After five podium finishes in 2009, it is no wonder why Kona continued their support behind slope style assassin Paul Basagoitia in the development and fabrication of their Kona Bass slope style and dirt jump bikes. Paul Basagoitia has proven himself to be one of the top slope style athletes in the world and doing the majority of it on his signature Kona Bass. I had a chance to talk with Paul about his Bass at Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado and he could not have been more stoked on how it turned out either.
Although a new design from the 2009 model, the four inch 2010 Bass still offers some classic Kona features as seen on most of their bikes such as light weight, durable, and responsive 7005 Aluminum, trusted Kona 4-Bar Linkage System, and affordability.
The 2010 Kona Bass frame is manufactured from hydroformed 7005 aluminum tubing yielding a light weight, strong and responsive frame. The Bass is available in three sizes small (15 inch), medium (15.5 inch), and large (17.5 inch). The bike I was riding was a medium. All of Kona’s full suspension bikes incorporate the Walking Beam 4-Bar Linkage suspension system. The 4-Bar Linkage System is based around the principle of having only a few pivots as far away from each other as possible. The engineers and designers at Kona claim that if the pivots are farther away from one another, the bushings, bearings, and shock will be exposed to less lateral side forces and stresses. This design inevitably creates a stiffer rear end; therefore, translating into greater control and responsiveness for the rider. After riding the Kona Bass for a few months, I found that there is virtually no sloppy or slow feeling in the rear end of the bike. The Bass is very quick to respond to every movement and adjustment the rider may make.
Accompanying the 4-Bar Linkage System is one of my favourite shocks, the Marzocchi Roco Air TST R with Piggyback. This is the second bike I have ridden that is stocked with the Roco, and I am even more pleased with its performance. The Roco offers predictability, adjustability, light weight, and an incredibly subtle feeling. However, in contrast with most of full suspension bikes, I prefer to run the rear shock relatively stiff because a firm rear end enables more speed and control while jumping. I run the rear shock at 110 PSI in the main chamber and 180 PSI in the piggyback which enables for about 10% sag opposed to the 20-30% found on most downhill bikes which enables for greater stability and responsiveness. The Kona Bass rear triangle and suspension system is dialed to say the least.
As seen in the video, the low bottom bracket height and high performance of the Roco shock enables me to literally fly out of berms and off lips. I found this extremely useful because it gives me more pop off of lips and more speed out of berms; but also enabled me to stay low in the corners and flat bottoms when needed most. Riding the Roco at high pressures facilitates for a cushion when riders really need it (landing flat or casing) - all other occasions it dishes out firmness and predictability.
The 2010 Bass comes complete with a Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 1 fork set at 100mm. This was my first time riding a Dirt Jumper as I usually ride RockShox Argyles or Pikes on comparable bikes. I was somewhat satisfied with feeling the Marzocchi fork, however, it took me a while to overcome the clunky feeling I got while compressing the travel. After fooling around with the pressure and rebound for quite some time, I found it to be polar opposites of either low pressure and smooth travel or high pressure and a clunky feeling stroke. Although Kona placed the fork on the bike to make it cost effective, I believe an Argyle, Pike, or even Marzocchi 4X would make a better addition to the bike and would make it considerably lighter. On the other hand, I was impressed with the Dirt Jumper 1’s effective rebound system and its newly designed Marzocchi open bath rebound valve.
Brakes are one of the most essential components of a bike, especially when you are shredding with only one of them. Although the Bass comes with front and rear Shimano M575 brakes, I chose to remove the front brake because there is really no need for one on a slope bike. For being a lower end brake I was not looking to be surprised, however, the brakes did offer a shocking amount of stopping power. That being said, the braking power was really on and off with little or no modulation or available adjustments within the lever body. The pad contact was similar to a light switch, on and off.
Just as the guys at Kona assured me when I picked up the bike, the Kona Wah-Wah pedals became my favourite component on the Bass. The long platform allowed for greater surface area and grip while the medium sized pins were the perfect length for moving my feet around on the pedals. The sealed bearing design also creates a longer bearing life and keeps dirt out. Dirt jump and slope style riders are continuously moving and adjusting their feet while jumping, and the Wah-Wah pedals allow for a rider to freely move his feet without being inhibited by deadly long spikes. I would ride these pedals on any of my bikes.
Like all stock bikes, there is always room for improvement. The area in which I found needed the most upgrading is the cockpit. The bike comes with the Kona John Cowan signature bars which have a whopping 63mm (2.5 inch) rise: having a high front end makes cornering, jumping, and pretty much everything on a bike more difficult. Riders nowadays are demanding a low front end for more control, maneuverability and stability. The Kona also comes with a bulky Kona Clump stem. If Kona were to improve upon these two aspects, I know that the bike would benefit greatly from it.
The drive train on the Bass consists of 170mm FSA Gap cranks which I found to be a great crank for the period I rode the bike. The cranks consist of forged 7050 aluminum black arms with a hollow bottom bracket minimizing the total weight. The arms were also shockingly stiff which I was very impressed with. Another nice feature complimenting the cranks is the e*thirteen polycarbonate bash guard. The bash guard is light weight and adds to the clean look of the bike.
The Kona Bass rolls on soft compound Kenda Nevegal tires which I found to perform exceptional in really soft dirt and sandy conditions, but when rolling on hard packed dirt jumps or wooden features they were quite slow. However, if you live in an area like Kamloops where the dirt is parched, these tires would be killer.
The Bass runs on solid white Sun Ringle Equalizer 2.9 SL rims laced to Formula hubs. After shredding the Bass for quite some time, I found the rims to hold up great. I significantly over rated a few spins and had some harsh crashes and cases while riding the bike and the rims surprisingly stayed in perfect true and spoke tension. The Sun Rims are a great addition to the Bass and incorporate quality and value into the complete Bass package.
To touch off the nice white accents and colour scheme of the Bass, Kona has topped it off with a nice WTB Devo HP Comp saddle and a pair of John Cowan signature white grips.
The 2010 Kona Bass is a great slope or dirt jump bike for anyone looking to get into either genre of riding. The Bass has an MSRP of 2300.00 which is extremely affordable for any slope style bike.Full list of specs:
15", 15.5", 17.5"Frame tubing
Kona Clump 7005 Aluminum, 4" TravelRear Shock
Marzocchi Roco Air TST R w/Piggyback (7.875 x 2.0)Fork
Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 1 100mm w/20mm DropoutsHeadset
TH w/Top NutCrankarms
FSA Gap (15=165mm / 15.5-17.5=170mm)Chainrings
Kona Cowan Signature (25.4mm, 63mm Rise, 710mm Wide)Stem
Kona Clump (0° x 60mm)Grips
Kona Cowan Lock-OnBrakes
Shimano M575 Disc 6"Brake Levers
Shimano M575 DiscFront hub
Formula DiscRear hub
Sandvik Stainless 14gTires
Maxxis Crossmark 26 x 2.25/Kenda NevegalRims
Sun EQ 2.9SLSaddle
WTB Devo HP CompSeatpost
Kona XC/BCSeat clamp
Video of me shredding the bass:
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