Kona Process DL - first ride £4399

Enduro bike from American off-road specialist

BikeRadar score 4/5

BikeRadar has been putting the Kona Process DL through its paces, and finds the all-mountain and enduro bike to be a plush joy when the trail points down. Kona unveiled the Process alongside its Satori 29er, launched last year. Here they are head to head:

Video: Kona Process DL vs Satori 29er

Ride & handling: Stiff and plush for all-mountain use

Climbing isn’t the Process DL’s primary purpose. It’s not the lightest bike in the world, and going uphill with the suspension left alone resulted in it bobbing, which wasn’t helpful for power transfer. 

Fortunately, the Monarch Plus shock comes with compression adjustment and the ability to effectively add 50lb and 125lb of damping to push against when climbing. This certainly reduces the pain, but doesn’t eliminate it completely. 

The relaxed head angle can also make more technical climbs a little tricky, as can the reasonably long wheelbase (46.9in for a Large). However, the 24x36 bottom gear makes the bike more than winchable up a hill, so challenging ascents certainly aren’t off the menu.

Being fair to the Process, it’s a bike designed to hits the descents hard. The weight, length and head angle immediately give a sense of stability when the trail points down. The 160mm Lyrik fork coped well with big and small hits, being supple enough to reduce the chatter of repeated hits through rock gardens. 

It also coped well with drops and jumps and there were no obvious bottom-out clunks. The stiff chassis afforded by the bolt-through axle, power bulges and 35mm stanchions kept steering precise.

With a 160mm Lyrik, the Process is built for big hits

With its large section tubing, tapered head tube and bolt-through rear end, the frame (which is common to the cheaper Process) is certainly stiff enough, allowing you to push the bike hard into corners and through rocky sections without too much fear of being knocked off line. 

In long, fast corners, the bike compresses into its travel a little, hugging the ground, inspiring the confidence to push it further. The High Roller 2 tyres hook up well on both dry and softer ground, although there is a slight no man’s land when the bike is rolled between the central and edge treads, though this just encourages you to lean the bike more.

The Monarch shock performed well, giving a consistent feel. With minimal stiction, it felt super plush, soaking up small and big hits alike. The only time we caught it out was with a completely uncomposed drop to flat where it bottomed out, although at that point it was set up softer to cope better with fast rock gardens as opposed to big drops.

Frame & equipment: Top quality spec lets you hit the trail hard

We rode the highest-spec Process DL, which comes with a 160mm Lyrik RC2 fork, X0 groupset and RockShox Monarch Plus HV RC3 shock.

The package as a whole is very cohesive – there are no obvious flaws in the spec, and everything is clearly designed to create a bike suited to descending but able to help you climb where possible.

The frame is built from 6069 aluminium, designed around a 66-degree head angle and 73.4-degree seat angle. Holding it all together is the RockShox Monarch Plus HV RC3 shock, which is simple to set up through its Solo Air design. Thanks to the Monarch’s adjustability from the dual flow rebound adjustment, you can set rebound speeds for small and big hits.

Increasingly, dropper seatposts are infiltrating gravity-oriented bikes, giving the rider the ability to adjust saddle heights for climbing and descending on the fly. The Process DL comes with the excellent RockShox Reverb Stealth, with its hydraulic line concealed inside the seat tube, reducing the risk of it getting snagged on passing foliage and rocks and keeping the lines clean.

The RockShox Monarch Plus HV RC3 shock

The wheels are an important part of the package on a bike like this; they need to be wide and strong, stiff enough to shrug off big hits, and light enough to get you to the top of the hill without busting a gut. 

Kona have achieved this by including a full Stan’s wheelset with Flow EX rims. Stiffness is aided by a 20mm bolt through the front and a 142x12 bolt-through at the rear. The Process rolls on 2.4in Maxxis High Roller 2s, which benefit from extra puncture resistance from the EXO sidewalls.

The cockpit is taken care of by RaceFace’s 758mm wide Atlas bar and short 50mm stem. Contact points are handled by Kona GLOG grips, a WTB Volt saddle and Kona Wah Wah pedals.

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