Kona expand 29er collection with five new models for 2012

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

Kona are no strangers to 29in-wheeled bikes and this year brings the company's most expansive collection to date, with 13 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.

The new 29ers all share an emphasis on stiffness and handling precision – not just light weight – along with thoroughly modern geometries and versatility-expanding features like ISCG-05 tabs, slider dropouts, and dropper post compatibility on some models. While each of the new bikes has an intended purpose, Kona don't want to pigeonhole any of them as one-trick ponies. Save for the new titanium bike, all of the new 29ers are already shipping to dealers.

Go long with the Satori

Perhaps the most exciting new model is the Satori, which we first saw a prototype of back in the summer. It's a butted 7005 aluminum dual-suspension trail bike with 130mm of front and rear travel, 20x110mm front and 12x142mm rear Maxle through-axles, a tapered head tube, a direct-mount front derailleur, ISCG-05 chain guide tabs, and an asymmetrical linkage-activated single-pivot rear end. 

The claimed 3.54kg (7.8lb) frame weight (with shock and rear axle) and 13.6kg (30.0lb) claimed complete weight are fairly average 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 (13.3in) – a perfect formula for high speed stability and railing corners. Chainstays are admirably short at just 440mm (17.3in) – 10-15mm shorter than the norm – making 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, 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 2.4/2.25in-wide (front/rear) Maxxis Ardent tires. Suggested retail price is US$3,099/€2,999/£2,850.

Cables are routed right through the swing link on kona's new satori:

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 through-axles at both ends (15x100mm front, 12x142mm rear) for what Kona claim 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 (13.2in) bottom bracket height, but the chainstays are substantially longer at 457mm (18in). Claimed frame weight is 2.8kg (6.2lb, with shock, seatpost collar, and rear axle).

The top-end Hei Hei 29 Supreme ($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 29erwheels and fast-rolling 2.2in-wide Maxxis Ikon tires. Claimed total bike weight is 12.16kg (26.8lb).

The mid-range Hei Hei 29 Deluxe ($2,999) steps down to a RockShox Reba SL fork and Fox 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.

Kona have given the 2012 hei hei 29 supreme through-axle dropouts front and rear for better handling precision than the 2011 version:

Kona have given the 2012 Hei Hei 29 Supreme through-axle dropouts front and rear for better handling precision than the 2011 version

King Kahuna goes carbon for 2012

Kona's top-end King Kahuna 29er hardtail gets a big change for 2012, which we first saw at Eurobike. Kona have switched from last year's scandium-enhanced aluminum frame to a modular monocoque carbon fiber setup that they say 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 have 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 have fitted the King Kahuna with through-axles front and rear.

Geometry is straight-up race bike, however, with a 70-degree head tube angle, tidy 440mm-long (17.3in) chainstays widely set on a BB92 press-fit bottom bracket shell, and a 310mm (12.2in) bottom bracket height. Claimed frame weight is 1,400g (3.1lb) with the complete bike coming in at 11.2kg (24.7lb).

Retail price for the newly carbon King Kahuna climbs just $150 to $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 2.2in-wide Maxxis Ikon tires. DIYers will also have the option of buying a bare frame.

Kona have switched from aluminum to carbon fiber for the 2012 king kahuna 29er hardtail:

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

Kona go 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 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 (16.3in) chainstays – shorter than most 26in 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 12.2in (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 through-axle fork dropouts.

Pricing is set at $1,799/£1,600/€1,699, with a value-oriented build kit that includes a 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 nine-speed shifters and an HG-61 12-36T cassette, an e*thirteen LS1 chain guide and voluminous 2.4/2.2in-wide Maxxis Ardent tires. Complete claimed weight is 14.65kg (32.3lb).

The new kona honzo is a decidedly different type of 29er but one that looks like a lot of fun, too:

The new Kona Honzo is a decidedly different type of 29er but one that looks like a lot of fun

Kona return to their roots with the limited-production Raijin titanium hardtail

Missed your chance back in the day to own a Kona Hei Hei hardtail? Here's your chance to make up for lost opportunities. The new Lynskey-built Raijin, made from 3/2.5 straight-gauge titanium, rekindles that old flame but this time around 29in wheels. 

Thoroughly modern features include slick slider dropouts that'll 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 chainstay 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.

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

Kona will offer the Raijin only as a bare frame for $1,900/€1,400/£1,299.. Interested customers should get in line quickly, though – the initial production run will consist of just 250 frames worldwide. Kona say a second run is currently under discussion.

Kona return to their roots with the raijin titanium 29er hardtail, custom built in tennesse by lynskey performance:

Kona return to their 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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We are having trouble displaying this video

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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