When Mo asked if I would be interested in attending the 2008 Kona Press camp, held in conjunction with Crankworks Colorado, it didnâ€™t take me long to jump all over the opportunity. Thursday morning, Iâ€™m up and out the door before the sun rises. Quick bus ride to the airport, grab a cup of joe, board the plane, next thing I know weâ€™re on the ground in Denver. Sean Leslie and Mike Geraci of Base Camp Communications (Kona’s PR Firm) were kind enough to shuttle me and some other folks up to Winter Park Resort. We arrived at the resort just after a wicked storm had rolled through, dumping snow on the nearby peaks. You can find photos from the Kona Launch and Crankworx Colorado in the Dirt Rag gallery.
Iâ€™m here to report that Kona is doing some interesting stuff for 2008. By far the most interesting development comes in the form of the new rear suspension design found on the 2008 Coilair. Konaâ€™s new design, dubbed â€œMagic Linkâ€, was developed in conjunction with the folks at Brake Therapy. This isnâ€™t the first time these two companies have joined forces, Konaâ€™s DOPE floating rear brake caliper design was a collaborative effort, as well. The basic concept is fairly straightforward: the Magic link is pulled forward by pedal induced chain tension and pulled rearward due to bump and braking forces. In the forward position, spring rate increases, travel decreases to 6â€, and head and seat-tube angles steepen. As the Magic link swings rearward, spring rate decreases, travel increases to 7.4â€, and head and seat-tube angles decrease. Though the execution sounds, and is, quite complicated the idea is simple: plush long travel mode with slack angles for hammering descents, and a firmer short travel mode with steeper angles for climbing efficiency. How does it ride, you ask? I havenâ€™t a clue. In fact, only a very few people have actually ridden the bike, and they all work for Kona. At the time of the launch, Kona had only a raw prototype to show, so riding the new design was obviously not an option. The concept is highly interesting and may well be one step closer to the Holy Grail of pedal able trailbike, only time will tell. Itâ€™s exciting to see the continued evolution of suspension design, particularly with creative designs springing up everywhere.
All of the Rest
Kona will celebrate 20 years in the business with their 2008 lineup, which has grow to 62 bikes and 6 frames. Theyâ€™ve obviously been very busy, introducing sixteen new models and eight new or redesigned frames. Hereâ€™s a snapshot of some of the new, and/or redesigned, bikes that caught my eye.
Like most manufactures, Kona is expanding their 29er line-up for 2008. They now offer 4 models; one singlespeed, two hardtails, and a new 2.5â€ travel dually. The Hei-Hei 29 pictured above uses the same scandium tubeset and suspension design as the 26â€ Hei-Hei. Both bikes are intended to be light weight XC Rigs.
The Lisa Four is the womenâ€™s version of the new Scandium Four platform. As you may have guessed, the new frame offers 4â€ of travel. Kona is very committed to designing womenâ€™s bikes, components, and clothing that fits. Women everywhere will be happy to know Konaâ€™s 2008 clothing line was designed for women, by a woman.
After watching Kona rider Paul Basagoitia rip it up on the slopestyle course, it was easy to see why Kona developed the Bass signature model with Paulâ€™s input. The Bass features a main pivot concentric with the BB shell and sliding dropouts, both of which afford the option of running the bike as a singlespeed.
I certainly wasnâ€™t the only person at the launch who was super excited to see the flashy orange Kapu in the Kona line-up. This bike is simply gorgeous, polished stainless lugs are a thing of beauty. Modern components with a classic look and feel, down to the frame pump mount and seatstay mounted chain hanger. I can only hope weâ€™ll see a mountain bike with polished lugs. Iâ€™ll take a 29er in an 18â€, thank you.
Konaâ€™s new â€˜Eighty-Eight is highly fashionable cruiser, suitable for the trips to the bar and around town. Youâ€™ll notice the lockable storage in the faux gas tank, great for keeping your goodies safe while youâ€™re at the pub. No, the rims arenâ€™t wood.
With gas prices continuing to rise, many people are looking to decrease the use of their auto. Those who are currently car-free are always looking to make that grocery trip store a little easier. Enter Konaâ€™s Ute utility bike. Long wheelbase, built in rack, and 700c wheels should make for an interesting combo. No word yet whether, or not, it is compatible with Xtracycle accessories.
As many of you know, Kona started the Africabike program last year provide bicycles for healthcare workers delivering drugs to HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. This year Africabikes will be available in a singlespeed and a threespeed offering to consumers. For each bike sold, Kona will donate another Africabike to the cause. In addition, Kona has designed an Africabike T-shirt, all proceeds from sales of this shirt will be donated to the Africabike program.