Test Kona Sutra 2020

How to get equipped for bike touring ? This is a fair question.

We’ve been three to travel on bikes from Stockholm to Nordkapp. And before leaving we had the same question. What bikes and what packing ? How can we plan what kind of roads we’ll have to pass ? While cycling through Scandinavia, we met some cyclists that answered the problem on different ways. From very light packing to long-term and comfort travel. From racing bikes to robust ones. So you’d rather first be sure that there’s no unique solution.

Nonetheless you have some solutions that appear to be more versatile than others. This is what I’m about to tell you with the Kona Sutra 2020.

Large tires
When preparing the trip, we first thought about racing bikes with very thin tires. But when talking with FixMyBike, they advised us the Kona Sutra which is equipped with relatively large ones. And this has been super helpful on gravel roads we had to cross. But also when searching for a place to camp overnight. We were sure that we could go anywhere and this is a major relief when you travel in the unknown. It also has to be said that in spite of their size, the tires were very well adapted for asphalt roads and proved to be definitely efficient. This solution appeared to be the very best balance for bike touring and adventure. And after 3000km, the tires still looked surprisingly brand new.

Solid frame, good weight
The frame is made out of steel, which makes the bike exceptionally long lasting. Despite this, the bike remains surprisingly light and is totally adapted for both long and short journeys. This frame is simple, light, robust and reliable. And this is all you need when you are bike-touring. Its geometry (and particularly the handlebar) is also very convenient for
long journeys since you can have various comfortable positions with good efficiency.


3*10 Speed
Unlike the Kona Sutra LTD and Kona Rove ST, the Kona Sutra is equipped with 3*10 speeds. This classic configuration gives you every possible bracket you’ll need. The shift levers are placed at the very end of the handle bar instead of under the brake levers. These old-fashioned handles proved to be very convenient, but it took me 2-3 days to get used to it. This system is often used by bikepackers thanks to its easy maintenance and reliability. But be careful when leaving the bike against a wall, or you’ll scratch them. Anyway, this looks like the most long-lasting solution one can find.

Mechanical brakes
The Kona Sutra is equipped with disc-brakes. This has been helpful considering some steep section we had to cross and the load we had on the bikes. These brakes are mechanic. This might not look as recent and efficient as having a hydraulic system. But when travelling, cables are much more convenient since you can replace them and change the settings. Hydraulic systems are much more complex to replace and fix when
anything happens. The disc-brakes themselves proved to be reliable and well adapted.

Any configuration possible
One can have any packing configuration on the bikes. The simple tube-frame makes every attach possible : front or back bags, frame bag, handle bag, saddle bag. You can even fix a lock or a bottle under the frame. With all these possibilities, we concluded that this bike can be equipped for speed-touring as much as for tourist-touring.

Conclusion
Considering that :
⁃ we had very good performance on both hard-gravel and asphalt roads
⁃ one could use the bike for commuting, one-day trip or long journeys
⁃ one can have any packing system on the bike

We can resume the Kona Sutra 2020 with this word : versatility.

Among the Kona models I would say that the Kona Sutra is the most adapted for bike- touring since it’s very easy to repair and fix anything on the bike. Nonetheless, on 3000km we almost had no problems with the bikes and didn’t really need to fix them. Which is very convenient for long journeys.

Have a long sweet ride !

Manu – @em.rudelle

Test Kona Sutra LTD 2020

A bike you can trust!

The Kona Sutra LTD is just like a good friend ! It’s reliable, always ready to travel with you, and it gives you lifelong memories !

I’ve been trying the 2020 model across Scandinavia with 2 friends of the “ToTheNorth” team. 3117km to go from Stockholm to the Northcape, traveling through beautiful Scandinavian landscapes, gravel, asphalt and trails.  After such a ride on the bike, a word comes to my mind : versatility.

It kept on surprising me the whole way ! Not only because it is reliable, but also comfortable, sustainable, resistant and good-looking ! Whatever the path, whatever the weather and whatever the hill, it always has something good to offer.

A defining feature is its wide tires (700×50), that allow you to ride properly even on the steepest cliffs of Höga Kusten National Park. They were the tires needed, we couldn’t have ridden the Swedish gravel paths we rode with thin road tires. And guess what : No pinched tire over 3000km ! (which is really honorable given the way we used them) 

A comfortable rocket

The firsts weeks of the trip were mainly on gravel roads, but once we started riding in southern Lapland leaving the Baltic sea coast behind us, landscapes evolved : we had a lot more asphalt roads. And here comes its surprising comfort ! I would forget I was riding a bike, feel like I was only dreaming about Lapland beauty and wilderness without providing any efforts. Not only because the geometry of the bike is very decent, but the wide handlebar and the steel-made frame are helping. The overall position is stable, just like on a mountain bike, and it is efficient, just like a road bike ☺ ! My panniers and handlebar bag weight was almost imperceptible !  I believe this comfort is a big key to enjoy a long trip.

 

It needs no maintenance

30 days of pleasure ! If you’re like me, and that you’d rather have mechanical issues at home than on a 1 month trip, maybe this bike is for you ! On 30 days of bike, I haven’t had any issue on my bike : the only mechanics I had to work with were moving my brake caliper a little after 20 days to avoid this noise we all know. But other than that, the fact you have no front shifter but only a rear one, plus the SRAM rival system that’s resistant and easy to use / tinker with makes the bike very trustworthy.

If you go on a 1 month trip, just bring a good multitool and feel safe and confident ! Anyway Fixmybike does a crazy work on the bikes so that they run without a hitch ! 

I would probably recommend to a friend to take the Kona Sutra or Rove ST model if he goes on a very long trip : the hydraulic brakes of the Sutra LTD are not easy to adjust on the road, whether you can just pull the cable of the Rove ST and the Sutra if you want tougher brakes. My two fellows were able to do that with their Kona bikes ! I was kind of jealous.

On the other hand, the Kona Sutra LTD has this great advantage over the Sutra with the single chainring (36t). The wide range 11s cassette 10-42 compensates well the versatility of the 3×8 gears on the Sutra (heavier equipment).

 

And lasts long

You can use your Kona for several trips as it stays on excellent condition after several hours riding. The Venture tires and the whole transmission were surprisingly persevered after over 3000km. It’s resistant and sustainable. 

 

So that you can enjoy your journey

The 2020th model has a pure style, with a sober and discreet color, a simple frame and a light but also athletic silhouette. I believe it is also important that the design corresponds to what you’re expecting to ride, as you’re spending hours on and next to it. 

Its minimalistic design matches quite well the bike-touring spirit where you only take what’s needed and you bring no superficial belongings. There’s a certain sleekness in the overall design, so I was never bored of looking at it and maintaining it. 

After a month testing the Kona Sutra LTD 2020, difficult to leave my new friend ! There’s a little headline on the headset cap that says ‘long sweet ride’, after looking at it for more than 138 hours, I feel like I understand what they meant when designing it.

The only advice I’d be worthy of giving you is to go and try it ! But make sure not to succumb to its charm ! ☺

A few infos about me. I am 1m93 (6ft4) and 80 kilos (175 lbs), took the 58 size that was perfect for me !

Tom Clouaire – @tomrmbd

 

 

Test Kona Rove ST 2020

The best comfort for the best efficiency

To complete my journey from Stockholm to North Cape within a month, I needed a reliable and comfortable bike able to overcome all types of surfaces with easy maintenance. I benefited from FixMyBike advices and got a KONA ROVE ST 2020 which I really loved. Here is my report of the bike. 

The route

The roads from Stockholm to North Cape are quite varied. Therefore, I had the opportunity to test the bike on asphalt, gravel roads, MTB trails and even sand. I also used it on flat and steep sections. Though I got lucky with the weather, I still rode muddy trails under the rain. Hence, the conditions in which I used the bike during a month make the test I propose quite exhaustive. Thankfully, I did not have to ride under the snow !

Travel set up

The bike provides many attachments for panniers racks, water bottle cages, etc so that you have multiple options for your setups. To complete this journey through Scandinavia, I chose to use a rear pannier rack with 2 rear panniers. I completed it with a frame bag and a handlebar bag. Finally, I used 2 water bottle cages on the down tube. Also, I used mudguards. As you can see, I was pretty loaded but the bike easily made me forget the extra weight. In case of need, I still had some space to fix stuffs on the fork and under the down tube. 

 

The bike

Frame

Remaining loyal to Kona’s reputation, this bike is reliable. The steel frame, unlike carbon and aluminium, is very strong and easily fixable in case you break it (which I doubt you can). The performances of the bike are also remarkable. I’m  used to ride carbon bikes, and I struggled to find differences (despite the weight), which means a lot ! On top of that, I find the design pretty cool. The round tubes make the bike vintage while the painting makes it sober and the little details (aztek graphics on the inside of the fork) young and fashioned. Finally, the bright and varnished paint helps protecting the bike from scratches and rust.

Transmission

The reliable SRAM Rival transmission is a real pro and makes this bike even more durable. No matter the conditions (sand, mud, etc), you can rely on the transmission. In a month of use, I never had any problem. The choice of having 1×11 gearing a good idea according to me. Indeed, it provides a linear gearing and reduces mechanicals (no deraileur, no things go wrong). The gear range (40×11-42) is very wide. However, depending on how you use the bike, you may want to have a bigger chainring. The actual gearing is ok for steep climbs.

Brakes

TRP brakes are also a pro of the bike. Even if they are mechanical, the dual piston system provides a precise clamping force on both sides of the disc. Once again, even avid cyclists could not find any differences with hydraulic brakes. Finally, the easy maintenance of mechanical brakes makes these TRP brakes a good choice for bike touring.

Wheels and tyres

The asymmetric wheels permit to compensate the misalignment due to disc brakes. The axes can’t be removed without an allen key which is good if you let your bike in the streets. However, think about having a multitool in your pocket when you go riding. You may need it in case of puncture ! The WTB Venture 47 tyres provide the needed grip and comfort for gravel roads and MTB trails. On asphalt, the tyres are doing great and you don’t feel like wasting energy. Furthermore, they are really resistant : after 3000km, I didn’t get any puncture and the tyres are still good to use. The wheels and tyres are tubeless-compatible (which I didn’t test).

Handling

As an avid MTB and road cyclist, I have to say that I am particularly impressed by this bike that combines both MTB and road qualities. On one hand the bike is really comfortable and manageable on trails. On the other, the reactivity and efficiency of the bike are valuable and make the bike enjoyable to use. On top of that, after a lot of hours on the saddle (around 7 per day), I can assure you that this bike is the most comfortable I ever tried. Even if the bike is loaded, you’ll forget the extra weight so that you feel like on a “normal” bike.

Conclusion

As you may understood, I really liked the KONA ROVE ST 2020 ! To me, this is the perfect polyvalent bike to have. You can use it as gravel bike, MTB bike as long as the trails remain basic, road bike, commuter bike and travel bike. This bike is really reliable where everything can easily be adjusted and fixed.

Loïc – @loloock