure there are plenty of other similar bikes that are just as good, just with small differences that come down to your priorities.
  • 12 0
 I tested the Kona 134 in size XL. I am 196cm tall. The bike felt really small and I did not like the way it climbed. The combination of short CS and lots of exposed seat post make the bike more susceptible to looping out on steep climbs. I bet this bike is a blast in the smaller sizes. I am kind of disappointed a major company like Kona does not adjust their geo for different sizes. Also it looks like they could make the XL a bit smaller and add a XXL size with a much larger stack, like Santa Cruz and YT XXL bikes.
  • 2 0
 @Kiotae: thanks for the thorough response!
  • 4 14
flag Jtray603 (Jan 27, 2020 at 11:09) (Below Threshold)
 @ADW: 196cm? Keep stating your height in CM and you’re gonna get deported pal! I didn’t come here to do math.
  • 1 0
 funny how everyone wanted longer stays and now apparently short stays are cool cuz more fun... You can still whip around corners at 440mm cs. You just have to get your body used to it and enjoy the increased stability.
  • 10 0
 @jaydawg69: You can still bomb descents and enjoy tons of stability with 430mm stays, you just have to get your body used to it and enjoy the smoother switchbacks.
  • 7 1
 I don't get the drawback of shorter chain stays. Here in the PNW (at least in Oregon) the steep stuff isn't super sustained. On a typical ride 95% of your riding is the more playful surfy type. The 5% that is steep is over really fast anyway. I get it if you are a racer or not into jumps, turns and side hits you might as well go longer stays but for most the weekend warriors I know hitting all the little root jumps and side hits are what it is all about for which a shorter chain stay seems beneficial.
  • 1 0
 @Kiotae: will be smoother and stable on a more stable bike.
  • 1 1
 @iantmcg: big drawback is climbing...
  • 1 0
 @jaydawg69: I just got to take your word for that. My medium 2014 process 134 has no issues with the front end coming up while climbing... But can see how the taller you are the more it might start to be an issue.
  • 2 2
 I rode a large 153 29er demo and didn't like climbing with it either. Actual seatpost angle is way too slack.. :/



@Jtray603: Pinkbike is a canadian, worldwide known, website so keep stating your height in foot and you're gonna get banned pal! The world didn't came here to do maths.
  • 2 0
 @iantmcg: I cannot agree with this more. Long stays everyone seem to want just aren't as fun to play with the bike. If fun is bombing then they should look for a different kind of bike anyway.
  • 1 0
 @dingus518: its almost like trends sometimes swing too short and then overcompensate and swing to long!

Remember in 2012 when the freeride bike died, and there was a hole between 160mm and 200mm of travel? You couldn't buy a bike with 180mm from most major brands for like 5 years. The same thing is kinda happening for chainstay length, ever since the Gwintroversy with chainstays on his Demo
  • 5 0
 @dingus518: For me it's not even about "playfulness", a little shorter stays are just better for my trails. It's almost as if there isn't one perfect length (range) for riders/heights/trails/styles.

Bikes are so good these days that nuance is important.

I'm glad there are trail bikes with long stays for those folks. I'm also glad there are companies making basically the same bike with 10-15mm shorter stays for riders with slightly different priorities. This is a GOOD THING for buyers and it blows my mind that folks are b*tching about some us being happy to have options.
  • 29 1
 To me the 134 looks like an ideal bike for what I want to do, playing, jibbing and having as much fun as I want, I’d be after the 27.5” version though
  • 2 2
 @aliclarkson Wheel size is a good place to start when looking for playful bike, but I think it's the ever-increasing BB drops that riders should look deeper into. (Usually the 29r will have more drop than 27.5, but not always so)
  • 4 1
 @jcklondon: so the 27.5” would have a higher bb? Then that confirms it will be more playful
  • 4 0
 @aliclarkson: I've got the 2020 134 al/dl 27.5 and absolutely love it. Came from a 2014 153 and I couldn't be happier with the new bike. Super playful snappy responsive fun machine.
  • 2 0
 @aliclarkson: The 27.5 has a -12 drop vs the -33 for the 29", *however* the BB height is within a millimetre. I am sure you know more about it that I do, but maybe other people would like to know... Of course I find BB height helpful in the big picture, but in this day and age because tires and wheelsizes are so varied a bike's BB height could obscure large differences in BB Drop. Looking at BB Drop is a good way to get a sense of how easy a bike will be to manual, bunny hop, chuck around on the rear and etc. BB height used to basically be synonymous with the BB Drop (because wheel diameters were all similar). There are of course exceptions here as total height from the ground is also important to a system's stability, but when it comes to being able to unsettle the bike and jib/toss it about, BB Drop is one of the first thing to consider. (IMO)
  • 2 0
 @nimmo: yeah, bit everyone keeps telling me 29 is the future and if I buy a 650b it will be outdated in one year and I'll be slower than everyone else. I'm still riding a 26" Meta Sx in 2020 though. Dunno what to do? Help
  • 1 0
 @Lims26: from my understanding your LBS will actually treat you lower than if you come in with a direct to customer bike brand.
  • 2 0
 @nimmo: they make more money off servicing than selling bikes so hopefully they aren't that picky
  • 22 1
 All trail bikes have to he measured against the Optic now! However, this looks a pretty solid choice for genuine trail bike.
  • 6 5
 Santa Cruz launched 5010 v3 on 2018
  • 3 0
 The Optic is probably the better bike, but this 134 colourway is beeeautiful!
  • 3 0
 Measuring against a bike that was voted bike of the year seems wise does it not? Stoked I have dealers for both close by so I can match up the bikes for myself
  • 16 0
 I appreciate a review that recognizes we all don't ride steep slabs in the PNW but still want a shreddly bike. The description given makes this bike sound pretty much ideal for like 95% of my rides. I like shorter stays and the move to longer on a lot of trail bikes hasn't been appealing.

I want an alu one pretty bad...
  • 16 2
 $3,299 for a Kona frame? Might as well get a Yeti at that price...
  • 14 2
 Kona used to be a better alternative to the high expensive brands. Now it seems like Kona thinks they are a premium brand. I rarely see Kona's out on the trail and based on pricing I can see why.
  • 3 1
 @digitalsoul:

I also know a guy who works in a shop that carries Kona (and he has a couple himself) and he says that as of the last couple years they're been a f*ckin' shit-show when it comes to quality control. Always being brought back to the shop for hardware failures.
  • 2 0
 Yeti frames are so flimsy though... The other day I witnessed my friend on his SB 130 cracking his right side seat stay right through. It happened by simply having his back wheel sliding out on a damp rock and just falling over to the side pretty much at walking pace. Very uneventful crash but the frame hit the rock and is now completely done for. Thats 5k down the drain.
  • 2 0
 @digitalsoul: I mean the frame looks the part, I don't know why anyone would think it wouldn't be worth its price just judging by the companies past mistakes. What would make you think a Yeti or other frame would be worth that much without actually doing testing? Just judging by the brand name or what?
  • 3 0
 @benmoosmann: Aluminum for the win!
  • 2 0
 My thoughts as well. I can buy a druid for 3099.99 right now from fantik. Having owned 9 konas in the past 5 years, two of which are carbon. I can say they aren't santa cruz quality for sure.
  • 3 0
 @ATXZJ: Hey man. Good to cross paths with you. As you know, I own a Druid and currently have 5 Konas in my garage. I love them all. Yeah, the Druid is sweet AF. No doubt. But my Honzo is fkn dope. So is my Unit. There is something about Konas. Yeah. They are overpriced. And they look like they have been dragged through a SRAM factory with a shit magnet attached but still. Rip em apart and build them up like they should be and boom. Magic. I'm preaching to the converted. Aren't I?
  • 1 0
 @mtnbkrmike: I can't speak for him, but I am on the same train. After some time w/ a HeiHei and reading a review in Bikemag I bagged a OG 134. 5yrs later still reaching for its limits. The talk about BB drop is dead on. Probably has as much to do with the sacred Flick as wheelsize does. I demo each time a factory van shows up, and even $7k bikes fail to impress.
  • 2 0
 @rezrov: having worked at several Kona dealers for the last 8 years, they aren't that bad. Hei hei rear triangles were bad for a bit, and some issues with Jake BB's like 5 years ago are the only things that come to mind.
Norco is far and away the worst quality control, and the worst warranty dept. of any reputable brand.
  • 1 0
 @Vikingdude: That's interesting to know about Norco. I have seen some videos of breaks/cracks. Surprisingly as the Optic just won bike of the year..
  • 1 0
 @mtnbkrmike: WHUT up Mike!!!

Admittedly looking at buying a rove now. Dat high pivot witchcraft is real and is #1 on the list to replace the hei hei
  • 9 0
 this bike in size medium has virtually the same geometry as my large mk1 Process 153.
Leaving travel aside, the geo feels spot on for so many places. It certainly feels like a monster truck comparing with my old medium Intense 6.6, but still, it handles well in tighter local trails and in no way feels sketchy when things go hardcore (and talking about whistler/squamish blacks and double blacks here).

I recently made a quite dorky STA steepening and now it feels like the perfect geometry.
  • 3 0
 I was thinking the same. This bike is actually longer and slacker than the 2015 153, but with a steeper STA. The only issue is the even longer WB presents a challenge on some built up features that were designed around a 6-7" shorter WB.
  • 10 1
 Can we get a Optic vs. Tallboy 4 comparison. These two seem to be the cream that's rising out of the current crop of shorter travel trail bikes. The 134 here looks somewhat intriguing but I'm over non size specific rear chain stay length. Rear center should grow as front center does.
  • 3 0
 Probably not as thorough as you want, but I asked about the comparison in one of the field tests and this was Mike K's response

"The Tallboy and the Optic can definitely party together. The Optic has a touch more rear travel, it's slightly longer, and it has a 140mm fork, which gives you a little more margin for error in the rough stuff. With a 140mm fork on the Tallboy the difference shrinks, and then you're looking more at how Santa Cruz's VPP feels vs. the Optic's Horst Link. The Optic is a little more active, and it feels like it delivers a touch more traction in loose terrain, while the Tallboy has slightly firmer suspension feel."
  • 2 0
 @kdiff: Thanks! I missed that from the earlier review.

Lot's of people seem to be up-forking the Tallboy so comparing like to like with a 140 up front seems reasonable. Optic frame is definitely more affordable. SC build quality is second to none.

Decisions, decisions.
  • 10 1
 I am so glad there are brands not following the long or size-specific chainstay length. I typically ride a size L and the shorter the chainstays are the happier I am. It is probably not the fastest, but surely the most fun.
  • 9 0
 You guys always say "higher speeds." I'd like to know what that means for you guys? Cause that may not matter for me on a lot of my local trails since they're multipurpose for the most part.
  • 9 0
 It would be nice to see a trail map with speed graph and a call out to where it felt unstable/sketchy for some reviews. Especially when it is a major takeaway from the review.
  • 2 2
 @zylogue: that would be science pb only does opinion.
  • 1 0
 @zylogue: that... is a good idea
  • 9 1
 @peldonb, I used to have a 1982 Chevy Celebrity that would develop a very, very scary wobble if I drove faster than 65mph. I never got a speeding ticket, but that was pretty much the only redeeming quality of that car.

With the Process, when I say higher speeds I mean on sections of trail with extended straightaways, the kind where there’s really nothing controlling how fast you can go other than your brain. That’s where the bike’s limits start to show up - it doesn’t have the same level of stability as something with a longer wheelbase, which means you need to pay more attention on those types of trails.

There’s not an actual speed limit, per se; you can go as fast as you want and it won’t develop the death shimmy that my Celebrity had, it’s just something to keep in mind if your favorite trails are fast and open rather than slower and twistier.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Dad's got a 1970 Jeepster Commando and I've surprisingly lived through those death wobbles on some wonky roads.

Thanks for elaborating a bit more, that does help paint a much better picture! Still would like to see some numbers, though.

You guys do an awesome job and thanks for all the fun reading material
  • 6 0
 The reason this bike is sick, is because it's efficient at pedaling and rides DH pretty stable considering it pedals up as well as it does. This bike is sick and have been absolutely loving mine after coming off a Transition Sentinel that wouldn't stop rubbing the carbon off on the inside of the chain-stays from tight tolerances. In a way, this bike is a lot like a Sentinel, except the geometry is slightly longer on the top-tube and the linkage is way burlier and there's plenty of room for tires in the rear....
  • 5 0
 It's interesting how a quintessential west coast company like Kona made what looks like a great east coast bike. Reasonable wheelbase/HA, snappy handling up and down, don't need massive steeps to have fun. Hmmm...

Kind of wish that the big east coast brands would make bikes intended for the local terrain. DeVinci looks like it's chasing West Coast clout, Cannondale is too busy being weird (the Habit looks decent though) and Jamis is kind of an afterthought though their new 3VO platform looks promising. Plz review the Jamis Hardline Pinkbike!!
  • 4 0
 DeVinci is located in Quebec. Have you ever ridden in Quebec? Or say, Newfoundland? I.e. East Coast Canada?
  • 3 0
 @privateer-wheels: I have not, fill me in Smile
  • 2 0
 @roma258: I think the bikes start to make more sense, after you ride there. The terrain is more technical, and the terrain in general isn't flat. Quebec, at least where I like to ride,
the trails trend up fairly steeply for extended periods, and them you're riding downhill for extended periods on fairly technical and sometimes steep terrain. Newfoundland is similar, punchy ups and steep downs, lots it techy sections. Overall the bikes make sense I think, in places like that. I think DeVinci has a good following in BC to - so they have to serve their bread and butter markets with bikes that people in those religions want to ride. But they are well made for where the company is based - East Coast Canada.

Here in Toronto, or perhaps down south in Vermont at places like Kingdom, the slack HTA and steep STA make a bike less responsive and more uncomfortable to ride. Less fun, in a nutshell.

I definitely believe good geometry is really a regional thing. Like you, I wish more companies made bikes that make more sense for those us of that ride more tame trail on a more regular basis. Many trails here would completely pacify you on a super slack long travel rig, but can be pretty okay to boarder line fun on something with shorter legs and more responsive geo.
  • 4 0
 @privateer-wheels: glad I'm not the only one who's not stoked on steep seat angles for regular trail riding on more undulating terrain. I do like the DeVinci Troy and have often wondered if it wouldn't make for a good one-bike option. Would love to make it out to Newfoundland one of these days, the couple videos I've seen from there looks like a true hidden gem.
  • 1 0
 @roma258: I highly recommend it!! Quebec also. Your American dollar goes 30% further up here too Smile
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: Would love to one of these days. A bit of a hike from PA unfortunately, but will try!
  • 5 1
 I feel as if we have really dialed in geometry related to seat tube angles. With modern droppers going up to 200mm+, there is really no reason not to have a seat tube angle of ~76-78 degrees. Across the board, from reviewers at Pinkbike, Vital, BikeMag, etc. it seems as if there is a general consensus on where our hips should be located, relative to seated climbing position...and yet still bike companies miss the mark on their new frames. Why would you make a trail bike with a slack seat angle? Modern Enduro bikes have a better climbing position than this trail bike?
  • 2 0
 Agreed, given the choice I'll go with the steeper seat tube angle that the Optic has.
  • 6 0
 Super steep seat tube angles are good for sustained climbing but not very comfortable for flatter or rolling terrain. We don't all ride huge mountains.
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ: So you've certainly exposed my bias - I do ride in Colorado where the ups are steep, and the downs are steep. Sustained climbing is usually the name of the game. Out of curiosity, what would make a slacker seat angle more comfortable for rolling terrain? (Genuinely wondering!) A slacker seat angle is going to provide a rearward bias, relative to the bottom bracket - does this confer some benefit I am missing for flatter terrain? If this were the case, why do road, triathalon and XC bikes also have steeper seat angles?
  • 7 0
 @KJP1230: "If this were the case, why do road, triathalon and XC bikes also have steeper seat angles?"

Road and XC bikes have seat angles around 73 degrees.

Triathlon bikes have seat angles of 76-80 degrees to rotate your body forward around the BB since you spend most of your time on the aero bars.

I ride MTB's with both old geometry and the new geometry. The old school 73 degree seat angle with your butt over the rear wheel feels more natural and more agile to me. The bikes with the steep seat angles feel much more upright and truck-like, kind of how I imagine a cargo bike must feel. But I like both types and just take the bike that is best suited to the particular trail I am riding.
  • 4 0
 Once again a bike that performs absolutely great despite not having the most radical geometry and only a linkage driven single pivot. The people in the comment section tend to act like those things are massive bike-breaking flaws despite the test clearly showing they are not. Lets be real, if the bike is good enough for Kazimer's liking, the bike's probably also good enough for the rest of us you snobs.
  • 5 2
 I was so happy to see "(27.5" options available)", only to find it's only in alu.

I'm looking for a carbon 130mm rear bike with 27.5 wheels and trail geo as a compliment to my 180mm smashy bike. Closest i've ever been able to find is the 2018 model Cannondale Habit 2 SE, but obviously hard to find new now. What else is out there?
  • 2 4
 2019. Trek fuel. I got the ex5 because I wanted 27.5. Upgrading the fork to a 160mm cane creek helm, and changed the rear shock to a 210x55...boom. 160/140mm trail bike lite enduro. Current head tube angle is is 65.3 in the low position. 2.8 Nobby Nic up front, 2.4 mountain king in the rear.
  • 1 0
 @Bimmer28: But i'm intentionally searching for a relatively short travel bike, there would be zero point in me having a 160 (or 150) /140 when I have a 180/175 bike already. Especially if I only lose a single kilo or so.
  • 3 1
 @davidrobinsonphoto: That makes sense then just get a 27.5 2018 or 2019 Trek fuel and keep it in stock configuration which is 140 mm upfront and 130 in the rear
  • 1 1
 @davidrobinsonphoto: also. The cane creek helm is internally adjustable 100mm to 170mm of travel.
  • 6 3
 Check out the Evil Calling
  • 6 1
 Nukeproof Reactor
  • 7 0
 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt.
  • 2 5
 Evil calling
  • 2 2
 Nukeproof Reactor
  • 1 1
 @Bimmer28: Are you sure you mean Fuel? A bike named as such hasn't existed since 2006. Fuel EX 2019 is 27.5+, no bueno. Also, it's heavier than the equivalent Remedy? Definitely not.
  • 1 0
 @sospeedy: @nlibot33

Reactor is supplied with 160 fork, too close to my 180 bike to splash the cash.
  • 1 0
 @jwrendenver: @beestrangler

150 fork, also a bit too long to justify. A bit porky for what i'd like to do with it too.
  • 3 0
 GG Shred Dogg
  • 1 0
 the bike I have>
  • 2 1
 @Monsterman156: @Ttimer: Those two are the closest yet, but hilariously bad value for money. One thing that appealed to me for that specific Cannondale was that it retailed (when new) for €3-3.5k. Fair enough they could ride well, but not 2k better.
  • 1 1
 @SCCC120: 150mm fork, 14.5 kilos, and no support/sales in Europe. Add import tax and i'm in SC territory. Not gonna work!
  • 2 1
 @davidrobinsonphoto: Canyon Spectral?
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: 160mm fork. Too much.
  • 1 1
 @davidrobinsonphoto: yes a 2019 Fuel ex 27.5. I have one. I don’t care about weight.
  • 1 1
 @davidrobinsonphoto:
5010 was also first bike that got in my mind but, yeah, it's expensive. Maybe try second hand? Speaking of it, older (no idea what years or gen...) Canyon Spectral was shorter travel. I think 130m rear with 140mm fork.

If you want new trail bike in carbon and good value take a look at Giant Trance.
  • 2 0
 @Bimmer28: I don't eff with plus though, same disadvantages as 29.

I do care about weight, cause if i'm gonna drag almost 15kg around, I might as well be riding my 180mm bike that I already own.
  • 1 2
 @davidrobinsonphoto: then dont run + size tires? I have a 2.4 in the rear and a 2.8 in the front.
  • 1 0
 @davidrobinsonphoto: are you wanting a 27.5???
  • 2 0
 @AspidMan: Giants put me to sleep, and I think I the longest I would go is 140/130 f/r.

Same reason i'm not looking for the Habit I mentioned right now, i'm not hyped on buying a 3.5 year old carbon bike of dubious service history, although I might have to resort to it eventually...
  • 3 0
 @nlibot33: Yep, i'm too much of a manlet to effectively manipulate wagon wheels, and don't particularly care about the clock.
  • 3 0
 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt.
  • 3 0
 Ibis Mojo 3 fits the bill.
  • 2 0
 @zedpm: Looks juicy, but my nearest dealer is 250 miles away and want €3200 for the frame only. No matter how good a bike rides, one that costs that much isn't worth it to me.
  • 1 0
 Rocky mountain thunderbolt duhhh. Whats not to like about it! one of the nicer trail bikes out there for sure.
  • 2 0
 @davidrobinsonphoto: You are describing a Rocky mountain thunderbolt that you want. adjustable geometry as well. its a total win.
  • 2 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: I am coming to the realisation that I might have to shell out on one!
  • 1 2
 @davidrobinsonphoto: Sounds like you just need to build your own frame. There is nothing on this planet that will meet your needs. Get a clue!
  • 1 0
 @jwrendenver: What's your problem? It existed in the past. Are you sad because I didn't like your suggestion? Apologies if so.
  • 1 0
 @davidrobinsonphoto: a size Small Jeffsy with a firm suspension tune and racier bar height would be easier to acquire. Between the sizing, weight, and tune, it ought to be very different from your 175mm. Pro Race build is sharp. Reconsider Spectral for same reasons--sounds like you've already got one Canyon.
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: But just on principle, I wouldn't spend the money on a bike with such similar travel, no matter if it rode lighter or flickier. Maybe if i'd have just asked for a downcountry bike with small wheels, people might have understood!
  • 1 0
 @davidrobinsonphoto: Mine was really great - I highly recommend!
  • 1 0
 @davidrobinsonphoto: People understood, and identified the limited options. To which I add: Stumpjumper ST 27.5
  • 9 2
 I'll translate the comparison: Unless you're old, buy an Optic
  • 3 3
 Best summary statement right here ^^^^^^ :
  • 3 0
 It's true. Im old and prefer the Kona geo for my Onterrible trails.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: It's all good, I'd prefer the Revolver 120 too Smile
  • 1 0
 I mean the Optic would probably be wholly inapt for the type of tight, rocky, rooty, unmaintained natural single trails I ride, so for my part I think its good to see some brands decidedly not jumping on the "longer, lower, slacker" bandwagon.
  • 4 1
 The Process 153 29er is the best bike I've ever ridden. It snaps through corners, just chews and spits out gnar, has a plush feel, and climbs surprisingly well for the beast it is. I bet this bike would be great if you wanted all of that, but were looking to dial it back just a notch -- maybe if you had to do a little more sustained climbing, or all your descents weren't straight down a rock garden in an enduro race.
  • 2 0
 That anti-squat curve is dank! Hold me up but don't hold me back. Let the back wheel move a bit when hustling up punchy tech climbs, and firm up a bit in the granny gear on smooth stuff, but in both case let the wheel move relatively even more on bigger impacts. Single-pivot FTW!
  • 2 0
 I really appreciate Kazimer recognizing the differences and advantages/disadvantages of Kona’s approach with the 134 compared to the optic. It’s not one size fits all and there are usually trade offs with any design choice. Yes they hail from the same area, but I’m guessing Kona sells more bikes around the country including flatter areas than Norco. There’s a Kona dealer locally 5 minutes from me in northern VA and it’s definitely a fairly common brand around here (to be sure for bikes other than mtn) but not even sure where the nearest Norco dealer is located.
  • 4 1
 Would have risked that slack seat angle but alas, Kona don’t sell frame only in the UK or Europe and the full builds are just not competitively priced.
  • 4 0
 yes they do..
  • 2 0
 @AntonReekmans:
Ok not what Kona UK told me. If you know somewhere in europe that do frame only, please DM me! Many thanks!
  • 1 1
 @Richt2000:
Iv tried ordering frames from Kona in uk and europe. Short answers unless it's in stock and will be dispatched with proof that same day you order it forget it. it's not coming everything they say is all lies to keep your money and hope you give up and spend it on a full crappy build.
  • 1 0
 @markg1150:
Thanks mark. Yea that would make sense if the UK distributor is saying none are being exported from US...
  • 1 0
 @AntonReekmans: Just out of curiosity, where can you get the frames? I've messaged two dealerships in my area, both telling me that they couldn't officially sell me a standalone frame.
  • 7 1
 Looks like a Trance Razz
  • 2 0
 If Kona would sell the new 134 in aluminum, frame only, 29" version, this would be in my garage right now, replacing my much loved Process 111. Sadly they don't and I had to "settle" for a Ripmo AF. Sorry Kona, I tried.
  • 1 0
 They seem to sell the 29” aluminum version, frame only, in Canada.
  • 4 0
 You definitely didn't settle. You did better with that ripmo af
  • 18 17
 My ALUMINUM 160mm travel 2012 Trek Slash weighed 31lbs.
My ALUMINUM 160mm travel 29" 2015 Spec'l Enduro weighed 29lbs.
-Both bikes WITH pedals-
Why does this CARBON 135mm $6k bike weigh 31lbs..WITHOUT pedals?
  • 11 1
 No they didn’t.
  • 2 1
 And what frame size those bikes were? It makes big difference and can go over 500g between small and extra large size for example.
Also bikes in recent years not only got longer but also tougher. Thanks to modern slacker geometry bikes can go much faster than ever so they need to be stronger to withstand abuse.
Just check how much modern iterations of Slash or Enduro weigh now. Also Kona was never featherweight...
Some current aluminium frames weigh over 3.7kg! You can get full-suspension STEEL frame lighter than that.
  • 5 1
 Because... Kona.
  • 1 0
 Kona are so scared by there past frame failures and the press it created for so long they go overboard with the frame builds. They could easy lighten it up but let's face it if one fails they will cop twice as much flack as anyone else.
  • 3 0
 The Kona frame isn't gonna break though. Like, they have actually learned from past mistakes.
  • 5 1
 I just wish Kona would lessen the pregnant belly look on the frames.
  • 6 2
 You know what corners nicer? The 27.5 version.
  • 2 0
 Hey PB, how about reviewing bikes that aren't your personal preference. If the bike model comes in 275 it's ok to review it.
  • 1 0
 its almost like the 27.5 remedy was the editors choice last year despite the field being full of 29ers. strange.
  • 3 0
 Jeez 27.5 is the red headed step child now huh. No carbon option. Is 27.5 dying?
  • 5 1
 good work Kona!
  • 1 0
 Great review. I like the direct comparison to the closest competition.
All that's missing is an explanation of cr , dl and cr/dl
  • 1 0
 dl: alu but dece spec
cr: carbon ''lower-end'' spec
cr dl: carbon but high end spec
  • 5 6
 @tgr9:
du: alu, shit components, priced as decent bike
cr: carbon, shit spec, priced as expensive bike
cr dl: carbon but "we will rip you" price

Kona pricing has gone out of this world, compare their bikes to Orbea or similar...
  • 1 0
 @hsertic: true, but they are always coming up discounted
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: How does this bike compare in pedaling/cornering/playfulness/capability to the Orbea Occam? On paper it seems nearer to that bike than to the Optic.
  • 1 0
 Interesting. I would more or less give this exact review to my 2015 Process 134. Basically would be trading in to get a water bottle cage and 1.5" larger wheels
  • 1 0
 Think the hta is 68 on the first gen 134. So you'd get a couple degrees
  • 3 2
 Can someone explain to me how a longer Bike is supposed to be better for steep trails? I’ve always found the opposite to be true.
  • 1 1
 "crickets"
  • 4 0
 I agree.

Depends on the gradient, for me "steep" is when you use your brakes but your speed doesn't change, "real steep" is a gradient where your speed increases even with your brakes on.

I just spent the last month regularly riding a real steep local track my old 2013 Slash (26", 160mm) while the 2018 Slayer (27.5, 165/170mm) was out for maintenance. Just rode the same track this morning on the Slayer which is a longer bike and felt way more shit scared than on the older other bike. I just couldn't get my weight low enough, it was like the bigger bike was in the way.
  • 1 1
 You would not understand
  • 1 0
 Kona, if you're listening, please give us more info on how to get adjustable chainstays in this or the 153. Like Connor Fearon's bike.
  • 2 0
 looks like Giant Reign 29
  • 2 0
 Thank you Mike for noting the ASA! You da man!
  • 2 1
 Process 153 is a better buy than the 134. Not much of a climbing or maneuverability difference between them.
  • 2 0
 Have you ridden both?
  • 3 0
 I have owned both and the 134 is a better bike every where but the super rough stuff. Much better climbing position. The rear end requires a can full of tokens and 25% sag though or the middle of the stroke is really easy to push through. I have the al/dl and I am getting a meg-neg air can which should do the trick for the funny mid stroke. 153 is a fun bike for shuttle runs but its climbing position just squatted the rear end too much for my liking and it was super heavy.
  • 1 0
 @JockoJones: Thanks a ton, this is really helpful. I've got a little bit of time on the base 134 and have ridden the 153 around the parking lot, but haven't had the chance to do a proper back to back test. Appreciate it!
  • 2 0
 @JockoJones: don't know which 153 you had. I rode the 2019 Process 153 CR 29, the 2020 Process 153 CR 29 and the 2020 Process 134 CR 29.

The "much better climbing position" is not that different at least on a medium frame, both have the same HT Angle and the ST Angle difference is 0.5.

As far as weight I didn't notice any difference meanwhile riding.

About the rear end squatting too much... for some reason I felt that on 2019 Process with the rockshox suspension, maybe some volume spacers could've fixed that. But on the 2020 Process 153 CR 29 it was surprisingly better. The fox suspension was better dialed for this demo bike to the point that the 134 doesn't make any sense to me.
  • 3 0
 @PJSANAB: Both bikes were the metal ones with my own drivetrain and stuff and despite the on paper similarities the bikes just seem alot different to me. I also ran air cans full of tokens on both bikes. I did run a marzocchi coil on the rear of the 153 which was awesome except for climbing of course. I dunno I just like the rear suspension better on the 134 and I can ride it all over without feeling like I suck at climbing. I have had a shit ton of konas cuz the shop I work at sells them and the 134 is the best all arounder they have made yet for my taste.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for adding the comparison to the Optic.
  • 1 0
 Not everyone has access to [legal] big mountains and ridiculously steep trails
  • 4 3
 $2,299 for a carbon frame! Aww, it's just a typo.
  • 5 3
 @gnralized: Wow, the optic looks even better now. I made the mistake of assuming that the kona was the cheaper of the 2.
  • 4 1
 @gnralized: With one color option Barney purple :-)
  • 6 3
 @in2falling: an absolutely horrendous color choice.. Its as if Norco doesnt want anyone to buy the frame only option.
  • 2 0
 @gnralized: theres 0 sizes available though. Does that really count?
  • 3 0
 @bohns1: i love the color and the fact that there are none available clearly states you probably shouldnt be in marketing huh?
  • 4 0
 @pargolf8: purple is the new black
  • 3 0
 @bohns1: I love the purple...
  • 1 0
 @pargolf8: Maybe you should look into a marketing term called product scarcity...There is a reason that none are available.
  • 1 0
 @bohns1: because the color way is dope? Maybe you should look into the economics term called supply and demand
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: makes sense since everything i own from clothes to cars is black
  • 1 0
 You can have a whole Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 with kinda decent components for 2.7k...
  • 2 2
 @pargolf8: The colorway is subjective.. Its a sad marketing move to only have one option...Supply and demand is created 90% of the time.. Rolex are the masters of this.. Dont be so naive.. Its a bad trait. Lets see how many of these in this color are out on the trails this year.
  • 2 0
 @bohns1: dont be such a condescending prick
  • 2 1
 @bohns1: ohhh you have a yeti. Nvm
  • 1 2
 @pargolf8: don't be mad bra..
  • 2 2
 @bohns1: about a yeti? Its not anger its comedy. Bet you gotta a kuat rack on your 3 series beamer too huh?
  • 2 2
 @bohns1: ( its blue like your yeti too isnt it)
  • 2 2
 @pargolf8: haha double replies eh? You seem triggered son.. No, not mad about a Yeti.. Just in general.

Nope.. Yeti is black, rack is a 1up usa, ride is a wrangler..

Good one on the pre-conceived assumption tho Huckleberry.
  • 2 2
 @bohns1: dude my little sister has a wrangler too! Cute!
  • 1 2
 @pargolf8: says the guy rockin a transition with purple hubs and purple grips...
  • 5 4
 I'd consider buying it on looks alone.
  • 1 0
 Agreed, love the chunky look of the chain- and seatstays.
  • 4 7
 At a certain point, all bikes will handle “crisply”, in which case what’s the point of these reviews?

This ^ makes sense, parts are parts, geo can be copied, suspension designs can be tweaked, bikes companies are closing the gap that separates them, nothing new here .... move along.

Seriously, this is looking more and more like advertising.
  • 1 0
 If only we could some sort of quantifiable testing. Because this is all opinion from someone who rides vastly different terrain then me and values different bike qualities. Just the same shit over and over again. Same comments too..wah no alloy wah no 27.5 weighs too much weight doesnt matter wah review cheap bikes wah..etc etc etc.
  • 9 1
 @reverend27, what would quantifiable testing look like to you? We're always trying to improve our reviews, but there's not a magic fixture in a laboratory (at least not yet) that can substitute for real world ride impressions.

You're right that a review will contain opinion, but that's backed up with experience. All of the reviewers at Pinkbike ride dozens of bikes each year in order to provide an informed opinion on a bike's strengths and weaknesses. We also try to explain where a bike would work best, due to the fact that there are so many riding styles and riding areas.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Maybe, and just for variety's sake, you could plot a camera man on some points of the trail and they could track the same rider but on different bikes and do an overlay or something like that. Any side by side kind of testing where people can see "oh wow, look at how he motors up that segment" or "look at how we handles that section with that bike compared to the other one."

This isn't meant to echo any criticisms per se but rather get the ball rolling on some constructive feedback to a fair question. Maybe others will have some better ideas.
  • 1 0
 Conversely, I think this is a clear and honest review which gives me a good understanding of how the bike will ride. I can get a good idea from the geo chart anyway and Mike's comments on the ride feel complements that nicely. Not the best VFM advertising if I get to the bottom and conclude the Norco would almost certainly be better for me.
  • 1 0
 Ya its all good he does the best he can. Honestly i have no ideas to add that wouldn't anger half the people that read these reviews so i will just accept the status quo. Peace.
  • 3 2
 66 degree HTA, how delightfully old fashioned
  • 2 0
 66 degree HTA is plenty slack for a trail bike.
  • 2 0
 Where's the point in obsessing about numbers if the bike as a whole works good?
  • 3 2
 "Quick Cornering Trail Bike" with 29" wheels … lol
  • 3 1
 Have you ridden one? Because to me, that about summed up my impression after spending a day with one of these.
  • 1 0
 If i still love my 111, any good reason to update?
  • 2 0
 I put a slackset -1 degree on my 2017 11 and giving it another season (or two)
  • 1 0
 I still love mine, too. Tried a 153, felt it was really fun but too much bike. Tried a 134. Saving up for one now - it's wicked fun and a solid step up from the 111.
  • 1 0
 I guess these pedal better, are slacker and significantly lighter.
Whether they have the same charisma when descending though, who knows?
  • 1 0
 I have had both the 111 was awesome loved it but the new kona "beamer" suspension is great and a step forward. Go try out a 134 they are super fun and just a little more capable everywhere. I also love the "111" thing on purely numerical symetry grounds.
  • 2 0
 @JockoJones: the 111 is legendary, in large part cause of that number. The process 115 isn't as legendary sounding.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: They do, for me. I am cursing myself for trying the 134, because I could have happily continued riding my 111 - now I have severe bike lust.
  • 1 0
 Kazimer Lives in Bellingham, kona is in Bellingham. . . . . . .
  • 1 1
 Jeez, Kona couldn't even spec their top of the line trim with a DT Swiss M1700 wheelset?
  • 1 1
 I find the wheels on complete bikes are almost always a disappointment and these are no different.
  • 1 0
 Mike, great summary. Appreciate the details.
  • 1 1
 All geo = Grim Donut or no thank you.
  • 3 3
 $7,908 for a single pivot design? umm.........
  • 3 0
 Like, how does the type of frame kinematic even matter if the bike performs well overall...?
  • 1 1
 @benmoosmann: Single pivot designs do not isolate rear braking forces from changing the suspension performance. There is no way around that without floating the caliper and attaching a pivoting reaction arm to the frame. The Horst link patent is expired, there is no reason for single pivot design.
  • 1 0
 @outside51: Yes thank you I do know my way around the different types of suspension kinematics. But my point still stands. Why would you stress about specific specs if the bike as a whole works great? Also there are advatages to a single pivot, four of which being that they are less complex, faster, more predictable and stiffer than a Horst link.
  • 1 2
 threaded bb , please.
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