Apparently 2006 will be Kona’s 18th year, which is a reasonably terrifying thought in some ways. Long-time Kona watches probably won’t be surprised to learn that there’re no radical departures in next year’s range – Kona’s always been more into evolving and refining rather than chucking everything out and starting again.
We had a look at the new range in Les Gets – it’s worth bearing in mind that the launch bikes all featured North American spec, which won’t necessarily be exactly the same as the UK/European bikes. We dare say that full specs and prices will be on Kona’s UK site any time now.
A good example of Kona’s evolutionary approach is the new Stinky range. The Stinky Five came out in 1998 with 5in of travel and (for the time) big forks. Over the years it’s been pumped up with ever-more travel, and for 2006 it’s had a big makeover. The Stinky now has 7in of travel at the back, but it’s more like a shorter-travel Stab than a longer-travel version of last year’s bike. The new rocker arm is much longer, meaning lower forces and and a reduced the leverage ratio, and it’s set up to deliver a more linear rate through the travel. You also get a revised, stiffer replaceable derailleur hanger, funky curved down tube and increased standover height. It’ll be available in no-frills, Deluxe and Primo flavours, all with fairly meaty spec – Fox DHX shocks, Marzocchi twin-crown forks, big Maxxis tyres and Hayes brakes.
If that’s not enough travel for you, the Stab Supreme and Stab Deluxe offer 8in of travel plus a floating rear brake. Spec is largely as you might expect. There’s also a new 4X bike, the Howler. It’s a short-travel suspension bike designed with the help of Fabien Barel.
Moving back down the travel range and into the realms of bikes that you can feasibly ride up hills, we have the Coiler range. The Coiler’s USP was that it had coil springs at both of its 6in-travel ends, but for 2006 there’s also a CoilAir using air springs. Fox’s new DHX Air shock holds the back up and a Fox 36 RC2 sits at the front. Components include Race Face Atlas and Evolve bits and Hayes El Camino brakes.
Kona’s beefy hardtails have had a few tweaks. The Cowan dirt-jump bike is now compatible with deep-insertion headsets and the singlespeedable back end has interchangeable dropouts, letting you run a 12mm rear through-axle if you need a bit more beef at the back. There’s also a Stuff 2-4 24in wheel bike for little ‘uns.
In the XC FS arena, the 3.8in travel Kikapu bikes are joined at the top end by the 2.5in travel, Scandium framed, rim brake only King Supreme. There’s also a frame-only disc-brake option, the Leroi, featuring carbon stays. If that’s not racecore enough for you, the 2006 Kula Supreme hardtail drips with superlight kit – FSA MegaExo carbon fibre cranks, XTR transmission, Mavic CrossMax SL wheels, Easton carbon stuff and so on.
The more “everyday” hardtails – the Blast, Cinder Cone and Caldera – feature a new frame using flared’n’squared Kona Clump Light tubing. It’s a considerably more aggressive look, but despite appearances the tubing is fairly light – it’s a lot thinner than the tubes on the dirt jump bikes that it resembles. For the traditionalists, the Lava Dome and Explosif are both steel – Kona Butted Cromoly on the Dome, Dedacciai tubing on the Explosif.
Kona’s also entering the women’s market with three bikes using the Lisa name. The HT is a hardtail, the DS is a full susser and the RD is a road bike. They all feature tweaked geometry and girl-friendly contact points.
Then of course there’s all the slightly out-of-the-mainstream stuff. The Jake and Jake The Snake cyclo-cross bikes are joined by a junior CXer, the Jake 2-4. The new Ph.D is a kind of super-hybrid/flat-bar road bike with lots of lightweight bits. The Makena is a 20in wheeled kid’s bike and the Joe is an extravagantly behandlebarred chopper-type device that’s designed to be slightly more practical than last year’s Bikehotrod. For cruiser fans there’s still the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, although in the UK we get one cluttered up with levers and cables and things, rather than the super-clean North American one with just a coaster brake. Bah.
Oh, and the Unit singlespeed is joined by a 29er version. If you’re desperately leftfield enough to want a 29er singlespeed you’ll have to put some effort in, though – the Unit 2-9 comes as a frame only. And there’s road bikes and all sorts of other stuff – keep an eye on www.konaworld.uk.com for further details.