My mother always told me not to judge a book by its cover. It never stuck. And when I saw Kona’s newest bikes, I immediately started judging. These are the most beautiful bikes at the show. And if they ride anything like the last Operator or the Process 153 CR/DL 27.5 they are liable to be some of the best rides on display as well. But we’ll have to wait to test them. For now, we ogle.
Kona Process 153 CR/DL 29
When the second-generation Process 153 came out last year, both wheel sizes recieved a model, but the 29er didn’t get the carbon makeover the 27.5 did. Until now. It’s essentially the same frame as the aluminum 29er--425-millimeter chainstays, a 475-millimeter reach on a Large, a 66-degree head angle and a 76 degree seat-tube angle. The frame has enough room to bury a 170-millimeter dropper on a size Medium, and is specced with Code brakes, RockShock’s new Lyrik RC2 and a bitchin’ color scheme. All three new bikes have press-fit bottom brackets and will be available this summer.
Yet another DH bike becomes a 29er. And becomes carbon. This isn’t just another 29-inch DH bike though. The bike was built with the help of Connor Fearon, and Fearon wasn’t sure he would love the 29-inch platform for everything. So Kona made sure the new carbon Operator could take both 29-inch and 27.5-inch wheels. A pair of flip chips at the rear dropout makes this possible, and flipping it into 29er mode also slackens the head angle by one degree, slightly reduces the rear travel (to 195 millimeters), and changes the leverage curve by a minuscule amount--5 percent. Not enough for us mere mortals to notice, but Fearon can feel it.
That little flip-chip isn’t the only adjustable piece of the new Operator. The chainstays can also be adjusted from 425 millimeters to 440 millimeters and the reach can be adjusted 10 millimeters with a set of headset cups. The bike has an internal tube for the rear-derailleur while cable management for the brakes is external. The Operator arrives with a 190-millimeter fork, and will ship with 29-inch wheels.
Kona Big Honzo Carbon
The carbon Big Honzo isn’t much different than the aluminum Big Honzo. It has the same geometry, clean lines and trail-worthy hardtail attitude. The bike does have asymmetrical chainstays, which means more tire clearance. The new Big Honzo can fit a 27.5×3.0-inch or a 29×2.5-inch tire.