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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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