Built using new superlight Scandium 6069 tubing and a stiff 142x12 rear axle, the Big Kahuna is designed to take on everything from technical singletrack to speedy XC racecourses. Light but durable, fast but fairly priced, the Big Kahuna is years of a deep-seated commitment to racing and testing 29er bikes. The result? One of the sweetest-riding, big-wheeled hardtail mountain bikes in creation. At least that's what we think our Hawaiian shaman friends are saying.
Strengths: When was the last time you accelerated up a hill on a 26"? Chews up the climbs compared to the 26" hard tail it replaced it really has blown me away how enjoyable hard tail riding can be. Living on the west coast of NZ where we have really root trails I was amping for a new full-suss bike to take the edge of the things. However I took the plunge and purchased a 29er hard tail and having ridden it for 3 weeks, it is a thing of joy, so much so that I am sure my excitement is impairing my ability to write coherently.
90% of my riding is done sitting on the seat, a novelty on a hard tail, I am able to roll over much of the trail I was confined to grimacing through on the 26". The geometry on the bike is awesome and allows me to really attack the trail and hills, when was the last time you could accelerate as you ascend? The forks are plush (I am a fan of Reba), why they didn't throw in the poploc in the deal is daft!
The bike is agile, you could easily believe that riding a 29er would be like riding a penny farthing, but in reality its seriously good at tight switchbacks, the acceleration you get in the bike too, speeds this technical bit of riding too. The brakes are great, good control. Gears are awesome, the sram shifting is intuitive and highly responsive.
I have competition coming up and am really looking forward to being competitive again. If you are thinking of going full suss as you age gracefully (I am 36), then think of this bike as an alternative. It's rejuvenated my riding and made me smile, and I can wipe the floor with my mate on his 29er Anthem X (that makes me smile too).
Weaknesses: The tires seem to suck a little, especially as you drift across trails that are un-consolidated (gravel roads), I have spilled a few times. The pop lock, such a useful little device for the reba for XC riding should be included. The rear hub has broken, but the warranty is 1yr, so they are fixing it up.
I have never written a review, but I feel compelled to do so by this great bike (apart from a few little teething problems).
I can't imagine riding a 26er again or a full suspension bike for that matter, my days of jumping and throwing myself off stuff never happened in the first place and ain't starting now. A great XC bike, thanks Kona.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 31, 2013
Strengths: Very easy, very fast to drive
It is my first Kona and 29er and I am really impressed. Very good build quality, comfortable to drive, you have always control over the bike
Weaknesses: The whees could hve a better grip
I like really these big. No problem with anything - only the grip of the wheels could be better
Strengths: The bike is super quick yet comfortable. It gives you a lot of confidence and really lets you tackle some sections that otherwise would be sketchy. Overall, a fantastic race bike.
Weaknesses: The wheels. I blew out the rear hub completely after only 4 months of riding. Definitely do an upgrade
Overall a great bike. With a few upgrades, wheels, cockpit, post, saddle, etc it is a fantastic bike that great for long hauls or racing and everything in between.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: November 17, 2012
Strengths: Great fork and thru axles front and rear.
New elixirs are strong and quiet
Weaknesses: 38 tooth big ring seems tall for 29er.
Just picked up a 2013 model at a great price from my lbs and had my first proper trail ride on it.
Have been using a 120mm dually for casual club level Xc races and wanted something a bit racier but not super aggressive all out x c.
First 29er I have owned and first hardtail in a while but really impressed with it. It weighed 12.1kg out of the box with the included shimano pedals and tubes in the tyres on a parktool bike scale.
Rear traction is a real highlight and is nothing like a 26 hardtail. I dropped the stem down for a bit more aggressive front end and it grips great at the front. Maxxis ikons are really grippy too! Ive run these tubeless on a 26 before with mixed results so happy to keep the tubes for now. I run 32 rear and 30 front. The wheels are a tad heavy but seem like good quality. The stickers say they are hand built and they feature a loud and proud freehub, sealed bearings and thru axles front and rear. The Reba fork is super plush and uses all of its travel without bottoming out.
Shifting between the chainrings is a bit of a big jump and the 38 tooth seems a bit tall to me but if you ride on the road it would be good. Direct mount front mechanical is a nice touch.
New elixir 5s are a huge improvement, a great confidence booster. 180mm disc front and 160 rear.
The frame is gorgeous with its compact rear triangle and stealth paint job. It has a normal threaded bottom bracket, not a press fit as the website states.
The stock grips are only single bolt but look and feel like ODI ruffians.
Overall really happy with it and looking forward to putting more km on it.
a Cross Country Rider
from Ogden, Utah
Date Reviewed: April 23, 2011
Strengths: Balanced, Fast, Rugged, Smart component spec and very cool looking
Weaknesses: Heavy fork
This bike is fast. Upgrading from a Kona Cinder Cone I had'nt expected this new 29er to be lighter, but it is. I guesse it must be the Sram components or maybe the Reba RLTti or the frame... Who knows , All I can say is that riding this bike is a revelation, the 29er format makes most XC terrain feel like your riding on a paved bike path. This bike is way easier to pedal and more balanced in every technical situation with grip out the yingyang. The bike turns fast singletrack into STUPID fast singletrack, and most downhills into ribbons of tear jerking giddyness. Kona has done a great job with this bike and with the help of my LBS this bike really is a perfect fit.
Similar Products Used: Kona Cinder Cone, Klein Rascal
Bike Setup: I bought the 2011 Kona Big Kahuna from Matt at Skyline Cycles in Ogden Utah. He and his team did a great job helping spec a few changes to the stock bike in order to make it more suitable to my riding style. Firstly they changed out the Recon fork for the lighter and more supple Reba RLTti with the 20mm thru axle, Matt then built a tricked out Stans Arch front wheel with a 20mm DMR hub and installed burly 2.2 tubless Nevegals on the front and rear. They also spec'ed a Kona 110mm stem to give me little more reach.
Strengths: Having swapped from a 26" to my first 29", riding has been a revelation! One of the first things I noticed is how stable and safe the ride is, Kona frames are not only beautiful but well built and comfortable to ride.
However, out racing is where everything started to pull together. The difference in speed on both trails and open tracks is amazing, yet with the air shocks, is still easy to control around the gnarlier sections.
Weaknesses: A tad heavy. RockShox Toras (air) are pretty noisy.
This is a great value bike, one of the best entry level 29er racers around. Do not hesitate in buying it!
a Cross Country Rider
from Melbourne, Australia
Date Reviewed: December 1, 2009
Strengths: Solid frame and great spec for the price. XT R/D, Deore F/D, new model Deore brakes, SLX Cranks, Tora Air fork, Kona bars, stem and seatpost look mint. 29er wheels just rail around corners. Also has full set of rack mounts.
Weaknesses: None yet except 2.1 Ignitors might be a bit narrow but so far have stuck like glue in most cases
Wanted a hard tail 29er with ok spec that wouldn't break the bank and with rack mounts. Got it all for a steal. This bike is fast, very fast but solid enough to take some hits. The frame is light but stiff and loves railing corners. Haven't had this bike long but couldn't be happier with the way it rides and the spec for the $$$. Nothing comes close in the same $$$ range.