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  1. #1
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    Geometry discussion

    Wondering what y'all think of THIS.

    The video is nearly the same as the text if you don't like reading.

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    I guess I don't understand what the word "balanced" means.

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    Before we hear about everyone's expert opinion I would say it would be interesting to ride and see how it feels.


    It seems bikes these days are focused more and more on the downhill. (In full curmudgeon mode now...)

    I've always been more into steeper geometry and and feel it is just as important to be able to manuver through rock gardens going slow and uphill, as it is to be able to blast over stuff going down.

    But I probably need to ride a few more bikes to get an accurate opinion of what is best for me at this point in my life.

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    Hey;

    I agree completely with the geometry portion (that was all I read, with my short attention span). I think that Walt might be able to point to this as more proof of his bedrock Front-Center-is-King argument. I was a bit puzzled by the concept at first, but I have learned that I agree with him. This is coming from someone who never had a bike really fit until I made my own.

    My Niner RIP9 was a godsend to me when I first threw a leg over it. It was my first 29er, but was the first bike actually built to be EXTRA large for extra large people. I used its numbers as a partial basis for my Fatties, actually extending both the WB and FC even more. I currently use a 110mm stem on the Niner, and the position is very upright. By comparison, on my Fatties, I am using a 100mm stem, which on them gives me a fairly aggressive stretched position. Now, my Niner almost feels like the bars are in my lap by comparison. Almost. My Fatties are the first bikes that I can really stand tall and crank on without feeling like my nose is in front of the axle!

    Buying off the shelf bikes that really fit has always been a compromise, and stem length has been a classic way of getting around that for folks not having a custom bike built to REALLY fit. I would think that we might all agree (or at least consider) that using a stem to dial in rider fit is variously less than ideal, in the abstract, especially if it got much longer than 100mm to seal the deal. Still, within reason, it is just as viable as any other tuning tool. Where I think Kona may have erred is in offering a stem so short that they limit the range of adjustability there, only allowing longer but not shorter.

    Still, in the end, I think they are on to something, if not something new. Don't look at the stem length... or even the dreaded effective TT length. They are a red herring. Go out and ride, and see where your nose is in relation to the front axle. That is a better means of judging fit in my estimation, and having room there will certainly improve downhilling, somewhat regardless of HT angles and such. Get a reasonable length stem that works, after that fact.

    YMMV.
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    Where I think Kona may have erred is in offering a stem so short that they limit the range of adjustability there, only allowing longer but not shorter.
    Good point.

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    Personally, I much more enjoy wresting a slack-long front center bike up hill, than nursing a steep-short front center bike down the hill.

  7. #7
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    Interesting.

    My first MTB build of recent times was where I constructed a frame that copied a Kona Kilauea of early '90's vintage, but I added 40mm to the top bar as it was way too short for the rider in question. This lengthened the F/C by quite a bit. It acheived all that this article is suggesting, but the most important thing was that the rider was able to ride the bike properly.

    The second area of comment, is the short stem. If you are a user of the Mary-Bar style, and I am one of those, of sorts, you have the option of placing your hands out wide and near the pivot centre for quick steer/leverage, and hands closer to the stem giving a longer stem effect, and better straight line stretch.

    I don't think that these concepts are as radical as claimed, and I would venture to suggest that from many of the recent builds that I have seen recently on this forum in the drawings rendered are tracking this way without knowing what the Manufacturers are doing. More to the point guy's, we're doing it right.

    Eric
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    I suspect the recent trend to what would have seemed like ridiculously slack front ends a few years ago is being aided by:

    - AM frames with short rear ends and long front centers, which takes weight off the front wheel reducing wheel flop
    - Wider and wider bars

    There's also larger fork offsets, though that seems to be offset by larger wheels.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    I would think that we might all agree (or at least consider) that using a stem to dial in rider fit is variously less than ideal, in the abstract, especially if it got much longer than 100mm to seal the deal.
    I don't know - my arms are 2" longer than average, so I'm not sure if I really want to push the front center out 2" just so I can run the same length stem as everyone else who isn't built like an orangutan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    I suspect the recent trend to what would have seemed like ridiculously slack front ends a few years ago is being aided by:

    - AM frames with short rear ends and long front centers, which takes weight off the front wheel reducing wheel flop
    Good point. I hadn't thought about how wheel flop is related to weight on the front. But on the rear, I doubt that chainstay length has decreased very much (as Kona claims in the video). Short chainstays have been a design goal forever, and there really isn't much room to go from where they have been.

  11. #11
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    Sounds like how I like my bikes to ride.

    Who was it that said something like "build what you want, and then come up with some bullshit to sell it"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by adarn View Post
    Sounds like how I like my bikes to ride.

    Who was it that said something like "build what you want, and then come up with some bullshit to sell it"?
    Dave Weagle?


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    I think Kona is on point here. I also think they are doing a really good job of promoting themselves. I would love to see more videos like this.

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    I'm sure most bigger bike companies think a lot about geometry and Kona seems to be trying to share that they are expanding on old ideas and talking about it to potential customers (marketing). Only helps to educate people on the complexity of the situation. I like that they brought up front center, something hardly any normal rider has heard of. But it seems like they are using effective top tube length and front center almost interchangeably. The guy kinda throws out a lot of stuff and jumbles it up a couple of times IMO, kinda confusing. I'm not an expert but here's some things I noticed.

    I like how they compensate for the increased wheelbase by shortening the chainstays a bit (because they lengthened the top tube and also the front center). They didn't shorten the chainstays that much though, only some millimeters, like smilinsteve said. But what this does for 'balancing' the rider over the wheels is up for debate. The front-centers on these bikes are very big. This gets at a previous post I started about longer travel 29ers with slackass head tubes and shortass chainstays. The front center values on the Konas are WAY higher than normal and what Walt, PVD and others have stated are best for them. From Kona's website they range from 696 for the smallest frame size to 772 for the biggest frame size (the new Process 111 29er). Chainstay length for this model is 430. Not super short, maybe it is for rear suspension, don't know.

    What gets me is saying there's a 'right' weight distribution on a stock frame size and saying in the same sentence that a one-size-fits-all 60mm stem is the way to achieve that. Also that a shorter stem is less flexy than a longer 70mm stem. I mean seriously...60-70mm has a noticeably different flex...?

    I completely understand what they're going for -- a bike that's stable at speed yet still somewhat maneuverable in tight singletrack and switchbacks and still climbs well. Whether this geometry pulls that off i don't know, haven't ridden it, but I'm sure they're really fun on that downhill "all-mountain" terrain with just slamming through rough trails with high speed stability. I can pretty much guarantee that they'd suck to climb on though, or do anything else than push uphill and bomb downhill. And since when did "All Mountain" mean shuttling or hiking uphill? But hey, i like to ride uphill too so I'm the wrong guy to ask.

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    Kona is using very short rear ends on these bikes, as in under 17".

    Process 134 and 153 = 425
    Process 111 = 430

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    I guess i consider short chainstays to be 420 or less now. But that's for 29er hardtails.

    In 2008 Trek's 26er dualies had CS length under 17" (426, 424). The 69er hardtail had a 421mm.
    So what's new exactly that Kona is doing? To me it's mostly short stems and longer front centers which really all it does is put the rider's weight more over the rear wheel so it seems easier to go faster and rail stuff. But that front axle is way out there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    To me it's mostly short stems and longer front centers which really all it does is put the rider's weight more over the rear wheel so it seems easier to go faster and rail stuff. But that front axle is way out there...
    That is the key point right there. For a certain type of rider, in a certain type of terrain, this is key. For others, meh. Going faster and railing stuff is why some people ride.

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    Whit,

    Yea, when I said I think they are on point I'm saying that they are talking about mtn bike geometry in the right context IMHO. But I agree the devil is in the details. I will say I personally like bikes with a higher front center when the HT is slack. I ride a bit more forward on a bike though, so I like that feeling of the front wheel out in front of me. Gives me more confidence going down and cornering. I think when someone values climbing performance that FC number has gotta come down naturally. That being said I think Kona is selling these bikes to riders that care more about going down and might enter an "enduro" or something. Which is basically a downhill race from the late 90's with stages. :-)

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    Agreed, but what's the tradoff is my point? Are you saying that you can't go as fast without a bike like this? No, i don't think you are, so is the trade-off of how it climbs and wheel-flops at slow speed, steers and tracks at slow speed downhill corners, and rides the rest of the 'mountain' worth it? I'm not sure. So I'll have to build a similar geometry up and try it for myself.

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    A lot of enduros are run on current DH tracks (see Winter Park). Bikes like this would be overkill on DH runs from the 90's.

    I've ridden bikes like this all over, and yes they take much different technique to turn at lower speeds, but most people riding these bikes don't care about that stuff. And usually aren't afraid to slide the rear end around when need, or get off and push up a steep pitch.

    There are plenty of middle of the road bikes that will be better all arounders, but Kona isn't going for that.

  21. #21
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    agreed and well put.
    Will be fun to give it a go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    Kona is using very short rear ends on these bikes, as in under 17".

    Process 134 and 153 = 425
    Process 111 = 430
    No different than SC Blur TR. 16.9 inches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    so is the trade-off of how it climbs and wheel-flops at slow speed, steers and tracks at slow speed downhill corners, and rides the rest of the 'mountain' worth it?
    The other issue I suspect is that the front end would be very light on climbs, limiting how steep you could go before front wheel lift, especially if rocky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    I guess i consider short chainstays to be 420 or less now. But that's for 29er hardtails.
    Who makes that? Do they have to curve the seat tube?

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    eMcK, yea agree. They would be overkill. I guess in the end it comes down to where do you want to compromise and where do you want to optimize. All depends on the rider / terrain. You just can't have too many bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    I completely understand what they're going for -- a bike that's stable at speed yet still somewhat maneuverable in tight singletrack and switchbacks and still climbs well. Whether this geometry pulls that off i don't know, haven't ridden it, but I'm sure they're really fun on that downhill "all-mountain" terrain with just slamming through rough trails with high speed stability. I can pretty much guarantee that they'd suck to climb on though, or do anything else than push uphill and bomb downhill. And since when did "All Mountain" mean shuttling or hiking uphill? But hey, i like to ride uphill too so I'm the wrong guy to ask.
    I'd say you're way off base and completely wrong.

    I know for a fact that the writer does and has climbed plenty on the test bikes on singletrack in and around Whistler. He said it climbs very well. In fact he dropped his own coin on buying the 134 test bike off Kona once it was time to send it back. This is a guy that constantly has a stable of test bikes, he rides a TON, he's ridden everything and is floored by how great the bike rides both up and down.

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    Check out the average seat to bar drop on these bikes. With a dropper post, you can run XC height handlebars, which helps to keep the wheel where you want going up. Going down, with the seat dropped, those lower bars help to keep the front wheel digging in.

    Bikes like the Konas, and a lot of other 150-ish bikes work a lot better, going up and down, than they have any right to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shirk View Post
    I'd say you're way off base and completely wrong.

    I know for a fact that the writer does and has climbed plenty on the test bikes on singletrack in and around Whistler. He said it climbs very well. In fact he dropped his own coin on buying the 134 test bike off Kona once it was time to send it back. This is a guy that constantly has a stable of test bikes, he rides a TON, he's ridden everything and is floored by how great the bike rides both up and down.
    I have no doubt that the writer is happy with the climbing ability of these Kona's. Just like I'm happy with the decending ability of my Intense with 72 degree head angle.
    Its just a matter of what you want to optimize, and what only needs to be "good enough".

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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    I have no doubt that the writer is happy with the climbing ability of these Kona's. Just like I'm happy with the decending ability of my Intense with 72 degree head angle.
    Its just a matter of what you want to optimize, and what only needs to be "good enough".
    Sure, but the new Kona's and your Intense are in way different classes so why compare?

    How many of you guys are riding progressive "all mountain" trails in the PNW / BC? These new Kona's are designed like the original Stinky's from back in the birth of "freeride", they are designed around specific trails in their back yard. The bikes won't be at their best in spots like Sun Valley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Walt

    I totally agree, neat fun. I run a low H/Bar height and I use a 75 degree seat stem.
    The short C/S does make for quick reactions on loose surface gravel as the rear will let go a bit abruptly. I wear a fully laden camel type back pack and have flipped over and landed on it a couple of times when the front came up too quick on a steep little nip climb. No injuries, big fright.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Who makes that? Do they have to curve the seat tube?
    (MTBR isn't notifying me of replys again, bastards!)

    The Kona Honzo (hardtail) has 16.3" (414) chainstays but not sure if there are others around too. But I was referring more to custom builders like Walt, Vertigo, Wolfhound, Black Cat, etc that push the limits of short 29ers it seems to me.

    And yes, all have curved seat tubes to get that low.

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    I'll be building a bike up with similar geometry so I can find out.
    But making stock bikes that only ride well in one places seems stupid to me as a business plan. For custom? Sure, that's great.

    I have a hard time believing just from basic physics that these bikes climb as well as even a slack-HTA, long trail bike with a front center of say...685. Having the front axle in another few inches just puts the front wheel under you more so you get more traction on the up and don't pop a wheelie on steep climbs. I've felt that with a bike I owned and had 17" chainstays and 69 deg HTA and much shorter top tube and front center than the Konas. So no, I'm not completely wrong, I just don't buy it. What I'll agree to is that they may climb 'very well' compared to a *downhill* bike, but seriously, that's not what i was talking about (comparing bad to worse).

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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    I suspect the recent trend to what would have seemed like ridiculously slack front ends a few years ago is being aided by:

    - AM frames with short rear ends and long front centers, which takes weight off the front wheel reducing wheel flop
    - Wider and wider bars

    There's also larger fork offsets, though that seems to be offset by larger wheels.
    I feel more wheel flop/wandering when too much weight is removed from the front wheel (or my hands are too far behind the front axle).
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    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    Check out the average seat to bar drop on these bikes. With a dropper post, you can run XC height handlebars, which helps to keep the wheel where you want going up. Going down, with the seat dropped, those lower bars help to keep the front wheel digging in.

    Bikes like the Konas, and a lot of other 150-ish bikes work a lot better, going up and down, than they have any right to.
    Bar height should be considered in relation to the BB, not the saddle height. The former remains the same regardless of saddle ht, or if you are sitting or standing.
    A dropper post--or simply using the seat QR--just gets the saddle out of the way for maneuvering.
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    I can not buy into the concept that a longer top tube, slacker HTA, and shorter stem lets you get more weight onto the front wheel. Shorten the chainstays and the weight shifts back even more.

    I design and setup my own bikes to a specific front center and distance from the front axle to stem clamp (since I use the same bar)/hands.
    This means a slacker HTA requires a shorter HTA and long stem than a steeper HTA to maintain the position.
    Increasing the front center, shortening the stem, and/or reducing the HTA increases flop/wander--up and downhill, and the front end floats, rather than bites, in the turns and plows straight on. Increasing bar width does not change this, it just means I have to make bigger movements to correct for it.

    And I have no desire for chainstays shorter than 17". 17.5" is better.

    Basically, the current geometry fashions mean I can not ride a production bike.
    Riding a long front center, short stem, slack angle bike is like pushing a wheelbarrow in a sand box.
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    To add to this debate, though I set my bikes up more along the lines of a Tri-Bike/TT machine, I do ride on single track as opposed to gravel grinding, and I can say that with a 71.5 degree head angle, and a lot of forward weight over the front wheel, there is no shortage of bite to the ground with the front wheel. Nor is there a problem with climbing steep slopes except for my lack of fitness. I have full control of the front end and can only manage little hops in relation to pedal strokes in very small granny gears.

    When I go I back to a 72 degree seat tube and higher h/bars, I note that the front wheel is vague at 68 degrees on the climb and keeping it on the ground is a distraction I would rather not experience, while running out of oomph.

    Yet I have been with riders who can demonstrate considerable skill on the bike above described. I guess it becomes a matter of what works for each individual. This may not be a formulistic answer to anyone (Kona) rather maybe an option for those who buy into their reasoning.

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  38. #38
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    Wow. The guy in that video just repeated a bunch of marketing terms he was told. I hope this sells some bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I can not buy into the concept that a longer top tube, slacker HTA, and shorter stem lets you get more weight onto the front wheel. Shorten the chainstays and the weight shifts back even more.

    I design and setup my own bikes to a specific front center and distance from the front axle to stem clamp (since I use the same bar)/hands.
    This means a slacker HTA requires a shorter HTA and long stem than a steeper HTA to maintain the position.
    Increasing the front center, shortening the stem, and/or reducing the HTA increases flop/wander--up and downhill, and the front end floats, rather than bites, in the turns and plows straight on. Increasing bar width does not change this, it just means I have to make bigger movements to correct for it.

    And I have no desire for chainstays shorter than 17". 17.5" is better.

    Basically, the current geometry fashions mean I can not ride a production bike.
    Riding a long front center, short stem, slack angle bike is like pushing a wheelbarrow in a sand box.
    Good post!

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I can not buy into the concept that a longer top tube, slacker HTA, and shorter stem lets you get more weight onto the front wheel. Shorten the chainstays and the weight shifts back even more.
    +1 How can this not happen? Without increasing the seat tube angle(in this case seat position, moving it forward) it doesn't seem possible, maybe I'm missing something(like the rider is never intended to be seated or...?). For me the vid played out like a snake oil sales pitch, infomercial, etc., too much marketing and not enough(if any, stem flex..really?) empirical data.

    Brian

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    In the end;

    I think you can adapt to and make work all kinds of setups. Some may be inherently better at one thing or another, but you find ways to make it work where it doesn't by default. I'm not sure there is a perfect all-in-one setup that does everything well. Depends on how wide/narrow your parameters are. Eric is basically talking CX bikes, or "all road." Shiggy on all terrain MTB I guess. I'm focused on Fat. Not the same kettles of fish to be sure.

    Mostly I like to be BEHIND the front axle, not looming far above it like I was on even an XL 26er. I am interested in building a shorter stay Fatty to see what all the buzz is about, but I'm not really sure if the climbing grip will suffer too much. I'm at 17.875/454mm now. I can float the front tire right up off powder snow and yet never lose traction now. I like that. I might shorten up by 20mm and see. Maybe bump a degree up in ST angle to compensate? I'm at 744mm FC right now. Not sure I want to come down from that, but it would be interesting to see the difference in tight cornering. Probably should only do one WB altering mod at a time.

    What I know is that a longer front center allows me greater flexibility to put my weight where it needs to be, and this may be what Kona is driving at. For the kind of slow, plonky, techy stuff I like to do on a regular basis (light semi trials), maneuverability is key. If you are shredding really rough DH stuff, it is the same for a different reason. Maybe it is just hype? I think their bikes may end up fitting a larger section or riders and styles as a result. I'd like to ride them and see.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    In the end;

    I think you can adapt to and make work all kinds of setups. Some may be inherently better at one thing or another, but you find ways to make it work where it doesn't by default. I'm not sure there is a perfect all-in-one setup that does everything well. Depends on how wide/narrow your parameters are. Eric is basically talking CX bikes, or "all road." Shiggy on all terrain MTB I guess. I'm focused on Fat. Not the same kettles of fish to be sure.
    Hitting nail on head. The vid alludes to this bike as "the one", but maybe thats just me.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Bar height should be considered in relation to the BB, not the saddle height. The former remains the same regardless of saddle ht, or if you are sitting or standing.
    A dropper post--or simply using the seat QR--just gets the saddle out of the way for maneuvering.
    Why would you argue with me about this? What you said here is gibberish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I can not buy into the concept that a longer top tube, slacker HTA, and shorter stem lets you get more weight onto the front wheel. Shorten the chainstays and the weight shifts back even more.

    I design and setup my own bikes to a specific front center and distance from the front axle to stem clamp (since I use the same bar)/hands.
    This means a slacker HTA requires a shorter HTA and long stem than a steeper HTA to maintain the position.
    Increasing the front center, shortening the stem, and/or reducing the HTA increases flop/wander--up and downhill, and the front end floats, rather than bites, in the turns and plows straight on. Increasing bar width does not change this, it just means I have to make bigger movements to correct for it.

    And I have no desire for chainstays shorter than 17". 17.5" is better.

    Basically, the current geometry fashions mean I can not ride a production bike.
    Riding a long front center, short stem, slack angle bike is like pushing a wheelbarrow in a sand box.
    Missing the point. This geometry allows you to weigh the front end more going down. No one is claiming that this is ideal climbing geometry. But you can climb on bikes like this, but you might need to learn to control wheel flop.

    The word "climb" appears once in all of that text, and do they talk about it at all in the video?

    Are these bike ideal for every rider? Absolutely not, but I'm stoked Kona isn't just offering another boring middle of the road bike because the accountants are worried something like this won't sell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    This geometry allows you to weigh the front end more going down.
    How? By moving your weight backwards? By putting the handlebar even further behind the axle?

    I could see explanations that it lets you get closer to the bars to muscle them around without putting as much weight on the front end...

  46. #46
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    I think this thread just serves to prove that custom framebuilding is a viable occupation; because everyone has a different idea of the perfect geometry. It depends on so many things: where you ride, how you ride, and simply what you prefer.

    Now, please continue the debate...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    How? By moving your weight backwards? By putting the handlebar even further behind the axle?

    I could see explanations that it lets you get closer to the bars to muscle them around without putting as much weight on the front end...
    Having a long front end and a slack head tube angle gives you the confidence to weight the front end for aggressive downhilling - pumping into turns and to pop over obstacles in technical terrain. Yes, the rider's weight is generally moved back compared to a more traditional geometry. I think the message could have better been conveyed as "weight the front end without going ass over teakettle." If you don't attack downhills this probably isn't the geometry for you.

    Personally, I like trail bikes with pretty slack head tube angles, but there's certainly compromises when it comes to climbing. For me, those compromises aren't that noticeable after I adapted my riding style a bit. I run a 67.5 deg HA on my 29er hardtail with moderate length stays (430mm) and I don't have trouble controlling the front end when climbing...but I've only run it as a SS so I spend a lot of time out of the saddle.

    The comment that made no sense to me was that "the longer top tube allows the rider greater ability to move their weight back." I'm on the vertically challenged end of things with an extra short torso and I would have the opposite problem if I lengthened my top tube 30 mm. I've always felt like the shorter the top tube, the more I have the ability to shift my body weight around since I'm not completely stretched to the max when reaching for the bars.

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    I think TM gets it right here. The idea of designing around weight distribution between front/rear wheels is noncontroversial and Kona is not staking out any new territory there. Their claim that there is a *best* front center length (even for a specific type of bike) is BS, of course, and lengthening the front end of the bike in fact puts *less* weight on the front wheel, all things being equal.

    Don't get me started on the stem stiffness thing. Good lord, that's gotta be the most useless consideration when designing a bike *ever*. Stems are plenty stiff at any length you would use on a bicycle.

    To me, the stem is something that is used for fitting purposes after you'd decided where you want the rider to be sitting/standing and where the wheels go in relation. It's like a seatpost - you get the length you need to put the saddle where you want it, nothing more, nothing less. Short or long stems are just the product of the overall geometry of the frame and the contact points desired by the rider. As Welby so ably points out, someone with really long arms doesn't really need to have their front wheel drastically further in front of them than someone with short arms, assuming the 2 riders are otherwise fit to the bike the same way.

    So for me, the bottom line is that A) these bikes are probably really fun for riding fast/steep stuff, which is what they are for, since they are freeride bikes, B) Kona's marketing guys can write pretty convincing gibberish, and C) If you have really short arms you are SOL because the stem on the stock bikes is already only 40mm.

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    Missing the point. This geometry allows you to weigh the front end more going down. No one is claiming that this is ideal climbing geometry. But you can climb on bikes like this, but you might need to learn to control wheel flop.

    The word "climb" appears once in all of that text, and do they talk about it at all in the video?

    Are these bike ideal for every rider? Absolutely not, but I'm stoked Kona isn't just offering another boring middle of the road bike because the accountants are worried something like this won't sell.
    And you are missing my points. IME this type of geometry makes it impossible for me to get enough weight onto the front wheel in all but the most extreme downhills, and unless I am during shuttle monkey rides that is tiny percentage of any ride I do. Call it trail, all mountain or just a mountain bike, there is always climbing, rolling, and not-so-steep terrain.

    It is not just the climbs, or even flat terrain, where long and slack is detrimental to the handling. I want to enjoy the whole ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    So for me, the bottom line is that A) these bikes are probably really fun for riding fast/steep stuff, which is what they are for, since they are freeride bikes, B) Kona's marketing guys can write pretty convincing gibberish, and C) If you have really short arms you are SOL because the stem on the stock bikes is already only 40mm.

    -Walt
    Freeride bikes? Two of these models use 32mm forks, and the 29er has 110/120mm of travel. Even the biggest bike is "only" 154/160mm and uses a Pike, which isn't a freeride fork either. I know there isn't really a hard and fast defintion for a "freeride bike", but I think of bikes like Kona's Entourage, the Norco Truax, and Liteville 901 as freeride bike. These seem like trail bikes to me, or as Kona is marketing them, enduro bikes.

    I do agree the sizing is a bit weird, but with the same standover for all sizes, those with short arms could go down size without a problem.

    As disclaimer, I know the guy in the video, and he is a product manager, not a marketing dude. Sticking someone in front of camera and making you talk about stuff like this would make the best of us say things that would get picked apart on the internet. Kona has a lot less BS marketing stuff going on behind the scenes than a lot of companies. The dudes behind these bike want to ride fast and get shreddy. If that isn't your deal, there is a huge list of other options out there for you.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    And you are missing my points. IME this type of geometry makes it impossible for me to get enough weight onto the front wheel in all but the most extreme downhills, and unless I am during shuttle monkey rides that is tiny percentage of any ride I do. Call it trail, all mountain or just a mountain bike, there is always climbing, rolling, and not-so-steep terrain.

    It is not just the climbs, or even flat terrain, where long and slack is detrimental to the handling. I want to enjoy the whole ride.
    I'm not trying to say what works for you is wrong. What works for you is right.

    The Process is not the right type of bike for you. Hell, the Process 154 is too much bike for me and my local terrain. But that doesn't mean this isn't viable (and for the right rider, desirable) geometry.

  52. #52
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    Shiggy's point (I think) is that they are trying to make the case that long front centers are *universally* desirable, which is really not true. They are very desirable for some riders/terrain and awful for others.

    -Walt

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    "Freeride" is the old word for "enduro". I think we are basically in agreement just using different terms. As I said, I think the bikes are probably very fun. Super long front centers are definitely not everyone's cup of tea but for the kind of riding they are describing (you ride up, but you don't really care if you push, and you don't care how fast you go up, then you shred the gnar back down) they can be great. For what *I* consider "trail" riding (you ride up and get angry if you don't clean stuff, try technical bits up AND down over again if you fail, get your heartrate up but don't kill yourself when pedaling, and shred *some* gnar on the way down) they would probably not be great because they're giving up a lot on climbing/flat/twisty stuff.

    The article/video *are* pretty bad. You don't move the front wheel away from the rider and claim it's weighted more, or make up weird stuff about stem stiffness unless you're just struggling for something to say. The argument they should have made is this:

    "Hey, long front centers and short stems mean you won't feel like you're going over the bars on steep stuff and will let you relax and ride fast/have fun on what you really care about - the downhill. Sure, you'll give up a few seconds on the climb to some douchebag with a HRM and a smartphone running STRAVA. Heck, you might have to push up some stuff - but if you measure fun in grins, whoops of both the verbal and earthy kind, blind drops to dubious transitions, and having a cold one at the truck afterwards instead of a long wait in the ER - this is the bike for you."

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    Freeride bikes? Two of these models use 32mm forks, and the 29er has 110/120mm of travel. Even the biggest bike is "only" 154/160mm and uses a Pike, which isn't a freeride fork either. I know there isn't really a hard and fast defintion for a "freeride bike", but I think of bikes like Kona's Entourage, the Norco Truax, and Liteville 901 as freeride bike. These seem like trail bikes to me, or as Kona is marketing them, enduro bikes.

    I do agree the sizing is a bit weird, but with the same standover for all sizes, those with short arms could go down size without a problem.

    As disclaimer, I know the guy in the video, and he is a product manager, not a marketing dude. Sticking someone in front of camera and making you talk about stuff like this would make the best of us say things that would get picked apart on the internet. Kona has a lot less BS marketing stuff going on behind the scenes than a lot of companies. The dudes behind these bike want to ride fast and get shreddy. If that isn't your deal, there is a huge list of other options out there for you.

  54. #54
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    Freeride does not equal Enduro.

    The geo on these bikes are not as far out and whack as you xc hard tail loving retrogrouches are making it seem.

    They are not push bikes. Some tech climbing moves will require some extra body english and sliding forward on your saddle, but it won't be the bike forcing you to not make a climb.

  55. #55
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    "Hey, long front centers and short stems mean you won't feel like you're going over the bars on steep stuff and will let you relax and ride fast/have fun on what you really care about - the downhill. Sure, you'll give up a few seconds on the climb to some douchebag with a HRM and a smartphone running STRAVA. Heck, you might have to push up some stuff - but if you measure fun in grins, whoops of both the verbal and earthy kind, blind drops to dubious transitions, and having a cold one at the truck afterwards instead of a long wait in the ER - this is the bike for you."

    -Walt
    Now there's some marketing brilliance. Well stated.

    Most of the riders that I know are very determined to cover all the ground they ride over by pedaling all the way. It seems to be a measure of the 'complete' bike rider to do so. If you have to get off to walk, well...... I will state that I am one who walks - shameful.

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  56. #56
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    What's your opinion on the effect of stem length vs. steering? That is, do you go with the conventional wisdom that a shorter stem will steer faster (presumably less hand movement per degree of angle change)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    To me, the stem is something that is used for fitting purposes after you'd decided where you want the rider to be sitting/standing and where the wheels go in relation. It's like a seatpost - you get the length you need to put the saddle where you want it, nothing more, nothing less. Short or long stems are just the product of the overall geometry of the frame and the contact points desired by the rider. As Welby so ably points out, someone with really long arms doesn't really need to have their front wheel drastically further in front of them than someone with short arms, assuming the 2 riders are otherwise fit to the bike the same way.
    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Shiggy's point (I think) is that they are trying to make the case that long front centers are *universally* desirable, which is really not true. They are very desirable for some riders/terrain and awful for others.

    -Walt
    Exactly!
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  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    What's your opinion on the effect of stem length vs. steering? That is, do you go with the conventional wisdom that a shorter stem will steer faster (presumably less hand movement per degree of angle change)?
    But many times the short stem is combined with wider bars which increases the hand movement per degree again.
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  59. #59
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    I've been around long enough to have experienced the freeride scene come and go, and I really don't see these new school bikes as being very similar at all.

    I've ridden bikes very similar to the Kona (Norco Range 650b, RM Altitude in both standard and Rally Edition, among others), and these bikes climbed fine, and worked for me as everyday trail bikes, on XC trails. They even climbed pretty stinking well. I've also spent time on the freeride bikes I've mentioned (Truax and Liteville 601), and these don't really work a trail bike. I also raced a singlespeed at a seven day stage race this year, just putting that out there so I'm not mistaken for a "shuttle monkey".

    I think we're going to have to just disagree on this. I see the Konas as trail bikes that are only slightly outside mainstream geometry for their intended purpose, not some kind of shrunken DH bike that you can't climb anything but a fireroad.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    What's your opinion on the effect of stem length vs. steering? That is, do you go with the conventional wisdom that a shorter stem will steer faster (presumably less hand movement per degree of angle change)?
    We've done this before;

    The perfect stem size for a general trail riding 29er?

    In response #15 I posted diagram. In the end I think we can agree that something on the outer margin either way is excessive (I think the Kona may be in this case), but there is a decent range in the middle where good steering and cockpit tuning can coexist.

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  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    We've done this before
    Why are you measuring displacement relative the headset cap, and not the position of the grips relative the straight-ahead condition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    Why are you measuring displacement relative the headset cap, and not the position of the grips relative the straight-ahead condition?
    He did both. See the 4.36" vs. 6.3" ?

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    He did both. See the 4.36" vs. 6.3" ?
    Yes, and that's relative the headset cap. Which is essentially saying "longer stems are longer".

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    This is a good point. Can you do another one for us using starting hand/grip position and ending hand/grip position? That's what's interesting here, after all - how much do your hands move to accomplish X degrees of stem rotation?

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    Yes, and that's relative the headset cap. Which is essentially saying "longer stems are longer".

    Oh yeah. Good point. The diagram compares a 50 and 100 mm stem (2" vs 4").

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    Can you do another one for us using starting hand/grip position and ending hand/grip position?
    The length of the arc would still be longer with the longer stem, because the distance from grip to headset (center of rotation) is greater, but it would be a much smaller difference than indicated. I will calculate it.

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    Since most shorter stem riders are running wider bars, might nice to see these measurements with something like 720 bars on the 100mm stem, and and 760 on the 50.

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    I just ran the numbers really quickly, assuming a 700mm bar with 50 and 100mm stems turned 10 degrees.

    Difference in position parallel to the centerline of the bike: < 1mm
    Difference in position perpendicular: 9mm
    Difference in total displacement: 2mm

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    OK, just for fun - 700mm bar with 100mm stem vs 740mm bar with 50mm stem:

    Difference in position parallel to the centerline of the bike: < 1mm
    Difference in position perpendicular: 4mm (longer for wide bar / short stem)
    Difference in total displacement: 1.5mm

    These numbers are all pretty small, less than the variability of hand positioning in normal use.

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    Dang it you beat me! But I have to post results anyway

    I assumed 50 vs 100 mm stem and 650 mm bar, turning a 10 degree arc.

    For the short stem the end of the bar moves 57.36 mm.
    For the long stem the end of the bar moves 59.32 mm.

    just under a 2mm difference. Very small.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by eMcK View Post
    Since most shorter stem riders are running wider bars, might nice to see these measurements with something like 720 bars on the 100mm stem, and and 760 on the 50.
    The bar length makes a bigger difference. In the example above,

    50 mm stem 650 mm bar, 10 degree arc = 57.36 mm movement of end of bar.

    For a 700 mm bar (adds 25mm to each side of the stem) - bar end displacement increases to 61.67 mm (a 4.3 mm increase).

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    Bit if a typo, I meant 720 not 700.

    Who is using 650 bars these days?

    Thanks for doing the maths!

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    The bar width has much more influence, and bar widths have gone up quite a bit. I think at the Golden Age of FroRiding the widest bar you could get OEM was 680mm (due to butting mandrels), now we're seeing 780mm bars. Comparing the two with a 50mm stem, the difference in the distance the bar moves is 8mm.

  73. #73
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    This all seems to back up Walt's method of just using the stem to fine tune fit, since it will have negligible impact on handling.

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    Yeah, great to see the actual numbers - thanks everyone!

    Stems are for fitting. They have basically zilch to do with handling, at least if you're designing a bike from the ground up. If you're changing stems on an existing bike, obviously you'll change the weight distribution between the wheels and hence the bike will ride differently. I think that's where the idea that stem length matters so much comes from - people swapping a 100mm to a 60mm and feeling big changes. In actuality it's the weight distribution, not the stem itself.

    -Walt

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    Stem length has a big influence on bike feel when going downhill on steep terrain.

    Comparing these new Kona's to anything that anyone would ride a 100mm stem and 680mm bars on is useless.

  76. #76
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    I hate to keep this argument going, but: no. As several people have just shown, the movement of the bars is negligibly different with different stem lengths.

    Weight distribution is NOT determined by stem length when doing a design from scratch. If you mean that stem length matters on an *existing bike* (ie swapping to a 100mm stem from the 40mm on the Kona) then yes, of course it has a big influence. But that is NOT what we're talking about here - we are talking about how you design a bike from scratch.

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by shirk View Post
    Freeride does not equal Enduro.

    The geo on these bikes are not as far out and whack as you xc hard tail loving retrogrouches are making it seem.

    They are not push bikes. Some tech climbing moves will require some extra body english and sliding forward on your saddle, but it won't be the bike forcing you to not make a climb.
    I agree...I own a 2013 Process and it climbs really well, even with the 180 talas I have on it. Get to the top and point it downhill, and it feels like a mini DH bike but way more maneuverable. I also am happy about the longer top tube thing, as it actually makes some XL production bikes doable for really tall guys.

    Unfortunately, the new processes have really short seat tubes, so maybe short-lived!

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    If you're changing stems on an existing bike, obviously you'll change the weight distribution between the wheels and hence the bike will ride differently.
    You'll also change joint angles, so for example the peak moment for your bicep is around 100 degrees. By going to a shorter stem you might be improving your ability to muscle the front end around.

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