Adam recently made the journey to Kona Bikes HQ in Bellingham, Washington to check out what’s new at their 2020 model range launch. It’s looking like another season of awesome bikes from Kona, with some smart updates to bikes we loved in 2019.
There’s no doubt that the big talk of the 2020 Kona Ride in Bellingham was their updated mountain bike range (go check out the new Process 134) but there were lots of other details that many may have missed that really make us smile at Commuter. We’re really looking forward to having these bikes on the floor and getting them out and about in the real world in the coming month or so. Pricing is not 100% confirmed yet but everything looks like it should be within $100 of the 2019 bikes. There are some solid changes to the Dew commuter range coming but I signed a piece of paper that said I wouldn’t write about them for a little while so if you’d like any details give me a buzz at the shop.
Let’s get started…
The Sutra LTD frame remains unchanged for 2020 other than a slightly more subtle colourway that last year’s wild sparkle. I liked the sparkle but, yeah, it sure wasn’t for everyone. This coming year the bike will come standard with 700×50 rubber and it’s nice to see Kona listen to their dealers and have added proper 3-Pack mounts to the fork so you can run all manner of cargo cages.
Again, the big change for Sutra is the colour and it’s nice to see something subtle on a bike designed to be passing through the world inconspicuously. Drivetrain is now ten speed Shimano Deore, which makes converting to flat-bar much simpler and offers some awesome gear range. Sutra looks once again like a great entry point to proper distance touring in the Commuter range.
Unit and Unit X
What’s that you say? Metallic gold? YES PLEASE!!! New Unit X, despite being the best paintjob in the entire show, definitely proves that Kona care what their customers think and there are a bunch of nice updates that make it an awesome bikepacker straight out of the box. Now with 29×2.6 rubber and SRAM Eagle drivetrain it’s an even more capable exploring machine that’s really well suited to Melbourne geography. Just like the Sutra LTD, the Unit X now has 3-Pack fork mounts opening up a lot of storage options and allowing for individual setups. Also, did I mention the colour? 😀
No pics of the Unit I’m sorry, but it’s the same frame in matte black. Out of the box it is single speed, but unlike last years bike it comes with a regular cassette body hub and a derailleur hanger allowing for a pretty simple conversion to a geared bike.
No massive changes to the Rove ST for 2020 but again I’m pretty wrapped in the colour, I wasn’t a huge fan of the racing green of 2019. I think you’ll dig it too once you see it in the flesh. Some very slightly more aggressive rubber in the WTB Venture means more fun on the Yarra trails on late spring long commutes home without sacrificing tarmac performance. The Rove ST was our most popular Kona of 2019 and we can’t wait to have the new one around.
In general we’re not a big ‘carbon bike’ kinda shop, but I did get the chance to spend some time on the new Libre gravel race bike and I did really like it. Mostly because of the colour of the as yet unreleased DL model which I’m not allowed to show you or describe for a little while, but keep an eye on Kona’s website for that one. It’s absolutely nuts. I’d certainly be keen to hear your thoughts on frame materials and whether you think carbon has a place at Commuter or not. Feel free to comment on this post or say hi at the shop.
Best in Show?
As much as all the new stuff was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to be able to hang out on Saturdays and test ride them with you all, I did fall in love with Kona in the 90s and they had some stuff kicking around that absolutely blew my mind.
I remember wanting one of these Hei Hei titanium bikes SO BAD when I was 16. To see one of them in the flesh and in pretty much pristine condition with 1996 XTR was unreal. This thing took a close backseat to the Humu Humu’s that were getting around. (If you have a suggestion for the collective noun for Humu Humu I’m keen to hear it.)
Yep, that’s a titanium one and a completely insane US flag version with Cook Bros. cranks and original blonde Scratch and Sniff tyres. Mind blown.
Huge thanks to Huw and Will here at the shop and to the guys at Kona in Australia for making this trip happen. And thanks to Kona in Bellingham for their hospitality and education. I promise to make ‘Human Hungry Hungry Hippos’ a mainstay of all Commuter Cycles parties going forward. Stay tuned.