By Adam Newman
The Hei Hei has been one of the most popular models in the Kona lineup since the first version—a titanium hardtail—began production in 1990. The current iteration is a full-bore, dual-suspension race 29er with 100mm of travel front and rear.
The hydroformed 6069 Scandium frame features all the modern touches, including a tapered headtube, 142×12 rear axle, tons of standover room, asymetric chainstays, and Kona’s walking beam 4-bar linkage. There are three trim levels to choose from: The $1,899 Hei Hei, the $2,999 Hei Hei Deluxe, and the $3,899 Hei Hei Supreme
I spent most of Friday aboard a Supreme, with a Fox Float 29 RLC fork, a SRAM X9 drivetrain, and Easton’s EA70 XCT wheelset, as I tried to hold down my breakfast as I chased the Kona race team and several other industry types across the desert south of Tucson, Arizona, in the shadow of Rincon Peak. Then on Saturday I rode a 16-mile lap of the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo aboard the same bike.
Designed to tackle everything from shorttrack racing to epics like the B.C. Bike Race and TransRockies—both of which have been won by team rider Barry Wicks aboard one—the Hei Hei is most at home at speed. The bike tracks straight ahead though the more gnarly bits with nary a hint of flex. Even with the ProPedal left open on the Fox Float RP23 shock, it doesn’t bob at all while climbing and the 18-inch chainstays keep the rear end planted. The 70-degree headtube means even when the trail points down you can still move quick.
The front end isn’t difficult to lift up onto obstacles, but with the longest chainstays in Kona’s 29er lineup, the bike isn’t as playful as some of the other offerings (more on those soon). Instead, think of it as a no-nonsense race machine that could work for everyone from a weekend warrior to a full-on pro. In fact, stock Hei Hei 29 Supremes were ridden to a first place finish in the Men’s Solo category (Cory Wallace) and a second place in the Open Team category (Spencer Paxson, Kris Sneddon, Barry Wicks, and Sean Babcock) in the 24-hour race.
Here’s a closer look of the new Hei Hei 29 Supreme, courtesy of photographer Sterling Lorence and Kona.