Kona 2+2 DL review£3,200.00

100mm trail bike with added magic

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The 2+2 DL is the top model in Kona’s new two-bike 2+2 range; both use the new, shorter travel iteration of Kona’s unique automatic travel (changing between 50 to 100mm) and geometry adjustment system, the Magic Link.

The system was born on Kona’s longer travel all-mountain bikes, where the weight-shift and pedal torque actuated system helps make the winch back to the top of the hill easier and more comfortable. But the big question is how does it fare when shrunk down for use in a 100mm bike?

Ride & handling: Climbs handsomely and descends with poise and confidence

The suspension system itself is a tried-and-true rocker activated single pivot design but with added ‘magic’. The main Fox RP23 shock is mounted vertically from the rocker arm with its lower bushing mounted on the upper of the Magic Link itself.

A secondary coil shock is mounted horizontally mid-way along the Magic Link and fixed to the seat tube assembly. The chainstays also pivot off the lower Magic Link. This allows the pedalling and braking forces of the rear wheel and the rider’s weight to change the travel and actuation of the rear shock so that it behaves differently according to the circumstances.

When barrelling downhill out of the saddle, for instance, with your weight off the back of the bike, together with minimal pedalling forces acting on the Magic Link, the link moves rearwards which both drops the bottom bracket (BB) height and slackens the head and seat angles and increases the shock travel to the full 100mm.

While pedalling hard either in or out of the saddle, the chain forces ‘push’ the link forwards, steepening the geometry and shortening the travel for better pedalling and sprint performance. 

It all sounds complicated and our initial concerns about the system behaving clunkily were unfounded: while riding it does all the above seamlessly and unobtrusively. It doesn’t get in the way of the ride and it doesn’t go clunk-clunk from one extreme to the other. It just happens.

When seated the shock is noticeably more plush than when standing and this results in a taut back end for sprints or out-of-the-saddle climbs; however, some riders will certainly prefer a more fully active all-round performance.

Although it’s styled in the 100mm race/marathon bike mould, in truth it isn’t the fastest or most efficient mile eater – Giant’s Anthem X and Specialized’s Epic are both better tools for this. However, if you love to canter along at a fair lick before unleashing hell on technical singletrack then the 2+2 DL delivers. In spades.

The 710mm wide bar, tapered head tube, QR15 fork axle, fast rolling yet tenacious Maxxis Aspen tyres and 185mm front brake rotor all conspire in no small part to tool it up for the job, but the active geometry is the foundation. But – as with many things there is an inevitable ‘but’ – there is an issue. Or rather two.

It doesn’t like bunny hopping: the Magic Link system can become wallowy and remove the preload pump as you initiate the bunny hop. A simple pop of the wheels is fine, but when bunny hopping anything significant this is a characteristic that takes some serious getting used to as, because it activates the Magic Link, it’s like trying to hop out of a vat of treacle. Far from ideal on a bike that actually urges you to push your riding dynamically.

Secondly, price: at £3200 rrp it’s a hefty asking price considering that the 2+2 DL’s most direct peer is Scott’s £400 cheaper yet lighter (24.96lb) and similarly equipped carbon-framed Spark 30. With its three-mode 110mm travel shock (locked out, traction, and fully open) and 120mm fork up front it’s an outstandingly light and sweet handling, fast and fun speed machine that is more than equal to the 2+2 DL.

There will be purists who may scoff at the undoubted skills amplification that the Magic Link aids – particularly on techy, steep climbs – but it’s a genuinely big bundle of fun to ride. It’s poised and confident on descents, whether fast or slow, it will climb handsomely and really comes into its own on truly steep pitches where the Magic Link’s benefit is most noticeable.

It’s also very adaptable: you can bash out a marathon on it as much as you could a 12-hour enduro, but it’s most at home as a fast yet fun general riding mountain bike. However, there are certainly other bikes that, although they lack the geometry wizardry, are just as versatile, capable and as fun to ride for a fair chunk of change less.

Frame & equipment: The top model in Kona’s new two-bike 2+2 range

The frame is full scandium alloy – Kona is one of the few major manufacturers to persevere with this material and does so for its strength to weight and stiffness advantages over aluminium. Essentially, scandium allows for a lighter yet just as strong and stiff frame, which is just as well as it’s needed to offset the extra shock and frame material required for the Magic Link system.

Thankfully, it’s all down in the belly of the bike to keep the centre of gravity low for stability. However, the complete bike weight still tips the scales at the heavier end of the 100mm spectrum at 26.86lb (12.18kg) excluding pedals (size 20in).

Unusually for a 100mm bike, the 2+2 DL gets a tapered head tube for stiffness that combines with the QR15 15mm screw-thru fork to keep the front end where you want it. The kinked top tube aids standover and the back end gets Post Mount disc mounts while the down tube has one set of bottle bosses.

As discussed in the 'Ride & handling' section, the suspension system is a rocker activated single pivot design. The main Fox RP23 shock is mounted vertically from the rocker arm with its lower bushing mounted on the upper of the Magic Link itself. A secondary coil shock is mounted horizontally mid-way along the Magic Link and fixed to the seat tube assembly. The chainstays also pivot off the lower Magic Link.

The easton wheelset perform as handsomely as they look: the easton wheelset perform as handsomely as they look
The easton wheelset perform as handsomely as they look: the easton wheelset perform as handsomely as they look

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