Kona expands 29er collection with five new models for 2012

Satori, Hei Hei 29, King Kahuna, Honzo and Raijin

This article originally published on BikeRadar

Kona is no stranger to 29in-wheeled bikes and this year brings the company's most expansive collection to date with thirteen bikes from which to choose. Included in that range are five all-new chassis – from hardtails all the way up to 130mm of rear wheel travel in aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, and even chromoly steel.

Common themes throughout the new models are stiffness and handling precision – not just light weight – along with thoroughly modern geometries and even versatility-expanding features like ISCG05 tabs, slider dropouts, and dropper post compatibility on some models. While each of the new bikes has an intended purpose, Kona clearly doesn't want to pigeonhole any of them as mere one-trick ponies. Save for the new titanium bike, all of the new 29ers are already shipping to dealers, too.

Go long with the Satori

Perhaps the most exciting new model is the Satori, a butted 7005 aluminum dual-suspension trail bike with 130mm of front and rear travel, 20x110mm front and 12x142mm rear Maxle thru-axles, a tapered head tube, a direct-mount front derailleur, ISCG 05 chain guide tabs, and an asymmetrical linkage-activated single-pivot rear end. Claimed frame or bike weights weren't available at the launch but the progressive geometry, smart spec, and admirably rigid chassis should make it well suited for a wide range of duty.

Head tube angle is set at 68 degrees while the bottom bracket dangles just above the ground at 338mm (13.3") – a perfect formula for high speed stability and railing corners. Chain stays are admirably short at just 440mm (17.3"), though – 10-15mm shorter than the norm – which should make for excellent low-speed maneuverability in tight corners as well as easier manuals.

The build kit highlights the Satori's intended jack-of-all-trades personality, too, with a SRAM X7/X9 2x10 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 5 brakes with 180/160mm front/rear rotors, non-tubeless Easton Vice wheels with volume-boosting 23mm inner rim widths, a RockShox Revelation RLT fork, and 2.4/2.25"-wide (front/rear) Maxxis Ardent tires.

Suggested retail price is US$3,099/€2,999/£2,850.

130mm of front and rear travel combined with terrain-flattening 29in wheels makes the new Kona Satori feel like a monster truck on the trail

130mm of front and rear travel combined with terrain-flattening 29in wheels makes the new Kona Satori feel like a monster truck on the trail

Extra stiffness for the short-travel Hei Hei 29

The revamped Hei Hei 29 100mm-travel cross-country platform gets an all-new scandium-enhanced 6069 butted aluminum tubeset that now includes a direct-mount front derailleur and beefed-up linkage to go along with last year's tapered head tube and asymmetrical rear end. The biggest upgrade, however, is Maxle thru-axles at both ends (15x100mm front, 12x142mm rear) for what Kona claims is much improved handling precision relative to the 2011 version.

Geometry is more racing-oriented than the Satori with a 70-degree head tube angle and slightly lower 335mm (13.2") bottom bracket height but interestingly, the chain stays are substantially longer at 457mm (18"). Claimed frame or complete bike weights weren't available at the launch. The top-end Hei Hei 29 Supreme (US$3,899/£3,500/€3,699) will come with a Fox Racing Shox 32 Float 29 RLC FIT fork and RP23 rear shock, a SRAM X9 2x10 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 9 brakes (180/160mm front/rear rotors), 19mm-wide (internal width) Easton EA70 XCT 29er wheels, and fast-rolling 2.2"-wide Maxxis Ikon tires.

The mid-range Hei Hei 29 Deluxe (US$2,999) steps down to a RockShox Reba SL fork and Fox Racing Shox RP2 rear shock, a mixed SRAM X7/X9 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 3 brakes, and Easton XC 29er wheels while the standard Hei Hei 29 gets a RockShox XC 32 fork and a Kona house-brand rear shock, a mixed SRAM X5/X7 drivetrain, Shimano M446 hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano/WTB wheels, and 2.1in-wide Maxxis Ignitor tires.

King Kahuna goes carbon for 2012

Kona's top-end King Kahuna 29er hardtail gets a big change for 2012, switching from last year's scandium-enhanced aluminum frame to a modular monocoque carbon fiber setup that Kona says is 100 percent composite save for aluminum brake post threads, some of the rear dropout hardware, front derailleur mount, housing guides, and water bottle mounts.

Bearing seats for the tapered and integrated front end are molded right into the structure, the bottom bracket uses Shimano's press-fit standard, and the dropouts are carbon fiber as well.

Kona has still baked some versatility into the King Kahuna, though, so buyers won't have to limit it strictly to race day. Rotors measure 180mm up front and 160mm out back, and the tires measure a useful 2.2in across. Even more impressive is that Kona has fitted the King Kahuna with thru-axles front and rear.

Geometry is straight-up race bike, however, with a 70-degree head tube angle, tidy 440mm-long (17.3") chain stays widely set on a BB92 press-fit bottom bracket shell, and a 310mm (12.2") bottom bracket height. Claimed frame or complete bike weights weren't available at the launch event.

Surprisingly, retail price for the newly carbon King Kahuna climbs just US$150 to US$3,399/£2,650/€2,799 though like the previous version, the build kit is rather modest in order to keep the prices down. Highlights include a SRAM X7/X9 2x10 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 5 brakes, a RockShox Reba RL 29er fork, non-tubeless Easton XC 29er wheels, and 2.2"-wide Maxxis Ikon tires.

Kona has switched from aluminum to carbon fiber for the 2012 King Kahuna 29er hardtail

Kona has switched from aluminum to carbon fiber for the 2012 King Kahuna 29er hardtail

Kona goes against the grain with Honzo

Kona product manager Christopher Mandell readily admits that the new Honzo 29er hardtail won't be for everyone. Its butted chromoly frame is a bit hefty at around 2.7kg (6lb), there's no provision for a front derailleur whatsoever, and the 120mm of fork travel and geometry are more typically found on a trail bike than a hardtail.

But those unconventional dimensions are precisely what make the Honzo special. The convertible slider dropouts and seat tube allow for ultra-short 414mm (16.3") chain stays – shorter than most 26" hardtails – the head tube measures a slack 68 degrees, the unusually long top tube is paired with a stubby 60mm-long stem (not unlike Gary Fisher's original Genesis Geometry from the mid-90s!), and the bottom bracket is a stable 12.2" (310mm) off the ground.

Other key features include ISCG 05 tabs on the conventional threaded bottom bracket, a 44mm head tube surrounding a tapered steerer, a 31.6mm inner seat tube diameter for dropper post compatibility (yes, dedicated routing is built in), 23mm-wide (inner width) rims, and thru-axle fork dropouts.

Pricing is set at a reasonable US$1,799/£1,600/€1,699 with a value-oriented build kit that includes RockShox Revelation RL fork, FSA Step-Up cranks spinning on an RPM ISIS bottom bracket, Avid Elixir 1 brakes (with 180/160mm front/rear rotors), WTB FX 23 rims on Shimano and Formula hubs, Shimano Alivio 9-speed shifters and an HG-61 12-36T cassette, an e13 LS1 chain guide, and voluminous 2.4/2.2"-wide Maxxis Ardent tires.

Kona returns to its roots with the limited-production Raijin titanium hardtail

Missed your chance back in the day at a Kona Hei Hei hardtail? Here's your chance to make up for lost opportunities.

The new Lynskey-built Raijin 3/2.5 straight-gauge titanium hardtail rekindles that old flame but this time around 29" wheels. Thoroughly modern features include slick slider dropouts that will allow for both geared and singlespeed use, a 44mm-diameter head tube for use with straight or tapered steerers, a PressFit 30 bottom bracket shell, a machined driveside chain stay section, impressive tire clearance, and zip-tie guides for full-length housing. Initial prototypes were built with 31.6mm-diameter seatposts but production models will step down to a 27.2mm post for extra comfort.

Chain stays are admirably short at 440mm (17.3"), bottom bracket height is 310mm (12.2"), and the head tube angle measures 69.5 degrees – half a degree slacker than the King Kahuna. Target frame weight is around 1.8kg (4.0lb) for an 18" frame. And in case you're wondering, yes, Kona is sticking to the old-school logo for the laser-etched graphics.

Kona will offer the Raijin only as a bare frame for US$1,900/€1,400. Interested customers should get in line quickly, though. The initial production run will consist of just 250 frames worldwide and Kona says a second run is currently under discussion.

Kona returns to its roots with the Raijin titanium 29er hardtail, custom built in Tennesse by Lynskey Performance

Kona returns to its roots with the Raijin titanium 29er hardtail, custom built in Tennesse by Lynskey Performance

You can see the Honzo, Satori, Hei Hei 29 and King Kahuna in action in the videos below, from Kona:


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