The bodaciously burly Deluxe is the best of three rigs in Kona’s Five-O 'Out Of Bounds' hardtail range. It's a heavy duty bike, but there are plenty of riders who need a bit of precautionary strength built in. The Kona’s meant for hard riding, but bear in mind that 32lb is a lot of weight to pedal up hills if you don’t need it for whatever else you're planning to do.
Ride & handling: Solid and stable descender, if you don't mind some extra heft
The Five-O is harder to accelerate than a lighter bike on flat or uphill terrain, but it makes up for that on anything that points down.
A feeling of stability characterises its ride, to the extent of making many other bikes feel a little wimpy. The question is whether you’re willing to put up with carting around the extra weight that comes with the Five-O’s abuse-resistant approach.
The solid feel is nicely tempered over the bumps by the 140mm of travel, and the through-axle noticably adds to steering precision when the trail gets raggy. Even the back end is fairly comfy, with the fat tyre and plump saddle boosting shock absorption.
We were happy pedalling the Kona hard and fast down descents where we were picking lines fairly carefully on other bikes. It’s happy with a moderate amount of air time too.
The Five-O is a great bike if your ride ambitions sway beyond moderate. The additional weight, in the right places, adds the extra damage limitation you’ll need if you like to leave the ground from time to time, or just like to ride without inhibition.
Frame: Long, low top tube and plenty of precautionary strength
Everyone loved the looks of the Five-O Deluxe. Its subtle presentation contrasts with many other bikes in Kona’s 2009 range. Lush dark green dominates the compact, low-slung and efficiently long frame, and a colourful flourish of fun graphics near the crankset adds aesthetic sparkle.
Appearance aside, what’s immediately obvious about the Five-O is that it looks stretched. While dirt jumpers can’t make their minds up whether to go for a long or short top tube reach, Kona know that you need to go long if you want a bike that’s efficient on normal cross-country trails or on high speed descents – it’s easy to change the position of a saddle and bar, but you can’t lengthen the frame.
The 18in Five-O’s horizontal top tube length is 24in, but you can lose an inch with each of the next sizes down. The top tube is very low too, so there’s masses of 'nads clearance.
The nicely manipulated head tube, down tube and top tube juncture adds precautionary resistance to heavy fork impacts and the rear triangle uses ovalised chunky tubes with wishbones into the seat tube and bottom bracket.
The thoroughly practical design includes a set of bottle bosses, a forward facing seat clamp and double bolted dropouts on each side, with an easily replaceable gear hanger and disc mount. Every bike gets a neoprene chainstay guard too.
Equipment: Well chosen finishing kit and excellent 140mm Marzocchi fork
While some riders will be disappointed to find Shimano Deore parts (shifters and front gear mech) on a £1,099 bike, the drivetrain is functionally excellent. An XT rear mech fits the bill, as do RaceFace’s tough Ride On cranks with outer bashring. Large pinned flat pedals are supplied too.
Stopping duties are performed very adequately by Shimano’s 575 (no groupset tag) brakes and the Sun Ringle Equaliser rimmed wheels are hefty enough to boost confidence during exuberant moves. Maxxis Minion 2.35in treads grip well in most conditions and help to temper the thuds from the stiff frame over rough terrain. They don’t offer too much rolling resistance either.
The WTB Speed V saddle is comfy and we like the stumpy stem (with hollow top bolt), 27.5in bar and bolt-on grips, but 5ft 11in riders were looking for more seatpost length for cross-country rides.
The Marzocchi Bomber 55 through-axle air fork offers 140mm (5.5in) of travel and excellent damping control, and suits the bike’s character.