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I've recently moved to a new area (Black Hills of South Dakota) which has very rocky, technical terrain. I'm also getting over a back injury so I'm wanting to make the move into full suspension.

My main requirements for a new bike, in no particular order, are 1) good rear tire clearance, 2) ability to run a coil shock, 3) something that is available through an LBS, and 4) good ability to climb steep, loose, rocky terrain.

Based on those criteria the Dawg is in the lead. There is a very cool shop down the street from me that carries Kona and I'd love to give them my business. Hence, my questions:

1) How big of a tire can I fit on the rear of an '04 Dawg?

2) Are there 5" rockers available for the '04's?

3) If yes to #2, do they change the geometry and/or require a longer fork?

4) Where do I find these 5" rockers?

5) Is the Dawg good at climbing the above described terrain? I assume yes because I see a lot of them around here.

I'm considering either getting a great deal on an '04 and converting it to 5" (if this can indeed be done) or wating for the '05's and which are rumored to be 5". Any general comments on this are appreciated.
 

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Answer this first for me. Why the desire to make a 4" travel bike into 5"?

I had a Bear-Dee Lux and did many 3'-4' drops and alot of jumping. I'm 175 lbs and never felt the need for more travel for the kind of riding I was doing at that time. The bike took everything I could throw at it with the travel it had.
 

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Okay, here goes...

1. I don't quote max tire dimensions because every tire company measures differently. I've got a 2.3" Nokian NBX on the back of mine, and there's plenty of clearance. So just figure pretty darn big.

2. Getting a different rocker for the bike from us will not increase the travel. The stays are different lengths, as are the placement and stroke of the shock. So everything would have to be changed. The aftermarket doohickeys (yes, i believe that is a technical term) that some company sells only make the tire rub on the seat tube and void your warranty. Plus, they change the way the shock moves, and not in a positive manner. Our Product Manager is extremely anal about shock setup, so our bikes' rear suspensions come about as dialed as can be for what they are. Change one of those variables, as in the rocker arm length, and everything changes.

3. See the verbose answer above.

4. Again, back to #2. (Can you tell that i REALLY don't recommend these rockers? Can you also tell that i've had a beer or two?

5. It's a phenomenal climber. We have a lot of hills around here, and the Dawg is the most common bike on the trails here. Also, let me mention that the different rockers would also change how active the shock is, and could make the bike bob when climbing, something it does not do now.

It's up to you on whether you want to buy now or wait. I have an '04 and love it. I'll actually be keeping it over an '05, but that's me. The Dawg Primo has a Talas fork that goes to 5" up front, and with that and 4" in back, i've never ridden a better trailbike. That's not jsut marketing speak. I wouldn't be here if i didn't love the bikes we make, and the Dawg (or DL, Primo, that platform) is my favorite mountain bike we make, hands down. Again, for me.
The '05s won't be out until October or so, so factor in what riding time you'd get in before then.
:)

Thanks, and let me know if you have any more questions, or just visit your local Kona dealer, Acme Bikes.
Joe.
 

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CJH said:
I want the extra inch of travel for my back.
Well if you want a 5" travel bike with a coil rear shock, why not get the Coiler. Same suspension so the climbing ability shouldn't change much, slightly beefer (heavier) frame, and the kind of money that's going to be spent to upgrade the Dawg could be used to reduce the weight of the Coiler and the Coiler should hold a larger tire than a Dawg.

Or better yet, just wait on the 05s.

I had an 04 Jamis XLT with 5" of travel front and rear, that I just sold. I can honestly say that I never noticed the extra inch of travel that it gave me over the Bear.

Good luck with what you decide.
 

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Joe - Kona said:
Okay, here goes...

5. It's a phenomenal climber. We have a lot of hills around here, and the Dawg is the most common bike on the trails here. Also, let me mention that the different rockers would also change how active the shock is, and could make the bike bob when climbing, something it does not do now.

It's up to you on whether you want to buy now or wait. I have an '04 and love it. I'll actually be keeping it over an '05, but that's me.
Do you really think this is a phenomenal climber? I have an '03 Dawg, and have found its climbing ability to be lackluster. I got it for riding around the north shore, so strong climbing wasn't a huge requirement, but i've noticed the amount of bob on some of the longer XC rides i've been doing more of lately. Of course, it is nice and plush going down hill. The only time i feel the bike helps me climb is on short, steepish rocky/rooted/really bumpy sections. In that situation, the rear wheel just sticks, but long-term efficiency isn't really necessary, then.
Would you say a propedal/pushed shock is a good idea for one of these frames?

I really like my Dawg, but i would have to say its climbing ability is the weak point of the bike.
 

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GMF,
Yeah, i really think it climbs very well. My '04 has propedal, but my '03 did not, and they both climbed equally well. I guess for certain people, ProPedal would be better, and i don't know anything about PUSH or how they affect the shocks.
I know i never find myself using the lockout, but maybe that's just me. I never really have used lockout on any of my bikes. Too lazy to fiddle with it, i guess.
 

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Joe - Kona said:
GMF,
Yeah, i really think it climbs very well. My '04 has propedal, but my '03 did not, and they both climbed equally well. I guess for certain people, ProPedal would be better, and i don't know anything about PUSH or how they affect the shocks.
I know i never find myself using the lockout, but maybe that's just me. I never really have used lockout on any of my bikes. Too lazy to fiddle with it, i guess.
Cool... everyone has their own opinion, right? I tend to be a standing climber, so i am sure most of it is incompatible technique, but i've been on other FS bikes that didn't seem to mind my style quite so much. Regardless, my dawg still rocks.

Thanks for taking the time to post on this forum.

-Damon
 

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Joe - Kona said:
Okay, here goes...

2. Getting a different rocker for the bike from us will not increase the travel. The stays are different lengths, as are the placement and stroke of the shock.
So, is the entire frame of the '05 different from the previous models, or just the swingarm?
 
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