If you've ever ridden a Unit, you know that you'll always need a Unit. That when it comes to owning specific Units, it's extremely important you own the Kona Unit. We love everything about our Cromoly Butted steel frames: how they ride, where they go, how long they last. The Unit takes all that beauty, hops it up with contemporary Kona 29er geometry, and simplifies it with a singlespeed drivetrain to create an all-purpose big wheeler that delivers great quantities of joyful, um, well, Units.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 27, 2012
Strengths: Given the price it is a solid bike with functional components. Hitting the one year mark on my 2012 version I am very happy with my choice. Geometry fits me well, and everything has worked perfectly with the exception of the FSA bottom bracket, which I have had to replace after just under one year of use. I prefer to ride dirt roads and forest tracks, which includes a bit of asphalt and a little single track to link it all together, so the 29" tires and no suspension work extremely well for my preferences. I like the lack of complexity in the bike. All-in-all you get what you pay for, so I am satisfied from a value perspective.
Weaknesses: FSA bottom bracket crapped out already in under 11 months, which seems to be not so unique from what I can find on the internet forums. The FSA crank bolt also refuses to sit tight and has to be re-tightened after every ride - and for longer rides (=2 hours) not uncommonly at some point during the ride. I need to test loctite to solve this problem. This is my only complaint; otherwise, all has functioned great.
My original motivation for going single speed was that I was tired of gears packing with ice during winter riding, which in my part of northern Sweden can last 6 months. Given the number of gravel/dirt roads I can access the idea was to use a cyclocross bike half the year and single speed for the winter half (that is, when not trail running, which is my main focus). But after buying the Kona Unit one year ago, I can count on one hand how many times I have used the cyclocross. Not being able to run the past two months I am doing 200-250 km/week and do not get tired of riding the Unit. I am completely sold both on single speed and on the Kona Unit. I notice in many reviews that people complain about some of the components and then whip out a bit of money to upgrade - well, then buy a higher level bike to start with. The Unit is a solid bike and, with the exception of the durability of the bottom bracket, it has been completely worth it.
In short, I would buy it all over again if I were to go out now and buy a single speed mtb.
Bike Setup: Original. Only if the second FSA bottom bracket fails to hold up will I change cranks and bottom bracket.
Only change is to SPD pedals, and in winter to Nokia studded tires - a must where I live.
Date Reviewed: October 10, 2012
Strengths: Geometry, toughness, dropouts, ability to pass geared riders going up or down the mountain
Weaknesses: Long head tube
I bought this as a frame to replace my broken Niner S.I.R. 9 that I bought to replace my broken GF Rig. I loved the geometry and feel of the SIR 9 and was a little surprised to find that I like the Unit's even more in a frame that is 1/2 the price. What I don't miss is all of the constant creaking from the EBB's in my last 2 frames. I also don't miss Niner's explanation that I pedaled too hard for their steel frame, causing it to break at the drive side rear dropout. I've had the Unit a year now in CO and have had no issues with the rear sliding dropout moving under my 200 lbs.
This is my first rigid fork since 1992 and I'm a year in and not saving money up to get squishy again. There are situations when I miss my suspension fork (Firecracker 50 course) but 95% of the time I feel better off without it. My lap times in the final 24 hrs of Moab last week were acttaully faster than those on my SIR9 with a Reba 2 years ago. I was only passed by 6 riders in 4 laps and all of their frames cost more than my whole bike, and a case of beer, and a lap dance...
Strengths: This is a great frame. I did a custom build, so that has a lot to do with it, but this thing climbs like a goat and gets right under you quickly when you need it. The paint finish (mine is '11 orange) is awesome! Not a fan of all the extra cable guides as I was looking to build a purely SS bike. Love the butted chain stays tho. Plenty of tire clearance - can probably get a 2.4 in there, but I run a snakeskin Racing Ralph 2.25. Standover height is great. Frame construction is very good. With this bike, I am a Kona convert. Preparing for my first Epic SS ride/race in a couple weeks. No doubt it will be great. This thing is fast.
Weaknesses: Worried if the finish will scratch easily. So far, so good tho. Otherwise, I sold the P2 Fork bc I need suspension up front. 100mm of Fox float fits superb.
The "whole bike" package did not intrigue me. However, If you are a geared hard tail person thinking about SS. This is an amazing purchase for the money. My next step would be a Ti frame after this. The geometry is great. Kona has been doing it forever. Give it a chance. I will certainly say that I like it hands down over the Vassago Wet Cat geometry which I rode for 3-years.
Similar Products Used: Vassago Bandersnatch 29er - Geared, Vassago Jabberwocky 29er - SS
Bike Setup: Unit Frame, Watson Ti Bars, Erikson Ti Seatpost, Ergon SM3-S Saddle, Thomson X4 stem, Hope Headset, Hope Pro II Hubs, Salsa QR and Clamp, Fox F29 Float fork, Hope X2 discs with floating rotors, Racing Ralph rubber, Carver Carbon 29er rims, SLX crank w Renthal 32t ring, Surly 19t cog, Hope SS BB, Ergon grips, SRAM PC-1 chain, Crank Bros Eggbeaters.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 10, 2012
Strengths: Well-built frame. Good components for price point. SS = fun! :)
Weaknesses: Nothing really found yet, but only had a couple of days. With full rigid, a grip upgrade is definitely in order.
Sure, you can spend more, but why? This baby has great geometry, corners like a beast, and rolls over everything in your path. The bike tech I purchased from put the bike on the stand and went through some of the engineering changes for the 2012 year model. They tucked the back tire up underneath the seat a little, shortening the chain stay; this gives a little better handling he claimed (I can't complain on the trails; seems to handle better than both my old 26ers). Also, other reviewers talked about a problem with the rear dropout and the chain moving. They've made a change to handle that as well: there's now a set screw in addition to the four bolts to help the chain from moving. Haven't ridden enough to see how well it works yet, but I like to see a company that seems to be listening to their customers and are trying to improve things.
This thing is responsive! If you've been riding a hard or soft tail, you won't believe how fast this thing responds to where you want to go. Also, I felt as though the 29er wheels (I've only ridden 26ers before this) help with slow cornering -- like where you are going around a small tree with a tight turn and your ducking in to keep your speed up. With a 26 soft front setup, the bike tends to crash over more easily. The Unit keeps solid and holds its edge.
Strengths: Price - can't beat it, considering all the decent parts that don't need immediate replacements.
Wheels - I weigh 220 lb, and I'm very immature for my age, so I tend to launch myself whenever I see a jump. Wheels are still true after numerous 1'-2' jumps.
Tires - At 220 lb, tires still haven't punctured after riding on the side of train tracks full of sharp rocks handful of times.
Weaknesses: For its price, I shouldn't really complain as everything works as they should.
I wanted to try out a 29er, and thought rigid was the only way to really see the difference between 26" and 29", and LBS was having a sale on 2010 models - that was a no brainer. I found it was quite uncomfortable at first, but deflated the tires a little and it greatly improved its ride. Changing to 2.35" wide tires only made things better (although bit heavier now, but I weigh 220 lb, so I don't really care about the weight of the bike).
After I started liking the ride, I started testing out few things on the trails (by trails, I mean unpaved gravel/dirt road) around my neighborhood to see its limit - I like finding out what I shouldn't do on my bike while I can still walk home rather than finding out in the middle of nowhere and have to walk 3 hours to get to my car).
First, wheels. At 220 lb on a rigid, I thought for sure I was gonna have to get new wheels right away - let's face it, we all know we have to spend just as much money on wheels as Kona Unit itself for a good wheel set. But with 32 spokes, this thing held up very well so far. I've tried a lot of small jumps with 1'-2' of air, and wheels are still true. When the time comes, I'll have to replace hubs, but unless I have a lot of pocket change, I wouldn't change wheels.
Tires - again, tried to puncture it every way possible by riding next to the train track around my neighborhood full of sharp rocks, and still going strong. I found 2.1" to be a bit narrow and changed to 2.35", and it's even better.
Frame - At first, I had planned on trying it out and switching to better bike (by better, I mean more expensive) if I decide to keep riding 29ers, but I soon changed my mind to keep it and replace/upgrade parts as necessary. I really like its geometry as I feel very stable. I'm 5'6", so 16" would be a better fit, but they didn't have 16" frame on sale, so I ended up getting an 18" frame. It took me few minutes to get used to its geometry, and now I find it very comfortable.
Everything else works great as they should, overall an excellent play-out-of-box bike.
from Houston, tx USA
Date Reviewed: April 2, 2012
Strengths: Can take a beating. The frame seems to be able to not dent which is a good thing. Paint has not chipped but has rubbed in some spots.
Weaknesses: Rear dropout setup. I am surprised to see all of these positive reviews about the drop setup. I have had nothing but problems with this. After numerous shops looking at this and adjusting it I can guarantee I can get it to slip. It just doesn't seem like the frame is rigid enough for me. Feels to be on the heavy side to me.
I'm about 6'3" and 170 lb. maybe its the massive leg power I have that creates to much torque for this frame or maybe it's a poor frame design. I would only recommend this bike to someone that is not a single speeder.
Bike Setup: Rigid kona fork. Avid shorty brakes. Corsa concepts size 29 wheels with a surley SS spacer kit and Surley cog. Shimano single speed cranks.
a All Mountain Rider
from Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2012
Strengths: Stiff frame, large size - important for tall riders. Nimble and versatile. Except for experiencing more flats on this bike than most small nations in the south pacific get annually (see gripes below), I would recommend, especially if your a tall aggressive rider who mixes up his trail selection. from single-trail to fire-road to commuting it handles it all
Weaknesses: Brakes - I upgraded them immediately to avid hydro elixirs.
Rims buckled after about 1year of heavy duty punishing (so guess I can’t complain that much!)
Stem- I found to be too long , and I am a tall rider, so upgraded to a shorty. Also, grips are slippery when sweaty and too firm for a rigid bike, changed over to soft lock on Oury's (I’m a little ol' skool) and my wrists thanked me :)
Gearing ratio: (will be personal choice) but I found the gearing too granny orientated, I would max out very quickly and that was going uphill! Had to get a custom BMX 8T rear cog mixed in with the standard front crank. Problem solved.
BIGGEST GRIPE - I don’t know what it is with this bike or if I have simply been incredibly unlucky, but I have had over 30 punctures in 3 years! on this bike alone, it seems like every second ride I go on I end up with a flat, all sorts punctures too: pinchies, thorns, gaping rips, mystery slow leaks... the lot!!! Fed-up I have talked with the guys at the bike shop more times than I can remember, they suggested tyre liners, this did nothing. So I changed the tyre, the rim and even the rear hub.... no diff!!! This has started to ruin my experience with this bike.
only 29er single speed I have owned. All I can say is has provided me with many thrilling moments, on a diverse set of trails..
biggest bummer: flat tyres galore! don't know how but this bike gets the flats like a Sunday morning come down.
Custom tire tube combination consisting of two inner tubes one wrapped around the inner, then a Teflon tyre liner, fat albert tyres. still get flats :((((
OH yer and ,- Paint covered in deep scratches ;)
a Weekend Warrior
from Wilkesboro, NC USA
Date Reviewed: December 21, 2011
Strengths: Price, component mix/quality level and it's simplistic design.
Weaknesses: None really, for the price.
Awesome bike for the money and fun on the trail! So far I've only changed things that have added comfort, perceived performance and bling, but I'm sure I'll be replacing other stuff as it breaks/wears with higher quality stuff, just like anyone else would on a more expensive bike.
I was a bit concerned at first with the rigid fork and HT frame since I was coming off a 26" FS, but so far the bike is performing fantastic and I have NO plans to go with a squishy fork or gears! I bought the SS so I would be forced to work harder, (6'-4" 330lbs. Super Clyde), but even though it's tough pedaling on the slightest hill I am really enjoying it!
For those of you on the fence about SS, rigid or 29" wheels, do yourself a favor and buy a Kona Unit!
Similar Products Used: N/A - never owned a 29er or a SS before this bike.
Bike Setup: 22" frame size, stock setup except for: Thomson 100mm x 10 degree stem, Thomson seat post, Brooks B17 saddle, Cane Creek Forty head set, bash guard removed and 22-tooth cog vs. the factory 18-tooth (I'm a FAT BOY!)
a Cross Country Rider
from Thousand Oaks, CA
Date Reviewed: November 28, 2011
Strengths: Everything, out of the box this thing is wicked FAST!
The frame is worth $835.00 by itself.
Weaknesses: Stock Alex Wheelset is HEAVY, but what do you expect for $835.00
Love the ride of the steel. I like it better than my CREAKY old Niner S.I.R. I sold my FS GF HiFi Pro and this is my one and only Mtn bike. Singlespeed is the only way to go.
Bike Setup: Added:
Rebal RL Fork
Stans Crest Wheelset(Tubeless)
Replacing Avid BB7's tomorrow with 2012 Shimano XT Brakes
Bontrager Carbon Seatpost
Cane Creek Headset
a Weekend Warrior
from los lunas, nm, usa
Date Reviewed: November 12, 2011
Strengths: Color! Pics don't come close to doing this justice. Spec is good weight is good, BUT GEOMETRY! IS AWESOME. My previous ride was a scott scale 29er and after riding the unit on the same trails I now know how a 29er is supposed to feel.
Weaknesses: Saddle may not be to everyones liking, but is does have cool Kona 29er logo on top. Wish bb7s where hydros but I'm spoiled.
This is probably one of the first 2012s on the ground in these parts ie New Mexico. I will say Steel is real. Bike is great drop outs easy to adjust good spec especially the wide bars. No other bike I've had or had a chance to ride feels like this thing ss rigid sweetness.
Similar Products Used: My other bike is a Surly Pugsley. Not really all that similar, but it's my favorite ride.
Bike Setup: Recon forks, Jagwire Brake Cables and Ergon Grips. I have a Kenda Small Block 8 for the rear when the ground dries out.
a Cross Country Rider
from bay city mi
Date Reviewed: May 7, 2011
Strengths: nice feel, flex
Weaknesses: none so far
The bike handles far better than my aluminum Se stout,you feel like your on top of the bike not streched over it. the steel frame has plenty of give for my 6'3" 215lbs frame, steel takes away alot of the vibration, witch inturn releaves most of the shoulder pain and numness in my hands.If you want a good XC trail bike this is a no brained fun fast and forgiving.
Bike Setup: wtb weirwolf 2.55, exotic carbon fork, wtb lazerdisc wheels,xt crank,bb7 160 f/b,cranecreek s8,34/19 gears, thompson post
a Weekend Warrior
from Omaha, NE, USA
Date Reviewed: April 13, 2011
Strengths: Great ride, bb7 brakes, WTB saddle
Weaknesses: paint, fork, pedals
Tested several SS 29ers in the under $1000 price range, Unit is the most bang for the buck. I will be replacing the fork, stem, and headset in due time and playing around with different rear cogs but a gerat ride right outta the box. My first SS 29er, and I'm going to ride it until either me or the bike comes apart.
Similar Products Used: GF hardtail mtb, Canny road
Bike Setup: 2011 Unit, Crossroads Elite 700x38 rubber, S-Works seatpost, Niner 17t cog, Candy 3's
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2011
Strengths: Kona Unit 29er 2010 model (dark green steel frame). Cheap. Has all the advantages of a 29er. Sliding dropouts work well. I can remove wheel, change cog and be back riding in 5 minutes. Also enough slide adjustment to go from 17 to a 21 tooth cog using same length chain.
Weaknesses: Cheap. Bottom bracket lasted 2 months. Free wheel lasted 3 months. Avid BB7 mechanical brakes stop OK but have no feel at all. Rigid fork is awful (2010 Model)
I have ridden my Unit 29er for 12 months and liked it. Handling was OK but was never completely happy.
Just upgraded to a Niner One9 and are absolutely amazed what an improvement it is. It handles so much better. The Kona tended to washout the front wheel, had to really concentrate on keeping lots of weight over handle bars. It also was hard to manual, not helped by changing chainstay length with sliding dropout adjusters. I always felt I was riding on the Unit, like sitting on a barstool. The Niner feels more like I am sitting in it. I know I am comparing a cheap steel frame (Kona) with a high end Scandium frame (niner) and there is a huge difference in price. The Niner frame costs more than the complete Kona bike. But, if you want a bike that gives the best ride and handling, and you have the money, go for the Niner, you won't be disappointed.
Bike Setup: Upgraded brakes to Avid Elixir, fork to Fox F29 (2010), cranks to XT.
a Weekend Warrior
from Austin, Texas
Date Reviewed: December 16, 2010
Strengths: Wide bars (28"), good tires, vertical dropout, rigid frame, mechanical disc brakes, comes in 21" large size, 29" wheels, good pedals, great price--all stock.
Weaknesses: Stiff front end but that's cause no suspension.
My first 29er after riding full suspension Yeti 575 for years. Bought this one to take on lighter trails--cinder hike & bike and on city streets. Single speed + 29 is the way to go, even with the hilly terrain in Austin. I am 6'1" clydesdale, so the big 21" frame fits perfectly. With no front suspension, the rock gardens get pretty jittery on technical trails, so it would be better to stay on hard pack or loose dirt. Glides through sand, too. Vertical dropout makes changing rear tire easy (which I have done). Gear ratios are just right. Mechanical disc brakes are easy to adjust and no hydraulic fluid to change. Kept my full suspension for more technical rides, but Unit gets me out more.