Karate Monkey vs. Kona Unit?
To make a long story short I've been having back issues on my KHS Solo one SE SS but recently, after borrowing one for a couple weeks, found the Karate Monkey doesn't bother me nearly as much and adding a Thudbuster totally eliminated the remaining issues. I'm ready to pull the trigger on a new KM frame to swap my components onto then a friend (Elvota on mtbr) tells me about a good deal on a Kona Unit. I'm a little gun shy since my back problem seemed to be caused by some combination of the frame geometry and stiffness of the KHS (Believe me I tried every set up/fit change I could to arrive at this conclusion.) but I have no idea how the Unit compares to it or the Monkey feel wise. I like the Monkey a lot but I'm not a KM kool aid drinker either so I'm considering the Unit now and would appreciate any educated opinions or comparisons.
I love my Unit to bits, but had to fit a bar with a bit of rise before I hit the sweet spot for me and my back issues. With the flat bar I just couldn't quite stretch out when standing and mashing, an inch of rise fixed that.
Despite that, I would say go with the Karate Monkey. Hitting the sweet spot is important and you already know that a KM can do that for you. As much as I love my Unit there is no guarantee that the geometry works for you, so you might end up with another frame that doesn't quite suit you and having to spend a lot of time, effort and cash trying to dial it in and might end up abandoning it like your current KHS frame. Aiming for something you KNOW works might be cheaper than taking a chance with an unknown item, despite initial costs.
If it's about your back, no amount of bling or fancy names, or anything else is going to make the bike better to ride than one you KNOW doesn't bother your back. From one guy with back problems to another - if you found one that doesn't bother your back, get it.
Thanks for your opinions. Like you say I am just really happy to have found a configuration that works. I really enjoy riding SS and rigid so I've not been willing to give up on solving this problem.
I did some research on the frames and think one of the reasons the KM works for me is the shorter head tube and lower front. The KHS, with a taller head tube, is too upright and it became more so when I put a suspension fork on it trying to solve the back issues. My back problems actually got much worse then which is what clued me into that variable. The KM I've been borrowing has the same stem and bars but they are significantly lower, due to the geometry, and I can feel it make my back flatten out better. Even with rigid forks it is much less irritating than the KHS. It looks like the Unit is more similar to the KHS in that regard so I'm definitely leaning KM now. It would be nice to give the Unit a try though.
Love my Unit but as has been said, if the KM works for you then go with it.