Kona Shred review£600.00

Versatile hardcore hardtail with a jump bias

BikeRadar score4/5

Kona’s Shred is a bombproof all-rounder that maxes out the fun on every ride. It’s versatile enough to go beyond the jump park but still specced for big-air antics, though it’s not quite as agile or balanced as a pure jumper.

The great thing about the Shred is its versatility. Its full length frame, gears and mountain bike tyres add playbike versatility if you’re into more than just jumping. The key componentry and the frame and fork are still confidently jump-proof and the alloy frame and front end feels consistently lively despite the overall weight.

It’s all a bit swings and roundabouts though. That same full size frame and tail-heavy weight means it’s not as agile or naturally balanced in the air as others. Its mountain bike tyres cut speed and flow on smooth trails and of course gears add noise and potential problems for pure jump work.

Ride & handling: more mountain bike than BMX

If you’re coming off a normal mountain bike, the Kona will feel friendly straight away.

The short stem, big wide bar and tall front end bring everything a bit closer under your chin, but it’s definitely a long bike compared to other jumpers.

Add the gears, a seatpost you can run right up to proper pedalling height and grippy High Roller tyres and this feels and looks like a normal mountain bike.

The light front/heavy rear balance also means the front wheel comes up surprisingly easily. The high weight and solid – okay, harsh – feel of the frame and fork mean your back will take a beating if you do a lot of cross-country riding, but it’s a lot more versatile away from the park than pure jump bikes.

While the weight won’t help out of the gate, the frame length and gears mean it’s no slouch on the dual course, though that lifty front end makes it less aggressive than the Identiti 666S and Charge Blender.

The tail-down balance also takes some getting used to on the trails as it doesn’t follow a jump curve as naturally as the others.

Long wheelbase and steady head angle mean it’s lovely and stable coming off berms or straight lining into sets, but you really have to position yourself right to stop the rebound damping-free front end from trying to flip you right off the lip.

It’s harder to move around in the air too and again you need to think the nose down rather than just letting it roll into the ramp naturally.

We’re probably making this sound worse than it is – you’ll start to have it dialled in a few runs – but it’s not as ‘straight into sets’ easy to jump as a more tightly focused bike.

Picking one of the smaller sizes will make it handier once you’ve got some height.

Frame: unusual material, long stance

Aluminium tubing’s unusual in jump bikes, but the Shred’s slab-sided Klump 7005 tubing gives Kona a great billboard for big graphics and a great looking monochrome fade. The XL tubing means no need for extra reinforcement on the front end either and the deep chainstays and rectangular seatstays are plenty buff enough to take the big stuff.

As well as looking like a standard mountain bike the ride position is also long for a dirt jump bike, although different sizes are available if you want something shorter.

There’s enough seatpost to let you get the saddle to an efficient pedalling height too.

Dual cable/hose clips mean a neat upgrade to hydraulic brakes and there are even V-brake mounts on the chainstays just in case you want to switch from discs.

The vertical dropouts mean you’ll have to run a chain tensioner if you go singlespeed.

Equipment: gears expand the possibilities

The fact it’s got gears is the first thing you notice when riding,  mainly from the way the chain and rear mech bounce and rattle. But you’ll soon screen out the noise and the combination of a broad bashring on the FSA chainset and the front mech cage kept the chain on however much we chucked it about.

Having 16 gears certainly makes a big difference coming back up from the gasworks jumps or ripping up the singletrack when you don’t fancy the ramps. The choice of proper mountain bike tyres front and rear also extends ride possibilities, although they’re  noticeably slower on smooth dirt.

The broad, box section rims sucked up the stress of a robust test without any complaint too, and Shimano’s rear hub is a bonus in terms of long-term smooth running. Fitting a bolted front and QR rear is a bit queer, but at least the nut is a 15mm so a pedal spanner will work fine. It snugs neatly into the DJ3 fork tips and again, while you couldn’t call the fork smooth, it certainly saved our faces a few times.

The rest of the kit is mostly from Kona’s downhill collection, but we’re not complaining as it’s always proved consistently tough in the past.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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