First Impression: Kona Hei Hei Trail

Ed’s Note: This bike is part of our annual, sub-$3,000 bike test where the Dirt Rag staff spends significant time aboard less-expensive but fully capable offerings that we’d seriously consider buying ourselves. The final review will be out early 2016 in issue #189. Subscribe today so you don’t miss it!

Price: $2,500

The Hei Hei has long been Kona’s premier cross country platform, and while past models have been no-compromise race bikes, the latest generation reflects the changing nature of cross-country riding and mountain biking in general.


While the aluminum frame moves a racy 100 mm of travel through an all-new suspension design Kona calls Fuse, the 120 mm fork and 68 degree head tube angle are more commonly found on bigger bikes. It’s no wonder that the new bike gets the “trail” designation right in the name. (There is a Hei Hei Race model with a 100 mm fork for the go-fast crowd).


The Fuse system is a classic single-pivot design that does away with the secondary pivot in favor of a flex design. This keeps both the cost and weight down and means one less part to maintain. The result is a classic single-pivot feel with a lively nature. If you run your rebound knob clocked at the “rabbit” end of the dial, you’re going to like this bike. The smaller packaging of the Fuse system also allows for 16.9-inch chainstays, which just barely qualify as worthy of the “short rear end” moniker.


It’s clear the parts spec has been chosen with a great balance of functionality and affordability. The RockShox Recon Gold TK Solo Air isn’t flashy but is a solid workhorse. The 2×10 Shimano Deore/XT running gear is tried and true including the Deore hubs (with Centerlock rotors, woot!) laced to WTB i25 tubeless rims. Even the Kona house-brand cockpit components fit great, with wide handlebars and a 35 mm stem clamp. Ok, I might change out the grips, but I can’t knock Kona for those. The Hei Hei Trail doesn’t ship with a dropper post, but one can be easily installed with either internal or external cable routing.

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No, mountain bikes aren’t cheap, but it’s amazing how capable a bike in this price range can be. I predict some fun times ahead on the Hei Hei Trail.


Subscribe today so you don’t miss the full review in our next issue, plus long-term ride tests of all eight bikes in our annual, sub-$3,000 bike test.