Kona Bolt - First ride£650.00

Budget hardcore hardtail

BikeRadar score3/5

Introducing a UK-specific trail bike seems to be getting ever more popular these days. Canadians Kona have taken it one step further and produced three bikes, covering a range of price points. At the lowest end is the Bolt hardtail.

Ride & handling: No race-ready lightweight, but offers a tough, fun ride

As you’d expect with a budget build, the Bolt is more about durability and fun than trying to be a race machine, and the 14.1kg (31lb) heft reflects this.

The 75mm stem and 21.5in top tube on our 17in frame meant the cockpit was a little short for steeper, pedal-pumping climbs and could feel cramped, but the control on offer more than made up for this.

The bike felt snappy and natural thanks to the compact frame, along with the well-matched bar and stem, which all added up to make blasting through technical singletrack a real treat.

Kona have spent their money in all the right places, and produced a good bike for anyone who’s just starting out. The Shimano Deore based transmission provided consistent shifting, took its fair share of abuse, and kept the chain in place even on rougher trails.

Tektro’s Auriga brakes provided plenty of power, but we did find the levers a little lengthy, so we found we had to run them – and consequently the shifters – quite far in on the bar.

Suntour’s Raidon fork is supple enough to eat up the smaller hits and features effective rebound damping, which other similarly priced forks can sometimes lack.

Finally, the slack 67.3 degree head angle with the 120mm-travel (4.7in) fork made for a stable and controlled ride when the speed increased and this only added to the sense of simple hardtail fun that the Bolt delivers in spades.

Frame & equipment: Trail-taming geometry plus effective, robust kit spec

Kona’s Bolt essentially uses the same 6061 aluminium frame as their Blast, but with a couple of tweaks to accommodate the 120mm-travel (4.7in) fork. The head tube accepts an integrated headset to keep the stack height low and the looks super-sleek.

The subtly hydroformed down tube widens at the head tube with a gusset making strength a priority. Even with the 2.35in width tyres, the rear triangle offers adequate mud clearance for winter slogs.

Bump-eating duty is handled by a Suntour Raidon fork with 9mm quick-release axle. Kona take care of the bar, stem and seatpost, with Shimano’s Deore shifters, front mech and robust SLX rear mech in charge of gear changes.

Elsewhere, Kenda Nevegal 2.35in tyres are good, predictable all-rounders. The bulbous WTB saddle adds extra weight and the cut may be on the wide side, but it’s comfy and great for rough rides.

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