Kona Unit 650B maiden voyage- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    curds and gravy fool
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    Kona Unit 650B maiden voyage

    Last friday it was 50F and sunny. I could not resist the urge to abandon all responsibility and drive down to the Cape to take the 650b'd Kona Unit on it's maiden voyage. I tried to sell this frame when I built up my Unit 29, but fortunately no one wanted it (lesson learned: hoard everything).

    I've been riding a long time, but my mountain bike ownership have been quite limited. (please skip ahead if this part is boring, but I'm trying to frame my experience with the 650b ride appropriately). I've never owned a full suspension bike, and my last front suspension was a 1997 Manitou SXR- so I have zero experience with more modern forks. Bikes owned as follows: 1994 Kona Kilauea- ridden for 10 years, and eventually turned rigid singlespeed, Kona Unit singlespeed rigid -eventually with a 29er front wheel, and lastly a Kona Unit 29er.

    I really never like the Unit 29er. This is certainly not a reflection on the concept of the 29er, just to say that I think Kona did a poor job on the frame design. They tried to keep the chainstays short by severely steepening the seat tube. As a result, no bar/stem combo ever felt right in relation to the front, and the rear always felt too sluggish for a singlespeed, regardless of gearing. It was just wrong.

    Now contrast that to my goldilocks "just right" experience from Friday. The Trail of Tears in Barnstable is not very technical, but a great roller coaster ride. I know one ride is not a fair judge, especially when I haven't been on a trail since November, but I felt like I had my old bike back, but with some of the characteristics I enjoyed from the 29er. Front end did not barrel over stuff quite as well, but it was not as harsh as the rigid 26. In addition, I was able to maneuver the front with the point and shoot ease I used to know. The rear of the bike felt balanced or matched to the front (if that's fair description that makes any sense- if you've ridden a 69er, you know what unbalanced feels like). Acceleration felt normal, bump absorption felt as good as any hardtail, and it was nice to have my seat in a good position relative to the cranks again. I should also mention that these tires rock. I might feel more comfortable about clearance in the chainstays with a 2.1 though.

    It was a good day. I'll attempt to attach photos (not sure where they will appear). Thanks for reading- I've very rarely posted in the many years I've been lurking on this site, but I strongly believe in keeping the 650b momentum going.
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    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  2. #2
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    Nice write-up. I like the looks of your bike - understated, yet classy looking. Did the Cape get hit with snow from Monday's storm? Oh and do you also ride Otis from time to time?

  3. #3
    curds and gravy fool
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    discouraging snow

    Thanks.

    Not sure if the cape got the same amount of snow as I did, but I'm trying to look positively to the upcoming weekend in the 50s again.

    Haven't been to Otis. If I drive down to the cape, it's because I miss the Trail of Tears experience. Looks like Nemba has Otis on their regular group ride list though- I guess I should really give it a shot.
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  4. #4
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    A few more questions if you don't mind?

    1. Are those Stans rims - or something different?
    2. what Hubs are you using?
    3. Looks like a pretty light set up - any guess on the weight of the bike?

    Cheers,

    Mark

  5. #5
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    As a long-time user of Kona's Unit/Kula 2-9 frame family, I would have to say that I absolutely love the way it rides. Have you ever thought that instead of stating "Kona did a poor job on the frame design," it is probably more a matter of it just not suiting your ride style/expectations? Anecdotal opinions don't lead to fact.

  6. #6
    curds and gravy fool
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    Bits

    Mark-

    Rims are just Blunts sans big decals. Front hub is a Phil Wood, rear is an XT. No idea on the weight.

    Stewart
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  7. #7
    curds and gravy fool
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    My opinions are mine

    Cabin,

    I didn't say "Kona did a poor job on the frame design", I said "I think Kona did a poor job on the frame design". That is my opinion.

    The fact you like yours doesn't bother me at all.
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  8. #8
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    Your chain is smiling, it needs tension.

  9. #9
    curds and gravy fool
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    The toothless grin of broken chains

    'Tis indeed. Now that is something I've never been able to solve on this frame. No matter how hard I crank down on the bolts, ithe drive side dropout always slips a little during the ride to some point of stasis. I've replaced the bolts, added serrated washers and filed the inside face of the dropout, and it still does it. The Unit 29 frame has an improved dropout with a bolt to limit forward movement. I actually switched it onto this frame, but I didn't tighten the locknut enough, and it backed out a little and it slipped again. I've had a chain fail on a steep hill, perhaps because of this, and it sure wasn't fun.
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  10. #10
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    You're saying the same either way. You're claiming that Kona did a poor job in general, when all I am claiming is the geometry doesn't suit your preferences.

    And I wasn't hoping that you would be bothered by my enjoyment of the frame.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabin Fever
    You're saying the same either way. You're claiming that Kona did a poor job in general, when all I am claiming is the geometry doesn't suit your preferences.

    Geez, it's his effen opinion; moreover the thread is about 650...move along

  12. #12
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    Cool ride man, very cool.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poutineyum
    'Tis indeed. Now that is something I've never been able to solve on this frame. No matter how hard I crank down on the bolts, ithe drive side dropout always slips a little during the ride to some point of stasis. I've replaced the bolts, added serrated washers and filed the inside face of the dropout, and it still does it. The Unit 29 frame has an improved dropout with a bolt to limit forward movement. I actually switched it onto this frame, but I didn't tighten the locknut enough, and it backed out a little and it slipped again. I've had a chain fail on a steep hill, perhaps because of this, and it sure wasn't fun.
    Hmm thats a weird issue...never heard that before. Have you contacted Kona about the issue?

  14. #14
    Mr.650b - Mr.27-5
    Reputation: Kirk Pacenti's Avatar
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    the solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poutineyum
    'Tis indeed. Now that is something I've never been able to solve on this frame. No matter how hard I crank down on the bolts, ithe drive side dropout always slips a little during the ride to some point of stasis. I've replaced the bolts, added serrated washers and filed the inside face of the dropout, and it still does it. The Unit 29 frame has an improved dropout with a bolt to limit forward movement. I actually switched it onto this frame, but I didn't tighten the locknut enough, and it backed out a little and it slipped again. I've had a chain fail on a steep hill, perhaps because of this, and it sure wasn't fun.
    This was a common problem for single speeds and BMX bikes before chain tugs. This is what we did for our BMX bikes and single speeds back in the day. It might work for your sliders too...

    Get the wheel in about the right position front to back. Push the wheel towards the back of the bike, putting extra tension on the chain and simultaneously crank down on the left side bolts. Then put some more tension on the chain by pulling the wheel towards the drive side while tightening the right side bolts.

    The problem is that the drive side faces out in the repair stand, it's natural to tighten the drive side first and then reach around to tighten the left side. However, as the drive side bolts are torqued down the wheel creeps forward because the nuts rotate toward the front of the bike. As they bite in, they inevitably pull the wheel forward (just slightly) and loosen the chain. If you follow this procedure then use the jack screws to keep everything in place you should be good to go.

    PS: if you’re using a BMX freewheel, do the wheel tightening on the high spot of the free wheel. Most BMX freewheels are not perfectly concentric and if the tension is adjusted in the low spot, you’ll create excessive tension in the high spot which can cause binding and friction… the enemy of most single speeders!

    Good luck,

    KP
    Last edited by Kirk Pacenti; 03-05-2009 at 07:34 PM.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poutineyum
    Cabin,

    I didn't say "Kona did a poor job on the frame design", I said "I think Kona did a poor job on the frame design". That is my opinion.

    The fact you like yours doesn't bother me at all.
    I happen to agree with you,I the 29er and offed it after one week,74 seat angles aint the hot ticket for me..........I felt like I was sitting to straight up

  16. #16
    curds and gravy fool
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    New method

    Thank Kirk. Sounds like a plan. I'll give it a shot.
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

  17. #17
    Eating Hot Pockets
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    nice ride.
    Last edited by A. Nony Moose; 03-12-2009 at 06:55 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poutineyum
    'Tis indeed. Now that is something I've never been able to solve on this frame. No matter how hard I crank down on the bolts, ithe drive side dropout always slips a little during the ride to some point of stasis. I've replaced the bolts, added serrated washers and filed the inside face of the dropout, and it still does it. The Unit 29 frame has an improved dropout with a bolt to limit forward movement. I actually switched it onto this frame, but I didn't tighten the locknut enough, and it backed out a little and it slipped again. I've had a chain fail on a steep hill, perhaps because of this, and it sure wasn't fun.
    Steel bolt and nut does the trick. link

  19. #19
    aka: SpeedyChix
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    Is this a Kona Unit 26" or 29"
    Looking at 26" to run SS but then wondered if it could be set up for 650B?

  20. #20
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    That one is the 26" Unit right there.

  21. #21
    aka: SpeedyChix
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    Sweet, looks like it was made for 650B! Folks have always seemed to like the ride of the units.
    Given how I feel today after a mtb ride yesterday, is the Unit built for an 80 travel fork? May need to do that on the 26" set up.

    When 650B and stock rigid fork, handling stay sharp?
    Last edited by SpeedyChix; 04-06-2010 at 05:40 AM.

  22. #22
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    On my old unit29, I just modified a $5 redline chaintug. I ground off the block on the back side of the chain tug so it would fit tight to the dropout. Then I pulled the C-clips and removed the T so the bold would push directly against the back of the kona frame. I also sourced a slightly longer bolt from a hardware store, as the chain tug made the stock bolt too short.

  23. #23
    curds and gravy fool
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    handling is great

    Overdrive- Yup, the 26" Unit is setup for an 80mm fork. I'd stick with that for a conversion. The only thing I noticed is a very very slight pendulum effect from the higher bottom bracket- not a big deal- mostly when standing and climbing.

    Skifastchad- great idea on the tug modification. This will save someone a lot of time fussing with the bolts to stop movement.
    Sometimes you gotta hold onto the grass to stop from flying off the earth.

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