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Ryan Trebon's Kona Major Jake custom

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Trebon has a fleet of FSA RD-488 carbon tubular wheels at his disposal.

Trebon has a fleet of FSA RD-488 carbon tubular wheels at his disposal.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon prefers a traditional bend handlebar.

Trebon prefers a traditional bend handlebar.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon's frame is fitted with bottle mounts but they've been covered up with color-matched tape for race day.

Trebon's frame is fitted with bottle mounts but they've been covered up with color-matched tape for race day.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The KORE Race+ cantilevers feature a wide profile and road-style cartridge pads.

The KORE Race+ cantilevers feature a wide profile and road-style cartridge pads.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The custom frame was apparently built by Caribou Pro Frames in Taichung, Taiwan.

The custom frame was apparently built by Caribou Pro Frames in Taichung, Taiwan.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon uses a 12-25T Shimano Dura-Ace cassette.

Trebon uses a 12-25T Shimano Dura-Ace cassette.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The driveside chain stay is tubular throughout its length but the driveside one uses a short machined aluminum section for better chainring and tire clearance.

The driveside chain stay is tubular throughout its length but the driveside one uses a short machined aluminum section for better chainring and tire clearance.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Additional machining on the driveside stay saves a few grams.

Additional machining on the driveside stay saves a few grams.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The chain stays start out tall at the bottom bracket and transition to round for the rest of the length.

The chain stays start out tall at the bottom bracket and transition to round for the rest of the length.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon uses an aluminum bar and stem.

Trebon uses an aluminum bar and stem.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon uses FSA's second-tier SL-K Light crankset as the top-end K-Force Light isn't available in his preferred 177.5mm arm length.

Trebon uses FSA's second-tier SL-K Light crankset as the top-end K-Force Light isn't available in his preferred 177.5mm arm length.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The aluminum dropouts offer up lots of surface area for secure welds.

The aluminum dropouts offer up lots of surface area for secure welds.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Dugast Rhino tires are one of the top choices for sloppy conditions on account of their aggressive tread design with 3mm-tall knobs.

Dugast Rhino tires are one of the top choices for sloppy conditions on account of their aggressive tread design with 3mm-tall knobs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Last year's Alpha Q CX20 fork has now replaced by an Edge Composites Cross model.

Last year's Alpha Q CX20 fork has now replaced by an Edge Composites Cross model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Scanium tubing likely yields a light frame in spite of the size but Trebon says he places a higher value on its stiffness to support his attacking style.

Scanium tubing likely yields a light frame in spite of the size but Trebon says he places a higher value on its stiffness to support his attacking style.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The latest Dura-Ace front derailleur moves the chain from the FSA inner ring to the Thorne Koksijde outer.

The latest Dura-Ace front derailleur moves the chain from the FSA inner ring to the Thorne Koksijde outer.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ryan Trebon (Kona) is hard to miss aboard this ultra-tall - and very orange - Kona Major Jake with custom geometry.

Ryan Trebon (Kona) is hard to miss aboard this ultra-tall - and very orange - Kona Major Jake with custom geometry.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The straight 1 1/8" head tube measures a whopping 195mm in length.

The straight 1 1/8" head tube measures a whopping 195mm in length.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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FSA's Orbit Extreme Pro Ceramic headset features hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings that supposedly hold up better to dirt and water.

FSA's Orbit Extreme Pro Ceramic headset features hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings that supposedly hold up better to dirt and water.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon's frame uses custom geometry but he says it actually isn't far off from the largest size of Kona's stock Major Jake.

Trebon's frame uses custom geometry but he says it actually isn't far off from the largest size of Kona's stock Major Jake.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon has switched this season to the new Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 group.

Trebon has switched this season to the new Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 group.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trusty Shimano XTR pedals are highly respected for their bulletproof reliability.

Trusty Shimano XTR pedals are highly respected for their bulletproof reliability.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 rear derailleur is attached to a replaceable hanger.

A Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 rear derailleur is attached to a replaceable hanger.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Full-length housing is used for the rear brake to seal the line from dirt and water. Derailleur cables are run beneath the down tube.

Full-length housing is used for the rear brake to seal the line from dirt and water. Derailleur cables are run beneath the down tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trebon needs to use a beefy FSA FR-230 seatpost since there is so much of it sticking out of the frame.

Trebon needs to use a beefy FSA FR-230 seatpost since there is so much of it sticking out of the frame.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear section of derailleur housing is protected from contamination with a sealed end cap.

The rear section of derailleur housing is protected from contamination with a sealed end cap.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The stout seat stays are mostly straight from end to end.

The stout seat stays are mostly straight from end to end.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The seat post slot is notably longer than usual.

The seat post slot is notably longer than usual.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The top tube starts out mostly round at the head tube but transitions to a rectangular profile at the other end.

The top tube starts out mostly round at the head tube but transitions to a rectangular profile at the other end.
(Image credit: James Huang)

Unlike some riders that feel the need for radically upgraded gear year after year, Ryan Trebon (Kona) is on an identical frame to what he used last year and he's quite happy about it. In fact, the current US national cyclo-cross champion has been on Kona frames since 2005 and after years of tweaking and refinement, he feels it's a perfect fit both in terms of sizing and riding style.

Trebon's Major Jake is a custom-built frame but aside from an extra centimeter of length in the top tube and seat tube, is a virtual clone of the 62cm production model with the same butted and modestly shaped Kona Race Light Scandium tubing, an asymmetrically machined head tube, and a machined driveside chain stay stub for extra chainring and tire clearance. However, Trebon's frame omits bottle mounts on the seat tube and, of course, is covered in team-trademark bright orange paint.

"They're just a little taller in both the seat tube and top tube length but they're pretty close to the stock 62cm," he said. "It's the same tubing and everything; it's just a little bit bigger."

Not surprisingly, the riding position has been similarly refined over the years as well and has been very consistent over the past few seasons. Trebon says he starts every season with the same baseline settings and then makes only very minor adjustments from there based on feel – but only a couple of millimeters at a time in any direction to avoid injury.

The list of carryover componentry includes a well worn-in Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle, wide-profile KORE Race+ cantilevers with SwissStop Yellow King pads, and a heap of parts from FSA, including an OS-99 forged aluminum stem, Energy T traditional-bend aluminum bar, SL-K Light carbon crankset with ceramic bottom bracket, and RD-488 deep-section carbon tubular wheels.

Trebon has switched from an Alpha Q CX20 carbon fork to one from Edge Composites, though, and also updates to Shimano's latest Dura-Ace 7900 group, too. Up front, there's a new FSA ceramic-bearing headset and the seatpost has been beefed up even further from years past to FSA's even-burlier FR-230. Total weight is barely changed from last year at 8.39kg (18.50lb) – a reasonable figure considering the bike's size.

In spite of the expansive lengths of tubing in between the TIG-welded joints, Trebon says the frame stiffness suits his explosive riding style well and he doesn't feel disadvantaged relative to the featherweight rigs of some of his competitors.

"Weight isn't everything," said Trebon. "I tend to ride a lot more out of the saddle and do really hard accelerations. Stiffness and handling are the most important to me."

That Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle is clearly quite important to him, too, as the discontinued model is becoming increasingly difficult to find. However, Trebon is well stocked.

"That's the same one I used last year," he said. "I think I've got six upstairs and about ten in the garage. I don't really like them when they're brand-new. I like them when they're about a year old. When they get more broken in they feel better. That's when they fit the best, I think."

Perhaps even more so than usual, tire choice is likely to be a key factor for the main event on Sunday. We photographed Trebon's bike with aggressive Dugast Rhino tubulars and he says he's likely to stick with that tread if conditions stay sloppy. Yet even the grippiest tires are useless if they don’t stay on the rim.

Trebon says his gluing process "isn't magic" but he's deliberate, mindful of adequate curing time and swears by double-sided 'Belgian tubular tape' to create a rock-solid bond. Both the rim and tire get two base coats – with overnight curing time allowed between coats – plus another tack coat per side with the tape applied in between.

"In 'cross it's not so much the lateral cornering force but it's when the tire gets unweighted and then suddenly weighted that it cracks the bond," Trebon said. "I like the tape; it makes it really easy and is so secure that it's hard to get the tire off."

Complete bike specifications: