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Sea Otter: Kona introduces road-plus bikes, updates ’cross line, shows off e-MTB for outdoor pursuits

Published April 21, 2017
Kona's Remote plus-size e-MTB

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Kona product manager Ian Schmitt has little love for the term “adventure bike,” but recognizes the industry has settled on the nomenclature for versatile on-road/off-road drop-bar rigs. 

That said, don’t pin the tag on Kona’s new generation of road-plus-tired, disc brake Rove bikes. “It’s more our take on an endurance road bike than it is on something like an adventure bike,” Schmitt said.

With an aluminum frame designed around WTB’s Horizon 47c “road-plus” 650b tires, the 2018 Rove NRB showing at Sea Otter will come in two spec levels and can accommodate rubber up to 700x40c. It comes with fenders mounts, Shimano E-thru axles and Kona flared drop bars. A base model will be available with a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, plus a Shimano 105 11-speed hydraulic brake version.

Higher up the price-point chain, the Rove Ltd is built on a Reynolds 853 frame and features a SRAM Force 1-by drivetrain with a 40T chainring and 10-42T cassette. Both the Rove NRB and Ltd come with carbon forks and tubeless wheels.

Kona has also reworked its cyclocross line for 2018, headlined by the new carbon Major Jake.

“This is an all-new, complete ground-up design,” Schmitt said. “It’s a little bit slacker head tube and slightly lower bottom bracket — some revision to make it more modern and bring it in line with what we thought a cyclocross bike needed to be. So it makes a really versatile all-around bike.”

The Major Jake includes front and rear fenders mounts, a 105 drivetrain with a 46/36T crankset and 11-30T cassette, hydraulic discs, and wheels with Formula hubs and WTB i19 rims. The carbon frame’s internal cable routing allows for an internal dropper post if the front derailleur is removed to run the drivetrain as a 1-by system. The Major Jake also gets the same carbon fork as the Rove NRB and Ltd.

But Kona’s most eye-catching bike on display at Sea Otter has to be the Remote 27.5-plus electric hardtail — we’ll resist the urge to call it an “adventure” mountain bike. 

Schmitt explains: “We saw the value in setting ourselves apart a little bit and getting our customers something that’s a little more utilitarian. So we’ve positioned this around being a hunting, fishing and trail building resource for people and organizations that need to go off into the hills. There’s a lot of land that you can’t access by car, and it takes a long time to get a bicycle up there. We want this to be a really fun-to-ride but purpose-built thing.”

A Bosch Performance Line CX mid-drive motor helps deliver riders to those hard-to-access destinations. The Remote comes stock with an Old Man Mountain rear rack, but Kona is showing it at Sea Otter outfitted with Porcelain Rocket frame, fork and seat bags and — in a nod to trail builders — an Echo chainsaw holstered into an Old Man Mountain saw rack.

The Remote’s geometry is a close cousin to Kona’s Honzo trail hardtails, with a 68-degree head angle and a Boost-spaced RockShox Recon Rl Silver 120-millimeter fork handling suspension. Other spec includes Maxxis 27.5x3-inch tires, 40-millimeter-wide WTB Scraper rims, and a SRAM NX 11-speed derailleur with an 11-42T cassette.

All models are set to be available around July/August. MSRPs are still to be determined.

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