Weight: 40.4 pounds
By Ryan LaBar
Calling a bike 'vanilla' is usually an insult, but inthe case of the Kona Operator, it's just the opposite. This bike is plain, simple and durable, and these traits are exactly why we loved it.
Sure, fancy linkages and lightweight, carbon-fiber frames are more lust-worthy, but they can require more maintenance and cost a lot more. The Kona Operator uses a four-bar linkage with oversized pivots mated to a 7005-series aluminum frame—it doesn't get any more basic.
Even its Jeep-green paint job—Kona calls it 'matte lime green'—screams utility. This is a bike that can be ridden all day long, put away wet, left alone for a week, dragged across the country and ridden again, all without a lick of maintenance—apart from lubing the chain.
As far as its ride goes, there isn't an area where the Operator fell flat. It corners well, handles predictably and is confident and fun in the air. For a full-bore race machine this bike might be a bit too short, but as a bike-park shredder and shuttle rig that spends the occasional weekend 'between the tape,' it's just what the doctor ordered.
For the money, the Kona Operator offers an impressive build—featuring a SRAM X9 rear derailleur, Avid Code brakes and RockShox Boxxer RC fork, e.thirteen chainguide and Maxxis High Roller tires. We would, however, like to see this bike come with a direct-mount stem to help keep the front-end height down—plus it's just a more elegant system. Additionally, on our test track, the spring in the fork felt a tad on the stiff side compared to the bike's rear shock.
For the privateer racer, this could be the perfect bike. It's capable, low-maintenance, built like a tank and will save you enough money for travel and a couple of entry fees. Plus, you won't have to feel bad about throwing it in the back of a pickup truck for a day of shuttling with your buddies.
Want to know more about the Kona Operator? For more info, go to www.konaworld.com