New for 2012, Kona's first 29er carbon fiber hardtail takes everything we've learned in seven years of designing and building trail-inspired, race-winning 29er mountain bikes. Using a proprietary carbon fiber weave that's designed to be both tough and quick, the mastered geometry of the King Kahuna features short chainstays, a low bottom bracket, a stiff 142x12 rear axle, and a spec package that's all race, all speed, all King.
Strengths: Light weight, excellent geometry, not to steep and short enough chain stays, feels very natural, super fast and stiff but also comfortable.
Weaknesses: Parts could be a little better, but with a crank upgrade and wheel upgrade it would be an unstoppable weapon. I would rather the chainstay length to be 436-438mm to make it perfect.
Took a long time to convert but i have finally gone to a 29er. I was worried that it would not feel natural as so many 29ers i have rider feel crap! The key angles to think about are the head angle and the chain stay length. No longer than 440mm on the chain stay length and 69-70 degrees on the head angle allows for a comfortable and trail riding feel. But this is really a race bike with the amazing carbon frame. I have a local loop i do which is only 2km. My time was 7:15 and after a 10min warm up for my first ride on this bike i did it in 6:45. 30sec faster!!! This was coming from my charge duster with full xt buildkit which was a pretty good little bike. I put this down partly to the carbon frame and the 29er wheels. I am still thinking of taking the spacer out to get 110mm which would make the head angle about 69.5 (just slightly more trail orientated). The bike is built well and looks amazing. 142mm rear spacing and tapered head tube keeps things very stiff. The only other brand that compares to this is scott scale 29 carbon, pivot les, or the whyte carbon 29, all of these were more expensive. This review is for the 2012 model but the 2013 is the same just with a tubeless wheelset. I love this bike!!!
a Cross Country Rider
from Imperial Mo.
Date Reviewed: August 25, 2010
Strengths: The geometry is spot on. I have never ridden a bike that had a more comfortable cockpit. The frame is light, and the 2010 color is a jaw dropper. This is the first bike I have owned that causes people to stop and ask questions.
Weaknesses: The are not offering a 2011 version. That could be a strength. Nobody else can get one.
If you can find one buy it. It is buy far the most nimble 29er I have ever ridden. I am faster on this bike than on my duel suspension 26er.
Similar Products Used: Gary Fisher, Specialized, Trek,...
Bike Setup: XT crank, derailieurs,and shifters, Avid Elixir R brakes, Stans ZTR 355, Ritchey wcs bar, Thompson post, Reba sl 29, Chris King Headset.
a Cross Country Rider
from The Boro in the Shire
Date Reviewed: June 29, 2010
Strengths: An initial ride review - Really like the lighter weight, good combination of stiffness and flexibility, really like the Fox fork and 15mm axle. While I would prefer XT or Elixir brakes, the SLX are working well, The deore chain does'nt bother me, it'll be replaced in a season. I was going to change the saddle, but, actually, the stock saddle ain't bad. Actually, all the Kona components are pretty decent.
Weaknesses: Kenda Small block tires, they work well in dry conditions, but they are first on my replacement list. It's Aluminum, (OK, fine, call it Scandium), so you know it was engineered for weight and price as much as for ride characteristics, so it is slightly harsh, makes an annoying sound. Call me weird but I'd say this bike has slightly less soul than a Steel or Titanium, but those come with either a bigger price-tag or increased frame weight.
If you spend this much money, you'll get a good bike, no matter who makes it. I like the riding position and the FOX fork really clinched the deal in choosing this bike over others.
Bike Setup: Favorite pedals and Ergon grips... Trimmed handlebars
a Cross Country Rider
from Essex, Vermont, USA
Date Reviewed: June 5, 2010
Strengths: Climbing, technical single track, descending
Weaknesses: None so far
This is a great all around bike for riding technical single track in Vermont. I had never tried a 29er before this bike. The bigger wheels have made a huge difference for me. I recommend trying a 29er if you have the chance. They have given me more confidence to ride over technical terrain. This bike climbs and descends tight single track really well. The new American Classic wheelset feels really nice and solid. I'm 6'3" and weigh about 200lbs. I mainly ride single track and like technical climbing. I'm not a downhill guy or into racing. I recommend this bike to anyone looking for a great hardtail trail bike.
Favorite Trail: Kingdom Trails, Hinesburg Town Forest
Duration Product Used: 1 Year
Purchased At: Proform
Similar Products Used: This is my first 29er
Bike Setup: stock set up with following upgrades Easton Monkey-lite carbon bars, Ergon grips, New American Classics 29er Tubeless ready wheels, Maxxis Ignitor tires
a Cross Country Rider
from West Berlin, Vermont, USA
Date Reviewed: September 18, 2009
Strengths: An Amazing XC race bike that can compete with all mountain bikes. Realistic Light, 24lbs, well designed, races like nothing I have ridden and can do tech steep, almost dh. I feel like I am cheating on the dh when I ride this bike.
Weaknesses: Absolutely none!
Super nice quality frame set that is durable but XC race light. If you want a 29er frame that is not priced crazy, and very well designed, buy the King Kahuna. I have raced and ridden mtb all over the US since 1991 as a cat 1 and this bike is very nice. This bike takes the daily stress or training and free riding and the beatings of races. It's a mean to be ridden and it is a rider's bike, do not put it on a shelf and looked at. It tracks as well as my Inde fab 26er ht, but rides as plush as a C-dale Scalple. When I ride other bikes I am disappointed and glad to back on my King Kahuna.
Similar Products Used: Everything under the sun since 1991, been in the industry
Bike Setup: Custom set up: XTR 180 mm crank, black spire 28-38-bash ring. 11-34 Sram 990, Cross step chain, King head set, 20mm Maxle Reba team at 100mm, WTB rocket V ti, AC rear, Hope proII 20mm front, Stan's 355, XO Grip, XO RD, Carbon post and flat bar, Kona stem, Formula Oro bianco 180mm front 160 rear, Ignitor 2.1 tires
a Cross Country Rider
from Welland, Ontario, Canada
Date Reviewed: May 29, 2009
Strengths: Scanduim frame with great goemetry, Kona's great looks (paint as well as tube shaping)
Weaknesses: none so far
What a great package this turned out to be. I was thinking of buyin a road bike, but then I came to my sences. I might as well build up a light hardtail that I can also use for raning. I originally scoped out the Salsa Mamasita but got tired of waiting for them to be available so I ordered up the King Kahuna. The geometry number were so close to the Mama that all the components I had already purchased would fit perfectly. The frame is also $200 cheaper than the Mama.
First ride on pavement was fine, then it was time to get it dirty. WOW!! I wished I would have built this bike last year. It steers flawlessly, very quick yet still stable enough. I found myself carrying much more speed downhill than I thought I would with the hardtail. It also flies uphill as only a hardtail can.
29 insch wheels are a godsend to the hardtail rider. I love this bike!!
Similar Products Used: my other ride is an Intense Spider 29er
Bike Setup: custom build 1x9, full XTR drivetrain, Industry9 Stan's Arch wheelset, 09 RockShox Reba SL fork, Magura Marta brakes, King headset, Easton EA90 stem, FSA K-force flat bar, Thomson seatpost, WTB Laser V ti rail saddle
a Weekend Warrior
from Dunstable, MA
Date Reviewed: May 3, 2009
Strengths: Nice and stiff with forgiving geometry. Very neutral handling. Frame has a nice roomy top tube (med 23.5"). FSA wheelset has proven durable and reasonably light. SLX brakes are a pleasant surprise, great feel and power.
Weaknesses: Crappy spec on the rear cassette and chain. Swapped for an XT cassette immediately. 80mm fork....why not 100mm? Proprietary spoke wrench.
Was looking for a second bike in the hard tail flavor. It's a nice package for the money. Would have gotten 5 chili's had Kona not skimped on some of the Shimano components. I have seen some other competing brands in the same price range with a full XT spec. Granted, those bikes aren't giving you scandium frames either.
Bike Setup: Stock setup except I swapped the cassette and crank to XT units.
a Cross Country Rider
from Charlotte, NC
Date Reviewed: April 4, 2009
Strengths: Incredibly light, great componentry, great climber. Fox Front fork (my first) is amazing. Very repsonsive. The shifters are very, very crisp. Brake are adequate and do adjust to your desired grab range.
Weaknesses: Chain and rear cassette aren't spec'd properly as read in other reviews. It is the only thing I can slightly complain about. Maybe because everything else is such high quality
First 29er and will probably never go back. K.K. climbs unbelievably and handles like no other bike I have ever ridden. Incredibly light/stiff frame absorbs some very rooty/rocky trails I ride but big tires keep the momentum going. Easily cut 1-3 minutes off my usual lap times (without being in great riding shape, YET). The handling and momentum are what stand out most but since it is so light and climbs so well it does not feel like I would have thought for a 29er. definitely recommend it!!
Bike Setup: *(side note) saw in other reviews sizing being questioned, I am almost 5'11 but went with 19" frame b/c 18 felt and looked cramped. Also with big tires on that smaller frame my foot almost hit tire on turns. Not Good.
a Cross Country Rider
from Eagle River, WI
Date Reviewed: February 20, 2001
Strengths: Very nice quality pretty frameset. Smooth welds. Kona geometry and fit. TITANIUM!
Weaknesses: Flex at the rear brake mounts. Should be easy to fix with a brake booster.
Obviously, I've built my dream bike here. (If my husband didn't own a shop, I could never have afforded it.) I've had the bike since October and so far so good. I can't say enough about the quality of the Kona frame - it's beautiful and rides like a dream. I haven't noticed much flex except at the rear brakes - I will be installing a brake booster soon.
I am very pleased with my component selection. My aim was to have the best performance possible while maintaining light weight. I LOOOVVE my saddle (ladies take note). Selle Italia has gotten it right - zero pain and race quality. My only complaint is the quality of my Race Face cranks. For what those babies cost, they should be cosmetically perfect. Mine look sloppy and have glue splatters on the paint job.
I've been riding full suspension for so long that it's taking some time adjusting to a hardtail again. The King Kahuna has made it a pleasure. I will probably be trading my suspension post in for a lighter rigid post soon to lose a little weight.
Too bad Kona has discontinued selling Ti bikes as they have a winner here. (I think some frames may still be available through your local Kona dealer.) Kona's high-end scandium frames are less expensive and a very nice alternative.
Purchased At: Joe's Cyclery & Repair, Eagle River, WI
Similar Products Used: GT LTS Team, GT LTS-1, Gary Fisher Pro Caliber Limited (steel)
Bike Setup: XTR drivetrain and brakes, Marzocchi Atom 80 fork, Race Face Next LP cranks, Cane Creek WAM Team Issue Ti wheels, Chris King NoThreadSet, Race Face bars, Thomson stem, Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension post, rollamajig, Selle Italia LDY Trans-am lady's saddle (awesome!), Gore Ride On cables, Salsa juegos del fuego grips. (If only it all made me ride faster!)
from nomad, houston soon
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2000
Strengths: TITANIUM!!! sloped downtube, bike looks hot too.
Weaknesses: none yet!
I just got this bike a week ago from Atomic Bikes in Whittier, CA (www.atomicbikes.com). First off, I have to say that these guys are GREAT!!! They spent a lot of time working with me on the bike specs, as well as fitting me on the bike. The best part is they received and assembled the bike within a couple of days! Now for the bike: It ROCKS!!!! I rode it for the first time on a Friday, and raced it on the following day at the Big Bear, CA NORBA Nationals. I was nervous to ride a new bike so soon in a race, but I decided to just have fun with the race. All I really wanted was to ride my new bike. Well, I ended up winning sport overall! The bike was GREAT. The titanium really helped on the rocks/bumpy sections. The fork was also phenomenal. It floated over every obstacle. The bike is quick and responsive, and it handles the downhills impressively. I also used the bike for the hill climb (King of the Hill) the next day. I ended up winning that also. The bike climbed excellently!!! like a mtn goat! I have absolutely no complaints about this bike. Buy it!!! You won't be sorry! And for great service and cool guys, check out Atomic Bikes.