Kona has lifted the lid on their upcoming bike lineup, letting out the details of a few key additions and revisions that are on the way for 2016, including a 27.5” Operator, an aluminum Honzo, and the Precept 150, a wallet-friendly version of the Process 153.
After a brief transition period, 27.5” wheels are now the norm for elite level downhill racers, and as strange as it sounds, it's highly likely that we won't ever see a 26” wheeled bike take a World Cup win again. Kona's now officially joining the fray, starting off by releasing a 27.5” aluminum version of their Operator DH bike. The new bike has a slack, 63° head angle and a longer reach than the previous version (460mm for a large), with a frame weight that's claimed to be on par with that of the carbon Operator. Switching to a 12x148 thru-axle in the back allowed for the frame's profile to be slimmed down, giving it more clearance for navigating through rocks and other frame-grabbing obstacles. As shown, the Operator 27.5 will retail for $3899 USD, equipped with a RockShox Boxxer RC, SRAM Guide R brakes, and Maxxis Minion DHF tires. The 26" carbon Operator will still be available, but it wouldn't be surprising if there was a 27.5" carbon option in the works.
Kona's chromoly Honzo hardtail gained a devout following thanks to its relaxed geometry and friendly trail manners, but there was no denying the fact that it was bit of a tank, which is why for 2016 there are two aluminum versions of the rugged 29er. The rear end now uses a 12x148 thru-axle, and the reach has been increased slightly for all sizes. The switch to aluminum sheds a claimed 40% off the frame weight, but for the purists there will still be a steel option available as a frame only, along with a titanium frame-only option as well.
The Honzo AL/DL shown above gets WTB's new STp i29 rims, which have a 29mm inner width, providing a nice wide perch for the set of Maxxis tires they're shod with. A FOX 34 Float delivers 120mm of travel, and drivetrain duties are taken care of by a Shimano 11-36 cassette paired with a single Race Face ring up front. MSRP: $2199 USD.
There's no denying the fact that mountain biking is an expensive sport, especially when the highest end bikes are being released with five figure price tags, but luckily the trickle down of technology has resulted in capable, well-specced bikes that are much more affordable. Kona's new Precept 150 is a prime example – it shares nearly identical geometry to the Process 153, but a slightly different frame layout and more wallet-friendly parts spec has it coming in at $2699 USD, a price that even includes a dropper post.
Hei Hei DL Trail
The Hei Hei has received a makeover, emerging with a much cleaner looking suspension layout and more standover clearance than its predecessor. Kona is calling the new configuration their Fuse Independent Suspension, using a small link mounted on the seat tube to drive the rear shock, and forgoing any chainstay or seatstay pivot. The XC-oriented 29er has 100mm of rear travel, but a 68° head angle, 430mm chainstay length, and the 120mm FOX 34 fork up front should make it more than just a racing purebred. With the addition of a dropper post this would be well suited for long backcountry missions that cover a variety of terrain. MSRP: $3299 USD.
The four bike Process lineup (which consists of the 111, 134, 153 and 167) remains relatively unchanged, but the Process 167 ($4999) does get WTB's new 35mm internal width rims, a Rasta themed paint job, and a build kit that's similar to what's found on team rider Graham Agassiz's own bike. It's also one of the few remaining long travel 26" bikes on the market, and it even has a 20mm thru-axle fork for good measure.
Visit the feature gallery for more images of Kona's 2016 bikes.