The Kahuna Deluxe sits in the middle of Kona’s seven-bike 29er hardtail range. With big-wheeled geometry going through a steep phase over the past few years, 29ers were in danger of being pigeonholed as a race thing. Bikes like the Kona are changing that. It’s pitched as a fast-rolling trail bike rather than an all-out racer.
Ride & handling: Sturdy, ride-all-day, big country hardtail
The Kahuna sits in the middle ground of 29er geometry. It doesn’t dive head-ﬁrst into corners, but the generous 710mm handlebar width makes it easy to take command and tip the bike into turns. It sits a bit high at the front, even if you ﬁddle with the stem and spacers.
While its 12.3kg/27.1lb weight is acceptable, riding it back-to-back with lighter bikes shows that a couple of extra pounds make a big difference. The Kona’s a reasonably agile bike and rolls along nicely once up to speed, but other bikes at this price feel livelier.
The Kahuna’s relaxed geometry and 20mm through-axle front wheel make it a good bet for long days out on rocky, steep trails. It’s reluctant to pop the front end up, but with a competent fork and big wheels you may not need to.
Frame & equipment: Big wheels, relaxed geometry and through-axle fork take on all sorts
Kona hardtails have always had a distinctive look, and while there’s no shortage of bikes with heavily sloped top tubes and extended seat tubes these days, the Kahuna Deluxe still looks like a Kona. The designers have eschewed the more extravagant tube shapes in favour of a gently ﬂared and tapered down tube and hexagonal-section top tube.
Up front there’s a tapered head tube with semi-integrated headset to keep the front end height under control. The rear triangle is a relatively slimline affair, although there’s plenty of material around the bottom bracket.
Working fat stays through the small gap between tyre and chainrings is tricky in 29er designs, especially if you want shortish stays. Kona have gone for plates at the bottom bracket, with tubes taking over when there’s space. At the back there’s subtle shaping of the seatstays, including a sleek post mount for the rear brake.
The frame will take slightly bigger tyres than the 2.1in Maxxis Ignitors ﬁtted, but the limiting factor is the rear brake hose running down the inside of the seatstay. 29er hardtails often sport curved seat tubes for extra clearance, but Kona haven’t pushed the chainstay length too hard and there’s adequate room with a straight tube.
Kona’s component spec is functional but doesn’t represent astonishing value for money. It’s good to see an air-sprung, alloy stanchion, tapered steerer RockShox Recon fork, and a full-on 20mm (rather than 15mm) through-axle.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.