By Adam Lipinski
I was present for the 2009 Kona product launch in Whistler BC. The Magic Link equipped CoilAir was the highlight of the event. The mastermind behind the Magic Link—Brian Berthold— was present to chat and answer any questions. Before the "press" outing, journalists lined up to get their Kona CoilAirs, Stinkys and Stabs dialed in for the ride. I, however, received a Hei-Hei 29er to hammer the legendary BC trails. The Hei-Hei is a fine steed and survived the day, but it is not the best choice if your looking to launch and bomb down hill. I’m extremely excited to finally get to torture the CoilAir. I have only had the bike for about a week, but it has already claimed its right to be on any descent I will ever throw at it. It has also agreed to let me pedal it back up.
The second generation Magic Link design offers 130-200mm of self-adjusted suspension travel. The Magic Link—in a nut-shell—determines where your suspension needs to be, based on pedal feedback and compression force placed on the back wheel. This is accomplished via a small link connected to the chainstays, main shock and auxiliary shock. Yeah, that’s right, two shocks. The main shock, a Fox Float RP2 BSD is accompanied–in series—by a very basic spring and elastomer shock. Two springs in series give you a more subtle initial stroke. This super sensitive initial compression is at its softest when you are not pedaling. When any pressure is applied to the cranks the link is pushed forward, removing compression from the secondary shock and focusing it on the main unit.
Coasting gives you 200mm of downhill travel, slacker angles, longer wheelbase, more rearward rear axle path and lower bottom bracket hieght. Full-on sprints reward you with 130mm cross country travel, steeper angles, shorter wheelbase and higher BB height. The best of all this is the Magic Link’s ability to progressively transfer from one extreme to the other. Just keep in mind, it does weigh 35.56 lbs. Light for a DH bike, heavy for a XC. Visit Kona World for videos and a full explanation of the design.
The only negative I can attest to at this point is a slight rearward force on the pedals when climbing into a sharp impact or dip. It occurs when pedaling at a moderate pace and hitting a substantial trail irregularity. It’s not a big problem, but I’m going to try and finesse it out of the system with tuning.
The bike looks huge. (Or maybe you have a tiny car? -ed.) I’m 6’2" and got the 22" frame. It is a perfect fit and I’m pumped that they make this bike to fit me. The CoilAir retails for$3,569 and could be the "one" bike for your needs. I’ll let you know in the full review, in the upcoming issue number 160 of DirtRag magazine. Order a subscription now and you’ll see it before anyone else!
Photo by Eric Geiselhart