American enduro specialist Matt Slaven has been riding a Kona for eight years. However, 2011 marked his first year of official 'factory' sponsorship as the Canadian company expanded their race program to include an all-mountain component.
Slaven has three race bikes: two 160mm Abra Cadabras, which vary by the weight of the builds, and a Coilair which, with 200mm of travel, enters into downhill bike territory.
All three use Kona's Magic Link. This is a two-shock suspension system that automatically varies travel from an efficient short-travel climbing mode (100mm on the Abra Cadabra, 120mm on the Coilair) to a fully extended descending mode (160mm, 200mm), depending on what forces it detects.
Bike choice is an important decision for any all-mountain race. Do you pick a light build that'll give you an advantage on the climbs or a heavier spec that'll be more forgiving on the descents? Influenced by the European riders he's pitted against at overseas races, Slaven has been riding his lighter Abra Cadabra more, in an attempt to better his technical skill.
Matt Slaven with the lighter of his two Kona Abra Cadabra race bikes
"Here [in the US], I'm one of the better technical riders and I just need to work on my fitness, especially when I'm racing against people like Adam Craig, guys that have World Cup cross-country fitness," he told BikeRadar. "But there, the French and these Euros are head-and-shoulders above me in technical skill."
"I've been hanging out with the Euros this season and they always go with smaller bikes," he continued. "At Whistler I did a run with my teammate Karim [Amour] and [multiple world downhill champion] Nico Vouilloz. I was just terrified, and I even had a little bit bigger fork on – a 160mm.
"Both Nico and I went to the SRAM booth after the run; I was trying to get a 170mm [RockShox] Lyrik and he actually bumped down from a 160 fork to a Revelation [150mm travel, lighter chassis]. I thought to myself, 'wow, we're on two different worlds, right here'. I was terrified, and he was saying, 'ah, it's too pedally'. I didn't even remember pedaling; I remember being puckered the whole time!"
While a 15mm through-axle is available for the RockShox Revelation, Slaven has gone for the stouter 20mm option here
As pictured here, the Kona rider's size large Kona Abra Cadabra weighs just 27.95lb with a spare inner tube, multi-tool and CO2 inflator taped to the down tube. Up front, he has a RockShox's Revelation XX World Cup with carbon steerer and lockout – the model with the beefier 20mm axle, as opposed to the more popular 'trail' spec of 15mm.
Other weight savers include Easton's carbon Haven wheels, with a custom tapped rear axle to accept 6mm titanium bolts (the 2012 model will have a 142x12mm through-axle but the 2011 model sports open dropouts), and Haven Carbon handlebar. Slaven uses e*thirteen's XCX top-only chain guide and Shimano's Shadow Plus (clutch retention) rear derailleur in place of a fully captured chain guide.
To save a few extra grams, Slaven spec's Shimano's XTR 'Race' pads on the rear of his mostly 'Trail' brake system. But not one to take things too far, he retains all six bolts on both rotors and uses 'Protection' cased Continental tires front and rear. The rear tire seen here is a prototype that combines the Race King tread pattern in a 2.2in width with a new reinforced tubeless-ready carcass.
Shimano's new Shadow Plus derailleur makes up for the bike's lack of a full chain guide
Complete bike specifications:
- Frame: Kona Abra Cadabra, size large
- Rear Shock: RockShox Monarch RT3
- Fork: RockShox Revelation XX World Cup, 150mm travel, 20mm axle
- Headset: FSA tapered
- Stem: Easton Haven, 70mm
- Handlebars: Easton Haven carbon, 711mm
- Grips: Kona Race Light lock-on
- Front brake: Shimano XTR M985 Trail w/Ice Tech 180mm rotor (Trail brake pads)
- Rear brake: Shimano XTR M985 Trail w/Ice Tech 160mm rotor (Race brake pads)
- Chain Guide: e*thirteen XCX
- Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR M985 Shadow Plus
- Shifter: Shimano XTR M980
- Brake levers: Shimano XTR M988 Trail
- Cassette: Shimano XTR M980, 11-36-tooth
- Chain: Shimano XTR M980
- Crankset: Shimano XTR M980 w/ Shimano Saint 38-tooth single ring
- Bottom bracket: Shimano XTR M980
- Pedals: Shimano XTR Race M980
- Wheelset: Easton Haven Carbon
- Front tire: Continental X-King Protection casing with Black Chili tread, 2.4in
- Rear tire: Continental prototype Race-King Protection casing, tubeless-ready, with Black Chili tread, 2.2in
- Saddle: WTB Rocket V titanium
- Seatpost: RockShox Reverb, 125mm travel
- Other: tube, inflator, and Pedro's Hex Set Plus Torx
- Rider's height: 185.42cm/6ft 1in
- Rider's weight: 79.37kg/175lb
- Saddle height from BB, c-t: 80.5cm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 49cm
- Cockpit length, tip-of-saddle to center of bar: 55cm
- Saddle-to-bar drop: 9cm (seatpost extended)
- Head tube length: 14cm
- Top tube length: 62cm
- Total bicycle weight: 12.67kg/27.95lb (with CO2 inflator and tools)