Kona: WTF Happened?

Apr 3, 2013 at 5:31
by Charlie Sponsel  
The craziest thing happened in February. Kona released a new bike, and all the internet warriors...liked it.

Kona Carbon Operator

That's right, preliminary photos and details of Kona's new 2014 carbon Operator were released, and they were met with a positive, encouraging response from the online community. I was taken aback to see commenters on Pinkbike and other sites lauding the new bike's design, weight, and it's understated graphics. Most interestingly, comments about Kona's being heavy, outdated, statements that "it's still a Kona," and photos of head tubes sheering off were conspicuously absent. The clouds parted. Lions laid down with the lambs. In far off lands, internet warriors put down their keyboards and read stories from yesteryear to their children, put them to bed, and told them they loved them. A new peace came over this war torn land, and olive branches grew out from amongst the thorns.

Kona will be doing a full product launch for the new Operator later in April, and Pinkbike will have an exclusive in-depth look at the new bike in the coming weeks, but to me that's the least interesting part. Those things are all great, sure, but what’s on everyone’s mind isn’t the bike. It’s the transformation of Kona's brand and image that's the most interesting.

So what happened? Where did this come from? How did Kona turn it around? In summary, WTF?

Kona Carbon Operator

To get to the bottom of this whole thing, I spoke with Chris Mandell, Kona’s Gravity Product Manager. Chris has played a big part in several projects since he joined Kona in 2009, including the Operator, Entourage, Honzo, and Process. He was the natural go-to-guy to help me figure out how a brand like Kona reshapes their product line and their reputation.

Chris Mandell

Okay Chris: name, rank, and serial number:

My name's Chris Mandell, I am the Gravity Product manager at Kona, and I live in Bellingham Washington.

Let's start with the obvious. I'm sure when you started at Kona, you were aware of the reputation. Tell us a little bit about the reputation.

I think the reputation is a lot of different things to a lot of people. I think there were a lot of people on the Internet who had Stinkies as they were just getting into mountain biking, and then they outgrew those bikes. New companies came into the market, and they had sexier product lines, and we hadn’t changed the Stinkies in a while. But I think a lot of people have fond memories of hitting their first jump on a Stinky.

Kona Stinky jumps
  There are literally gazillions of photos in Pinkbike's archives of people hitting jumps on Stinkies.


Here's the best way to explain the change in people's perception of Kona's. When I started working at Kona, when you went to a downhill race, the guys on Konas didn’t have visors on their helmets, and now when you go to a downhill race the guys on operators have visors on their helmets. And that’s such a little thing, but it’s pretty funny to think about.

So what changed at Kona during that period?

When Kona started making cyclocross bikes and kids bikes and urban bikes in the mid 2000's, we got really focused on that side of our product line. About the time I came on in 2009 we realized that we needed to refocus and reinvest on the mountain side of things, and that was recognized by Jake and Dan through the product group, all the way through to the sales groups. We added some fresh blood to a product team that had a lot of experience and knowledge to help those young guys make things happen quickly, to quickly get their ideas into the market. Doug Lafavor (Designer) and Pat White (Product Manager) did a lot to teach myself and the other young blood so that we work effectively with our venders. Another critical element is our QC guy, who we will just call ‘Mo’. He will reprimand me for mentioning him but nothing happens without his oversight. His experience and expertise has been instrumental to bringing new product to life.

Even though it’s not a full suspension bike, the Honzo is really illustrative of what where Jake and Dan are willing to go. The Honzo is a wild bike. It doesn’t have the ability to run a front derailleur. For a company of our size to come out with a bike as nichy as that is risky, and Jake and Dan are definitely receptive to an idea like that. I had the idea for the geometry and the tone of the bike, and one of the sales guys said “yes we can sell that if you make it.”

For main page
  One of the first production Honzo's getting trail tested in the NW. Representing a super niche product and a big risk for a company the size of Kona, the Honzo has proven to be a very successful bike.

When I think of classic Kona, every mental image includes flower graphics. What happened to those? Where did they go?

Our revamped art department, Eddy Marcelet, Kevin Thornton, and Aaron Hogg, deserve some accolades because those guys really stepped up their game with the look of the new bikes. They've done a really good job of coordinating with the product group, and talking to not only our consumers but also our bikes shops to figure out what everyone wants. That has really helped us not to have flower graphics. Not that I have anything against flower graphics, but some people do.

One of the biggest changes was from the Stab, which was around for a decade or so, to the new Operator platform. The new carbon Operator is definitely the boldest bike we've seen from Kona so far. What went into the new Operators?

When I came on board, that was one of the interesting things for me. Jumping on the Stab and riding it, figuring out what was good on that bike and what needed to change, before we stepped into the operator line.

Collage of Stab - 2005-2010
   This is just 2005-2010. The Kona Stab platform dates back to the year 2000, and that design has won two World Championships, a World Cup Overall title, and countless races the world over. History.


For all of the faults of the Stab, it did have some really redeeming characteristics. But the elevated chainstays had no place on a bike anymore, there wasn’t a need for four bearings in the main pivot, the square toptube didn’t make any sense, the rectangle downtube wasn’t really necessary anymore, etc. There were a whole host of features on that frame that needed updating desperately, but if you looked at the leverage rate curve of that bike, it was f*cking brilliant. It had a really strong leverage rate curve. It was crazy how well that bike rode. The insane thing about that bike is how well it rode without a chain.

For main page
  Chris getting a little R&D time in on the downhill bike. Work is hard.

When we designed the new bike, we spent an epic amount of time looking at pivot placement and axle path. One of the conclusions that we came to is that axle path is not as important as people have been thinking it is. We believe that the leverage rate curve and the overall geometry of a bike is more important. Most of the time when you’re hitting a square edged hit, with any bike design, ideally you want to be riding as high in your travel as possible so you have as much travel to handle bumps as possible. When you have those big hits, having your bike recover quickly and stay up in the travel is better and more confidence inspiring than having some insane rearward axle path so you can run things over in the last third of your travel.

for an article
  Living the dream on his Entourage in Crans Montana, Switzerland

We lowered the main pivot considerably when we went to the operator, I think it’s 85mm lower, and that was huge on that bike because the stab had so much chain growth, partly because the stab was designed around 44 tooth chain rings. Now that everyone is running 36 tooth chainrings, it has this massive amount of chain growth which made it crazy to corner in.

Little things like that needed to get updated, but you kind of needed to start with a blank slate. The Operator was the first bike I worked on for Kona, and without Doug Lafavor’s help and without his experience I wouldn’t have been able to communicate what the Operator needed to be to replace the Stab, and to get it to market.

Kona Carbon Operator

Kona spends huge amounts of money and a huge chunk of your budget to send riders around the world to compete in the World Cup. Does the downhill bikes inform the design of other bikes in your lineup?

I definitely think it does. I think that downhill bikes are a flagship, and they’re where you put the best of your technology. I think that is starting to be true of enduro racing, and it's going to become more true of enduro racing, but right now the downhill bike is the one that everyone sees as getting pushed closest to it’s limit. And right now downhill is also the most interesting form of cycling to watch. There are people in Bellingham who wake up at four in the morning to watch World Cup downhill live. That doesn’t happen for track racing. That doesn’t happen for cross country mountain biking, either.

For main page

What else has changed in the design of Kona's new bikes?

We’ve hired a guy named Jack Russell, who originally graduated from Western Washington as an engineer, but went back to school to get his industrial design degree. He’s a lifetime cyclist, and the new carbon operator is the first product coming out of Jack’s computer There will definitely be more in the future, you haven’t seen all the other stuff he’s coming out with. Our athletes, design team, and sales guys are all really excited about what we've got coming-out. I cannot comment on the stuff that has been floating around the internet as the 2014 Operator is our focus right now, but for sure eyebrows will be going up soon.

When I was looking up photos for this article, I came across the 2002 Stinky Primo. I ignored the bike back in 2002, but looking at it now, it's sweet. It's got a Z1 with 130mm of travel, a triple crank, Hayes brakes (which were the best thing going at the time), a shortish stem, and it's a five or six inch travel bike with slack enough geometry that you could jump around on it, but you could still pedal it. Basically it looks like a trail bike. It sounds like if you can mix the efficiency and performance of a downhill race bike with the fun of the original Stinky, that's a pretty darn good bike.

That's a really astute point. In 2002, the Stinkies, they were really just trail bikes. That's what people were doing on them. As the freeride thing got bigger we evolved them into freeride bikes, but originally everyone was really just riding trail on it before "trail bikes" were a thing. Today’s 160mm pedaling all mountain bike is more capable than yesterday’s 7 inch travel freeride bike. So you can hit all the same moves and your bike is 10 pounds lighter and you can pedal it efficiently.

Kona Process 2013

The Process is a perfect example. It’s got 12 x 142, it’s got ISCG tabs, it’s got updated geometry in terms of a lower BB and shorter chainstays, but it’s really not that far off from where the Stinky's were in 2002 in terms of geometry and intended use. The leverage rate curve is a little bit more progressive than the Stinky was, the bb height is shorter, and the chainstays are at least 10mm shorter. But those are all refinements that make the bike ride differently and more capably. The intended use is the same.

The model year 2013 Process is a clear descendent from that heritage. The reviews we’ve been getting from that bike have been really positive, and that’s something I’m really proud of. But I’m also looking forward to 2014, because there’s a lot in the pipe that will blow you away.

kona promo shot


Thanks for the interview, Chris, and good luck to all the guys at Kona!

-Charlie Sponsel





300 Comments

  • 290 13
 Looks like Kona has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Just took awhile to do it.
  • 148 21
 I must be the only one to have always liked konas the whole time then then! I always thought they were some of the best balanced bikes, my opinion anyway!
  • 52 21
 I've never liked Kona. I always thought they were overpriced and heavy at the bike shops, and the names on top of the many pictures that went viral on pinkbike a few years ago of the broken frames, just worked against them. I didn't even like how they felt or looked. I really didn't like anything about Kona...

Now, though, they look much better. I can't say I've ridden one of the newer ones, but they also look like they'd ride better too.
I have some respect for Kona, for stepping up their game, and somehow staying in the game for so long...but anyway, good luck Kona. If you guys can recover from the terrible rep you had on pinkbike for a while, that is really only a rep among people on pinkbike from my experience (LBS knew nothing of the rumors and hate) then awesome!
  • 17 7
 I must say that I agree with fr3er1d3r
I never liked the KONA as well, the look of the bike was so ugly (same as Orange Bikes), they just didn't attract me at all, and the price was too high.
This new Kona Operator Carbon 2014 looks so sweet and definitely I will buy it if the price it's magical, not absurd.
To Kona, continue with the great job, build proper bikes and good looking as well
  • 75 7
 I've always loved Kona. They made some of the best freeride bikes ever in the Stinky and a ton are still around today. As much as you can bash on the company for using an "outdated" design, I think I can say with relative certainty that the gravity game would not be where it is today without Kona.
  • 10 2
 I've never loved kona, but i always thought the stinky was a decent solid beginner bike for not a lot of cash, even if they were pretty heavy. The whole kona snapping thing was kind of unfair, I've never seen a broken one. A few of my mates are still rocking stinkies and they're still holding it together nicely, couple of them took them out to the alps last year for a fortnight, lasted better than my 223 did (mine cracked, theirs didn't Wink ) Though the brake jack on those old stabs was hilarious.

These new konas look incredible though, I'd love a Honzo and/or a Process, they look great! I'm looking forward to seeing what else they have up their sleeves, and hopefully in a year or two I'll be flush enough to buy one! Wink
  • 6 1
 ive always been kona, but when i came to buying a new bike if it hadnt been the year that the operator came down in price i really was starting to look else where... the operator is in my mind what kona does best, bulletproof performance, after a whole season of whistler bike park riding every trial on the mountain. the only thing i changed was the rear tire because i had been skidding like aggy way to much...
  • 15 1
 Sure kona has been heavy and not the best choice but it was a symbol of sending it back in the day. A lot of the giant freeride stuff was done on konas. Cowan, basigotia, and even Andreu were on konas. Many others as well. Good to see they lightened up but to say that they were never popular isn't very true IMO
  • 6 2
 There's a simple reason no ones had all those classic arguments against it- it's carbon. Konas issue was with heavy and weak frames, both of which are moot because this ones made of carbon. They gave is some clean lines (reminds me of commencial) and its gtg. This will be a real home run if they can keep the price down. One of Konas draws had always been that you get a decent build for your money.
  • 15 3
 Those bikes need more flowers Wink
  • 11 96
flag zoomzoomchicken (Apr 9, 2013 at 7:43) (Below Threshold)
 Cmon kids lets get back to our roots, Kona sucks! their frames are weak! their heavy! The brake jack is horrible! They ride bad! Now with a solid reputation like konas, I know what next bike is gonna be...
  • 33 2
 They need to make a new bass
  • 5 3
 Good to see Kona stepping it up
  • 12 3
 Since a long time doing mountainbiking, crosscountry and freeride, never really understood the negative emotions concerning Kona, had several of them and worked out really fine, tried others, came back to Kona. Now my son, former youth champ (NL) , is riding for Kona in the Grassroots program, he's really happy too. But probably the new Kona Operator will be the benchmark for coming seasons!
  • 5 91
flag Rider656 (Apr 9, 2013 at 8:27) (Below Threshold)
 Can't stand the name Kona. Kona=Hawaii or should I say Hawai'i (gay). Kona=coffee.
Hawai'i got nothing going on. Change that name! Kona/Hawaii is crap to me.
Kona owners from the Northwest should have know better and kept it real.
  • 7 2
 One reason I've always respected Kona is the support on grassroots level, both for younger riders and events/bikeparks (SFA comes to mind). Don't forget the Africabike programme either.

Having said that I would never have guessed I'd be riding one in 2013..
  • 2 7
flag scandal667 (Apr 9, 2013 at 9:34) (Below Threshold)
 dirtymars--- clearly you've never been to deep cove in vancouver.
  • 3 3
 I've never ridden a Kona but their story seems a lot like Giants, at least when it comes to their DH bikes. It wasn't until this year that Giant finally changed the head angle/wheelbase on their Glory so hopefully the changes that Kona has made will make it a top selling DH rig again!
  • 1 1
 A friend has an old stinky, it is an okay bike, no more. Quite heavy, and a bit stubborn on cornering and on rock gardens, but I really hope that Kona has actually stepped up, the more options the better! Although I've been on my '11 SX for one and a half year, and I don't think I will get another bike soon!
  • 5 1
 I hated Konas until the entourage came out. That bike changed my whole view on the company and its new direction. Looks a seriously nice bike to ride
  • 4 1
 Something simmilar happend to NORCO as well !


Back in the day you heard either : Its still a KONA , or still a NORCO !
  • 10 0
 Coffee is great, what's wrong with you, Ride656?
  • 8 0
 I feel that Kona and Norco ^^^ just got a little too popular in the earlier to mid 2000s and the next generation of riders wanted something different. I'm sure their bikes are good, and if Kona came to any of us and wanted to give us a free bike we would gladly take it. Its a similar story with Marzocchi, early 2000's everyone had one. Then the company becomes popular but slow to update, riders choose something different, brand has a few down years (even a decade).
  • 25 1
 With a reference to a few peoples comments here:
Expensive? Da fuq? 07 Stab vs 07 Demo 8:
Stab price new: $2999
Demo Price new: $4900

Weight... Well you got me on that one, but I think there's only about 3lbs between the two.

Someone said about his mates stinky holding up better out in the Alps:
Mine has been in service for 5 years, been to Les Gets twice (3 weeks worth total), Winterberg and Leogang. I've done all the biggest drops at each location on her, and she's still perfect.
The only defects to the frame are stone chips and a dent in the down tube where Easyjet decided to drop it out of the plane when they were unloading it.
My mate's Demo? Cracked frame in Les Gets.

I feel that the hate for Kona was based on a few pictures of broken ones and then suddenly it was cool to hate Kona.
Some people have different experiences, I get that, but in my 5 years of having owned and ridden a Kona (Quite hard too) I cant fault it. Frame bearings lasted 4 years without being touch. They didn't even see so much as a spray of WD40.

Only thing I can think of is the suspension linkages from the 05/06 that folded up on heavy bottom outs. They just hadn't designed a component that could take that sort of force. Rectified with the 07.
  • 27 8
 never seen so many trek sessions on one page.
  • 3 0
 To be honest I never gave them a second look but not because of any Internet hate or their image, it was because I rode a Stab and it was seriously terrible. By this point I was on a v1 TR450 so it might not've been a fair comparison, but in theory it should as they were both company's flagship product but the Kona never stood a chance. It's different now they have the Operator, that is a very good bike so long as you have a decent shock on it (looking at you Roco). They are definitely coming back.

I've had my Tanuki xc/trail bike for two seasons and it has some aggressive geometry for a 130mm bike and is seriously fun to chuck around the trails, jumps pretty well (even held up to a couple laps in the bike park), and still climbs like a goat. Giving it a new lease of life this year with brand new RP23 and Fox 140 CTD, both Kashima, and I cannot wait to get it out there on the trails.

Well done Kona for coming through that rough patch, I'd be very interested to try that Carbon operator given how good the alloy version rode with a good setup.
  • 6 0
 Zoomzoom chicken, i looked at your page and man... you have nothing but negative sh*t to say to everyone. I never liked konas either but you havent actually seen and felt this bike so you never know, maybe they've stepped up.
  • 2 0
 don't feed the trolls
  • 13 0
 What do you mean WTF happened, they've been making price point bikes that help teenagers like me be able to afford a decent bike!
  • 1 0
 dude, i wanna ask.....

whether kona stab supreme 2010 was stronger than the kona last year?
  • 1 0
 the operator would be much better in performance and handling
  • 1 0
 my friend just offered his kona stab supreme 2010 to me, so I asked what it was stronger than the frame Stab years ago, I ask because I worry a lot that say kona bikes often cracked and broken frame last year
Smile
  • 1 0
 life time frame warranty on all kona frames
  • 1 0
 ooh i see, thanks for your response Smile
  • 57 4
 It's because of Aggy, that man is a boss.
  • 5 1
 agreed
  • 3 1
 Yes
  • 2 0
 Not only because of him but he is defenetly doing a great job!
  • 2 0
 imagine Aggy shredding on a carbon Entourage...
  • 50 0
 Chris Mandell should probably go and give Boobar some PR lessons hey?
  • 1 1
 hahah nice one Big Grin
  • 1 2
 ^^i see what you did there Big Grin
  • 45 1
 I used to sneer at Kona because of my memory of the Stinky as a kid which was ugly & heavy. In recent years I think they've produced solid bikes that cover all riding aspects so naturally they'll start picking up good reviews.

I think kids in my generation (I'm 22) don't know about the Kona history. If you check out the '90s range they have great reviews from the more seasoned riders amongst us- especially the old steel hardtails. So I think they just hit a low in the mid-2000s and have been picking up ever since.

I test rode the new Explosif 650b and loved it. I just forgot about the brand name (and wheelsize) and just when for a ride. Turns out that it's actually the bike for me so I ended up leaving the shop £1500 lighter (originally went in looking for a road bike) and with a nice new bike. It's a good spec and good weight at reasonable money but with smiles for miles. That's what riding is for me. Thanks Kona.

I think I've come to the point where I can stop judging people on what brand/wheelsize they ride as long as they ride and enjoy themselves. Is'nt that what it's all about?
  • 11 1
 Hit the nail on the head there buddy, I run a 24" and a 26" on the same bike and I couldn't care less b'cause I F***in love it Smile
  • 3 0
 haha, you make me laugh because I've been kinda wishing I still had my old big hit lately. I seriously think there is something worthwhile in the 24"/26" design: you get DH race bike feel, with the ability to hit switchbacks and not hate your life. Seriously, I don't think I've owned a bike since that felt so confidence inspiring in the tight twisty stuff.
  • 14 0
 When I was a kid EVERYTHING was ugly and heavy!
  • 3 0
 well not all kids your age are as smart and can characterize Kona's modern history as well as you just did above. good isht. what you've explained is part of the conventional wisdom amongst mt bike enthusiasts of the last 20 years. one caveat, "I can stop judging people on what brand/wheelsize they ride" except 29ers of course. I KID! Wink
  • 5 0
 I still ride my Hei Hei from '97 and it still makes me grin like an idiot while on the trails.
  • 3 0
 got a '99 orange Mano Mano that gets loaned to noob friends and they always say "damn that bike rocks, it's sooo much better than my (entry level/shitty) Trek, Giant, Diamond Back, Huffy " etc. and verily it is so.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I love my strange contraption of a bicycle with its odd wheels, It rides amazing! Smile Partially because It took months worth of searching for second hand parts (Im Cheap) and I put it together my self Smile
  • 35 0
 ...people pulled their heads out of their arses, that's what happened...
  • 29 0
 His name is Jack Russel.....? That's the only thing I could think about.
  • 13 0
 almost as rad as the Jim Morrison at Cane Creek
  • 2 1
 ....yea it is an he'll manual all over your face.
  • 2 0
 I heard he can't manual.
  • 23 7
 People need to stop flapping about weight and shit, seriously if weight of a bike bothers you then you shouldn't be on one because your probably a 9 stone frail idiot who cant lift a bag of sugar and your only complaining because you keep falling off and the extra 10 pounds or so in wieght hurts that little bit more when your bike smashes you in the face whilst your rolling down the hill. I like my Kona and I like how it feels and isn't that what its about, I couldn't give a flying f*** what the next man thinks because he isn't riding the thing. My Stinky deluxe cost me 450 pound and its a minter for what it gets used for you all talk about bikes like your riding red bull rampage when really everyone of your bikes are probably better than you are on them.
  • 3 2
 when you're riding XC/AM/enduro or whatever marketing bullshit it's called this week, weight does make a difference, you don't want to be pedalling a 40lb bike around. On a downhill bike, yeah a few lbs doesn't make a huge difference, but it does if you're talking a few seconds in WC runs.
  • 3 3
 fuck that. i buy the parts that ride nicely. its all well having like, 120gram bars, but they are most likely 500 odd mil wide, and flexy as fook. i choose parts and bike on how they feel to ride, i barely look at weight. that is why i ride a 2004 kona scrap.
  • 21 1
 Are the same people who complain about weight the same people who complain about breakages and price? Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick 2.
I'll pick Kona. They introduced me to sloping top tubes, slack head angles, full suspension, hydrualic brakes and clipless pedals. They sponsored my first bike porn NWD3 and their riders inspired me to ride. The first Down Hill racing I ever saw was Fabien Barel winning the World Championships on a Kona Stab. The first double whip, 720, double back flip, super flip and flip whip I ever saw on a MTB were all on Kona's courtesy of Paul B and Andreu. I think the world record long jump is still held by a Kona. The suspension looks like double wish bone off a sports car. Their styling is rarely mistaken for another companies. Their advocacy rules. They began in MTBing. I'm on my 3rd All mountain Kona Frame and if I could buy the other two back I would desperately love to. The Real question to me is why anyone would buy anything else?
  • 6 1
 How many of us here do world cup runs mate. Seriously everyone takes shit to serious ride your bike stop thinking that a few grams here and there will make you ride better because it wont. All you need is a functioning bike the rest is down to you
  • 2 2
 I agree aslong as your bike is comfy for you to ride the rest i down to the rider a few grams here and there wont isnt gunna do anything for you. Confidence and a big pair of balls will do more..
  • 15 1
 Too many different units of measurement in a single paragraph.. Stones, pounds, bags of sugar... I'm confused...
  • 2 0
 I don't take it that seriously, have a look at what i call my "XC" bike and you'll know...
I'm not saying that you have to buy super light components and shit, I don't, I buy parts that work for me, but it just so happens that these days, quality parts are getting cheaper, lighter and stronger. You don't have to shell out an absolute wedge to have a bike that rides nice and doesn't weigh as much as a small planet.
  • 1 0
 I always thought the same about weight. Then I went from a 46 lbs downhill bike to a 38 lbs downhill bike. The difference was huge. It's so much easier to ride that I have more confidence, can go faster and enjoy the ride a whole lot more.
  • 1 3
 Ohh your confused alright. Sausage jockey pole rider! Stop whining about other peoples bikes Kona's are quality
  • 19 2
 I still ride my -02 Stinky updated with modern suspension Smile
  • 5 1
 I'm still rockin' my 2003 Stab with all newer parts and it's not heavy or ugly imo.
  • 4 1
 ive got an 2006 stab
  • 4 1
 I have a buddy who has an Operator, but occasionally takes his old 1999 Stab Dee-Lux out, 3" front tire, Stratos fork, and all!
  • 1 0
 I bought a 2010 stinky six because it reminded me so much of my 2001 stinky dee-lux.
  • 11 0
 For me, when I think of Kona, I think of the classics like the Coilair, Dawg, Stinky and Stab. All those lines were abandoned and what replaced them were oddities that never recaptured the spirit of the old models. The Stinky was especially painful because it went from an aggressive, a** kicking frame that you saw in almost every film at the time to some horrendously neon painted monstrosity that looked like it was recently rolled out of a department store. Sure you have a lot of trolls spreading FUD ("My sister's roommate Freshman year of college heard from some guy's friend who does 80ft drops that Kona's crack.") but I think the wrong turn was when Kona got away from their core lines that enough long time Kona owners started looking elsewhere.
  • 9 0
 Kona is love and hate. I started with the Shred hardtail then moved to the Stinky, which disclosed a new world to me, than other bikes. Probably 90% of us own a Stinky once in lifetime: we loved it, than we grew up, we became expert on laverage ratio curves and frame's geometry and we move to better bikes (who still rides regressive suspension scheme frames?). We all start with a Kona (isn't it') Wink
  • 8 1
 you only see pictures of failed kona's simply because every single person on this planet has owned one. they are extremely popular so of course you will see more pictures of them fail. I only think they get a bad rap because they tend to be everyones first bike, something they have upgraded from. At the end of the day kona makes a solid bike ranging from beginner to elite riders. I'm happy to see that they have yet agained refined there lineup... but to say there past models weren't up to snuff, or suffered from shearing headtubes actually is ignorant to the fact that you only see this appearence more since there is just so many out there.
  • 6 0
 Yeah! I never had checked why people hate Kona! I ride the Operator and I'm happy! It's a solid bike and I like how it works! Other bikes can break too if you land every single tim too short or stuff like that! The most people have never ridden a Kona and hate it!? (Sorry for my bad english and grammar!) Ride on an give Kona a chance to get part of you! I like it! Cheers
  • 10 1
 Your English and grammar are excellent, but I would recommend you don't use an exclamation mark (!) at the end of every sentence. ;o)
  • 2 0
 Haha, ok. ;-)
  • 9 2
 "But I think a lot of people have fond memories of hitting their first jump on a Stinky"

True that!
  • 4 0
 I think whats happened more and more is that instead of people hating on bikes they just move on and go find something that does interest them. I'm still not a fan of the Kona bikes but I don't need to come here and say bad things about them. If you like the Kona bikes and you have a Kona and you want to go ride then sweet we'll go riding. What I do like about Kona is that they promote the sport very well and get many grassroots riders into a position where they can ride and perfect their craft all while providing a half decent bike at an affordable price for the masses that want to get into the sport. For this reason I support Kona. ( But I'm still not gonna buy one hehe Wink
  • 7 0
 I was always a hater But I will buy that new carbon operator. And it will have a CCDB Air and a Boxxer WC on it
  • 4 0
 I always lusted after a Kona when I was a teen - I always had to settle with my Diamond Back V-Link (Another bike company from the past that seems to have fallen on it's arse).

I lost interest in riding for quite a while and must have missed all the Kona hating (Thank goodness). Now I'm back into riding the first company I looked at was Kona and yes, I have just ordered a Kona Taro. Can't wait for it to turn up...
  • 4 0
 Way to go Western grad! Straight out of the ID program to a carbon operator that looks way better than the aluminum on. Sir, I really like what you are doing at the company and thanks for giving me more hope of getting a job in the bike or ski industry! Sincerely, a current MSCM guy at western
  • 1 0
 small correction for the record: Jack did not do ID at WWU, he did VRI and then did graduate ID at UID in Sweden.
  • 4 0
 Kona is a local company to me and I always wanted to like their stuff but they always seemed a little behind everyone else. I rode an Operator last summer and it was amazing. Glad to see them making some great looking and more importantly riding bikes.
  • 4 0
 I never comment on these articles, but I read them religiously. I felt compelled in this case. I have worked as a mechanic in bike shops for years and I usually hated on Konas. I think a big issue was that everybody and their brother (and sister) owned one. They were one of the original free ride bikes and people put them through their paces. They were certainly ridden hard and put away wet. It also didn't help that people could buy a Stab (Garbanzo edition) rental bike that had been ridden in the Whistler Bike Park for a summer season. Talk about clapped out...

Then, I purchased a 2013 Satori and my mind was changed forever. This bike is my current ride and is (without a doubt) one of the most fun bikes I have ever ridden. I honestly did not expect to be blown away, but I was. It climbs amazingly well and descends with confidence. I live in one of the areas that is considered a mountain bike Mecca (Vancouver, BC) and I ride every single weekend. I have yet to find a trail (no matter how gnarly) that the Satori cannot handle. And it's a 29er!!!!!

I no longer work in the bike industry, but I must say, Konas are on the up and up. They have developed and nurtured an awesome line of bikes that are incredibly competent and easier on the wallet than some of the bigger brands. I should also mention that everyone that I have ever met from Kona in Canada is awesome. I'm not saying that everybody should go out and buy a Kona right now, but I would certainly take a look at their line if you are in the market for a new bike.
  • 7 2
 I love kona since I startet to ride mountainbikes! The carbon operator will definately be in my garage next year! But i'm still in love with my 2012 supreme operator tough!
  • 6 0
 That honzo looks awesome! Finally a company who isn't putting useless front derailleurs on their all mountain bikes.
  • 3 0
 I've always been a huge Kona fan and probably always will be. The new Operator is awesome looking though. Seems they are continuing to push the limits of bike design by going really in depth in the basic mechanics of the suspension. That's the way it should be in my opinion. Keep it up Kona!
  • 3 0
 Stinky was my first "real bike". I rode the piss out of that bike and it never let me down. Sure it wasn't the most "modern" bike out there but it got me to the level of riding that I am at now. I raced it, jumped it, rode Loops, Whistler, Silver Star, Mt. 7, Moose Mtn., Fromme, Seymour and always did so with a huge grin on my face. I would argue that many a rider enjoyed countless hours on a Kona and are stoked to see that the new line up looks bad ass.
  • 2 0
 brings back such good memories. i remember riding around on my P3 5-6 years ago. all the older kids (i was 14-16 at the time) had their stinkys and they did EVERYTHING on them, dj, dh, trails, you name it, they did it! hell i remember seeing a local dj shredder do his first back flip on his stinky (he actually sh!t himself btw, lol). ever since then ive always wanted a long travel kona, because of those older kids

anyways, heres what im getting at:
flash forward to now. finally decided to stop being a sissy and build a DH bike. can you guess what i got? time to bring back the good memories! Big Grin
farm9.staticflickr.com/8246/8613543863_e74706ed09_z.jpg
  • 3 0
 Mandells the man. He's got the vision of what people who ride want. Because he's one of them. That's all a company needs. The old dogs that aren't as relevant anymore need to step aside and let the new dudes with their finger on the pulse lead the show. Plus, with the bike park not releasing 150 pieces of total thrashed on garbage into the market place every year for 10 years they've got a bit of a better name. Now its giants turn to fail
  • 1 0
 2nd that one. Good to see Kona putting the right people in the right places. It really does pay off. And it's amazing what Kona can do with the extra funds laying around when they're not pissing it away sponsoring the bike park, only to give themselves a bad rep and flood the market with clapped out ex-rentals. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of Giant in both regards.
  • 7 0
 Ive always loved Konas!!! F*ck all the haters!!!
  • 3 0
 Change is good, if you look at your past and learn from your mistakes you can improve. Glad there are actually positive comments and not too many trolls posting giving pinkbike a bad rep like kona had. Good job! maybe pinkbike posters can change too!
  • 3 0
 One of my friends rides a late model Abracadabra - its light and flies on the technical descents - it would have been on my list if they were more readily availalbe at reasonable prices here...
  • 8 2
 Whats even more disturbing: teamrobot is taking over pinkbike!
  • 2 11
flag wakaba (Apr 9, 2013 at 5:03) (Below Threshold)
 my thought too, lots of hype of what is essentially a vietnamese carbon sweatshop contraption that looks like a Session, will ride like a Session and has graphics like a Scott Gambler.
  • 1 0
 But its not necessarily a bad thing .. Is it? Cheaper price,higher routine? I donno...
  • 3 1
 I miss the old Kona badges from the 90's , Joe Murray is a fantastic bike designer and Kona lost it's way when he left to make Voodoo bikes. Kona have always made decent bikes but it became fashion to knock them as they never marketed the same way as other companies. They have lost as sense of fun they used to have especially in the bike names Muni mula for example is just Aluminum (Aluminium) backwards or the sex range of full suspension bikes.
  • 2 0
 On a side note, I've ridden with Joe in Sedona a few times. So much fun
  • 2 0
 Bikes like the Shred and Unit have the old school thumbs up logo and lettering on them. They look great and they are selling at a good pace at my LBS.
  • 3 1
 Well actually all bike manufacturers have improved their products during the last 10 years, even catalog bikes as on a recent Pinkbike review. I do get your surprise though that Kona was able to keep up. Obviously I am disappointed with Kona. 2009 I read on Pinkbike: "The Bass is back and looks way more bad ass than before! Adjustable drop outs, multi or single speed option, Giro Tabs, yep this bike is ready to jump and hit the bike parks hard!" , so I pass by my LBS, pay cash, mind you I am 39 at the time, two and a half years later it fractures at the bottom bracket and I have not even come close to 20% of the bikes potential. Turns out my bike did not have lifetime waranty, only the later models. So you get my disappointment and why I ve bought two US hand made frames since.
  • 5 0
 I think the abra cadabra will be the next carbon bike. I hope so at least. Love that line.
  • 3 1
 Riding a 2012 Abra Cadabra, really want it to become carbon! Process DL is also a good candidate for carbon!
  • 1 0
 Scandiminium for eva. I remember first seeing a scandium king supreme at Mr Good bike. I really wanted a scandium bike because it wasn't Ti or Carbon but, it was just as good. I decided on a longer travel Coilair, Now I have the long and short travel and the scandiminium. I say Scandiminium across the entire range.
  • 1 0
 Just bought a new 2011 cadabra from cove, frikkin love it! Cove even upgraded it to an air magiclink, so awesome!
  • 1 0
 Air magic link makes all TGE difference. I had a 2010 cadabra, sold it to try a freeride bike. Now missing it, so I am saving for another one.
  • 1 0
 kona has something in the works...and it looks very nice
  • 3 1
 Kona have always had such a great company image, so chilled out..like I'd be able to ride with the guys who run the company, a real 'family run brand' feel. Alway's going to love kona though as a shred was my first real bike that made me properly get into mtb!
  • 2 8
flag henry-turner (Apr 9, 2013 at 4:46) (Below Threshold)
 this sarcasm?
  • 2 5
 i hope so... can't stand this Kona crap!
  • 2 0
 i recently got a deal on a 2011 kona stinky tl frame, cheap as chips and although i have other more expensive bikes i built it up with some decent components and it turns out it rides and pedals really well. not the prettiest bike but not dog ugly. it has the modern tapered headtube a budget looking shock but it seems to be tuned quite well for the frame , actually felt better than the cane creek i tried on it and it can take my reverb dropper, it has a 12mm axle and there is the option to change the dropouts and run a q/r or a floating brake arm. not bad for a frame that cost a thousand gbp less than many frames. i have been trying to sell it but i think it is only because of the stigma some people attach to kona bikes.it is the first kona i`ve had for many years. back in the day i had a kona tomas misser replica , a very bling and rare 5k bike at the time. although it was a turner burner dh under the kona badge [ there is a rumour that kona were never paid for the frames but that is another story]. it had a quality bike image which had disappeared but hopefully is now making a comeback.
  • 2 0
 Nice to see this step of Kona. I'm impressed. The bike looks mordern, not as old as the oder konas. It has more flow in its frame, like the kona entourage. I always hated the ugly brakeing system with the iron bar to compare suspension rotation. Now, since this has gone, kona has a new spot on my bike ranking list which lays in my head.
  • 2 0
 imo, i couldnt care less about what people think about the older konas, i think the flower designs are awesome looking, thats what makes a kona a kona, i just bought an 08 shred and im lovin everything about it!! hopefully gonna do a build in the near future and kick all the haters a**es with it!! haha, watch your backs, haters, im comin for you!!
  • 2 0
 it was easy to hate on kona because they provided decent bikes and a decent price hit, so they was alot of them out there, I had two friends that started biking on kona hardtails then moved up to stinky's, and they abused the shit outta them. I owned one but never got to ride it, sold it before it was built up. I always liked how kona stuck with the suspension design they did and only tweaked it and updated it over the years, rather then some bike companies who seem to flip flop between designs from year to year. My next bike choice was narrowed down to a Entourage Deluxe, Truax or Slayer and I honestly think I will be ending up on the Entourage based on spec, price and it being the closest brand shop to where I am located
  • 2 0
 Hell, I remember seeing the Stinkies 10 or so years ago and thinking damn... I need to get into Mountain Biking! Took me until late last summer to do it and when I did I went and bought a Kona just based on those old visions from my past. Now I wish I'd done a little more research but honestly I'm pretty damned happy with my Tanuki DL as a beginner MTB and will look to Kona again when it's time to upgrade.
  • 2 0
 I'm probably the only person who would love to have old Stab Supreme 2006/2007/2008 (but the regular one, not the FBI) over the new Operator... Those new bikes are great but the old ones remind me of Kona's golden era. The Clamp team, the movies, cool catalogs, cool clothes. Now there are only bikes. They say they are better, but I'm not convinced. I hope that some day I will be able to collect 2006 Howler, Paddy Wagon, 2007 Cowan, Coiler Deluxe, Stab Supreme, Unit 2-9 and Major Jake.
  • 2 0
 everyone has heard of kona? everyone can probably name one of their frames. every other frame on pinkbike is a kona and every other bike on ebay is a kona! pretty sure that (carrera aka halfords bikes) nicked a few ideas from the guys too. They were well priced and they are good to ride. the reason we've seen so many in pieces over the years is because there are so many people riding the damn things into the ground! and thats because there damn good bikes. Shame is they were just not the prettiest. But looks like they have evolved from 'beast to the 'beauty' now, whilst still retaining there beastly nature! GO KONA.
  • 4 3
 I like the new kona's because the seem to have joined the modern movement, unlike some of the others that it used to be compared with in the past. The're Lighter, more predictable, more durable, and now Carbon. Everyone likes carbon.
  • 10 3
 i dont like because i cant afford them! Big Grin
  • 3 1
 I don't, I love steel
  • 1 0
 If you like steel, get a Honzo (29") or a 2012 Steely (26") - both great bikes!
  • 1 0
 I don't I Love Scandiminium. Oops repeating myself.
  • 1 0
 Hah! The Stab was my first (and only) DH bike in 2004, which I kept for 3 years until I went to a Spec demo day and realized that SX Trail with 36 Van can ride DH as well or better Smile

Now, wtf? 1. Small Trolls got fed up with eating same meat 2. You guys made a bike that looks just as good as others 3. Higher Trolls learned over the course of years that all bikes come from the sameplace...

Honestly, Honzo and Jake the Snake are the bikes I identify the good Name if Kona these days. I am thinking of buying a Honzo because I can't afford a Soulcraft which will always be my dream steel HT!
  • 1 0
 Am I right in thinking that the Process is kind of a finely tuned relative to the Stinky Six?

My Stinky Six is a 2010 model and although not the lightest bike it is great fun to ride on the trails. If the Process rides similar to it I would be pretty interested in grabbing one......
  • 2 0
 I bought a Stab Primo from 2000/2001, really cheap, put new paint on it and it looks like new, people sit on my bike and are astonished how well the suspension works, it is still a good frame to have fun on!!
  • 3 1
 There are lots of broken konas because there were lots of people who could afford them and lots of people who built up confidence to ride them hard, too hard! It's not that they were ever flimsy.
  • 5 0
 "Don't call it a comeback....I been here for years" - LL Cool J
  • 5 0
 I'm pretty sure that last photo is NOT Matt Slaven.
  • 1 0
 What was that hardtail they came out with in like '98, '99...? Came with a Junior T or Super T on the front end? Man that was fugly... But, doods shredded on it. I saw a guy go almost 30' on the big side of the Halo drop at Blackrock on it, way back when.
  • 1 0
 I think it was a Kona Chute, with a Judy XL fork (in yellow) And the only reason I remember this is because at the time I thought it looked fantastic...
  • 1 0
 I remember rummaging through dumpsters at the Kona building in BHam. Found some cut up frames that I used to decorate my bedroom walls with in highschool. I don't own a Kona but I want them to be successfull because of what they have done for our sport and my community. Love the new bikes and hope you guys kill it this year.
  • 1 0
 Kona has been keeping it real since the beginning of DH/freeride. I never sat at the top of a logging rode getting ready to drop in on a gnarly trail without at least one guy on a kona..

I have never owned one until this year (konda Process, My good buddy know owns Kona dealer) but the brand has been a big part of my cycling history over the past 10 years.. Lots of Photos on my hard-drive of guys getting huge air on a Kona Stinky.

FYI about the carbon bikes... They might be light and fast but these days when my friends on the carbon Trek and DEmo are sitting on top of a 15 foot drop the only thing i hear is carbon this carbon that. and they dont hit the drop. Maybe they are old and using it as a excuse but the bikes dont feel as stout as the aluminum ones even if the engineers are proving them stronger.
  • 1 0
 I was out of the MB scene for a while and completely missed the Kona hate-on in the early to mid 2000s. I find the Kona hate quite interesting and I'm not sure I fully understand the reasons. I bought a new Kona as my first serious MB back in the day, a 1995 muni mula hardtail. I still have it, it works fine and just won't die. I rode in the rockies with it as recently as 2010. Back in the 90's Kona were a relatively rare bike compared to other manufacturers. So in 2011 I finally decided to get a new high end full suspension MB in 2012. Did some research, picked AM for versatility, and went with the Abra Cadabra considering my experience with Kona and local dealer support. I have really enjoyed the bike. This controversy has interestingly made high end non-DH Kona bikes pretty rare, here at PB at least. I have found the Abra Cadabra much more rare than other high end AM models, such as yeti, trek, specialized, intense, santa cruz, etc. Whenever I post about my Abra Cadabra on the forums here it almost seems to get a little eerily quiet. lol. Some of the comments above about Kona being heavy are not indicative of all models, by any means. The Abra Cadabra is very light in its class. Lighter than other more expensive AM models. I posted some info on the weight of the bike recently.
  • 1 0
 I have seen one of the new 2014 models when our rep brought it by the shop.. Looks pretty good!! I rode last years Satori and it was fun.. I would love to try the new Satori as well as the Process. The thought of a Honzo or Rajin with XX1 makes me excited.. Even the Hei Hei is a pretty fun short travel bike. And the Carbon Operator looks sick! I think Kona is stepping up big time. They are looking to get back into the mix. I think the sport just evolved faster than their bikes did...
  • 5 0
 That Charlie Sponsel is so hot right now, best writer on Pinkbike!
  • 1 0
 I bought a Kona Cindercone in around 1993, it was my third MTB. My first was a Kuwahara in 1986 which was stolen in 89 and replaced with a KHS Montana comp. The KHS had infamous bits like Biopace chainrings and horseshoe brake under the chain stay. The KHS lated me 4 years, the Kona was falling apart right out of the shop and got turfed after less than two years. I replaced it with a Rocky Mountain Hammer that I just gave to a friend a couple of years ago with lots of life left in it. I have not even considered a Kona again until the Process come out this year and hope this is a sign of things to come from Kona. Maybe I will finally be ready to try one again.
  • 1 0
 I was 8 when i got my garbonzo dh 2-4 at first i was not too crazy about it but now i am 13 and i realize that it is not the bike itself it is also where you ride i rode alot of whistler on it and it was love at first ride. ROCK ON KONA
  • 1 0
 Well, i have a Kona Stinky 2007, and it´s not a bad bike to those who wanna get started, but of course the time keeps passing away and things have to evolve! It´s nice to see that Kona finally step up for good... and maybve someday i may be able to buy this Operator! It´s a really well done bike! Big Grin ride a lot folks...
  • 1 0
 I've always ridden konas. Not necessarily because of choice, more if a budget thing. I've had two stinkys and I've been riding a bass for the last three years. I never had a problem with the bikes aside from bearings wearing out. And I have to say the bass is a super all-mountain bike after input a lyric on it.
  • 1 0
 I never understood all those Kona haters. My first fully was a Stinky 2003. loved that bike, awesome to ride. no matter what terrain. then I changed to the stab supreme 2010. It's such a racing machine. you can go down vertical rock-passages, rool over smooth trails in the woods, jump around in bikeparks. it's always great fun to ride and so reliable and absolutely not a too heavy bike. recently I started looking for a used frame to build up a cheap enduro for funrides up and down my hometrails (without cablecar-support, that I need for riding with the stab). well, I'm so happy that I found a Coiler 2004 frame, which I will now build up. I'm certainly not the best rider, but I love spending time on my bikes in the woods and on the mountains. for me Kona always lived that spirit of true mountainbiking, that's wha I love this brand and it's bikes, that never disappointed me. As an older rider I also love their frame-design. For me the newer ones look all alike, no matter what brand it is (even the 2014 Kona modell is a bit too average for my taste). Kona has soul and the good thing about all those haters is that the second hand Konas are pretty affordable to buy :-) (excuse my english)
  • 1 0
 Nothing happened: people are by and large complete idiots (esp. if you're 18 and under Rolleyes ) and they're also fickle fashionistas (f*cking hipsters)...

Kona has always been great (not "the greatest" but certainly a good thing) and now is even greater. Without Kona SO many people may never have even gotten to start riding the way we do. I'm just glad to see them progress with the riders and the time to bring about some world-class bikes for us to ride. The new Process DL looks AMAZING to me.
  • 2 0
 I was hoping the magic link would become more popular. Love the concept but none of the Kona dealers ever have stock or a demo. Im not about to drop 5k on a something that looks like it will work.
  • 1 0
 No time to read all the comments so apologies if this point has prob already been made... First of all they've redesigned the gravity line which is probably the main reason, but the other point is they are no longer the Whis rental work mule = no more perception of being rental/nube grade company... Always wondered how much the high volume order from Whistler influenced how over built/heavy the frames were to take a summer's worth of abuse. Not that they should but I wonder if peeps will start hating on Giant now that it's the Whis rental rig.
  • 1 0
 I knew something has changed with Konas, all their frames are getting fragile & thinner every year. I'm glad to be the owner of a ''before 2010'' Coilair deluxe, back in the days where the tapered square tubes frames felt solid and had great colors too! I fell like I really miss the 2004-2009 period of the Gravity line.
  • 1 0
 The Stab comparison proves a good point. Look at the original stab, straight tubing. Look at how the tubing bends more as the years go on. What is the shortest distance between two points? A straight line. What weighs less for the strength? A straight tube (for homogeneous isotropic materials such as metals just in case you feel inclined to challenge that). Kona got caught up in the stupid fad of bending their tubing, adding weight, complexity, and cost to their bikes.
  • 1 0
 ...And what shape tube places most of the pressure at the weld? You got it, a straight one. "Bends more as the years go on"...... as if they were trying to make them weaker? Right.
  • 1 0
 Negative. Please go into business making excessively curvy DJ or BMX frames then, seems to be the trend right?......Tacking on a gusset is alot less work and is typically better than being overly concerned with the stress concentration at the weld from small changes in tubing angles. They are a business and they make what will sell. Even the marketing director of Kona told my local shop that years ago.
  • 1 0
 The double diamond frame design is proven, yes. When you start involving pivot points and shock placement, things change. I don't care what your shop told you some kona employee told them, I trust FEA.
  • 1 0
 I trust FEA as a guideline, I'll agree to disagree with you. Almost all failures I've seen with those bikes have been in the tubing, and not at the weld surface or heat affected zone
  • 1 0
 all these people commenting about it being a trek session ... turner developed the four bar linkage after bastardising a GT RTS and then it was perfected by kona amongst others TREK jumped on the four bar linkage it was hardly pioneering stuff ..... at the time kona released there four bar linkagee trek had the Yglide which was wack ,...
  • 1 0
 idk why people say they weren't good bikes i just got a new bike this year and my previous bike was a 2001 kona stinky. i dont know of many other bikes that can hold up to 11 years of freeride abuse

www.pinkbike.com/photo/4485824 - the only reason i stopped riding it was i wanted to try something new its still in perfect shape
  • 2 0
 It's not that hard to figure out. IF THE SEAT STAYS ARE PARALLEL OR MORE ACUTE THAN THE TOP TUBE IN RELATION TO THE CHAINSTAYS, THE BIKE LOOKS GOOD. There you go, bike designers.
  • 1 0
 I was never a fan of the old stinky's, but recently Kona has really stepped it up. I have a 2012 Operator that i rode and raced on last season and i have to say, it is an awesome bike! Geometry feels spot on and is nice and versitile. 16.8'' chainstays whip around corners easily, nice low slug toptube give lots of stand over room, and the 64 degree head angle is great for all round riding. It's not so slack that is feel wallowy and slow on flatter terain, yet is still slack enough to provide great stablility on high speed steeps. Another thing i really appreciate is the durability of the frame as well. The large pivots are stiff and are still running smooth as butter after a long season of abuse. There are a few small dents in the frame, but it seems like all aluminium DH bikes do that these days. I find that Kona's are a teriffic value too. They are often hundereds, if not one thousand dollars less than other bikes with a similar spec. They don't pantent crap marketing technologies like "FSR" that makes a bike that rides just as good as a kona cost way more. I love that kona is way more concerned with function as opposed to fashion. Keep up the good work Kona!!!
  • 1 0
 I love Kona. I have a 2013 Satori and it was the best feeling bike out of all the bikes I tested before I bought it. Even better than the $8,000+ Epic and FSR Specialized.(that suprised me big time.) Keep up the good work Kona.
  • 1 0
 well ive had a lot of kona bikes over the years people turn there nose up at kona bikes well ive had more than 50 down hill bikes in my life time and the best riding bike ive ever owned was a 2007 kona stinky and ive rode a lot of bikes
  • 1 0
 thats because you changed your bike every week, I thought you hated Kona..?
  • 1 0
 Lol I don't mind konas dave
  • 1 0
 I´m riding Kona Stab Supremes and Operator Sup since 03...I really have to say that blaming the Stab is a shame: Ok, it was heavy and pedalling wasn´t the bikes strenght. But because of Fabien Barel it was the first bike with modern geometry: The 05 Stab came with Fab´s geometry with deep BB, short top tube and flat headangle... Hill did the same on his Iron Horse and Specialized brought this 09 with the Demos...right now there are just few brands left which don´t go this way...

Kona also was the frist brand to support bikeparks worldwide, they began with bikes in different gravity disciplines...so our scene would not be same without the brand. I´m right now building up this years Operator Sup but can´t wait to ride my first carbon downhill bike soonWink
  • 1 0
 Interesting he didn't address that time period where they sort of lost out with strength issues. I still don't entirely trust kona after seeing mates use them over the last few years. But while strength might not have come leaps and bounds there performance definitely improves greatly.

I'd agree its wrong to say kona were not popular, they we pretty big in the freeride scene and fairly popular. It was just after this period when they started getting a bad rep for snapping and strength.

Not sure if this was something that changed during manufacturing to pull on more revenue as thy were selling big numbers but there seemed to be a nice period of 3 or so years where they got a massive bad rap.

I think they have really got there performance down now, I just wish they would improve there strength. That old "konas are crap and they snap" still haunts them a little and with the bikes still not been as strong as competitors it's taking a little while for them to shake that view.

I'm more interested in what they are doing to improve strength. It was nicely avoided in the article and focused purely on what they did to improve performance but not reliability.
  • 1 0
 i own several konas (Lacondeguy, Entourage, Paddy and just ordered my Ti Rove frame) will always ride them and won't consider another company. the attitude the people in the main office, the wizard that is Dick and Dan in salmon arm make this company who they are. keep up the work
  • 1 0
 It's only around 2007 - 2012 kona's were shit. If you bought a kona any other time and you was getting a seriously good bike. Easily the most forward thinking company out there even if they got a few things wrong. I've still got an Easton tubes 2000 chute that refuses to break. Imagine that a 13 year old freeride aluminium hardtail that's done everything from huge stare gaps, downhill, drops to flat on the street to all day trail riding is still going strong after 13 years.
  • 1 0
 I liked Kona since the first New World Disorder movie, also my first "proper" bike was a (significantly customised) 2004 Kona Kikapu. But I just hate their new logo, seriously, if I got a new Kona bike I'd have to order some old stickers from eBay and replace them... The old Hawaii style (which I had) was great, the military style suited the FR/DH models, but all the new ones were a disaster, completely killed their corporate identity.
  • 1 0
 WTF on the HONZO YOU CAN use the front derailleur !!!

Problem solvers collar and direct mount derailleur.
I use it for the last six months and WORKS GREAT !

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29pollici.com/hubpub/showpost.php?p=120105&postcount=1
  • 1 0
 will take a '91 stinky( www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?Year=2001&Brand=Kona&Model=Stinky+Dee-Lux&Type=bike#.UYqSpb7D-tU paint scheme over any thing older or newer/ own a dawg & king kikipu & have ridden many others.these are the ones that ride the best ,in my opinion.geometry angles work.just how was the bike used for those who suffered frame damage? any pros suffered frame damage?didn't think so.
  • 1 0
 Think most of you haters need to stop instinctively moaning about Kona, I bet the vast majority of you haters on this thread haven't even ridden a Kona ever and certainly not recently!? I meet a lot of those idiots on the trails, you know the ones that know everything about all the new kit THAT THEY HAVE NEVER EVEN TOUCHED LET ALONE RIDDEN!!! IDIOTS!! If you just heard Kona are bad from a local Specialized sponsored rider or from the tinternet or somehting, do us all a favour and stop typing uninformed rubbish on these threads your wasting everyone's time!

I have had Kona's for years my first one was like a 1990 Cinder Cone and particularly as a short guy, Kona are brilliant every time, they actually think about the short people and make a good range of small frames, unlike Specialized, Rose and soooo many others I can think of!!! They make a decent range of kids and womens bikes too another thing over looked by a lot of other bike companies. And from a money perspective, in many cases literally HALF the equivalent Lapierre or Specialized costs!!! So if your looking for fun at a budget they are great too. And unless you are looking for the absolute cutting edge R&D for the World Cup Circuit, then what is wrong with a Kona, I doubt most of the riders on here are even capable of pushing a bike to the limits where the latest tech will really count anyway!!! Plus and this is a huge thing for me, when I email Kona about my bikes for advice, they get back to me with loads of info, nearly always the same day!!! I have emailed other companies with questions relating to the possibility of me spending my own cash with them, and to this day they have never bothered to reply even!!!!!

Plus unless you are making your own better bikes, do you even have the right to moan? I don't see you making better bikes in your garden shed!!!!
  • 1 0
 I loved my kona Hoss for the first year. Then the shocks failed and then I had to replace the derailer and my breaks are now never tight enough even though I've taken it to the shop 4 times.

Frame, handle bars, peddles, seat all fine but all the working parts turned out to be really cheap. Even the part inside the frame that the crank arms connect to (sorry I don't know the name) failed in the first year.

I wouldn't buy another one of these.
  • 1 0
 Bought a Kona Kula hardtail in about 2009. Garbage. Broke everything on it including frame within a year. Got a Kona Dawg Supreme full suspension frame as replacement. Although a little heavy, it's the best bike I've ever had! Switched the rear derailleur to SRAM XO and just put a new Bomber RLO 44 fork on. I'm a bargain bin weekend warrior and this is a great setup.
  • 1 0
 I have Kona stab 1999 model and I'm riding Downhill with it. I Love my kona bike. And it still looks good. Fells great. Doesn't break Big Grin seen a lot of crashes but she is still alive! I won't buy another brand bike, because I'm inlove with Kona.
  • 1 0
 Funny, I never realized that there was a big hate on for Kona. I've always found the brand to put a lot of value into their bikes. Sure, the graphics have tended to be fugly - its one of their endearing qualities. Sure, after the sloping top tube thing, the bikes weren't really on the cutting edge of technology. Bikes like the Stinky tended to just work. They weren't uber light but then they weren't prone to high failure rates (at least when I was still current in the sport) and they were good value compared to a Santacruz or some other boutique bike. I'm still riding mine 10 years later. I still dig the rasta paint job and with a few upgrades I'll probably ride it another 5.
  • 4 0
 Always was and always will ride Kona
  • 1 1
 Started riding Kona's due to them being one of the earliest designs with the heavily sloping TT, which meant I could toss my XC bike all over the place and ride loose.
I broke a bunch of their frames and eventually they warrantied me the Hei Hei ti hardtail which is to this day the best HT bike I've ever ridden, as well the only Kona I didn't break. I got on a Kona F/S that was the second team frame I got hold of and that frame snapped too. This time, when they did the warranty they sent a frame that was too big for me and they wouldn't do anything about it. I told them I'd take a "last years" model but they didn't budge....a loyal Kona rider for 10yrs and they swept me under the rug with a massive frame(22") I couldn't ride. I sold the frame and went to a Jamis AM frame and after buying several bikes since never once have I considered going back to Kona....no reason to.
  • 1 1
 Wait... did this article just admit that their bikes were outdated?!! I thought Kona and Ellsworth just had such a great design that they didn't need to "change for the sake of change"... Turns out Kona was just sitting pat on a design they thought was sufficient, but not the best it could be. Most people know that it was the case, which is why Kona lost respect over time.

It's good to see they're actually focusing on advancing their bikes. I've never owned one, and likely won't for a while... but if they're all for progression of their technology, then I can at least begin to respect them.
  • 2 0
 Huge props, Jack! The new Op makes me want to trade in my current one which also shreds. Honzo is totally on my wish list too!
  • 1 1
 whatever Kona going to do next , here is my 5 cents....i grow up with magazines showing mtb , and the Kona was always ....whaaaooowww Big Gnarly Hucker Bike . until i tried them for real in a rotten and dirty world for 2 seasons .... , . first opinion , let s hit that jump and did !!! second , i tried an other bike , made by californian people with cool colors and proven fsr design ...gold !!! well 10 years later i tested the last year model and came back to my original opinion , like let s hit that jump.....still not sorted !!! have i have to abandon the test ride half way. serious, to get back on my 3 years older bike . can t be bothered to take risk with that shit . Fabien made it to the top with Kona , i must be an average rider to have an opinion here about how kona compare to the rest of the mtb feel good . but i am riding for enjoy and pick up the flowers and wait for my friends and....Noway !!!! i am going to hit that shit mate , hold my beer and watch me !!! but not on a Kona .
  • 2 0
 Id like to see a 26inch long travel hardtail from Kona. Aluminum or steel like the Steely but with a tapered head tube and a nice slack head angle. Id snatch one up quick!
  • 1 1
 I am not a big fan of Kona, but this one does look nice!

Is it just me, or do most of the new DH bikes have the same geometry and suspension systems? It does look nice! and it works good! but I would like to see a diferent kind now and then...
  • 1 0
 No offense intended to Kona or Kona owners, but they just don't do it for me, personally. :-/

I just can't bring myself to put money into something I don't instantly fall in love with... Wink
  • 1 1
 "... axle path is not as important as people have been thinking it is. We believe that the leverage rate curve and the overall geometry of a bike is more important. Most of the time when you’re hitting a square edged hit, ... ideally you want to be riding as high in your travel as possible so you have as much travel to handle bumps as possible. When you have those big hits, having your bike recover quickly and stay up in the travel is better and more confidence inspiring than having some insane rearward axle path so you can run things over in the last third of your travel."

I'm confused, I would have thought the speed you return to ride height is dominated by rebound damping, not leverage ratio? A more progressive suspension will generate a larger rebound force deep in it's travel, but we tune our dampers to limit that force anyway, so if it's higher all you are doing is making the spring and damper work harder against each other.

And the point about rearward axle path is retarded if you ask me, bike suspension should be compared on vertical travel (I'm aware that for marketing reasons it isn't), so a 5" high square edge should put an 8" bike the same depth into it's travel, regardless of pivot placement. If they don't have the same vertical travel, then the bikes aren't comparable.
  • 1 1
 This thread could be wrapped up in one sentence;

Kona stopped making crappy wal-martesque bikes specifically for groms and started making bikes that the entire biking world can enjoy. AKA, they pulled their heads out of their asses and finally took a look around at what their customer base wanted to buy.

My opinion? About friggen time.
  • 1 0
 always loved konas. started on a kona back in 08 and I still have it. getting a respray, its had new bushings and brand new parts will be put on it. I cant wait to get riding on it again!
  • 1 0
 really surprised about that I always thought that kona would be a brand that cant keep up with every other brand but this shows that now they are stepping up wouldn't mind having a ride on one of those new operators myself
  • 1 1
 Kona didn't seem hungry enough! they did not need to be, they've established there market in the proper LBS systems. Now, no one cares, the competition has changed the market! They either change or die!

I do not believe bike companies are selling bikes anymore, they are selling concept fantasies! I think they are trying to feed there families; nothing more!. I do not blame them, I believe they are motivated by unhealthy fear to survive! Would you rather work at Transition bikes or sell shoes in a Mall! What would you do to keep your job at the bike company! Would you sell 10,000 dollar bikes with gold plating even tho you don't believe in it! You might! Who wants to give up a crush job at bike company!

On the Positive side;
I am seeing a trend! I see the simple bike at the right price is still being created and sold! A bike like the Kona Precept DL! Ive seen the same thing ( concept), at santa cruz with the new Heckler! Seems someone still loves us!

long live the rider!
  • 3 1
 What's old is new again... Kona's are cooler than bell-bottoms in the 60's.
  • 2 0
 I got to say that 2014 Kona bikes are really going to blow you away. Just wait and see! Wink
  • 2 0
 Kona is awsome and always will be, but i still keep my Nukeproof...But thinking about get a Kona Entourage........
  • 5 2
 Operator is just a dream to ride!!! well done kona!!
  • 1 0
 glad to hear you like it! i cant wait to build mine up!!
  • 1 0
 you gonna love it mate!!!
  • 3 1
 Great read, thanks PB. I do however wish that some more questions where asked regarding the frame fails.
  • 4 2
 Ahahahah I'm the guy in the middle with the Stinky!! Big Grin what a surprise...btw I love kona, and I love Stinky!! Wink
  • 1 0
 The key thing for you Kona is dont sell them at Halfords as that's where a lot of problems will have occurred with many Kona bikes.
  • 2 0
 I rode a stinky Kona with flowers this weekend is that ok?
www.pinkbike.com/photo/9392167
  • 1 0
 I actually really liked that paintwork. I don't see what the problem is/was with it...
  • 1 0
 My first Dj bike was a 05 Kona Shred after riding that I continued to buy a few Kona's like the Kona Dew and Kona Entourage deluxe
  • 1 2
 still not a fan of kona, basically re_design a frame making it look just like a couple other bikes not gonna mention names . Everybody already knows what it looks exactly like> then all of a sudden all the sheeps love it...
  • 3 0
 I like kona just because of Aggy!
  • 1 1
 Teamrobot getting some solid news into Pinkbike. Really enjoyed this article. It's the first one where I sat down seriously, tuned everything out and read the amazingness. Thank you!
  • 2 1
 I always loved the look of Konas. Yeah, they are heavy, but to me that meant it was tough. I'm currently on a 05 Caldera and love it. I even named my first dog Kona.
  • 1 1
 I've rode konas since 2004 and i always have loved them, I honestly have nothing really bad to say about em! Ive worked on them for several years at RVC and this new operator looks so sick! cant wait to see one in person!
  • 1 0
 People are retarded (lol), they look at a picture and decided if it's a sick bike or not. Can you reallly tell how the bike will ride, hold up, etc.. based on a pic.??
  • 1 0
 "There are literally gazillions of photos in Pinkbike's archives of people hitting jumps on Stinkies." 3rd picture is me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 3 4
 So Kona releases some spy shots of a new operator carbon, people say it looks cool (nobody on pinkbike has actually even ridden it) and that warrants an entire article on the rebirth of Kona? Seems kinda like a marketing ploy to me.
  • 1 0
 "The insane thing about that bike is how well it rode without a chain."

had too much pedal feedback due to rearward axle path.
  • 1 0
 i have a kona coiler and its honestly such a good ride and stong as hell, dont see how people seem to hate them and stinky's:s
  • 1 0
 Kona always had some very well sorted out bikes. 2007 Coiler rides as well as pretty much anything nowadays in 150mm/160mm class - very modern geometry.
  • 1 0
 what kona did is similar to what happened to Banshee bikes when Keith Scott joined on. These look pretty awesome good job Kona!
  • 1 0
 I Like Satori 2012 and have one. One problem- seattube rub by rear brake cable. I wish that was reworked......and we got new 2013 frames in exchange.....
  • 1 0
 then reroute the housing
  • 1 0
 Really been thinking about the honzo, I've always thought i hated 29ers but damn that thing was fun!. still debating if i would kill the wheels or not.
  • 1 0
 My friend just bought an Operator (carbon) and loves it , simple geometry and pivot design , getting back to basics which every company will do sooner or later
  • 1 0
 Been riding and supporting kona for all of my life now, glad to see the company is making a "competitor" in the carbon downhill bike market.
  • 1 0
 Still just a single pivot platfrom. If there's a patent still on the Horst Link pay the $3/bike to specialized and license it!
  • 1 0
 why when that patent is almost over
  • 1 0
 Hell to the motherf*cking yeah! I always wanted a Kona but I was afraid all my friends would tease me. Now konas are so rad all my friends can suck it!
  • 1 0
 " But the elevated chainstays had no place on a bike anymore"

Any reasons why? Seems to me it makes it easier to deal with the crowded bb area
  • 2 1
 always liked kona; owned a 98 stab, 2000 stab dee-lux, and a 2004 shred that i still own. It`s my all arounder.
  • 2 0
 woahhh seeing a picture of me in a article like this is just amazing :O
  • 2 0
 That pic of Chris in the sunglasses looks like my dad from the 70's
  • 1 0
 Hahahahah!!
  • 1 0
 Maybe he IS my real dad?
  • 1 0
 I heard he is pretty into Moms....
  • 2 0
 Bring back the flowers! MORE FLOWERS!
  • 1 0
 sponsoring the right people helped too. who doesn't love seeing a Graham Agassiz edit?
  • 1 0
 What happened- they actually decided to put in some r&d into their products instead of leaving it stagnant like they had
  • 1 0
 It's about time. Kona is now ready to compete on the sales Championship versus the World Cup!
  • 1 0
 Ha I've had a 09' Stinky for 2 years now.. Time for a change in motion. bike is 49 lbs! This new bike looks amazing!
  • 1 0
 All they need to do now is make it the first affordable carbon dh frame and they are on to a winner
  • 1 0
 my m8 got a hardtail frame from crc last year.. it came broken Big Grin hahaha true story
  • 1 0
 Still got my fully rigid Kona Koa from '97 - my first proper mtb, still rides really well today.
  • 1 0
 I've been around long enough to realize that most of the hate Kona used to get wasn't based based on fact.
  • 1 0
 I love my Stinky Delux! Ill never get rid of it. Ive even been racing the NW cup with it!
  • 1 0
 Been riding a Kona since 2006. That won't change anytime soon.. Kona quality!
  • 1 0
 I know what happened to kona. Go to broken bikes/ parts and type in kona. You'll find the answer!
  • 1 0
 I don't know 'em that well, but I've always liked Kona's. Am I now cool again? Who cares!?
  • 1 0
 dude, i wanna ask.....

whether kona stab supreme 2010 was stronger than the kona last year?
  • 2 0
 Sweeeeeeet
  • 3 2
 Detective Kona . . coming soon . .
  • 2 1
 Anyone else notice the 30% off konas advert on the Pinkbike main page lol
  • 1 0
 Is Matt Slaven's prototype a 96er?
  • 1 0
 How much is that frame???
  • 2 1
 Dear Kona: Please make a carbon Honzo. That is all. Thank you
  • 1 0
 i like the new kona 2014, hope look more models. luck kona company!
  • 2 0
 norbs got robbed
  • 1 0
 What is the retail of that frame?????
  • 1 0
 In the world of overpriced gimmicky bikes Kona is the real thing
  • 1 0
 Kona, up one on the do not kill list. Team pinkbot?
  • 1 0
 If its good enough for aggy, its way more than I need!
  • 1 0
 i persanaly do not like konas but this new bike is sure sexy
  • 1 0
 I love the bike. Needs a different saddle
  • 1 0
 what is with the rear shock
  • 1 0
 the dh looks better then all the other operator-models
  • 1 0
 Bellingham Operators represent!
  • 1 0
 I like KONA but I never buy or ride them Big Grin
  • 1 0
 This is an updated version of the Specialized Big Hit
  • 1 0
 SOMEBODY GIVE THIS GUY A RAISE!
  • 1 0
 Jack Russell, has really helped them out of a ruff patch.
  • 1 0
 That frame looks pretty sick. I'd totally buy one.
  • 1 0
 swweeettttt
  • 5 5
 well if kona want to send me one I will test it for them.
  • 3 3
 Aggassiz still uses one like a scalpel
  • 2 3
 The bike we have all been waiting for its like then new best bike instead of a demo or v10
  • 1 0
 it's a Kona!!
  • 1 1
 Kona has definitely come a long way from what it used to be!
  • 1 0
 Welcome back Kona! Big Grin
  • 2 2
 All those bikes...look like a trek session.
  • 1 0
 kona is back
  • 1 2
 More Magic Link (and cowbell)!
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