Kona bikes have a long tradition of building fantastic feeling machines that look as sweet as they ride - but we're still puzzled as to why their bikes have names revolving around anal fanfares...
With DH racers such as Tracy Moseley and Fabien Barel kicking ass on the World Cup circuit, Kona have a great team behind them, who help to evolve and push the limits of what a machine like this can do.
The frame - sturdy stuff
Constructed from beefy 7005 aluminium, bulging welds and extra triangulation around the seat cluster add to the stout looks. The new matt finished linkages amplify shock stroke to offer 7in of travel and are machined to save weight.
The well proven Faux Bar (linkage actuated single pivot) linkage has a tight feel with massive bearings on the linkages and a neat stiffening brace between the two sides. Kona's DOPE system (floating brake arm) is there to keep the suspension active during aggressive braking. On the bigger Kona machines, the position of this arm can be moved to allow the bike to squat slightly when braking into a corner. Without this the Stinky felt a little weighted toward the front end.
The matt white paint finish goes down a storm with anyone who lays eyes on it and the tidy cable guides and unpainted chainstay (the paint can't chip off if it isn't there) really consolidate the overall package.
The equipment - generally sound but odd tyre 'n' tube choices
Marzocchi's latest 66 ATA fork sits up front, with massive 38mm stanchions, killer graphics and 140-180mm (5.5-7in) adjustable travel. It features adjustable rebound, compression and an end of stroke ramp-up. Nestled in the mid-ship is Fox's DHX 5.0 Air shock - we kept the ProPedal off and let the frame do the work. The fantastic Mavic Crossmax SX wheelset is only 1.95kg for the pair, which brings better acceleration and amazing agility. Why Kona didn't fit UST tyres puzzles us - instead they slapped on heavy Maxxis DH tyres and tubes, which are well over 500g heavier than going tubeless!
A Shimano XT shadow rear mech coupled to Saint low profile shifters with Shimano's excellent new refined XT brakes all ran smoothly. RaceFace bar, stem, crank and seatpost were very welcome - although we found the stem a bit on the long side.
The ride - takes corners like Ryan Giggs
Riding the Kona on a XC route would be madness - so that's what we did. Getting the sticky tyres rolling was a chore, but this dissolved when we realised you needn't brake at all on descents - only the odd switchback slowed us up. Even without your brain engaged you'll not find an end to the bottomless feeling 7in rear wheel travel unless you work really hard. Corners were dispatched with ease and the Stinky felt sure-footed, as if someone had substituted tyres for tank tracks.