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  1. #1
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    2014 Kona Process 153 in Moab - review

    demoed/rented the 153 to ride in Moab this past weekend - bike was fresh out o the box and spanky new when I picked er up saturday morning to ride Porcupine and as much above porky that was rideable (snow in the lasalles had many of the upper loops snowed/mudded out already).

    after chatting w shuttle driver - we chose to self shuttle up to the road at Sand flats (think Slickrock access) and pay $2/rider and ride up for a warm up.

    The bike was the non - DL, and unlike web pix where it looks red - its a blazey orange. Simple specs at x7 primarily and Deore brakes. Wheels ok - a bit heavy. Maxxis high rollers frt/rr. A lovely all black Pike up front in 160 mode!

    Shop set sus based on body weight so did a quick sag in the lot at start of ride. From shop setup - it was basically about 20% frt/rr so let out a bit o air.

    The medium 153 fit perfect (altho looking at numbers i thought it would be big). I've been riding a 2013 Kona Satori 29er in small since last thanksgiving. Looking down - and w the slack head and beefy high roller - I had a hard time not seeing a "big wheel" out front - yes big, not 29er big but big. i played around with the Monarch - platform on and off during the ride. not a "lot" of difference in feel - on the road - but - even in open mode and mashing the pedals while sitting didnt create a lot of rear sus movement. Bike simply felt right, good and comfy from the get go - granted - im on a dirt/gravel road.

    Rode approx 7 miles w 1300 elevation gain up the road to the rim trailhead (i believe there are many - but this is more double track and jeep access once you leave road). right before we jumped to the trail - I checked the sag and let out some air - hitting square btw the 25%-30% markings on the stanchions. bounced around and over some rocks and set rebound.

    Now the real test begins. the next couple miles are rocky doubletrack climb. Nothing super steep - but sustained with short, steep sections with tech rock step ups and maneuvers that will get a guys lungs and legs to their limit quickly. Square edge hits - one of the smoothest bkes i've ridden taking on everything from 6" to over a foot - wow. What Impressed me most was how well the rear wheel stuck (granted big new grippy rubber) - on everything - and I climbed every tech obstacle I could find or attempt. The bike climbed the tech like a proverbial mt goat. Sus was "active" but never wallowed or bobbed in a bad way - when I needed it - it was right there, finesse moves, standing, seated or all 3 to get up and over the obstacles. At this point - i Havent even pointed down the fabled trail. Yep - i was all smiles - a bit winded - but all smiles.

    note - everywhere I was stopped - for a pic, food, water etc... the bike drew everyones attn - - heck - in blaze orange with black - it was hard not to notice it.

    Now - lets get that DH I just earned with more than 2000 vert climbing.

    right off - the bike was just SOLID. felt more solid than my Satori. The PIKE is the real deal - i will have a very hard time riding my fox 34 w/ctd for the rest of fall season in CO. it just did everything well - and nothing bad. don't know I've ever ridden a more solid feeling fork that gave when it had to and never before - yet felt supple on small bumps and just ate up everything big. It saved my bacon more than once - more on that later!

    got a few amazing miles in before my one trail incident - and let me state that whether I was rolling down, pedaling through or even on the rollers back up - i began to pick every unnatural line, hit, rock garden etc. So while guys and gals around me were on the ridden trail - i was always left or right navigating the worse line or harder section. Am I braggin about my skill - hellz no - the bike made me want to try everything - harder, faster, uglier etc... no problems at all. Until I lost focus - waved a rider by ( i didnt say I was THE fastest) - and boom - endo my bike. Good news no hurt!. Pick up bike go to pedal - nothing! look back and the derailler is just dangling - snapped the hangar - could not believe it. btw - KONA - if you read this - please replace the hangar with a REAL piece of metal - it is so thin and brittle - im sure it's not the first nor last that will simply break.

    So after some trailside work - im all of a sudden a single speeder for the day. worse part - I'm NOT a single speed rider by any stretch. Settled on big ring up front and 3d smallest out back - simply to get a decent chain line, leave slack for sus to work and try to finish while not walking. Good news is altho there were more than a few chain jumps or drops - i only had to walk a couple steep ups - and finished on the bike with a chain still in tact.

    so - overall - its a winner. Climbs better and handles techy climbs better than a 6" + travel bike should. Downhill - its the real deal and makes it easy. Nimble - while I didnt have a chance at any tight 90deg switchbacks like I normally ride - it was EASY to ride, change a line, pick a spot etc...Geo is nailed! If I made a mistake - let the bike with the pike save my bacon! Utlimately - altho I had to work harder (in single speed mode) I came away less "worked" than if I were on a long tech ride on my Satori. I could easily own this bike tomorrow - but will wait til I ride a few more bikes on the short list before I make that decision. For a value price - well - relative to all the $5000+ bikes on the market - this bike is a steal especially with the Pike, workman x7 and even tho only Deore - the brakes are what they are - Shimano and worked flawless. Personally - i'd likely get the DL, but knowing this is the starting point - right on Kona. 1 gripe -please replace that brittle little thing called a derailleur hangar with a real piece of metal!2014 Kona Process 153 in Moab - review-process1.jpg2014 Kona Process 153 in Moab - review-process2.jpgClick image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    The Process 153 is very well spec'ed for the money. KS Dropper, Pike, Monarch, Shimano brakes, short stays, slack angles, and probably one of the best dealer networks in the country.

    I wouldn't want to pay MSRP for one (you can get a Norco Carbon for $200-400 more), but on sale they'd be a heck of a bike for the money.
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  3. #3
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    Sorry for the double pics!

    BTW - buddy just sent his Garmin 800 stats from our ride - i guess when you own the new Anthem Advanced X 0 27/5 - you put a cheapo computer on it

    21.86 miles
    2867 elevation gain
    3461 elevation loss
    total moving time 2:56:45
    total elapsed time 4:52:48

    almost 2 hrs of non moving time - I'm guessing based on how tore up my glove is from re-positioning the chain - at least 1:30:00 was spent getting bike set up to ride after der hanger broke and the far too many times i had to re-position the chain - still - had a lot of fun and still smiling at how fun and easy to ride the bike was.

  4. #4
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    that sucks your hanger broke, but on the other hand, better the hanger break than have a strong hanger and the derailleur break instead, right? if you had a spare hanger, it would of been an easy fix, but no one carries a spare derailleur around.

  5. #5
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    That is fair logic - but I've beaten my last 3 bikes up hard on rocks and never tweaked the der hanger whereas I have bent the hanger and either fixed on trail or carry a spare. I was hoping my satori hanger would work as I carry a spare. Also - w reports of these hangers being broken in shipping, leads me to believe a bad run of production... i enjoyed the day regardless!

  6. #6
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    My hanger was broken when it came out of the box , not ridden mine enough to give a detailed review but it is super stiff and confidence inspiring my only issues are the front mech being too close to the tyre it looks like a mud magnet

    I'm not very impressed with the s1000 cranks and gxp bb, maybe coz everything else is so stiff but they feel flexy compared to my old slx ht2 setup, looks like I'll be needing a new bb and pressfit installation/ removal tools

  7. #7
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    Nice Review Kamper

    Thanks for the write up. The 153 DL is at the top of short list (on paper specs at least) of possible next bikes for me. I've seen a few notations from people about the rear der being broken during shipping, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but still an issue on a 5k bike.Having a press fit BB is sort of a bummer on this bike, would rather see a threaded bb. I would love to hear from others who own the bike what their thoughts on it are. Demo days for the other bikes on my list dont start until November.
    2012 GT Karakoram
    2013 Scott Genius 940

  8. #8
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    Rode one this morning (153 DL), wish my set up was as spot on as yours. To start the OEM dropper was broken, so I had to rely on a too-short seat post, placing my 'efficient' pedaling position 2" too low. At 5'11.5" I'm thinking I should probably be on an XL. Aside from that the bike is only a few weeks old and appears to have already been ridden hard and put away wet

    Took it down some of the faster / harder hitting rock gardens around here and still only used up 70% travel with weight-based pre-tune. Not sure why that stuff always ends up too firm for me. Even after taking 10 lbs out of the front and rear I couldn't get the sag right. Regardless the suspension felt better than my 100mm push'd Anthem X1.

    In any case, really dug the bike. I'm going to hold on making a final judgement for when I can ride the bike fresh. Even not being fresh I PR'd a few DH segments (certainly not any ups). Frankly after the ride I think I'm more interested in the 134, as eating the full 154 would require park or hucking, neither of which particularly appeal to me.

    As far as comparison to other 27.5's; I've also ridden the RM Altitude, SC Bronson, Giant Trance X1 and this is probably my favorite / 2nd favorite. Frankly if the suspension was set up properly and I had more fresh legs I probably would have had a better time.

    Posted a few vids from the runs, had some fun



    Check this one to see the rock garden, that's a chest mount bouncing violently Fun stuff starts @ 2:30 and rock garden is around 2:45+.

  9. #9
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    stuck review of my 153 over in the kona forum, in short its awesome

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamper11 View Post
    demoed/rented the 153 to ride in Moab this past weekend
    which shop did you rent from? I've planned a trip to Moab from New Zealand and would love to try one a 153 out while I'm there...we can't demo them where I live.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the review. Glad you could finish the ride.

    Dropped into a LBS to check our a Process and they gave me the "crazy talk" look while they informed me they couldn't get a bike and weren't sure when they would get one.

    Story of my life the last few months.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

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