By Vernon Felton
Monday's post from the 2013 Kona launch focused on the significant facelift made to Kona's Magic Link system. If you missed it, check it out here. As I mentioned in that report, Kona is focusing Magic Link on a single platform this year--the Cadabra bikes.
While the changes to those bikes mesh perfectly with how we at Bike felt the Cadabra should evolve, I have to admit that I was more than a little sad to hear of the CoilAir's demise. While the CoilAir was more bike than many people needed or wanted, I've been fond of just about every iteration of that bike since it was first equipped with Magic Link back in 2008. When it came to pure descending, that bike was a shitload of fun.
So, yeah, I was sad to see CoilAir go MIA. At least, until I saw these new Process DL ($5,500) and Process ($3,100) models. True, I haven't ridden the Process DL yet, but the bike look promising and is clearly kitted for true all-mountain riding. The frame design is an evolution of the traditional walking beam, four-bar design that Kona pioneered back in 1996 (and which has in the intervening years found its way onto countless other manufacturers’ bikes).
The Process DL and Process both fly RockShox's colors (which seems to be a serious theme for Kona in 2013…lots of RockShox forks throughout the line next year), with the higher-end DL model getting a RockShox Monarch Plus rear shock, RockShox Lyrik RC2DH Dual Position air fork, and RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post. The less-expensive Process will sport a high-volume RockShox Monarch shock, RockShox Lyrik R fork and Crank Brothers Kronolog dropper post.
Drivetrain? Both bikes rock SRAM 2×10 cranks outfitted with bashguards and mated to SRAM Type 2 rear derailleurs. The DL is a largely SRAM X0 affair. The base-level Process runs a largely X9/X7 set up. Wheelsets are wide and burly (though not heavy) and are shod with Maxxis' excellent High Roller IIs.
In a sense the Process bikes look more like lightweight and agile versions of the Kona Entourage (one of our favorite gravity models from 2012) than the CoilAir they ostensibly replace. The frames are constructed from Kona's 6069 butted aluminum. If Kona has a bias when it comes to designing bikes, its towards building stable and confident bikes that take a beating. When your stomping grounds are the burly Pacific Northwest, you tend to error on the rugged end of the spectrum.
While I don't expect either bike to be a boat anchor, I get the feeling that both Process models will skulk about in the chain-smoking, tough-kids' corner of the all-mountain, high-school parking lot alongside Specialized's Enduro and Trek's Slash models.
Look for a review in a future issue of Bike because I'm ordering a test unit up.