The Operator downhill bike fired Kona straight back into the gravity bike scene when it was launched last year to high acclaim. The man behind that comeback, Chris Mandell, has been working on the Entourage since the Operator was let loose, and we headed to Crans Montana, Switzerland to give it some tough love.
Ride & handling: Unusual ride position pays off on the trails
When you first get on the Kona Entourage, the short top tube and chainstays make it feel like you’re sat over the rear wheel. The overall impression is one of sitting on top of the bike, rather than down into it. That feeling translates onto the trails, where the ride position is further forward than you’d normally expect of something aimed at downhill riding.
After a couple of runs to acclimatise, though, we could see exactly why Kona came up with it. The Entourage turns as if it were on rails – almost so fast at times that we felt on the border of control. Into the rough rooty and rocky sections of Crans Montana’s Swiss Cup track, it coped incredibly well, with the four-bar rear end happily eating up the bumps.
The Entourage’s suspension ramps up slightly earlier than on most downhill bikes (about 70 percent into its travel), giving a harsh feel on big, square edged compressions. But that’s not what the bike’s all about. Airtime is a blissful experience – the Entourage is easier than a drift car to get sideways due to its compact size. With the early ramp-up and super-consistent suspension performance, hitting big, steep lips wasn’t an issue.
Frame & equipment: Ready to shred, out of the box
The Entourage’s frame has everything you’d expect of something aimed at mini downhill and freeride abuse. ISCG 05 chain guide tabs, an 83mm bottom bracket shell, a 12x150mm rear axle and tapered head tube are the big features. More interesting though, is Kona’s geometry.
Kona are firm believers in short chainstays, and these particular ones measure in at just 413mm, which really is super short for a 170mm (6.7in) travel bike. The 65-degree head angle is bang-on for gravity riding and the relatively low 335mm bottom bracket height keeps the centre of gravity slammed.
The Entourage Deluxe boasts an impressive spec, from the Easton Havoc bar, stem and seatpost, to Avid’s Code brakes and RockShox’s proven Lyrik RC2 DH fork. We love the decision to spec Maxxis tyres – with a Minion DHF on the front and High Roller on the rear, the Kona really is ready for shredding.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.
You can view the Entourage in action in the video below, from Kona: