One of the hottest all-day trail hardtails on the market today, the Caldera loves it fast and long-the tougher the better. With a new integrated headset for added stiffness, joined to a new extra plush Rock Shox Tora SL Solo Air front fork, and the Caldera's ready to take on all the trials and tribulations the big bad world can muster.
Similar Products Used: i have used a trek 9.9 and that cant even compete with the kona caldera
a Weekend Warrior
from Ontario, Canada
Date Reviewed: March 28, 2011
Strengths: 2006 Model (Gold Frame)
This bike looks great and has stood up to my abuse for the last several years. I bought the bike new in 2006 and have put many miles on it, mostly on the type of trails that would be more suitable for a full suspension setup. But this bike has survived the test of time. Every year I think about getting a full suspension, but once back on the Caldera, I decide to stay true to this Kona beast.
Weaknesses: For the price, nothing really. But, the fork really stands out as a disappointment. I replaced the OEM fork in 2008 with a Rock Shox Reba Race World Cup 100mm. Since then, the bike has been a dream. I've replaced a number of other components due to them wearing out. The RaceFace Deus crankset and BB I upgraded to last year has made a world of a difference.
Great bike, great price, Kona puts together a great setup. Rest assured that if you decide to go with a Caldera, you will appreciate the attention Kona has put into this bike over the years.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 18, 2010
Strengths: Frame, weight, spec for price.
Weaknesses: none so far.
Just got this bike a couple of months ago. Everything so far has been superb. the only issue i had was one of the brakes was empty of fluid when taken out of the box...dealer sorted it out straight away. Compared to my old ride, it's such a step up. The only thing Kona could have done would be to put some slightly better brakes on. The shimano m575's 'aint the best about, but they 'aint the worst neither...apart from that, its the dogs bollocks!
The original fork was absolutely terrible. Tora XC 100 mm. I've ridden a bunch of cheaper Konas that had a much smoother front suspension. I swapped it out pretty quickly.
Aside from that the rear shifter never really functioned all that well. Replaced the cable & housing. Cleaned and lubed the drive train and shifters. It simply always had trouble ascending and descending the cassette regardless of the cable tension.
I like the wheels, the weight of the bike, and I liked the brakes. Shimano hydros are easy to bleed and Kona sends you a cup for the bleeder kit.
Climbed very well but the absence of a quality fork made it hard to smoothly whip through flat single track.
Bike Setup: Swapped out fork for a Manitou MRD R7 within first few months and races. Aside from that it was a stock set up.
a Weekend Warrior
from Orange, MA, USA
Date Reviewed: August 19, 2009
Strengths: Frame is awesome. brakes are(squeaky sometimes)but sill good. fairly light bike. PRICE. Love the murdered out black on black color scheme. Badass looking rig. Takes on hills with ease and rips dh single tracks.
Weaknesses: Hate the saddle it's to hard. had a small issue with the derailleurs would not shift properly but my LBS took care of that. Going to upgrade shocks, crank/bottom bracket, saddle, f/r derailleurs. weak paint scratches easily.
Bottom line is this bike is great for the money. I looked @ many bikes before settling on this one and I feel I got the most bang for my buck. I would recommend this bike to anyone.
The minor complaints are far out-weighed by the huge value of this rig.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: April 30, 2009
Strengths: Frame geometry and strength
XT rear derailleur
Climbs like a monkey
Weaknesses: Marzocchi EXR forks
A little overweight (easily fixed though)
I bought my Caldera in Jan 2005 so this is kind of a long term review. The bottom line is that as far as XC hardtail bikes go, this is one of the best value bikes on the market - hands down. The fact is that the setup and componentry of the Caldera rivals bikes $500 to $1000 more. I have easily ridden over 15,000km on this thing in the last five years, and it still feels like new. It eats up the windy and fast singletrack, it is great for climbing, it is great for hitting big logs and technical DH, I can hardly fault this machine considering the price. The problems I've had were mostly caused by me, like I snapped the XT rear derailleur in half when a large stick got caught in my wheel, the rear dropout needed to be replaced when it hit a large log.
I'd recommend changing the forks after a while though, the Marzocchi's aren't exactly the best around, they are reasonably heavy and the teeth of the alan key hole on mine corroded away so I can't adjust the rebound anymore. I'm looking to get a new Fox fork.
Other than that, this bike stands the test of time.
Weaknesses: Fork, there are better Front Derailleurs out there, Headset, Tires, soft and easily-scratchable Paint
The Kona Caldera is an excellent, solid bike. You truly get what you pay for with this rig, and it is a lot better than most of the bikes in its price range. If you are looking for a top-of-the-line hardtail, this is the ride you should be getting.
Last year, I had to get a new bike, because I had grown out of my Trek 4500. So, I got a 2008 Kona Caldera for the 4500's replacement. I really started to get into the X-Country riding with this thing, and I feel as if I have tons of room to grow before I need something more heavy-duty.
The Hayes Stroker Trail Brakes kick some serious tush, and the frame is absolutely bomb-proof. The bike is agile enough that you can dominate most terrain, yet slick and durable enough that you don't look like you're riding a tank while doing it. There are a lot of high-quality components on the Caldera, but of course, there are a few downfalls:
The RockShox Tora 302's are less than amazing, but they're not horrible, so I'll probably keep them on the bike until the fork goes. I find that it doesn't take a lot to scratch the soft paint right off, but hey, good looks come at a price, I guess. Finally, the Maxxis Ignitor tires, depending on trail conditions, can be really scary to ride on when it's wet; so I suggest something better. However, it doesn't bother me too much.
In short, the Kona Caldera should be at the top of your list if you're looking to get fairly serious in X-Country riding. You absolutely get what you pay for with this bike, and the $1000 is worth every penny. The quality is top-notch, and besides, you usually can't go too wrong with a Kona. The Kona Caldera should be a no-brainer if you're willing to spend the money.
Bike Setup: Mainly Stock (18" frame), with Shimano M520 Pedals, and OURY Grips
a Weekend Warrior
from Austin, TX, USA
Date Reviewed: May 31, 2008
Strengths: I tend to be pretty rough on my bikes, and this fella has pretty much handled everything so far. I have wussed out much sooner than the bike has. The brakes and shifters are very responsive, the adjustable forks are awesome, and the bike just generally feels like it wants to play. I weigh in around 215 lbs. and I get no sense that I'm over-stressing the machinery.
Weaknesses: I have had no major problems so far. I blew out a spring in the rear derailleur the first week, but the bike shop replaced that part on warranty. I also put a pretty good wobble in the rims the first month, but I think that has more to do with me finding a good air pressure than with any weakness in the rims. I usually ride BMX cruisers and freestyle on the streets, so mastering off-road air pressure has been tricky.
This is definitely the most I've ever spent on a bike, but I have no doubt that I got what I paid for. Being an intermediate-level rider, I feel that this bike has a lot of room for me to grow into. I would recommend the Caldera and I feel there is a pretty big gap between Kona and competitors such as Specialized and Trek. To me, this is the bike for someone who is more than a casual rider, but less than the agro MTB monster-rider.
Bike Setup: Monkey Lite XC bars, Easton EA70 stem, Thomson seat post, 08 Deore XT levers, rear cassette and front derail. Marzocchi Corsa WC forks, Cane Creek S8 headset, Mavic Crossride Disc wheels, Ritchey Zmin tires with Maxxis superlite tubes, Truvativ 08 Team Stylo 3.3 crank and bb. Carbon fiber spacer, seat post clamp and skewers. New grips (i forget which ones)
a Weekend Warrior
from Spokane, WA
Date Reviewed: January 26, 2008
Strengths: Just about everything.
Weaknesses: Marzocchi MZ II Fork and the rims are hard to get tires off and on of
The stock Marzocchi MZ II (100mm) sucks! I cranked the adjustment as tight as I could but with my 220lbs arse it did no good. I had to ride it partially locked out to keep it from bottoming out. I got a great deal on a Marzocchi All Mountain III so I swapped it out. Now I love it!! I can make the climbs with ease and then bomb down a piece of semi-technical singletrack and not worry about anything. It's great on long hauls too. The only reason I swapped out the bottom bracket was to lighten up the bike. I have plans to lighten up several other components, but its just one step at a time for now. Great bike at an amazing price!!! Woulda gave it all 5 chilis on the overall if I didnt have to swap out the fork cuz of my weight.
Similar Products Used: Not really similar, but 06 Kona Coiler Deluxe
Bike Setup: Stock (minus fork and bottom bracket) Went with Marzocchi All Mountain III and a Race Face Dues X bottom bracket.
a Weekend Warrior
from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date Reviewed: November 22, 2007
Strengths: 2007 Colour Scheme - Black & Grey; very stealthy, most components are great, brakes are phenomenal (once broken in)
Weaknesses: Within the first 2 weeks one of the front brake caliper piston seals blew leaking brake fluid on the disc & pads (all replaced under warranty), refuses to shift up under load, chain sometimes falls off when shifting too fast
If you're looking for a good bike that you can keep for a while, instead of a disposable like those "department store specials", I'd have a serious look at this bike. Other than some initial teething problems, the Kona Caldera is fantastic. It also doesn't hurt that it looks GREAT!
Similar Products Used: Specialized Hardrock, various Giant & Gary Fisher bikes
Bike Setup: Stock
from Santa barbara,CA, USA
Date Reviewed: November 8, 2007
Strengths: I bought this bike from my friend and Im pretty pleased with it! None of the components rattle around like on my Raleigh dirt jumper and the disc brakes are great. I also like the bomber front forks.
Weaknesses: standard kona pedals strip your crank arms too easy!
This is a great bike if you can get it used but if your going to pay a grand for a bike new then I would get a kona stuff! I am impressed with the bomber suspension and disk brakes. Over all, I think this is a good, dependable bike!
Similar Products Used: Raleigh M40 hardtail, Kona stuff
Bike Setup: maxis high roller dirt tires and custom seat, but other than that nothing.
a Weekend Warrior
from Loughborough (UK)
Date Reviewed: October 25, 2007
Strengths: Sturdy frame, I liked the gold colour of the 2006 model.
Weaknesses: The front deraillieur failed very quickly so upgraded with an XT and it is now much smoother. The front brake squeeks all the time and is a real pain plus it slows me down. The bike also feels heavy comapred to other bike's I have owned (Cannondale M500 rigid fork and Marin hardtail). The Marzocchi front forks don't seem to adjust very easily either and lastly it ghost shifts when changing gear.
I always wanted a Kona as I had heard good things but this bike has let me down and I am very disappointed. I just want a good bike and my Marin is much more reliable and better and it cost less too and handles everything I throw at it. Not many chilis from me I'm afraid.