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  1. #1
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    Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!

    So I've recently passed my Transition Covert on to someone else and I'm ready for a new all mountain machine.

    My Budget is about $3500, and I'm looking for 140mm-150mm of rear wheel travel and a beefy fork. These two slot in nicely and are both sold by a shop right down the street. Neither are or likely will be in stock though.

    Kona Process 153

    Santa Cruz Bronson R-AM

    Key build differences I see are.
    -KS dropper post on the kona
    -Kona has the Pike RC, Santa Cruz has the 34 float open bath
    -SLX on the Bronson X7 on the Kona
    -Deore brakes on the Kona, X5 on the Bronson.

    I think the pike might be the better fork of the two. I also like the shorter chainstays and longer top tube of the kona. But...I'd imagine the bronson would be the more efficient bike. So help me out, weigh in!!

    P.S. if there are any other bikes in this category worth considering, mention them!

  2. #2
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    This is the exact choice I am making right now. I have all my parts together, just deciding on frame. At first I was set on the Bronson, but the short stays on the Kona and the price difference is making me lean that way.

    Did you test ride them?

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, my shop is unlikely to stock them, they will probably bring in a process 134 but they rarely have longer travel bikes.

  4. #4
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    With the Process you will become best friends with a lock-out lever, but it will also be a more plush ride on the descents. I think Process is speced awesome for its price, it's a shame it wasn't a more efficient pedaller.

    The Bronson is a fairly stiff riding bike, with many reviewers mentioning that it felt more like a 120mm bike than it did a 160mm bike. That's obviously a good climbing attribute, but some folks like a fairly active rear when the going gets tough. The Bronson was said to "ride higher in its travel than similar bikes of this category" or something,i'm paraphrasing.
    GIS/GPS Pro using ArcFM for Utility Mapping - Always willing to connect with other MTBers in the industry.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    With the Process you will become best friends with a lock-out lever, but it will also be a more plush ride on the descents. I think Process is speced awesome for its price, it's a shame it wasn't a more efficient pedaller.

    The Bronson is a fairly stiff riding bike, with many reviewers mentioning that it felt more like a 120mm bike than it did a 160mm bike. That's obviously a good climbing attribute, but some folks like a fairly active rear when the going gets tough. The Bronson was said to "ride higher in its travel than similar bikes of this category" or something,i'm paraphrasing.
    Did you get to ride the 153? Also do you have a link to the article about the Bronson?

  6. #6
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    Nope, but between the european blog that discusses the attributes of suspension geometries and my experience matching what he's theorized, and a summary of quite a few opinions on Kona's new four bar linkage, I think its safe to say that the rear suspension on the Process will be very active.

    Riding the Santa Cruz Bronson - NSMB.com Mountain Bike Reviews, News, Photo and Video
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  7. #7
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    my shop owner was at the dealer meeting and stated the process is the "real deal" - said it performed brilliant both up and down... he's no slouch with bikes as you might expect and also carries SC... i'll leave it at that...

    RUSTY - hopefully you can ride both - maybe a demo days or other event in your area?

    Honestly and this advice is rampant on this forum - ride em and let that be your deciding factor - as I and likely many others have learned with real world riding experience - versus what I thought based on posts/blogs/reviews - every bike is different and what works for some won't for others. That said and per PH comments about an active sus - i've come to really like an active suspension and can finesse and "feel" my cheaper - less high tech bike over most obstacles that leave others on a hike a bike... nope - not the greatest rider here at all - just really proves that every person is different and different designs work well for different people, their riding style and terrain. I know the SC is a great bike, and expecting the same if not more about the Kona frankly... good luck and good riding!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    The Bronson was said to "ride higher in its travel than similar bikes of this category" or something,i'm paraphrasing.
    That article also mentions that he had the shock air pressure on the high side of the range. However I do agree w/ the reviews that say the Bronson sits higher in the travel than some earlier VPP bikes like the Nomad. The overall feel when climbing or sprinting reminded me of the Mojo HD more than any other bike has.
    Originally posted by bucksaw87
    I still fail to see how mustaches, fixies, and PBR are ironic.

  9. #9
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    Anyone run across the claimed frame weights of both the Bronson and the 153? I was thinking the 134 good be good enough but if it's a small weight difference to the 153, I'd prob go that route.

    Initially I thought I was gonna go Bronson for sure... now I am thinking 153. I'm thinking all the 27.5 trail bikes will shorten up their stays in the second gen, including the Bronson.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamper11 View Post
    my shop owner was at the dealer meeting and stated the process is the "real deal" - said it performed brilliant both up and down... he's no slouch with bikes as you might expect and also carries SC... i'll leave it at that...

    RUSTY - hopefully you can ride both - maybe a demo days or other event in your area?

    Honestly and this advice is rampant on this forum - ride em and let that be your deciding factor - as I and likely many others have learned with real world riding experience - versus what I thought based on posts/blogs/reviews - every bike is different and what works for some won't for others. That said and per PH comments about an active sus - i've come to really like an active suspension and can finesse and "feel" my cheaper - less high tech bike over most obstacles that leave others on a hike a bike... nope - not the greatest rider here at all - just really proves that every person is different and different designs work well for different people, their riding style and terrain. I know the SC is a great bike, and expecting the same if not more about the Kona frankly... good luck and good riding!
    Unfortuneately I doubt I'll get to ride the 153 or the Bronson. My Shop will likely stock their little brothers (134, Solo) so at least I might be able to get a rough idea of what the platforms are like.

    I wouldn't be alltogether opposed to the 134 but I'd really like to have the Pike rather than the revelation up front. I'm coming off a transition covert with a 36 Talas and a 20mm TA so I think I'd miss the stiffness.

    I'm hoping both of these would be at least slightly better climbers than that bike.

  11. #11
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    Looks like santa cruz says the medium aluminum frame is 6.8lbs and the R AM build is 31.04lbs. Competitive cyclist says the same bike is .3lbs heavier.


    Quote Originally Posted by flatlandersk View Post
    Anyone run across the claimed frame weights of both the Bronson and the 153? I was thinking the 134 good be good enough but if it's a small weight difference to the 153, I'd prob go that route.

    Initially I thought I was gonna go Bronson for sure... now I am thinking 153. I'm thinking all the 27.5 trail bikes will shorten up their stays in the second gen, including the Bronson.

  12. #12
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    I've got a 2012 process (26 inch wheels) and it absolutely rips, despite me being waay too tall for it. Climbs extremely well and really feels like a mini DH bike when pointed downhill...also feels more plush than 150mm would suggest...I have not tried the Bronson for comparison, and the new 27.5 process is a bit different, so take with a grain of salt!

  13. #13
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    I vote 153

    Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!-39cd8fd6343d11e39c3022000a1fb14d_7.jpg

  14. #14
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    After a lot of research I have decided 153 instead of the Bronson. It came down to what I wanted to do with the bike. From the reading I've done the Bronson is slightly more towards the trail/all mountain side of things and the Process more towards aggressive all mountain even borderline dh. For my current lineup of bikes, I need something with a little more suspension for bigger drops and bikes praks and the occasional trail ride or pedal to the top on a fireroad type ride.

    If I was going to do more climbing and trail, I'd go Bronson.

  15. #15
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    After my ride in Moab which included a fair bit of pedaling up, techy climbs etc - the bike can do it all - enjoy!

  16. #16
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    Well I kind of went in a different direction. I found a used Norco sight frame and built it up with some nice parts including a 34 float with 160mm of travel.

    I loved the 153 but I ended up saving over $1000 and getting a bike with a 4month old frame and all new parts. X9 1x10 drivetrain, X0 Crank, Reverb, XT brakes, Hope/Flow EX wheelset, fox 34 set to 160mm. I'd say pretty much everything is better than the Kona build (well aside from the fork arguably!). An all new bike was very tempting but in the end I couldn't resist building it up how I like it from the get go and thanks to a fantastic deal on wheels and a take-off fork I was able to make it economical as well.

    Turns out my LBS decided not to stock any Kona or Santa Cruz 650b bikes, only 29ers, lame. Anyway, couldn't be happier with the Norco. Plushest bike I've ever ridden and the travel feels bottomless. Still interested to here more impressions on the 153!

    Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!-image3.jpeg

  17. #17
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    Nice ride. I looked into these framesets but they are like 2900 CDN!

  18. #18
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    I ride a Bronson C RAM and I love it but I will be the first to say that based on the build go with the Kona. Actually to be more specific I rode a Bronson until the Shimano freehub body cracked I have been of the bike for weeks now. Now is peak foliage and the best time to ride, I am stuck on the road in spandex and skinny tires so I am a bit perturbed. Anyways the RAM build is fantastically bad, some of it is personal preference i.e. I will always take Sram over Sh!tmano and Rock Shox over Fox for a fork. I finally got a Pike but only got one real ride on it with a broken chattering fing freehub!

    Even with just one ride the Pike is obviously vastly superior to the Fox. Its amazing how Fox can get away with putting out such complete and utter crap! Also the SLX works well but my X9 is way way better.

    I have always thought of Kona as crappy fall apart bikes, though it looks like they might have put that behind them (fingers crossed). That said I have never ridden one. I would bet the Bronson pedals way better. That would be very important to me. However if you are looking at a 2013 model I would not buy it unless the bike shop was willing to work with me on switching out the fork and a different rear wheel or at least order a new freehub for when you come back in a week with a broken $4k bike.

    I pretty much started out with the same budget as you, but saved a bit more and went with the Carbon Bronson. If saving up a bit more and building up your bike from scratch just the way you want it is an option do so. It wasnít for me so I am on the upgrade route and its costing me more $ and creating way more headaches with sub standard parts than I ever wanted to deal with. Something needs to be done with the out of control profit driven bike industry, short of buying the best of the best you are stuck paying an arm and a leg for absolute junk!

    Ride as many bikes as you can and buy the one that puts the biggest grin on your face.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlandersk View Post
    Nice ride. I looked into these framesets but they are like 2900 CDN!
    WOW! Had no idea they retailed for that much, makes me feel a bit better about my purchase. I paid $1400 shipped for frame, reverb, headset, saddle, and bars. The guy was upgrading to the carbon model after 4months.

  20. #20
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    I guess it came with a reverb at that price, but still it was a lot for an alu frameset.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlandersk View Post
    I guess it came with a reverb at that price, but still it was a lot for an alu frameset.
    Well if you could find a norco (or any 650b trailbike frame for that matter) for significantly cheaper than that please let me know. I looked for months and that is absolutely the going rate for these things. It was $1400 CDN BTW.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusty904 View Post
    Well if you could find a norco (or any 650b trailbike frame for that matter) for significantly cheaper than that please let me know. I looked for months and that is absolutely the going rate for these things. It was $1400 CDN BTW.
    My bad - I meant the new one came with a reverb at 2875 or whatever the 2013 retailed at. I wasn't saying you paid too much, I think you got a good deal. I just meant that the frameset was overpriced brand new.

  23. #23
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    Re: Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!

    Quote Originally Posted by rusty904 View Post
    Well if you could find a norco (or any 650b trailbike frame for that matter) for significantly cheaper than that please let me know. I looked for months and that is absolutely the going rate for these things. It was $1400 CDN BTW.
    I'd say you got a decent deal but the new heckler retails for $1299 brand new.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wankel View Post
    I'd say you got a decent deal but the new heckler retails for $1299 brand new.
    Yeah that's pretty cheap. I think it was worth the extra $60 for a better suspension design and geo even if it's 4months old. Plus Reverb! I rode a friends 26" heckler once and I never felt like it got close to full travel plus I felt the need to lock out the shock on every climb. Wasn't the right bike for me.

    I know it wasn't the greatest deal ever but the guy included shipping from Vancouver to North Carolina so I felt kind of bad haggling with him. The total build came in under $2600 and I'm super happy at what I ended up with. Guess that's what matters!

  25. #25
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    I've got the Bronson and have noticed that with the rear end, it will ride higher if you set it up that way. As with all things, suspension setup is a personal feel. Luckily with a vpp platform bike you can set the air pressure in the shock to be a little less than what is recommended (I believe recommended is 10% below bodyweight) and the antisquat of the vpp will still allow it to pedal rather efficiently but give more squish on the descents.
    The arsonist has oddly shaped feet!

  26. #26
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    I ended up going with the Process 153dl. Got a smoking deal from a buddy that owns a bike shop. Probably won't get on it until the spring, it's a bout to snow here... it's almost fatbike season.

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    You made a good choice...I have the Process 153 DL, and I swapped out the drivetrain for xx1 and the wheels for AC All Mountains, and the bike is amazing. It climbs really well, and descends even better. The geometry of the bike is perfect, and it is built for 27.5....A buddy of mine bought the new intense carbine 275 and you can tell that the frame design was rushed so that intense could get a 27.5 bike out on the market. The Process is not like that, Kona took their time on this bike and built it to last. Overall, you will be really impressed with the bike. Happy Riding!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dkash View Post
    You made a good choice...I have the Process 153 DL, and I swapped out the drivetrain for xx1 and the wheels for AC All Mountains, and the bike is amazing. It climbs really well, and descends even better. The geometry of the bike is perfect, and it is built for 27.5....A buddy of mine bought the new intense carbine 275 and you can tell that the frame design was rushed so that intense could get a 27.5 bike out on the market. The Process is not like that, Kona took their time on this bike and built it to last. Overall, you will be really impressed with the bike. Happy Riding!
    Thanks! I have a wheelset planned to swap out. Hope Pro evo 2s on Pacenti DL31 rims. Still picking out the rubber. May swap the in house kona stem for something more blingy and also may go 1x10 (loving that set up on my honzo). I seriously considered the Bronson, the Tracer and the Carbine. I actually hated the look of the kona, mostly the decals, but it is growing on me. Can't wait to get the bike!

  29. #29
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    got the process 153 and its freakin awesome, pedals very well and climbs sweet too, descending is a blast, excellent angles

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimbers View Post
    got the process 153 and its freakin awesome, pedals very well and climbs sweet too, descending is a blast, excellent angles
    Show us a pic!

  31. #31
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    pic ......ok

    only pic i have of it in the wild......
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!-1381607_10152019046915955_1975229401_n.jpg  


  32. #32
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    shown next to a 26er for comparison
    Kona Process 153 Vs. Santa Cruz Bronson Ram: Weigh In!!-10543382114_03b1b2fc8b_z.jpg

  33. #33
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    Good read here, the OP made a great choice going with a Sight!

    Any word on a carbon Process?

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