Kona Hoss £700

Sturdy workhorse that likes to get down and dirty

BikeRadar score 4/5

Kona’s Hoss is built around a sturdy aluminium frame and dirt-jumping forks, and most of its components come from the overbuilt end of the spectrum.

Don’t let that give you the impression that this is a bike for hardcore riders only – it’s a general trail bike specifically for big blokes who make big demands of their equipment.

In previous years, Kona has also offered a Deluxe build, too, but for 2008 this is the only model available in the Hoss range.

Ride: muscles through regardless

If you want subtlety, the Hoss ain’t it. This isn’t a bike to tiptoe around the edges; it’s a bit of a bruiser which likes to wade right on in there and get its tyres dirty.

With an all-up weight of 32.8lb (14.9kg) and heavy-duty wheels, the Kona is no Sherpa on the climbs, and acceleration out of tight turns is a way short of electrifying, but you don’t have to wrestle it up to speed either. In fact, it’s impressively stiff, so you get a higher return than you might expect when you put in the extra power.

Although smaller riders would doubtless struggle, our test crew didn’t have a problem controlling all that momentum through the singletrack with deft flicks of the wide bars and some dexterous weight shifting.

Hit the roots and rocks, whether on the flat or downhill, and the Kona doesn’t skitter across the top so much as muscle on regardless, which can throw you a little to start with. After struggling for ages to keep things light, we eventually decided to just go with it; blasting through might not win you any style marks, but it allows you to make the most of the Hoss’s stable and planted ride. It holds its line well, so there’s no point fighting it.

However, we just think Kona is missing a trick by speccing the Hoss with only a modest 100mm (4in) travel fork which leaves it struggling to stay with its rivals through the rough stuff.

Frame: hardcore meets cross-country

The Hoss’s 7005 series alloy frame clearly has a bit of hardcore hardtail blood in its cross-country veins. It’s no sumo, but its emphasis is on strength rather than light weight at all costs… and, for larger riders, that makes a lot of sense.

The top tube and down tube are both rectangular in profile where they meet together at the front end to form an outsized, confidence-inspiring junction, tapering significantly as they morph into round section along their lengths. There aren’t any gussets to reinforce the frame, but the head tube is butted to provide extra beef where it’s needed.

The top tube doesn’t slant downwards as radically as some, but it’s still well out of the way when you want to throw the bike around or get a foot down. Out back, the chunky rectangular seatstays meander down to meet plain old oval-to-round section chainstays.

Components: hardcore selection

Marzocchi’s Dirt Jumper 2 forks are built for hardcore use – the clue’s in the name – and they’re more than capable of handling all sorts of heavyweight hostility.

The steel steerer tube and stanchions mean they’re not light (nearly 3kg), but they’re stiff, and basic external rebound adjustment allows you to stop them pogoing out of control if you land with your full force forward.

You can swap in a heavier weight coil spring if you need to, but our 16-stone tester was perfectly happy once we’d pumped the air-preload high for a firmer, more Clydesdale-friendly ride.

The Shimano Deore-based transmission did its thing as dependably as ever, while FSA’s ISIS-splined Alpha Drive cranks deliver power efficiently and will prove durable enough as long as you don’t launch yourself off tall buildings.

We played all our best spoke-busting moves, but whether leaning over hard into fast turns or landing heavily (on purpose, obviously), the wheels stood firm, the chunky Maxxis treads helping to cushion the blow.

The Hayes Stroker Trail hydraulic disc brakes scrubbed off super-sized speed superbly, while the oversized FSA bar and stem provided decent strength without straining the scales too much.

Summary: a tough all-rounder but a bit more travel would help

Although the Hoss is certainly hefty, the Kona designers haven’t just gone for the all-out girder approach here. Rather, this is a tough bike that’s certainly up for all-round trail duties; play to its strengths and it’ll make a good companion for the larger gent – it would just be better with more travel up front.

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