By Adam Newman, action photo by Justin Steiner, still photos by Sterling Lorence
Kona is going big on the big wheels for 2012. This year its offering no less than a baker’s dozen of 29ers in the lineup, from the burly all-mountain hardtail Honzo to the race-ready Hei Hei full-suspension cross-country platform.
Somewhere in the middle sits the Satori, the longest-travel Kona 29er yet. Sporting 130mm of travel front and rear, plus short chainstays and a slack head tube angle, it will take you places you never thought you could take a 29er.
Equipped with a swing-link version of Kona’s venerable 4-bar linkage, Kona managed to squeeze those big wheels into 17.3 inch chainstays to combat the aircraft carrier-like handling of many big 29ers. The parts spec is straightforward and robust, from the RockShox Revelation RLT fork, SRAM X7 running gear, Avid Elixir 5 brakes, and an Easton wheelset. Naturally you’ll find thru-axles front and rear, as well.
The only thing I wasn’t digging was the chainrings on the X7 double crankset. The 39×26 combo kept me in the lowest possible gear on too many occasions. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather see a triple on this bike. Early-season legs and 30 pounds of bike were screaming for another ring. There’s also ISCG 05 tabs to handle any sort of chain guide setup you’d like.
I took the Satori with me on our Spring Break trip to the Sedona, Ariz., area and it fit right in, shrugging off the biggest rocks with ease. The stock Maxxis Ardent tires, especially the 2.4 in front, where a perfect choice for this bike and the terrain, as the bike simply overpowered a 2.1 pair I tried while dodging cacti and vortexes.
It took a few rides to balance out the travel in the front and Fox RP2 shock out back, but now that I have I’m having a blast on the Satroi and I’ve been impressed by the versatility its showed. Keep an eye out for my full review in a future issue of Dirt Rag. Subscribe today and never miss an issue.