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  1. #1
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    Kona Unit vs Cannondale Trail SL 3 29er SS

    Alright, I have cruised the web over the last few days trying to find as much information as I can about these two bike models. Based on everything I read, the geo on these rigs are near identitcal, the big difference being cromoly (Kona) vs 6061 (Cannondale). The Kona is a 2012 model that my LBS bought a lot of extras of, the Cannondale is the 2013.

    I have tried both at 2 different LBS' and based on what little I have rode, there isn't a massive difference between the two, besides aesthetics. What I want to know is, to those who have ridden them, why do you love/hate them?

    option 3 is a build up from an on-one frame, but I don't feel like I have enough experience, and for a first bike, I don't think I could build it for less than $850, which is the price of either bike.

    Thanks in advance guys and gals!

  2. #2
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    I really like my Cannondale. I have the black 2012. I will admit that the brakes on the Cannondale suck though. The bb7's on the Kona are much better. The SAVE frame on the Cannondale has ended up being really comfortable for me and I havent experienced any back pain issues like I have on my other hardtails.

    I've seen the Kona a lot on the same trails I ride, and the couple people I have stopped to talk to have all really liked it also.

    The EBB on the Cannondale can be a bit of a pain to adjust, where as the sliders on the Kona are probably easier for a beginner to adjust. The 2013 Cannondale leaves the cable bosses though, so if you wanted to take it geared (1x9 or 1x10) if Single speed ends up not being your thing, you can do that.

    On paper, I personally like the Kona better, but after 500 miles on the Cannondale, I love the bike and am completely happy with it.

    I think you would be happy with either. Test ride them both and go with the one that feels right to you.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sundragon View Post
    Test ride them both and go with the one that feels right to you.
    +1!

    I have no experience with the Cannondale but I own the Unit 2012 (SS) and later built up a fixed gear with an On One Inbred frame and original parts of my upgraded Unit.

    Both steel bikes' geometries have been proven over the years and are great to ride, nothing new here. Personally, I may prefer the Inbred, but I am not sure this is unbiased as I ride it every day as a commuter, and every day I say to myself "what a wonderful bike..."

    The Kona sliders are super easy and convenient to adjust (I mounted a Surly tuggnut on the Inbred which is fine but a bit less easy to adjust) - but you don't have to do this often anyway.

    IMHO, building up a bike (Unit or Inbred) is real fun and great experience to learn the basics of bike mechanics (singlespeeds are good for this?). As a newbie I really enjoyed it. And the build is yours, if this is important to you, nobody will ride the same bike around

    But as you note, the result will probably be more expensive than to buy the well priced Kona Unit right now (the final cost of my Inbred was approx. 550 but I used many original parts of my upgraded Unit for free (wheels, fork, brakes, seatpost, pedals)).
    FG | SS | FS | CX

  4. #4
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    I've got a unit but considered the cannondale as well. Lack of tyre clearance (certainly tighter anyway) on the 'dale was a factor in choosing the kona.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodenboy View Post
    ... Based on everything I read, the geo on these rigs are near identitcal, the big difference being cromoly (Kona) vs 6061 (Cannondale)... I have tried both at 2 different LBS' and... there isn't a massive difference between the two...

    What I want to know is, to those who have ridden them, why do you love/hate them?

    option 3 is a build up from an on-one frame...don't think I could build it for less than $850, which is the price of either bike.

    Thanks in advance guys and gals!
    woody, These bikes may appear nearly identical, yet significant differences exist. (Unit - current // past - Cannondale's)
    1) CrMo vs. Alu When riding rigid these frames will ride much differently, and is WHY many SS-ers love steel.
    (Ti lovers can step in here to agree that... nobody ever raves about the ride of a rigid aluminum bike.)
    2) Sliders vs. EBB (ongoing debate) both work, yet IME paragon sliders work without issue.
    (SS chain tension is critical, EBB's need lubrication/maintenance, and horizontal drops are less precise than either ^)
    3) Tire clearance is a big deal, and the Unit can run a 2.4 Ardent slammed.
    4) Building WILL be more expensive, with better wheels, cranks, and tubeless tires.

    Regardless of what you end up with, ride the snot out of it!
    Last edited by Flyin_W; 04-16-2013 at 06:44 PM. Reason: grammah
    The best is the one you want to ride most often..

  6. #6
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    Well guys, as always you are an infinite wealth of knowledge! I will definitely be picking up the Kona. I play bike polo and ride a single speed around pavement here, so I know all about horizontal dropouts and how they function, and even though the Kona system is a bit different, I think I'll be more comfortable fiddling with that to begin with.

    I know I will be upgrading this bike slowly, and the Unit seems like a good base to build on.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    I got the 2013 Cannondale just over a month ago. I've only been out on it a handful of times and its stock aside from grips/pedals. I rode the Kona the day I order the 'dale, both ride really nice.
    I ended up with the 'dale cause It was more in my price range, but I would've gotten the Kona for the sliding dropouts and 1-1/8HT (vs.1.5HT 'dale).
    Also, the 2013 'dale is redesigned from the '12 model...I haven't tried yet but I'm 90% sure I could squeeze a 2.4 in the back. I'll measure out the clearance later if I remember.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by eightyseven View Post
    I got the 2013 Cannondale just over a month ago. I've only been out on it a handful of times and its stock aside from grips/pedals. I rode the Kona the day I order the 'dale, both ride really nice.
    I ended up with the 'dale cause It was more in my price range, but I would've gotten the Kona for the sliding dropouts and 1-1/8HT (vs.1.5HT 'dale).
    Also, the 2013 'dale is redesigned from the '12 model...I haven't tried yet but I'm 90% sure I could squeeze a 2.4 in the back. I'll measure out the clearance later if I remember.
    And another reason I am going with the Kona is because my LBS loaded up on the '12 model and are selling it less than what another LBS is selling the '13 'dale for!

  9. #9
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    Score. Enjoy!

  10. #10
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    Kona Unit vs Cannondale Trail SL 3 29er SS

    I've got Ardent 2.4s on my SL3. Search the forum, I've posted pics...
    Ben - Clydesdale - Type II Diabetic - 6'7", ~278lbs in 09/2011 - A1C 9.4%, ~228lbs in 07/2012 - A1C 5.6%, ~240lbs in 05/2013

  11. #11
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    Kona Unit vs Cannondale Trail SL 3 29er SS

    Ben - Clydesdale - Type II Diabetic - 6'7", ~278lbs in 09/2011 - A1C 9.4%, ~228lbs in 07/2012 - A1C 5.6%, ~240lbs in 05/2013

  12. #12
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    I have had 3 steel SS (XXIX, Karate Monkey, & Voodoo Dambala), a GF Rig, & now just got a Cdale Trail 3. The Cdale SAVE is legit, no gimmick there. I love steel, but this rides very smooth & is sub 21 lbs (with my upgrades). Im sold.

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