Kona Howler - Anyone fit a front der.?
In the interests of teaching my son a lesson, a while back he began fixating over a Kona Howler at the LBS. SInce he already had a bike, the lesson we wanted him to learn was the value of money: "...if you want a Howler, you will need to save your money yourself." "That is an awful lot of money to save, we just can't buy bikes and things like that when we get the urge...", "I want you to see how long it takes to make that kind of money...", etc.
Being the industrious boy he is, he immediately started working his butt off around the neighbourhood....he set out collecting bottles, committed what every monetary gifts he received, and with an impressive amount of dedication, 9 months later had saved enough for a used 2006 Howler found online.
I made the deal for him, and up until recently all was great and it was "lesson learned" in our house. He just turned 10 (rides a small Howler, he is a big guy like the rest of the guys in the family), he is respectful of his bike, keeps it in tip top shape, and he rides it very very well! A helluva of a boy, if we don't say so ourselves!
BUT, he's now outgrown his original bike, and when he rides XC with me now he is struggling on climbs he can clean on the lighter bike.
I thought I would look into a 2nd ring on the Howler, but my inter-research suggests it is out of my range of abilities to fit a derailleur on the Howler.
I suggested switching to a 32 tooth ring, and his reply was "But dad, then it will be harder to pedal going downhill".....hehe....his logic made me chuckle.....I want more brakes and he wants more speed.
So I'm in a bit of dilemma here. My 'teaching a lesson' was a hit, but I had not given much thought to the bike selection and now it's affecting my XC riding partner.
SO, I ask the guru's: Has anyone successfully fit a front derailleur on a Howler? Failing that, any suggestions for a dad looking at hooking up his riding partner with better gearing up the hills?
erm...looks like you've come out of this with egg on your face!
While trying to teach your son the value of money, you neglected to teach him the "right tool for the right job" lesson.
A Howler is a slopestyle/DH Lite bike; 4" or travel in a compact frame and certainly NOT a XC bike (unless you live on the great plains like I do, where it's flatter than an IHOP pancake)
On looking at the bike on Konas site, I can't see any reason why you can't fit a front der on a Howler UNLESS:
a - there are no lugs for the cables to run through. Without these (specifically one on the seat tube) you won't be able to run a front der.
b - the outside diameter of the seat tube is an unusual size and one that a derailleur clamp band will not fit
c - the crankset that the bike is fitted with will not allow an additional chainring - in which case you'll have to buy a new crankset too!
Now - with all that said, there are a few ways you could "re-gear" the bike for different purposes.
1 - the "downhill" setup
Keep the 36 tooth chainring up front and switch the 11-32 cassette for a cheap Shimano Tiagra 11-23 road cassette. He'll then have a good, close-range cassette for downhilling
2 - the "XC" setup
Buy a 32 tooth chainring (as you suggested) and either use the stock 11-32 or get an 11-34. With a 32 up front and a 34 at the back, your son will have a less than 1:1 ratio which should get him up most hills
That's the best I can offer I'm afraid - maybe you could start coaching him more towards DH and away from XC until another bike could be found?
I think the main problem with fitting a front der. is the drive side chainstay clearance as it runs staight back from the main pivot instead of dropping down like the rest of the Kona FS bikes. I'm pretty sure that the chainstay would contact the der. cage well before you got through the available travel. I'm sure the tech guys at Kona could give you a definitive answer though. Good luck.
"If you can get both wheels sliding with no brakes, that's when you really know that you're cookin." Nathan Rennie
Ahhh....I wouldn't say egg on the face, rather I'd say we've experienced an unexpected learning opportunity. It sounds better!
Originally Posted by beavola
And the expression "Use right tool for the job..." comes up an awful lot while working on the things we work on. It just so happens that phrase has been used to describe this situation....
He and I have searched quite extensively the challenge with putting a front der. on a Howler. We've found one guy who did it, but his skills far trump ours. That would not be a mod we can do in our shop.
SO, the new lesson is "OK, let's find a fix for this situation we are in".
Our chosen fix was to look for a new bike and figure out how to sell the Howler to pay for it. As we began working through the problem, we were able to find someone looking for a Howler who happened to have a bike we'd look for in trade and we are in business for the cost of shipping the Howler (and likely one small upgrade once it gets here).
We are splitting the cost (arpound $75-$100 total I expect) and will work on the upgrade and maintenance together as always. I'd say we ended up going in a direction we did not plan, but as a result have far more knowledge than if things had not turned out this way. Which is all good!
AND...on a side note.....I've got a 10 year old who couldn't feel better about the role he played in getting this thing solved.
Thanks for the replies guys!