Kona has thrown down the gauntlet with its Process 134 DL—a bike that our testers agree signals a necessary shift in thinking about mountain-bike geometry. Making our test bike’s beautiful curves even more appealing is its $3,600 price tag—much lower than many bikes that it literally blew off the trail. Watch this video to find out why you need to know more about this bike.
Final Take: A forward-thinking and thoughtful package for the modern mountain biker.
The subtle geometry choices in Kona’s new range of Process bikes mark a tipping point for mountain-bike fit and sizing. Despite being very different than road cycling, mountain bikes are still often designed around the supposition that sizing can be appointed by static fit—one built around a seated rider riding on a fixed plane. The slightly longer front end of the Process provides stability to the bike and inspires confidence at speed, while the short. 40-millimeter stem allows for quick, accurate steering. The incredibly low standover leaves room to move the bike underneath you and a short rear end gives sensitivity and responsiveness. These traits also create incredible traction and comfort while climbing.
Most of our testers came back raving about how the Process made them feel more proficient on our tricky test loop. Kona has produced a bike that doesn’t just favor the upper percentile of bike handlers, but will improve the performance of a wide range of riders.
The frame, although not clad in shimmering, sexy carbon, is extremely stiff and feels surprisingly lightweight. Big pivot bearings, sensible hardware and durable construction make this a bike for all seasons. The Rocker suspension has a refreshingly straightforward leverage rate curve, which, when paired with an air shock, provides a progressive, predictable, stable feel. There are no areas where the suspension feels dead or peculiar.
This isn’t a dream build, but on a frame like this at a price like that, it is a treasure. Shimano SLX brakes, wide profile tubeless-ready WTB ST i23 rims, and the KS SuperNatural-R dropper post are all thinking man’s parts. While we see the madness in calling the Process a bargain, considering that the frame outperforms many of the more futuristic, yet less evolved competition, it does seem like the sale of the century. –SEB KEMP