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  1. #1
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    2013 Surly Karate Monkey or 2014 Kona Unit for a Clyde?

    Hey all and pardon my noobness,

    6'3" 280 part time cyclocrosser 3/4 time city rider/ commuter here. I had fun taking my Kona Jake on local trails but soon realized the limits and want to add something more functional and fun. I also like feel of steel and as a big athletic guy I figured it would serve me well.

    Looked at several other bikes but eventually settled on these two (Though I still LOVE the look of the Charge Cooker SS!).

    Eventually I may add gears and/or front shock so having that option would be nice but I miss the feeling of my city SS.

    The Karate Monkey ( the older, non ops one) is a demo bike and can be shipped to me for $900 even.

    The Kona I can buy localy @ MSRP (1,049)

    So what are you guys thoughts on these?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    you have picked two totally different geometry and handling bikes. i have owned both.

    the kona unit is a bit lighter(even lighter if you get the aluminum version). the very slack headtube angle makes it feel like a chopper. its designed to really slow down the steering and instil false confidence to those not so experienced in mountain biking. its a recent trend slowly dieing out. i broke mine climbing a steep rocky trail. there was a defect in the weld on the rear chainstay. after closer inspection all the welds looked crappy.

    i have had a karate monkey since they came out. love the geometry. short chainstays and steeper headtube angle. very nimble, playful and begs to be ridden with miles of smiles. always felt like i was fighting with the kona to make it turn.
    the only draw back of the surley is that it weighs 6 lbs. my current carbon race bike(hate the way it handles) is 3 lbs. half the weight.
    while i don't really notice the weight, after long all day 10 hour rides i start looking for excuses to why i am soo tired and those extra 3 lbs. crush me.....

    i have my karate monkey set up as a 18 lbs. single speed. love it and ride it 80% of the time. its my go to bike. it would be my only bike but my knees can't handle all day riding a single speed.
    its super versatile with all the rack/fender mounts and geared or single speed. you can even have road and gravel and mountain bike wheel sets for three different bikes.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your insight.

    Based one what you said, seems like the Karate Monkey might be better suited for my needs. Weight is not an issue for me as I am a big dude, (durability and strength are more important to me) and I love its versatility. I could also see myself tooling around the city a bit on it as well.

    I hate not getting to see/ride it in person and the only place I have found it is online. The fact that its a demo bike and having it mailed sight un seen (except for the pics the shop sent me) makes me a bit uneasy

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    the kona unit is a bit lighter(even lighter if you get the aluminum version). the very slack headtube angle makes it feel like a chopper. its designed to really slow down the steering and instil false confidence to those not so experienced in mountain biking. its a recent trend slowly dieing out.
    Quoted for hilarity. Slack head angles dying out? Really? Where?

  5. #5
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    I don't know, but I keep hoping. I like my bikes to have some finesse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Quoted for hilarity. Slack head angles dying out? Really? Where?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    the very slack headtube angle makes it feel like a chopper. its designed to really slow down the steering and instil false confidence to those not so experienced in mountain biking. its a recent trend slowly dieing out.

    This is a really strange claim to make and I'm not sure I even understand it. I think the trend is quite the contrary and will continue to be as geometries incorporate longer top tubes intended to pair with shorter stems. It all goes hand in hand and from my experience, I know I'll not go back to a long stem.

    I actually feel the sweet spot for head angle for the very rocky and quick pitch trails I ride is around 69 degrees. Hardly slack by todays standards.

    Certainly your trails and preference will dictate, I just found this statement odd.
    Pedal through it!

  7. #7
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    You guys have any thoughts on the OP?

  8. #8
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    Both are fine bikes for your needs. Tough choice. I'd probably take the KM just because it's a little cheaper.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DustyRhodes View Post
    Thanks for your insight.
    Don't listen to that guy - he has no insight.
    I like the Kona, but both bikes are solid.

  10. #10
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    FWIW, welds on both of my Units look fine. I absolutely love the way they handle, especially downhill. Shortish chainstay is nice. Real easy to pop the front wheel over obstacles.

  11. #11
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    I like the Unit geometry. My LBS gave me a 10% discount on the 2014 I ordered back in November without me even asking for a discount. I'd think you could do better than MSRP on a 2014 now. Kona provides a lifetime warranty on the Unit frame if you register it online which is a nice perk.

  12. #12
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    Look at those slack angles.

    I'm a kinda big guy, 6'2" @ 225 lbs. and I ride the monkey. Never tried the unit, but the KM is a versatile bike, I've set up rigid as a single speed, 9X2, and as a fat-front with a Salsa Enabler fork. Handles great as a fattie! Will go back to a single speed now that I use a JJ Spaceframe for my main bike and will use the KM for singlespeeding. Steel frame is sturdy and not too stiff, I've had mine for 5 years.

    2013 Surly Karate Monkey or 2014 Kona Unit for a Clyde?-monkey_on_bicycle_vintage_121675737.jpg

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys. So would you say a toss up? Thinking about durability, wheels, components, etc?

    Also, I think the Unit can be had for $900 (test road it). The KM would need to be shipped ($900 total) and assembled ($75-$100)




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  14. #14
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    You may want to demo a 650b bike. It is easy to find am wheel sets that would better suit your frame. 29er markets are trending towards light weight xc racers. Another option would be a nashbar bees knees (don't have experience with and you may want to research the quality of the frames). They are a bit cheaper and may leave enough room for a custom wheel set in your budget. I'm a very fit 225 and ride ztr arches. I would hesitate to ride them at 280.

  15. #15
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    At his size and stated riding intentions, why would you suggest a 650b rig. The OP has stated the two bikes he's interested. Fortunately, both his choices are solid and would seem to fill his needs.

  16. #16
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    He is concerned over the wheels handling his weight. If they don't he will be forKing up more money for a build.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the help guys!



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