How does it compare?
Kona's Process 153 CR 27.5 falls into the same category as the Bronson – it's a rugged all-mountain rig through and through. On paper, it's a little longer up front, with a 475mm reach vs. the Bronson's 455mm on a size large, and a little shorter out back, with 425mm chainstays vs. 430mm on the Santa Cruz. The 153's 66-degree head angle is also one degree steeper than the Bronson. Climbing:
The Process is a decent climber, but it's not quite at the same level as the Bronson. The Kona's 76-degree seat angle makes for a comfortable seated position, but there's a little more rear suspension movement under power, and it doesn't feel quite as efficient. Descending:
Both bikes can handle a generous serving of gnar, and there's no clear winner when it comes to deciding which bike is the more capable descender. However, I did have a few moments on the Process where I felt like the back end was squirting out from underneath me. There are plenty of short chainstay fans out there, but the combo of a longer front center and shorter back end made the Process feel a touch unbalanced at times, something I didn't experience on the Bronson.
The Process also feels stiffer, which, again, can be seen as a pro or a con depending on your personal preference. For me, the Bronson's overall feel was more to my liking. It's certainly not flexy, but it felt more compliant and comfortable at higher speeds on rough terrain. I'm also on the lighter side of the spectrum – bigger riders may like the 153's beefiness.
The Process is also a little heavier – Kona didn't hold back on the amount of carbon the used for the front triangle – but the frame only price is $200 cheaper than the Bronson, likely due in part to the use of aluminum rather than carbon for the chainstays.
What about the Nomad?
The Nomad and the Bronson share very similar geometry numbers, and weigh nearly the same, but they have two different personalities on the trail. If my rides typically involved shuttle or chairlift rides, or if descending was my number one priority, the 170mm Nomad would be my pick. That extra travel gives it the edge over the Bronson when it comes to pure DH runs.
But for rides that involve more than just gravity-fueled fun, I'd go with the Bronson. It feels livelier and quicker in more rolling terrain, and it's more enjoyable to pilot it through techy climbs than the Nomad.