By Vernon Felton
Kona recently officially launched its 2013 bike line. This week we'll take a look at some of the new models as well as a few that have been given significant face lifts. Today we’ll focus on the massively re-worked Magic Link bikes.
One of the first things that struck me was the absence of the Magic Link-equipped CoilAir freeride model and 2+2 cross-country model. What remains are the Abra Cadabra and Cadabra models. While on its face this might suggest that Kona is stepping away from its unique Magic Link design, it's clear, on deeper inspection, that this is far from true.
"What we're doing with Magic Link," says Kona product manager, Paddy White, "is focusing it on a bike where it makes the most sense. We were finding that cross-country riders mainly wanted something that's as light and simple as possible. Riders who were interested in something like the CoilAir wanted something more purely focused on gravity. The Abra Cadabra, though, is the perfect bike for that Enduro style of riding where you need a bike to climb and descend exceptionally well, so that's where we're focusing Magic Link now."
Kona has stepped up the technology on the bike in a big way, making no less than 17 tweaks to the bike. The big goal here? Make the Abra Cadabra and its less pricey Cadabra sibling stiffer and more stable. This meshes well with our own impressions of how those two bikes needed to evolve. Both I and Ryan "Squirrel" LaBar tested the Abra Cadabra last season and wound up feeling that the bike climbed well, but didn't compare with bikes like the Rocky Mountain Slayer or Specialized Enduro on technical descents. It needed, in layman’s terms, bigger balls.
I'm curious to see how the new Kona stacks up now. The head angle has been relaxed a degree. The bottom bracket has been dropped 10-millimeters, the frame's tube profiles have all been tweaked to improve stiffness and (in the rear) to also improve tire clearance for muddy tires as large as 2.5-inches. Cartridge bearings replace many of the bushings found on the previous iteration. Overall durability should be improved.
Perhaps the most obvious difference, however, is the addition of an air-sprung auxiliary shock that replaces the lower-tech coil unit of the past. The new auxiliary shock should be significantly easier to fine tune (and the correct tune is key to getting the most of a Magic Link-equipped bike). In addition, the new shock features a rebound adjuster, which enables you to vary how quickly the bike returns from its gravity mode to its more climb-friendly mode.
"The new Abra Cadabra is pretty amazing," White says with no small amount of pride. "We got a lot of feedback on where the bike needed to go from Karim [ed. Kona enduro racer Karim Amour] who's been competing on the bike in things like MegAvalanche. This new bike does everything better and in the places where I used to ride the CoilAir, this latest Cadabra even outrides the CoilAir."
The top tier $5,500 Abra Cadabra sports a mix of XT/SLX components, Easton Haven (142×12 rear through axle) wheels, a Fox 34 160-millimeter travel fork (a huge upgrade over the Fox 32, 150-travel fork from 2012) and a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post.
The more affordable ($3,600) Cadabra sports a pure SLX drivetrain and brakes, Shimano MT68 wheelset and Crank Brothers Kronolog dropper post.
For more information, go to konaworld.com