Sea Otter 20 Ten: Abra Cadabra

Kona = a quality bike company that conjures up images of coffee, my other favorite hobby.

Kona was represented at Sea Otter 2010 in a small way via a booth, not a big diesel rig and huge bike display with a lounge for the employees and guests to hang out. Kona came to Sea Otter allowing their bikes to speak for themselves. What I heard calling my name was a 24.75 lb Kona Abra Cadabra, a 6” travel all mountain trail bike, wait a minute, 24.75 lbs, are you kidding me?..for a 6” travel bike?

Standing still, it is not meant to be...Yoda, supreme Jedi and MTBer
This bike was a custom build by one of the Kona employees to showcase just how versatile a frame the Abra Cadabra can be. He told us it was available for a demo so I quickly scheduled a time. The bike features Kona Magic Link suspension design, FSA SLK components, a Sram XX 1×10 drive-train, (that’s right a 1×10), Sram XX brakes and a Stans Podium MMX wheelset. The drive-train was the new SRAM XX with only a 35 tooth chain ring up front. The paint scheme was beautiful with a polished/grey look and a solid clear-coat.

When we hit the trailhead I noticed how easily this burly bike pedaled and how comfortable it was. When I say burly, I am comparing it to my 4.7” Trek Fuel EX that just crosses the line from XC race to all mountain, the Kona is definitely closer to the downhill side of business than my Trek. The Magic Link works as advertised. Climbing puts the shock in a near vertical position with less travel and a more efficient pedaling experience. Going down hill puts the shock in a more relaxed position and allows for more travel via the extra spring in the magic link. For a video of the Magic Link in use and an explanation of the design theory, please click here.

The Magic of the Magic link

I ended up riding this bike behind a fellow SO goer who was proudly riding an older hardtail Trek. What a huge difference there was when the bikes were pointed downhill, I caught up to him so fast that I caught myself braking just to avoid a crash. Braking was easily handled with Sram’s XX brakes and the rear suspension made sure the rear wheel kept in rotaional contact with the dirt. I’m the type of rider that likes to brake as late as possible (which goes for Grand Turismo as well). I definetely felt confident in my braking decisions.

The purpose of this bike is to be the “one” bike for someone who does not have the pockets for several bikes. This bike proves it can be done. Are there there other manufactures that make a bike in this category? Of course, but this bikes deserves to be at the top of the short list. The frame weighing it at around 6.75 lbs is neither lite nor is it too heavy but is versatile enough for several MTB categories. I was a bit surpised at the frame weight, just looking at it I would have guessed north of 7 lbs. Kona uses their Scandium tubing which is both light, strong and stiff.

I’m a fan of buying a frame only and then selecting the parts that work best for the intended purpose. This frame would be a great starting point for either a freeride oriented all mountain bike or built up closer to xc. If you needed something designed for either category, then you might need to look to the Coilair or the Hei Hei. I really need to get more time on the Abra to get a long term take on it but based on my short ride, it definetely looks like a great bike.

News: Kona 2010 Line-up

The newest Kona newsletter is out and the 2010 Kona line-up has been announced, check it out!

KONAWORLD (August 1, 2009) – The good people at Kona have been busy. Seventy-eight unique models of bicycles, with 14 new models, each built to sparkle and shred. From track classics to classy downtown fixies, highly adaptable trail bikes to a Andreu Lacondeguy signature dirt jump frame. 2010, our 22nd year building bikes, is an exercise in diversity…Kona style.

Kona 2010 Line

It starts with our commitment to the trail. The flexibility and flow of Magic Link finds a new home in Kona’s super fresh mid-travel all-mountain ripper, the Cadabra. With paradigm shifting suspension characteristics that can adapt to a massive variety of terrain, the new Cadabra and Abra Cadabra is our sub 30-pound solution to the quiver. “Simply the most versatile, capable bike to span the widest range of conditions,” says Brian Berthold of Brake Therapy, the Cadabra‘s chief designer. “From the steepest, gnarliest granny gear climbs and tightest switchbacks, to fast & hairy DH descents, not another bike on the planet can perform the magic like this bike.”

We’ve also introduced new mountain bike models, the Kula Gold and the Hei Hei 100. A tribute to our legendary hardtail XC speedster, the Kula Gold comes pimped components that go bling, not to mention frame refinements like an internal headset. The Hei Hei 100 hops up our honed Hei Hei XC dual suspension steed with an extra smattering of travel.

And we’re just getting started.

Aside from lightening weights on our shred-ready line of Kids bikes, we’ve added the Cowan 2-4, a tricked out dirt jump bike for tween aerialists.

For fully-grown dirt fiends, we’re bringing back the Stuff, an affordable, durable, rip-ready hardtail that excels and doing it all and doing it well.

On to the road!

At Kona we believe in the complete cyclist: riding trail, riding pavement, riding as a means to travel through this big wide world. This commitment to all means of self-propulsion shows in our extended range of refined, performance savvy asphalt bikes.

The new, super affordable, tough as nails WorldBike will rock the reggae from Minneapolis to Macau. The Dr. Fine, a sleek, high end, internally geared addition to the street slashing Dr. Dew series is the perfect bike for commuters seeking simple elegance. And the Super Dew, the ultimate downtown speedster.

To our beautiful line of drop bar asphalt and cyclocross bikes we’ve also added the Honky Inc., a fender ready, disc brake loaded utility ride; the Band Wagon and the Grand Wagon, two new fixie/singlespeed art pieces that ride like masterpieces. There’s also the new Major One, a Scandium frame singlespeed cyclocross beauty.

Because more women are riding every day, we’ve introduced two new female-specific models for 2010: an entry-level mountain bike hardtail, the Lisa, and the perfect downtown commuter, Dr. Lisa.

And that’s not all. We’ve also got three new frames this year, for those aficionados who prefer to build up their bikes all by themselves. The Kilauea, a new carbon XC hardtail, the Lacondeguy Inc., a cromoly steel dirt jumper, and The Rat, a stylish steel track frame.

Throughout the rest of Kona’s 2010 collection, we’ve made endless refinements. Almost every single frame has been re-drawn and tuned to perfection.

Part of that refinement is shaving weight off of our existing bike designs. Sixty-one out of the 64 returning models are lighter than 2009. On average our bikes are 8% lighter than last year. Examples? How about a sub-40 pound Stab Supreme? A 16.8 pound steel Haole? Or a 17.9 pound cyclocross race Major Jake?

We poured our sweat and passion into these new bikes. Now, it’s time to ride.

Visit our newly minted website: www.konaworld.com

Media is invited to a sneak preview of the 2010 range from August 5-7, but are requested to hold off on releasing photos and details of the bike program until August 8, when the new KonaWorld website goes live to the world.

See it here: http://bikes.konaworld.com/bikes.cfm

NOTE: this is a preview site only. Only the bike navigation is functional.

Kona: “We’re Seriously Stumped”

The good folks at Kona, makers of some sweet bikes, have a bike naming contest for their newest bike that has yet to be revealed. 1st prize winner gets a new Kona 6″ travel AM rig. Here’s the info:

“We’re Seriously Stumped” Name our New Bike Contest:

Over the last few months, our team of designers and engineers here at Kona have been hard at work developing a new, super light long travel all-mountain bike that incorporates our revolutionary 2-bikes-in-1 Magic Link Technology.

Imagine a six-inch travel bicycle that weighs less than 30 pounds. One that climbs comfortably and efficiently, but then—when all things start to get bumpy and quick—that same bike morphs into a wicked descender, with slacker geometry, better tracking and an additional inch of travel. No switches necessary.

Just submit your five favorite model names to us by April 15, 2009. Our currently-creatively-challenged-crew will then pick the top five entries. From there we’ll eliminate one name every four days by allowing the public to vote a name off the list. We’ll announce the winner and remaining four runner-up entries May 1st, 2009.

Click here for Official Contest page.

Review: 2009 Kona King Kahuna

Who:
The Kona Bicycle Company designs, manufacturers and distributes more than 60 models of purpose-built, high-performance mountain, road and urban bicycles. Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Ferndale, Washington, USA, Kona bicycles are distributed worldwide in more than 60 countries through independent specialty bicycle dealers. Kona funds several professional road, mountain and cyclo-cross racing teams that include World Cup Champions, World Champions and National Champions.


Kona King Kahuna, freshly built up

Product Tested:
Kona King Kahuna

Website’s MSRP:
$2,299

Specs:
Frame sizes 16″, 18″, 19″, 20″, 22″
Frame tubing Kona Race Light Scandium Butted
Fork Fox 32 F29 RL 80mm
Headset FSA Orbit DL
Crankarms Shimano SLX
Chainrings 44/32/22
B/B Shimano SLX
Pedals Shimano M520 Clipless
Chain Shimano Deore
Freewheel Shimano Deore (11-34, 9spd)
F/D Shimano SLX
R/D Shimano XT Shadow
Shifters Shimano XT
Handlebar Kona XC/BC Deluxe Riser
Stem Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Grips Kona Race Light
Brakes Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc
Brake Levers Shimano SLX Hydraulic
Front hub FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Rear hub FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Spokes FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Tires Maxxis Ignitor 29×2.1 Kevlar
Rims FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Saddle WTB Rocket V Comp Cromo
Seatpost Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Seat clamp Kona Clamp
Color Grey Metallic/Pearl White

About Me:
6’1” 210lbs, 29 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys XC riding.


Clearing a long climb on the King Kahuna at Fontana’s XC Winter Race Series

Testing Grounds:
Whiting Ranch, Fullerton Loop, Southridge and many other trails in Southern California.

First Impressions:
The Kona King Kahuna is a looker. The build up was easy as most of the bike was pre-assembled. The brake lines were a bit long. They were not so long as to cause any issues while riding but they were long enough that they look a little awkward even though functionally they were fine. If this were a bike I was to keep I would have invested in shortening the lines but since this was a 3 month demo I decided to leave them as is.

Strengths:
I have to say that the Kona King Kahuna is one knock out bike. It is very pretty if you’re into those things which I happen to be. The color scheme is excellent. The graphics on the bike are top notch and very cool. The paint job held really well even after I ate it a few times out on the trail. The blue on the top tube has a sweet metallic finish that shimmers in the light. White forks have always been a plus in my book and I personally like the look of the SLX crankset as compared to Shimano’s LX or XT cranks.


Dropping into a local trail, taken by Mr. Ivan, photog extraordinaire

But what sets the bike apart from other bikes is the Kona branded parts. House brand parts can be hit or miss especially when there is very little information about the parts. You really can’t stack them up against the Race Faces, Eastons and Ritcheys of the world with such a short review period. Over the testing period the parts worked fine which is always a plus but where the Kona parts really shined was the look. The stem, handlebar and seatpost drew rave reviews from virtually everyone who stopped to look at the bike. I was even asked if Kona sold those bike parts separately from their bikes. All I knew was that they were on the website, but without pricing details, I wouldn’t know if they could be purchased sans bike.

Beyond the superficial and subjective opinions on the look of the Kona King Kahuna, what makes the King Kahuna really stand out at this price are two things: 1. the Scandium frame and 2. the Fox fork.

The frame rode surprisingly well for a Scandium frame. Coming off of riding a steel hardtail I was expecting the Scandium frame to be brittle and harsh, but over the testing period I never thought twice about the frame. I was very impressed at how great it felt for not being steel. I wasn’t able to get an exact weight for the frame as the bike came 80% assembled to me but the full bike was probably at least a pound less than my similarly built steel hardtail.

The geometry used on this frame seems to be the “standard” 29er geometry right now. The 71/73 degree head tube/seat tube angles respectively seems to be the norm for 29er hardtails and when I jumped on the bike, I felt pretty much at ease. About the only thing I have to point out is the slightly taller standover height. Most bikes at 19”/Large size do not sport the 32.5” standover height. This, thankfully, did not rear its head in testing, but it is something to be aware of when considering what size to buy.

The Fox F29 is a very good fork. It is stiff and plush for being only 80mm of travel. It took me only a ride to get it fully adjusted to the way I like it which to me makes it easily adjustable. The surprising part to me about the fork is how well it worked on pretty much everything I threw at it. I wasn’t able to get out on really rocky or long technical descents rides but I did ride a lot of my favorite trails. On the trail, there were many times I would just look to find the gnarliest line and send the King Kahuna down it. During those sections I never really wished for more travel which sort of surprised me. The travel is really good on the F29, so much so that the 80mm advertised seems incorrect.


Dropping the King Kahuna in to Cactus at Whiting Ranch

I was able to get the King Kahuna out to Fontana for a XC race during the winter series. The bike carried me to a fourth place finish on a course that had a little bit of everything including muddy climbs, rocky climbs, sandy descents, switchbacks, singletrack… The King Kahuna did a great job of navigating me through it all.

Weakness:
I really had no issues with the Kona King Kahuna from beginning to end. The geometry is good and the bike is a looker. The components are good for the price, all the way around the bike save two parts.

About the only thing I can nitpick on are the two Deore level components on the bike: chain and cassette. These are two “hidden” components that, at this price point, should not be spec’d on a bike. At $2,300 I feel that the minimum level of componentry should be SLX and higher. From our friends in the industry, I know that spec’ing bikes is a difficult process. Getting the best parts for the price is a difficult task but Deore level components, which although not bad are still two steps below SLX, in my opinion should not be on a $2,000 plus hardtail bike.


Steep downhill section at the Fontana race, see the Pro rider behind me? j/k. He was on his 2nd lap… me just finishing my first.

Summary:
The Kona King Kahuna is Kona’s high end hardtail 29er. It comes with a great Scandium frame that combines surprising comfort while also keeping things pretty light weight. The Fox fork and strong components make for a durable well rounded bike that can withstand some hard trail riding while also easily slipping into the racer mode if you so desired.

For more info on the Kona King Kahuna, click here.

Kona’s Shoot the Ride Photo Contest

Our friends at Kona has a Photo Contest with prizes given to the 3rd, 2nd & 1st place winners. Here are the details:

Take shots of your bike, your friends railing trail, hanging out at the coffee shop, as long as it captures an element of the riding lifestyle, we’ll take it.
Send in your best photograph and be eligible for cash credit prizes at the Kona USA webstore. International submissions welcome.

But that’s not all, scoop. The top three photographs will be published in the 2009 Kona Catalog. That’s right, reams of fame, incredible popularity and immense self-gratification, just for sending in a sweet pic.

Form more info, click here.