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Kona goes deeper into road, mountain for 2016

Published August 7, 2015

FERNDALE, Wash. (BRAIN) — Kona unveiled its expanded 2016 road and mountain line to a select group of retailers at its sixth annual Kona Ride product launch, held at its U.S. headquarters in northwestern Washington this week.

About 175 Kona dealers from across Canada and the U.S. rendezvoused for two separate sessions that included excursions on the company's backyard trails, scenic road rides, lake swimming, pump tracking, piñata swinging and delectable local cuisine — all served up in the intimate, playful yet no-nonsense manner that Kona does best.

Kona product managers kicked off the sessions with product presentations with a theme in mind: Going deeper in 2016. 

"Kona founders Dan [Gerhard] and Jake [Heilbron] have invested in product and sales so we can push ourselves to make better bikes," said Mitchell Scott, marketing manager at Kona.

"And we've spent a lot of time looking in so we can go higher and further. Our platforms are well-thought out, more purpose-driven and niche specific for 2016."


Since it debuted the Process trail models in 2014, Kona has received numerous awards and accolades for its long and low slung top tube design, short chainstays and slack head angles. And it has carried some of these characteristics through its entire mountain offering for 2016, which Scott called the "best lineup of mountain bikes in Kona's 28-year history".

The new 200mm travel Operator 27.5 retails for $3,899.

But many still ask, "Where's the carbon?" Besides the carbon 26-inch Operator Supreme 200mm travel downhill bike, carbon frames are noticeably absent from Kona's mountain product line. 

"The carbon Operator was in production prior to the attempt to make a carbon Process. The Operator passed machine and field testing, whereas the Process did not," said Kona product manager Ian Schmitt.

"These frames unfortunately were not up to the high standard of excellence and performance deserving of the Process name. The development of carbon Process bikes is a high priority for Kona, and the second generation of this renowned platform has already begun," Schmitt added.

But with or without carbon, Kona's popular Honzo 29er hardtail model got lighter with the introduction of an aluminum version. Schmitt said the frame weighs about 40 percent less than its steel cousin. The aluminum Honzo has 440mm chainstays, and is available in two models with 148mm Boost spacing in the rear. Titanium framesets manufactured by Tennessee's Lynskey will also be available. 

Developed with what Schmitt dubbed 'cross-stuntry' in mind, new Hei Hei full-suspension 29er is Kona's do-it-all race and trail machine. The Hei Hei frame is built around Kona's Fuse suspension platform with 430mm chainstays. The trail model is spec'ed with a 100mm RockShox and has a 69-degree head angle, while the DL Trail is built with a 120mm Fox 34 and has a slacker 68-degree head angle.

Kona made several changes to the Process line, including shaving frame weights up to 100 grams depending on size. It also upgraded the spec across the line, and based on the success of its 2015 Process 134 SE targeting smaller riders, Kona added an extra small frame size option in its 134 base and DL models. The Process 134 DL is now built with a RockShox Pike and is equipped with Shimano's new 1x11 drivetrain. 
Kona spec'ed all Process models with wider, tubeless-compatible, pre-taped rims (at least 29mm in width), and KS Lev dropper posts with Southpaw levers.

Kona borrowed its Process naming conventions for its price point Precept mountain line and refined geometry and fit to bring it more in line with the Process platform.

"Here at Kona, we're concerned with pocketbook injuries," said Schmitt, laughing. "We want everyone to feel like they're on a Kona, so we're bringing what we've done with premier product into our base products that target the entry-level customer."

For the gravity junkies, Kona rolled out its new 27.5-inch Operator, built on a lighter, narrower and stiffer alloy frame, which was reworked with weight savings in mind. The Operator Supreme is available with 26-inch wheels built on a sleek carbon chassis. All models have a 63-degree head angle, narrower Q-factor and a wider seattube to accommodate a 34.9mm seatpost.


Kona has also gone deeper into road for 2016, with updates and additions to its drop-bar line. It enters the steel road category with the Roadhouse, which road product manager Pat White said is a "blend of the best of old and new world technologies."

Kona enters the steel road category with the Roadhouse. It retails for $2,399.

The steel Roadhouse frame is fabricated with Reynolds 853 custom drawn steel tubing and features modern upgrades like disc brakes, tapered steer tube and carbon fork.

Kona has expanded its ever-popular Jake the Snake 'cross and commuter bike line, which has been in production since 1994, with the new Private Jake model. The single ring specific frame has a slack head angle, lower bottom bracket and taller head tube. It can be built as a single speed, has front and rear through axle hubs and ships with tubeless-ready rims and Kevlar cable housing.

Kona entered the endurance road category in 2015 with the Esatto. This year, it is made with new size-specific SuperLight aluminum tubing and features flat mount Shimano disc brakes and a 150mm thru axle carbon fork.

Several 2016 models are shipping now. For pricing and complete build info, visit

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