When we tested Kona’s Magic Link-equipped, variable 6-7.4in travel Coilair early in 2009, we enjoyed the ride but thought it a bit too much of a bike for most UK trails. “For our money, a bike that topped out at 6in but felt like 4-4.5 most of the time (and weighed under 30lb) would be a considerably more useful tool,” we said at the time. Roll forward to the present day, and here’s the Kona Cadabra, which is that very thing. Kona describe it as “a sub 30-pound four-inch travel bike with the ability to jump to six-inches in the rear when certain ‘situations’ arise,” which is so spookily similar to what we asked for that we’d have to like it, right?
The Cadabra was high on our list for Interbike’s Outdoor Demo, and clearly it was high on plenty of other people’s lists too – the bikes were out a lot of the time. In the interests of getting a ride in, we took this somewhat unfinished preproduction bike out for a spin rather than hanging on for one with paint and the right components on. This one may not have the right spec, but it’s the right shape and that’s what counts.
Setup on Magic Link bikes is a little more involved than usual. With the lower shock mount being on the floating Magic Link, which pivots off the frame, carries the chainstay pivot and has its own spring, there’s more than just shock pressure and rebound damping to fiddle with. Fortunately, Magic Link designer Brian Berthold was on hand to get everything sorted.
The Cadabra’s geometry has some quirks. There aren’t many bikes out there with 75° seat angles, for example. And the 14.5in bottom bracket height is something of a statistical outlier, too. Somehow, though, it all kind of works, helped considerably by the action of the Magic Link – the bike drops and slackens as the suspension compresses more than you’d expect from a conventional setup. It actually handles really well, with the high BB only making its presence felt when you want to get on or off.
And the Magic Link? It does what’s claimed of it, and the Cadabra retains the Coilair’s giggletastic behaviour in berms and off drops. It’s at least 4lb lighter than the Coilair too, and all that steepness just adds to the brisk pickup when it’s time to get the power down.
All that said, there are plenty of sub-30lb full-time 6in bikes out there that are no slouches in the pedalling department. We’ll need to spend a bit more time on a Cadabra to decide if the extra complexity is worthwhile. It’s undeniably a unique and effective bike, though.
More details at www.konaworld.com