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  1. #1
    el Camino
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    Kona UNIT suggestions?

    Lets say I own a Kona Unit (actually, about to buy), and have about $500 with which to upgrade it. What should I do?

    I'm thinking about a RockShocks Recon Fork. But maybe the money would be better spent on new tires/wheels/stems, etc?

    I'm a pretty casual rider, used to race a Bridgestone MB2 way back in the day, then rode it for fun, have been riding single speed road bikes since that was stolen, about 5 years ago. Returning to mountain bikes

    I like the zen simplicity of the rigid fork, but I'm getting old and little bit of squish would help me be cool for my kids... thanks!

  2. #2
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    I have a unit. I upgraded the fork to a Reba from biker Bob. The rigid fork was working my fillings loose. Pedals are also a nice upgrade. The stock stem was also too short for me. Also a new 20t cog and SRAM pg870 rounded the bike off for me.

  3. #3
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    W.I. spiderless cranks and phil wood BB is
    my biggest upgrade so far, very solid and smooth
    I am still riding on the stock rigid fork for the one
    year now that I had my Kona unit but at some point I
    would like to put on a shock , but I think
    new wheels will be first when the stocks wear out.

    Last edited by Lonecrow; 05-29-2012 at 11:25 PM.

  4. #4
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    If you were going to get a suspension fork anyway, why not go for a Big Unit?

  5. #5
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    Yeah ^^^ if you could do that cuz that bike has a sweeet spec. but its also over a 1000 bucks than what you would spend with just the unit

  6. #6
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    I think wheels before suspension fork. Wide wheels and an Ardent 2.4 up front. Suspension fork when you can afford something nice.
    Rudy Projects look ridiculous

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  7. #7
    el Camino
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    Thanks... some questions:

    Is the Recon Gold fork a crappy one? LBS said they could throw it in to the deal for $1,250 total? Seemed like a good deal to me... Then hang on to the p2 fork incase I ever want to go monster-cross...

    I like steel, I like the orange, and the general feng shui of the normal unit - hence not that into the Big Unit.

    I have some Shimano XTR clipless pedals. Are folks still riding clipless pedals in teh mountains? Or just platforms, straps...

    Size: Size it up or down? I'm 6'2" 185, trying to decide between the 19 and the 20...

    Thanks!!!!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by appleSSeed View Post
    I think wheels before suspension fork. Wide wheels and an Ardent 2.4 up front. Suspension fork when you can afford something nice.
    Ditto.

    As far as size goes, I'm on a 20" and I'm 6'2" with a 34" inseam and normal reach. With a 90mm stem it feels a tiny bit cramped for me, I'll probably be switching to a 100mm.

  9. #9
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    I'm 6'1.5 or 6'2" if I sit up straight, 20" for sure! I ran a 120 stem, though I run a 100 on my 20" Raijin and it feels okay. I might run a 110 soon, just to check.

    Definitely 20" for you.
    Rudy Projects look ridiculous

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  10. #10
    251
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    I suggest riding it for a while, and then consider upgrades. If you really want to spend the cash, then I'd look at a good tubeless wheelset.

    Give the rigid fork a try, you may like it. Personally, I wouldn't necessarily consider a suspension fork an upgrade over a rigid fork.
    Dave

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 251 View Post
    I suggest riding it for a while, and then consider upgrades. If you really want to spend the cash, then I'd look at a good tubeless wheelset.

    Give the rigid fork a try, you may like it. Personally, I wouldn't necessarily consider a suspension fork an upgrade over a rigid fork.
    I'm with 251. When I first bought Unit, I thought about suspension fork, but I got wider tires first (Panaracer Rampage 2.35" wide), and now looking at a new wheelset. Also, at the $1000 price tag, there are so many other upgrades you can do before suspension fork to make it better. Personally, if I was to upgrade my fork, I would go with carbon fork.

    Currently, I have a shopping list full of Race Face Turbine parts (cranks, handle bars, stem, seat post) and Selle Italia saddles before getting a carbon fork.

  12. #12
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    I had an old recon with the old 26er trance, and it was a good fork. Not sophisticated or light but good on all counts. Whether you opt for front sus is a style thing. Basically, if you want to hit things fast or keep up with guys with front sus it is probablya good idea. If you like riding rigid, then no, stick with your rigid and upgrade to a slightly better sus fork if you get tired of it. It certainly won't make you have more fun, just a differnt kind of fun.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by irv_usc View Post
    If you were going to get a suspension fork anyway, why not go for a Big Unit?
    The Big Unit is substantially more expensive. The Unit is available in an LBS for as low as 750. Ive seen them on clearance around 500. The Big Unit costs over 2000 bucks.

    Its also a major consideration that the BU is scandium while the U is steel.

  14. #14
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    I am 6ft with 33' inseam running a 19' and 110mm stem, fits perfect. I did a carbon bar and post, then a carbon fork. Should have saved for a real suspension fork, carbon fork was not worth the money. I should have done the wheels first as now after almost a year I can tell the rear is about to go and have no money for the wheels I want.
    2011 Kona unit with some carbon.

  15. #15
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    Tubeless-ready wheelset.
    "I like skinny jeans. Sometimes I wear them to the mall to get an Orange Julius." -Chim Chim

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by el Camino View Post
    Thanks... some questions:

    Is the Recon Gold fork a crappy one? LBS said they could throw it in to the deal for $1,250 total? Seemed like a good deal to me... Then hang on to the p2 fork incase I ever want to go monster-cross...

    Thanks!!!!
    I think of the Recon as a modularly upgradeable fork. The solo air is a nice spring unit. If it has a TK, that will be the first upgrade. You can go to a Moco ($ 70), or even a Moco DNA RCT3 ($ 150). Down the road, if you need more finesse in the rough stuff, you can get the Black Box rebound unit ($ 70).

  17. #17
    B.Ike
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    Quote Originally Posted by amishscum View Post
    tubeless-ready wheelset.
    ^^+1
    Better tires were a must for my trails, they might be fine for you, depending where/how you ride.

  18. #18
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    Buy a 20", stay rigid, get a a fatter front tire, ignore your children, thank me later.
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  19. #19
    el Camino
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    A lot of suggestions for keeping the rigid fork...

    So heres the deal. My kid rides slow for now, hes four, so i anticipate lots of time waiting for him here and there around town and on the trails. Time that would be well spent doing wheelies and jumping on picnic tables, staircases etc. hence the fork. But maybe the for is irrelevant for that stuff...

    Whats the best bang for my buck in fatter tires? Tubeless?

  20. #20
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    If this is your first 29er the rigid fork will be lighter and help with getting the front up. My son is also four and this bike is perfect for playing around when riding with him and even in stock form its a very fun trail bike.
    2011 Kona unit with some carbon.

  21. #21
    JEA
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    lighter wheels and tubeless tyres, the way to go for me

  22. #22
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    I ran the stock rigid fork for a while, then eventually swapped in a reba from another bike. Wait a while and save up the money for a nice mid to higher level fork if one day you decide that's what you want. Don't settle for a cheap fork at this time if $$ is an issue, save a little more for something better. Right away I converted the stock wheels and tires with the notubes setup, it's cheap and possibly just as worthy an upgrade as the fork. The reba and tubeless make this bike extremely capable and comfortable, so much so I just sold my xc full suspension 29er to make room for a heavier duty AM 29er to handle the really gnarly stuff. Other than the reba and a shorter stem the bike is stock and I'm lovin it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by el Camino View Post
    Whats the best bang for my buck in fatter tires? Tubeless?
    I got Panaracer Rampage from Jenson for under $47 each. 2.35" wide, not the best tires, but cheap and good enough.

  24. #24
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    Just put my cash down on a unit can't wait to get it!

  25. #25
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    I concur with the votes for tubeless. I ran some cheap Mavics converted to tubeless on my Unit. In conjunction with nice high-volume tires (Geax Gato TNTs), it allowed me to run really low pressure. I had a suspension fork on mine, but I spent 90% of the time with it locked out. The tires were enough cush without the fork.

    Either convert the wheels that come with the bike and get some tube/no-tube tires (like the Gato), or spring for a set of Stan's Flows and some Ardents. Flows/Ardents would be more like $650, but that's not that much more than $500, right?

  26. #26
    el Camino
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    OK. ****. Now I'm about to pull the trigger on the UNIT and still not sure about the fork.

    Can someone please enumerate the DISadvantages of going squishy on a Recon Gold fork? I want to have fun out there, not kill myself.

    PS for those that can use these comparisons: I live in Bozeman Montana, I telemark ski, I run barefoot, ride a fixie around town, and i'm inclined to think that rigid is akin to those affinities... but still hesitant because I want to drop staircases, root balls and steep technical pieces - just like i do on tele skis and barefoot. Anyway, one day away for trigger pulling. Looking for the magic bullet answer description to help make this decision.

  27. #27
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    not surabout where you live, but IMO squishy is safer and faster. It's just different, not more fun. If you like the challenge of negotiating loose rocks or hard hits on a ridgid then just take it slowly, and use big tyres. If you like the thrill of speed then quishy IMO

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by finch2 View Post
    not surabout where you live, but IMO squishy is safer and faster. It's just different, not more fun. If you like the challenge of negotiating loose rocks or hard hits on a ridgid then just take it slowly, and use big tyres. If you like the thrill of speed then quishy IMO
    sooooooo slow, especially on a steep downhill full of rocks. But sooooooooooooo much more fun.

    It's like a car. With such advanced computers on board, it doesn't take much from us to drive it fast without crashing, we just have to steer and step on it. But rigid is like a fast car without all the computers, and it requires driving skills to drive it fast without crashing. Sort of like what Jeremy Clarkson (from Top Gear) says about all the new super cars vs. Ferrari F40.

  29. #29
    RPG
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    I just got a Unit and upgraded the fork to a Reba RLC, got Stans wheels with Hope SS hubs, Ardent 2.4 tires front and rear, Niner Carbon bars, and a 20T cog. If I would have only done one of them it would be the wheels.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4nbstd View Post
    sooooooo slow, especially on a steep downhill full of rocks. But sooooooooooooo much more fun.

    It's like a car. With such advanced computers on board, it doesn't take much from us to drive it fast without crashing, we just have to steer and step on it. But rigid is like a fast car without all the computers, and it requires driving skills to drive it fast without crashing. Sort of like what Jeremy Clarkson (from Top Gear) says about all the new super cars vs. Ferrari F40.
    This is also my basic philosophy. I think riding rigid maximizes the amount of time near the edge of your skill level and maximizes rider involvment/engagment, and so is ultimately more satisfying to me. But...sometimes one's trails/obstacles are such that [more] suspension is called for - it's a personal decision. If I could have only bike, it would be a rigid SS, but other's think I'm retarded for that.
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  31. #31
    el Camino
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    OK, thanks all you Zen shinto minimalists. I'm pretty sure that's my philosophy too... so I'm leaning towards rigid.

    Quick question about components:

    I confess to not knowing what tubeless means... assuming it is analogous to car tires that don't have tubes. What does it get me? How much does it cost?

    What would a shorter stem and raised handlbars do to handling? How about drop bars, ala monstercross? I like the way the drops look, but maybe that's just frivolous. Proably harder to handle on steep stuff?

  32. #32
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    Count me among the "Zen shinto minimalists." I bought a Unit 1.5 yrs ago and have yet to change anything but the pedals, despite my original intentions.

    I like the low-maintenance/cost aspect of this, but more interesting (to me anyway) is the fact that I'm just as fast riding the Unit with rigid fork as I was on my old hardtail, maybe faster. It took a month or two of relearning to ride this way: loose and flexible atop the bike. Maybe it is kind of a Zen thing, really.

  33. #33
    Ba ba ba bird bird bird
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    el Camino,

    Yeah, tubeless means running your wheels without tubes. It improves traction, allows you to run lower tire pressures, gives excellent puncture protection, reduces rolling resistance, and can reduce your wheel weight.

    Stans No Tubes ZTR rims are very popular, and many other rims can be converted to tubeless. I don't know if the Unit's wheels can be.

    I would ride the bike rigid, but swap out the front tire for a 2.4 Maxxis Ardent.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattC555 View Post
    Stans No Tubes ZTR rims are very popular, and many other rims can be converted to tubeless. I don't know if the Unit's wheels can be.

    I would ride the bike rigid, but swap out the front tire for a 2.4 Maxxis Ardent.
    As far as I know, Unit wheels have to go ghetto tubeless.

    I like the advantages of tubeless (lighter, can run lower psi), but I really don't like the idea of getting a flat on a trail, which is why I still have tubes in my tires and an extra tube in my pack.

    el Camino, Unit comes with fairly decent parts that don't need any immediate "upgrade". I rode stock wheels for 2 summers. The only thing I changed right away was tires - 2.1" seemed little too bouncy, got 2.35" Panaracer Rampage, and I don't know if it was "placebo" effect, but it felt better with wider tires.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by el Camino View Post

    What would a shorter stem and raised handlbars do to handling? How about drop bars, ala monstercross? I like the way the drops look, but maybe that's just frivolous. Proably harder to handle on steep stuff?

    To be honest, you would have to get those parts and play with them and see how they feel for you.

    I'm 5'6" but bought an 18" Unit because of rap music and aliens and it was on sale. So I went through a lot of different combination of used parts with different lengths/angles found on kijiji/craig's list (spent around $50 on 4 stems, 2 seat posts, 3 handlebars) before I found the combination I liked. It's still uncomfortable when riding for more than an hour, but it handles like dream.

  36. #36
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    stock wheels took to tubeless just fine. saguaro tnt/rear, fr3 up front. gorrilla tape/homebrew.

  37. #37
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    I dinged a new set of Sun Ringle Black Flags running my og Maxxis Ignitor 2.1 tires at 28. And that was on fire roads. Sticking with 32-35. Rims are expensive. When I up it to 2.25, I'll try lower pressures.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzler View Post
    Ditto.

    As far as size goes, I'm on a 20" and I'm 6'2" with a 34" inseam and normal reach. With a 90mm stem it feels a tiny bit cramped for me, I'll probably be switching to a 100mm.
    Grizzler, I'm 6' with 33" inseam and I've just ordered a 2013 19" Unit, but now I'm thinking I should've gone for the 20". I don't like a stem longer than 90mm, but I've never ridden a 29er either. What to do?
    "You go up the hill, you go down the hill."

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    Buy a 20", stay rigid, get a a fatter front tire, ignore your children, thank me later.
    Hey, Ryder1, I'm 6' w/33" inseam. What size do I want? I've ordered a 19", but now I'm thinking 20"...
    "You go up the hill, you go down the hill."

  40. #40
    el Camino
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    I should've followed up on this thread when I got the bike...

    ...so. I bought the 20" Kona Unit. Rode it for a few days, then tossed and turned at night, worried that I wasn't getting the technical performance I wanted, couldn't sleep, took it back to the bike shop, swapped it for the 19" ...rode it for a few days, tossed and turned at night because the seat-post was maxed out and while the performance was snappier in the 19", it just wasn't as comfortable and I felt like the maxed-out seat post just looked wrong. So I took it back to the bike shop, along with a case of local beer, and swapped it back out for the 20" and I haven't looked back. ...oh, and I got a shorter stem. like 50mm.

    It came down to use for me. The 19" was better for jumps and tight steep technical stuff - it almost felt like a dirt jumper. The 20" was better for everything else... and the reality is that I'm 32, I have kids, I ride around town, I mostly ride town-ey trails (I live in Bozeman, MT), so I'm more of an everything-else rider - and when it comes down to it the 20" is just fine on the technical steeps.

    So, m0ngy, I would say it all depends on the type of riding you do, either size could be optimal.

    Sizing aside, it's a sweet bike, I ride it every day and every time I get on it I get a little euphoric squeeze in my brain - like it's some super powerful bio-mechanical extension of my body that I was separated from at birth. Seriously. The only other thin I feel like that about is my pukko.

  41. #41
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    Thanks for the reply, how tall are you again?

    I haven't received mine yet, and I'm seriously contemplating trying to change the order from 19" to 20". I'm a few years older than you, and I just want the most comfortable ride. I also don't want to have to use a long stem, longer than 90mm, all my current stems are 70mm.
    "You go up the hill, you go down the hill."

  42. #42
    el Camino
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    I'm 6'1" with a 34 inch inseam.

  43. #43
    el Camino
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    Sounds to me like you should go for the 20" IMHO. I really didn't like the long seatpost thing unless I was standing up (ie off the seat) on a steep trail.

  44. #44
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    I'm 6' with 32-33" inseam. Man, there's only a half inch here or there between the 19" and 20". I had the guy measure the TT and it's 23" on the 19" and 23.5" on the 20". I have a couple of duallies (VP-Free and FXR 2:1) and both have approx 23" TTs, though I've pushed the seat right back on the post about an inch.

    I've read every post on the internet regarding sizing for the Unit (6' height) and it's like 50/50 19"/20".
    "You go up the hill, you go down the hill."

  45. #45
    el Camino
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    For me there's no question which is a better fit. But true, even in my local bike shop the techs were split. Half of them saying 19 half 20. Categorically, it was the more aggressive downhillers saying 19, the cross-country and road folks saying 20.

    If you already have two dualies, then it sounds like you have the downhill/technical side covered, so go with the bigger one.

    The only reason I even considered the 19 was because this bike is my only bike - aside from a fixie.

  46. #46
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    6' foot, 20", 65mm stem, 750mm bars.

  47. #47
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    I fit the same way between the 18/19, and I initially went with the 18". As that is what I right now, but I switched to the 19". I was fitted while I lived in San Diego and I fall between the 18" and 19" ranges for most manufacturers. I'm waiting for the bike to arrive out here in Hawaii.

  48. #48
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    I'm 5'11", 33" inseam, and pretty happy on the 19". I actually rode mine with a 60mm stem for a long time, but swapped back to a 90mm last year and think I prefer it (although I'll probably try the 60 again sometime this summer)

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by m0ngy View Post

    I've read every post on the internet regarding sizing for the Unit (6' height) and it's like 50/50 19"/20".
    FWIW I'm 6'1" with 34" inseam (according to Levi's...): I had a long hesitation too with the 19". I finally took the 20" and I am perfectly well with it. The Unit has a fantastic geometry but nothing new here.

    Note that there is a major difference between the 19" and 20" models, the cranks length goes from 175 to 180 mm. Long cranks are great when standing up for climbing. But not so great when seated. Interesting thread on this subject: Unit Crank Lengths
    Last edited by Xavonseine; 03-13-2013 at 03:46 AM. Reason: My Unit 2012 is a 20", not 19"
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by m0ngy View Post
    Hey, Ryder1, I'm 6' w/33" inseam. What size do I want? I've ordered a 19", but now I'm thinking 20"...
    Kona lists the 20" as having a 32.6" standover. That would kill it for me if I had your inseam.
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