Kona Dawg 2003 Full Suspension

4.54/5 (48 Reviews)
MSRP : $1599.00


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 15 (48 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Elliott Sidey a Weekend Warrior from EDH

Date Reviewed: February 5, 2008

Strengths:    Improved my riding, do-it-all type bike

Weaknesses:    oe brakes are hard to clean/stay clean (Hayes9)

Bottom Line:   
Awesome bike, already bent my front rim, and messed up my front brake disc.
Great XC/AM bike, but beware, stock components will need some upgrades for heavy/aggresive trail riding.
Bought used for $900. its a 2005 bike, with an upgraded fork and some other parts.
Definately a great buy for the money

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Auburn/Culvert

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $900.00

Purchased At:   Used, Craiglist Find, Fellow MTB

Similar Products Used:   only demo bikes

Bike Setup:   Fox Float R, 05 Fox Van RLC, Hayes 9, Shimano Deore Shifters, Race Face Cranks, Kona Bars/Grips/Etc.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tom a Weekend Warrior from Westhchester County

Date Reviewed: January 1, 2005

Strengths:    Sweet looking bike. EVERYTHING about this bike is at least pretty good. Have you ever owned a Honda Accord? You don't really notice that it's great, but you're never complaining about it either.

Weaknesses:    You don't find yourself saying "Wow! This is awesome!" about this bike. EXR fork is kind of a weak choice for this bike. No truly significant weaknesses.

Bottom Line:   
This was my first full suspension bike. I would say this is an excellent choice for someone just starting to get serious about mountain biking, which is why I bought it. I think that there are probably plenty of bikes out there that climb hills a little better (should be fine if you get it with Fox RP3), and I wish mine had 5" of rear travel like the 2005 model.
I want to say that the EXR fork sucks, but that isn't really true. It has never given me ANY trouble of any sort. It performs pretty well as a cross country fork. The only adjustment on it (without taking it apart) is to put more or less air in it. How stiff do you want it? Take some air out, or put some in. I would prefer a longer travel fork with travel adjustment and rebound adjustment (maybe some compression damping adjustment would be nice too).
I thing a 2005 Dawg (5"travel rear) with RP3 rear shock and Manitou Minute or Fox Talas fork would be really sweet. I already have my 2003, so maybe I'll just get a new rear shock and fork.
One of the other reviewers mentioned something about upgrade kits to increase the rear suspension travel. Kona's tech people frown on this sort of thing, claiming that it screws up the geometry and is dangerous. I checked out EBTD's web site. They don't show a Dawg specific kit. I e-mailed them, but never heard back. I also e-mailed Danger Boy about the same issue. They say that they are working on a kit, and it should be available soon.
Romic makes a coil-over shock that will fit on your Dawg. (why would you want to do that? I'm not exactly sure, but it is available)
As you get bored with this bike over the years and upgrade it, you will probably find yourself transforming it into more of a light freeride bike. If I make a lot of major changes, I will post another review.
If you find yourself looking for upgrades to make this a better cross-country race bike, you should probably just go out and buy yourself a different bike.
If you never upgrade anything on the bike until the old parts wear out, you will probably be pretty happy with this bike. (If the EXR doesn't die soon, I'm going to have to put it on my girlfriends bike to replace her crappy Suntour fork and teach to ride for real)
Five flaming chilis for a bike with amazing dependability, solid all-around competence, great looks, nice price, and never having to say "this thing sucks".

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Favorite Trail:   Graham Hills

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   Tarrytown Cycles

Similar Products Used:   None too similar. Have had Raleigh M40, Banshee Morphine, Specialized Big Hit (still have them all)

Bike Setup:   Answer Pro-taper bars (wider than stock Koskis), Race Face bash ring, Specialized Roller RS Pro 2.3 tires (took one off Big Hit, bought another), Truvativ platform pedals (also off Big Hit),otherwise stock.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mike a Weekend Warrior from western australia

Date Reviewed: December 22, 2004

Strengths:    handling, style, versatility

Weaknesses:    a bit weighty, also budget (but OK) componentry, chainstay cracked

Bottom Line:   
Have had this bike for 18 months and realy love riding it. It's the perfect trail and fun bike for me and can race too (enduro). Cracked the chainstay but it was replaced on warranty with no questions asked. I am heavyish and tend to ride the bike a bit harder than it's designed for. It is just so much fun... and with lots of component upgrades is pretty damn fast. There are faster bikes down hills and faster bikes up hills but I don't know a bike that would cope as well with such varied riding and not cost way more. Love it.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Similar Products Used:   a few other similar duallies

Bike Setup:   stock suspension, thomson seatpost, azonic bars (stock Koski stuff is weak), Candy pedals, WTB Pure saddle (great), XT and Sram drivetrain, new rims (stock ones were weak and folded), new hubs and BB soon (sealed ones this time).

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by REID a Weekend Warrior from EDDINGTON, MAINE

Date Reviewed: September 1, 2004

Strengths:    Brakes, handling in the tight and gnarly stuff, and definatly the frame is sweet. Maintaines awesome traction all the time, rocks, roots, wet. Hardly ever spins.

Weaknesses:    Seat post bends easy. Top shock bolt broke and Kona did not warranty it.I replaced it with a DH pivot pin and no problems as of yet.

Bottom Line:   
I love it. I'm still experimenting with air pressure in the forks and shock. Very comfortable bike and seems to climb well, all though there are short steep hills where I ride. Definatly better in the technical stuff vs. the fire roads. Is not a fast bike on flat stuff.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $1150.00

Purchased At:   SKI RACK SPORTS

Similar Products Used:   First full suspension bike for me.

Bike Setup:   stock.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Craig from Bismarck, North Dakota

Date Reviewed: July 13, 2004

Strengths:    Versatility, reliability, strength, predictability, proven design & bike induced confidence...

Weaknesses:    weight, & it's not the latest, greatest whiz-bang anti-pedal induced bobbing linkage...

Bottom Line:   
This review is for a 2002 Kona Bear frame. I bought the frame in the winter of 02-03 and since have put about 2000 miles on it. I am a solid 225 lbs. and regularly go for 20-30 mile trail rides on the Maad Daah Hey trail in western North Dakota.
This bike completely blows away the hardtail from which I was previously riding. The frame is very comfortable for riding and is easily flicked from side to side in tight, narrow switchbacks. Once you are used to the pedaling, the bike can be very stable. I run a fox vanilla R with a 900 lb. coil and when I really start to get tired (and jab at the pedals) I can certainly feel the movement. A stable platform shock would greatly increase the stability of this frame (obviously). This bike get excellent traction in the loose and I have rarely broken free on short, very steep climbs. BTW, I am 6'-2" and I have the 20" Kona frame. Kona's typically run with a tight cockpit and the Bear(Dawg) is no exception. Although the cockpit is a bit tight for my wookie arms, it is very accomodating and is fine for 4-5 hour rides. This frame is also very stable at speed and I fine myself waiting for others at the bottoms of long, hairy descents.
I picked up this Bear frame for a great price with an XT BB and a King headset, delivered for $450. This bike is built extremely strong and can handle a rider who puts a lot of force to the pedals (twisting). The bike is also very proven, affordable and Kona's service reputation is top notch. I would recommend this bike to anyone. The bike is a hoot to ride and can plow throught very rough section with minimal fatigue to the rider. In addition, my lower back and legs feel so much fresher after a 40 mile ride that it is much easier to ride 2-3 back-2-back days than it was with my hardtail. Thanks Kona!

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Favorite Trail:   MDH

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $450.00

Purchased At:   mtbr.com

Bike Setup:   marzocchi Z-100 flylight, rhyno-lites, sram shifting, azonic CF, avid rims, and XT elsewhere...

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Damon a Cross Country Rider from Vancouver, BC

Date Reviewed: July 13, 2004

Strengths:    Versatile, and plush travel. This bike is really comfortable either churning out 50+ mile days, or hitting the north shore and riding some black diamond trails. The fork, with a little work (changed the oil to a slightly lighter weight), works surprisingly well for being a lower-end model. It is really convenient that you can drop the seatpost as far as you want, and there is a fair bit of tire clearance for big treads and mud.

Weaknesses:    It bobs a lot climbing out of the saddle (i've always been a hardtail guy, though). The stay pivot bolts and seatpost bolt have needed retightening. Chain slap is pretty loud (wrap the stay up) and the rear derailluer knocks on the swingarm (wrap that stay up). Ummm... Water bottle bosses kinda high up on down tube, and did i mention it's name is Bob?

Bottom Line:   
This bike has proven to be a LOT of fun. My wife "surprised" me with it because the riding up here in BC is so much more technical than my weenie california XC bikes could handle (proven true as i broke a frame not much later). Initially, i was a bit skeptical of this heavy, squishy bike, as i've been a bit of a hardtail purist for over 10 years now. I do enjoy technical trails, so i was curious to see how the Dawg would perform... My confidence bombing around technical trails on the north shore skyrocketed - from floundering on the super "beginner" stuff (still very hard, btw), to floundering on black diamond stuff.

So it can crawl up a fire road in the granny and descend nasty trails in the granny, but what about long all-day XC rides?

Yup! Surprised was i when a 4 day bike weekend proved its all-day merit. Over 7 hours in the saddle and it still let me float down those forested trails over the rocks and roots just gracefully gliding along with only the squish squish of suspension to remind me of whats happening.

It is still a bit heavy, and i would like to get the rear shock PUSHed, but i'm simply having a ton of fun on it right now and am enjoying the versatility it is offering in Kona's back yard. If you ride only semi-technical trails, i'm sure there are better pedalling bikes out there, but if you are looking for a beefy XC bike you can bomb around on and abuse (and be thanked for it!), this is a great bike!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Any of the riding around here

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $950.00

Purchased At:   Ebay

Similar Products Used:   Kona King Kikapu a few years back and a custom soft-tail (not really similar, though).

Bike Setup:   I've swapped out the drivetrain to an older 2x8 setup (RF cranks, cheap Sram cassette, etc.), larger tires, and avid mechanical brake up front. No major changes.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by shell from Whitefish, MT, USA

Date Reviewed: April 23, 2004

Strengths:    Frame, float R, stopping power, bomber... mmmm

Weaknesses:    seat post moves, loud (but expected), front derailer

Bottom Line:   
I LOVE this bike. Serving as an upgrade to my M80 I was absolutely blown away when I got on this little monkey. The 17" frame has a little bit of a fit when I try to take it up super steep stuff, but that's what I get for being to tall for that size. Other than that it climbs like an absolute monkey. Downhill on it isn't bad at all... just try to avoid those things that sign the death warrant for a 4 inch travel. The one thing that gets sort of annoying, however, is that the front brake screams like a monkey in a vice when you engage it... I have a feeling that is due to what appears to be a damaged caliper... so this bike is ALL GOOD. If you're a rider who loves to mess around and just go different places this bike will take you anywhere.

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Favorite Trail:   does it have mud!!! :D

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   bike rite

Similar Products Used:   stinky

Bike Setup:   stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Wade Simpson a Cross Country Rider from Lake Echo, Nova Scotia

Date Reviewed: December 29, 2003

Strengths:    So far I noticed the frame is solid,no flex even when my bulk tries to wheelie drop something. The disks have lived up to my expectations and more, they work in all conditions and need little maintenance(so far). It seems balanced and predictable once I became accustomed to the FS.

Weaknesses:    I have had trouble with the rear hub(broke on the first ride),and I think the one that replaced may have broken a pawl. The tires are terrible, no grip in the woods at all. They may be designed for racing or something.

Bottom Line:   
For me, this is the best bike I've had yet. I'm 45 yrs old weigh 210 and ride aggressive East Coast trails. I don't take it easy on any single track or baby the bike. I do look after it properly. I don't do any freeriding or downhill beyond single track stuff because I would break too much stuff (me and the bike).
I reccomend this bike to anyone who has likes to push hard on trails, is not overly concerned with weight,(personal and bike), and has the skill and confidence to try something risky once in a while
This is not a race bike (too heavy) and I don't think it would last as a freerider/downhiller, just doesn't have the components.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   cape split/wentwroth

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   cyclesmith dartmouth

Similar Products Used:   nothing, this is my first FS

Bike Setup:   stock except I removed the 44 ring and replaced it with a bash disk and I replaced the rear tire with a cheap Specialized that works great. The bike is advertised with a fox float but mine came with a Vanilla R. I don't know what difference there would be but I like the Vanilla.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jeremy S a Weekend Warrior from Roseville,CA

Date Reviewed: December 17, 2003

Strengths:    Solid beefy frame for a trail bike. Feels very stable when riding in any condition.

Weaknesses:    None Yet...

Bottom Line:   
This bike was great stock. After my upgrades it's incredible! I've done things with this bike (5' Dock drops to flat) that I shouldn't have but it just won't break. It takes everything I throw at it. I'm 6'3 210lbs and I can't hurt it. I rode Downieville Downhill several times this season and it was heaven on this bike. It weighs in around 30-31 pounds. It may be a little heavier than other "trail" bikes but this really can do so much more. Stable in the air and on the ground. The only complaint is that once or twice the chain has sucked in off of the front chain ring a couple times on fast bumpy downhill while shifting. (I think that's gonna happen with most FS bikes once in a while) For people that have talked about breaking their Dawg it's either because they don't know how to ride or they are doing like 6' drops. For the money it can't be beat.
If you are a hard trail rider who likes to be able to do some freeride/urban/ligh DH once in a while you won't be dissapointed with this bike.

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Favorite Trail:   Clemetine Loop

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   Spin City

Similar Products Used:   K2 Evo 4.0 (Piece of crap), GT Timberline (loved it)

Bike Setup:   DJ III Fork, King Headset, Azonic Shorty (50mm) stem, Manic DH Bars, Odi Lock-on grips, Chris King Hubs laced to MAvic 521 Rims, Fire FR Pro 2.4 up front, Fire XC Pro 2.1 rear

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Christoper W L from Maine

Date Reviewed: December 11, 2003

Strengths:    It's light
Rides fast
Rides any where


Weaknesses:    Well i have been able to break not one but two chain stayes
I have also broken like 7 shock bolts


Bottom Line:   
Well the bike was great for about the first 4 months that i owned it but then it went down hill from there. I broke lots of bolts and 2 chain stays. but oh well that is most likely my fault.
6to 8 foot drop wil kill a bike that was truly made for agressive trail riding.
recommended for a rider that wont huck it
worth every penny tho
not the kind of bike that fits my riding style tho

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   BOG

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $1600.00

Purchased At:   SKI RACK

Bike Setup:   Dawg/ Mx pro/ and a bunch of cool stuff

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by BOB a Cross Country Rider from Marysville CA

Date Reviewed: December 1, 2003

Strengths:    Upuntil now it has been great.

Weaknesses:    Up untill now it has been great. I broke the top shock bolt.

Bottom Line:   
I broke the top mount bolt for the shock.I am concerned I also damaged several other things such as the rockers and or the shock.I DID NOT ABUSE THIS BIKE. Yes I did some jumps but nothing big. Now lets see how Kona stands by there product. The lsat bike I tried to warranty a bike the company I will not name was not all that helpful. I hope they stand by the bike. BOTTOM LINE THAT BOLT SHOULD NOT HAVE SNAPPED. EVEN IF IT GETS FIXED I WILL BE LOOKING FO SOMTHING DIFFERENT I THNK

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   Hammer head cycles


Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Adam Romero from Coarsegold, Ca, USA

Date Reviewed: November 21, 2003

Strengths:    The first and most prominent strength of this Bike is of course the contrast of what you get for what you pay. I bought a 2002 Kona Bear (older model, same as the Dawg) for myself and I only paid 1100.00 for it. I loved the bike so much that I went out to get one for my girlfriend. Due to the closeout price I paid for mine I wasn't able to find a bear but I did get a dawg which is essentially the same bike. Strong frame, very comfortable bike. The basic component package is an awesome set up and the bike can handle anything you throw at it.

Weaknesses:    The saddle of course was uncomfortable for my girlfriend so we swapped that out for a more female specific seat. I also put the knowledge gained from my Bear to good use and swapped out the tires before we even took the bike home. Other than that I have nothing bad to say about the bike.

Bottom Line:   
Great looking bike, great value, killer performance. I can't tell you how stoked I get when I see my Bear and my girls Dawg strapped up to my truck and ready to go to the mountains. A definate must for someone looking for thier first FS bike due to the price/value combination. Also good for the Freeride/Downhill rider looking to hit some XC trails, or the XC rider looking to go out and do some light free riding or dirt jumping, with a few minor improvments, this could be the perfect all around bike.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Goat Mtn.

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $1299.00

Purchased At:   Tri Sport Unlimited

Similar Products Used:   2002 Kona Bear

Bike Setup:   XT Rear Derailur, LX everything else...

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tigg a Cross Country Rider from Glens Falls, NY

Date Reviewed: October 31, 2003

Strengths:    Uhhh...just about the whole thing!

Weaknesses:    Tires! Seat.

Bottom Line:   
Alright....3 months on this bike and it's still the bomb!! I've riden it XC, epic, enduro, a little DH and even some dirt jump. Still a sick bike! The predictibility of it's handling cannot be understated! Even in the air (where I've never been all the comfortable to begin with) this bike it solid and stable. While not a DH bike by any stretch, the 4" did soak up a good amount of the punishment I was dealt on the mountain. It will definately make you a more confident bike handler (like it or not!!) Again....buy this bike!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   Elevate Cycles; Saratoga, NY

Similar Products Used:   N/A

Bike Setup:   Stock except for switching out stock seat for WTB Speed-V and trashing Tioga tires for Panaracers!!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by sam k a Weekend Warrior from ct

Date Reviewed: October 22, 2003

Strengths:    everything-
fork, frame, rear shock, tires, rims. drivetrain is in lower levels- but works very well nonetheless. grips. saddle (why do people not like?)


Weaknesses:    brakes- while they work very well, the rear rotor is already bent, but i can bend it back and fix it. as for that , hydraulic brakes on a bike this inexpensive= excellence.
brake cable to rear brake rubs against top tube and scratches it. easily can be fixed by playing a tie around it.


Bottom Line:   
buy this bike if u want to have !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
have done a 4 foot drop with this and yet to bottom out (170 lbs., i way)
while slightly heavy, it pedals very well. the ride is very smooth. i recommend this for peeps who want to be able to do xc but still have the option of light freeriding.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   nepaug

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $1550.00

Purchased At:   Benidorms

Similar Products Used:   rm etsx-50, trek liquid 10

Bike Setup:   stock except for kona jack$hit pedals instead of stock. shorter stem also.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Matt Wilmarth a Cross Country Rider from Simi Valley, Ca

Date Reviewed: October 16, 2003

Strengths:    frame, suspension styling and pivots

Weaknesses:    the brakes/frame setup is weak. when you sit on the seat the rear rotor bends towards the middle of the bike making it incongruent with the pads and causes drag on the pads, also, too noisy.

Bottom Line:   
the rear frame has too much flex. there's no way to keep the rear rotor from touching the brake pads at some point. kona should have put a V-brake on the rear rim. i am in the process right now of putting a v-brake on the bike, which means welding v-brake posts to the rear chainstay. otherwise, bike jams, love everything else.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   chumash trail

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $1350.00

Purchased At:   Wheel World

Bike Setup:   basically stock except tires and an XT rear hub

Reviews 1 - 15 (48 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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