Complete Bike: Surly KM vs. Kona Unit- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Complete Bike: Surly KM vs. Kona Unit

    I want to buy a complete bike. Single speed, steel frame. Rigid fork. These two bikes seem to be my options. The problem is, none of the shops in Nashville stock single speed anything, so there's no where I can ride these bikes. So, if you've ridden them both, or ridden one of them or the other, or just have a friend with one, tell me - if it was you, which would you get?

  2. #2
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    not to complicate things, but what about the Redline MonoCog?

    I've ridden the KM, but never the Unit. (I used to own a "base" RLMC, too, and have ridden the flight version, but I digress.) Old KMs had a very low BB height, but the new ones have updated geometry which seems more trail-worthy. I think if I were shopping a Unit versus the KM, I'd mostly look at the rear dropouts...would you prefer sliders or track-ends?

    -rob

  3. #3
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    I like the sliders on the unit, and like how the unit rides (for a 29er)... I have not ridden the surly, but I don't think you can go wrong with the unit.

  4. #4
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    I have 2010 Unit (purchased in 2011), love it. I've ridden KM, but only on paved road, so it's hard to tell how they compare.

    For a complete bike, Unit is cheaper.

    KM comes with slightly better components.

    If you like upgrading (for strength, weight or simply preferred brand components), I would get the Unit and use the extra cash to upgrade. I rode my Unit as stock for 1 summer last year and few months this year, just ordered a new wheelset (stock wheels are decent, but hub is not as good although it hasn't given me any problem yet).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudmunkie View Post
    I like the sliders on the unit

    I've thought about other steel frame ss, but I really like sliders too.

  6. #6
    WillWorkForTrail
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    There is a strong possibility I'll be upgrading components on whatever I get. I do like the sliders on the Unit, but ultimately, I want the quality of ride to be the main influence in determining which frame to go for. Since the ceiling for price on this purchase was initially set at $1500, neither of these bikes is going to push that, and frankly both of them are low enough that my first upgrade to which ever is going to be a stans tubeless kit.

    What about tire clearance on the the Unit? Is it going to clear a 2.4 tire?

  7. #7
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    That might be tough. From what I recall the back end is pretty compact. Depending on gear choices and desired tension, things could interfere

  8. #8
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    I am in the same boat with these two bikes. Test rode a Unit and it felt quite fine coming off my rigid 26er. I think either is a fine bike. I have heard a complaint about the "mud collector" design on the chainstay yoke on the Unit...but I like the Unit's sliders better than the KM slots. The KM has a steeper head angle and shorter wheelbase also. Another factor is there are many more size options for the Unit than the KM. Not sure which size you are looking at, but I like a 24" effective top tube, and the 19" Unit is right on. The 18" and 20" KM's are on either side of that. That in itself is enough to sway me towards the Unit.

  9. #9
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    I would likely be going for a 22" with either bike without being able to ride one first.

    Can you elaborate a little on the "mud collector" on the unit? I've been unable to find any really good pictures of the Unit other than the ones on the Kona web site, and they aren't very revealing.

  10. #10
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    there is a forged box section yoke for the chainstays at the BB. And it forms a little shelf. As opposed to the chainstay tubes coming right into the BB with maybe a little bridge tube just back from the BB. I will try and find a shot of it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudmunkie View Post
    That might be tough. From what I recall the back end is pretty compact. Depending on gear choices and desired tension, things could interfere
    Wrong.
    Running an Ardent 2.4 on the rear of my Unit, and got plenty of clearance with the sliders slammed forward. Flow rims / 34x17.

    Unless craving (-) rep, it's probably best not to share opinions when full of shiite.

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  13. #13
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    I run 2.35 Rampage both front and rear. Plenty of room, 2.4 wouldn't make much difference.


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Train View Post
    Yup, that's the sweet spot. After riding 3 days in a row without proper cleaning, I had a big chunk of dry clay as big as my right testicle there.

  15. #15
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    2.35 Hans Dampf on a crest in back of mine--2011 Unit. Round about 3/16" per side running full forward in the sliders down at the chainstays. Hans is full figured. And the mud tray shown, the sound of rocks pinging off it was a little weird at first, like your own little mobile wind chime. It's a good bike, people speak highly of their KM's too though...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Complete Bike: Surly KM vs. Kona Unit-img_1055.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    Wrong.
    Running an Ardent 2.4 on the rear of my Unit, and got plenty of clearance with the sliders slammed forward. Flow rims / 34x17.

    Unless craving (-) rep, it's probably best not to share opinions when full of shiite.
    Thanks for the update, guy. Good to see first hand instead of what I recall from memory. Though I think the picture of Montana Ben's bike is more telling, its tight! If you ride a lot of mud it could be an issue, just sayin'.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    Wrong.

    Unless craving (-) rep, it's probably best not to share opinions when full of shiite.
    Stay classy.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4nbstd View Post
    I run 2.35 Rampage both front and rear. Plenty of room, 2.4 wouldn't make much difference.

    That's no Rampage my man!

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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth View Post
    Stay classy.
    No ****. some guys just want to be armchair bad asses.

    Guaranteed he's not as big of a ****** in person.

  20. #20
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    I have a 2012 unit, I just love it. Great frame and fork. Plenty of clearance for a 2.4

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudmunkie View Post
    No ****. some guys just want to be armchair bad asses.

    Guaranteed he's not as big of a ****** in person.
    I'm one. I know my type.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudmunkie View Post
    No ****. some guys just want to be armchair bad asses.

    Guaranteed he's not as big of a ****** in person.
    Pm,
    Your posting of opinion / incorrect info, prompted me to post a pic & call you out.
    No armchair badd-assery happening here. Post on this forum to contribute info & humor, and in this case to dispel misinformation.
    By ignoring my advice, and defending your ASSumption based on past memory you then call into ? my pic. Okay, here's a better one.
    [Ardent 2.4 on a Flow, 1/4" side clearance, with a 33x18 <1/2 link from slammed.]

    (written for umarth's sensitivity needs)
    Again it's become glaringly apparent you don't know Jack Shiite about tire clearance on a Unit. Now quit being butthurt, and go ride your bike.

    FYI, there are two ways to earn red chicklets. By being personally abusive, or posting incorrect information.
    As to your guarantee - many will say when confronted in person - I'm a major one!

  23. #23
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    Jesus, you are a ****ing moron. Don't you see where pudmonkie stayed cool,
    even though you were a huge ******? MTBR is all about misinformation- so
    cool your jets until someone is sticking with an erroneous statement.
    Then ream them out.

    Post smaller pictures too. No one like to ****ing scroll to read ****.

  24. #24
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    I've had a Karate Monkey for 4 years, but if I could make the decision again I would go with the Unit. The KM is a solid bike, but it took me a lot of part swaps to get it to feel anywhere close to what I want for Colorado riding.

    The KM is very much a Midwest trail bike - low bottom bracket and steep head tube angle for riding twisty, smooth trails in the woods. I know it can handle more than that - I've done it - but that's what Surly makes.

    I measured the bottom bracket height of my KM at 10.75" with the stock Exiwolfs on. The Kona site claims 12.2" for the Unit. If you ride rocky trails that will make a huge difference in the number of pedal strikes you have. Some people like low bottom brackets - it gets your center of gravity lower for a more stable feel. It might work for you, but for me it seems like too much of a compromise.

    The smaller frame sizes of the Unit also have slacker head tube angles than the KM, but by the time- you get to the size 22 frame they're equivalent. I think a 71-72 deg head tube angle on a 29er works well in most situations, but I really like the sound of the 68.5 deg head tube angle on the size small Unit for technical Colorado down hills. You would have to compare the head tube angles for whatever size frame you're getting to know whether this would make a difference or not.

    I don't think the parts on the Surly are any better than the Unit. I've had two pairs of wheels built around the "New" Surly hubs and I gave them both away because I felt bad taking money for them. I think they missed the ball on the adjustable sealed cartridge thing. I've never worn out bearings as fast as I did on those hubs, nor have I spent as much time adjusting hubs. If you go the KM route plan on upgrading the wheels.

  25. #25
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    So there's some room on the Unit frame. Interesting. Now lets mix things up a little.

    What about a Civilian Luddite? Where would that figure into a comparison with the Unit? Anyone?

    I don't see myself looking at a redline, the top tube looks a little short to me.

    For staying at or below $1500 for a bike, are there any other options out there?

    Thanks for the helpful responses so far, nothing has been eliminated yet, but I do have more information than I started with.

  26. #26
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    ^^^ Thanks for affirming your inability to read. Yes, I called Pm out, and he THEN defended himself against a photo.
    If this is staying cool, and not sticking with an error - then yes, I'm a f'ing moron.

    Back to topic - The Unit comes off the hook for most rides, while the FS gathers dust.

  27. #27
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    Just go for the bike who's geometry fits you better. I have a 2011 Kona Unit, mine's pretty much stock all I did was upgrade to clipless pedals and changed the grips. It's a very nice bike the only thing I dont really like is the rear hub as I'm used to the white industries freewheel from my SS road bike, I feel like the stock Unit rear hub lacks some more points of engagement.
    The Unit is a real fun bike that should last a long time, and Kona's representatives here in Brazil have been truly amazing to deal with, which unfortunately is not the standard in the cycling business over here.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    ^^^ Thanks for affirming your inability to read. Yes, I called Pm out, and he THEN defended himself against a photo.
    If this is staying cool, and not sticking with an error - then yes, I'm a f'ing moron.

    Back to topic - The Unit comes off the hook for most rides, while the FS gathers dust.
    My reason for thinking you are a moron is that you called him out the first place. So... back to reading and the Unit.

    I am happy to hear that it fits a wide tire. I'd probably go with the KM. I've owned one and I liked everything but the fork, which has been revamped. And it has a lot of eyelets, in case you want to indulge some bike camping or commuting.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    ^^^ Thanks for affirming your inability to read. Yes, I called Pm out, and he THEN defended himself against a photo.
    If this is staying cool, and not sticking with an error - then yes, I'm a f'ing moron.

    Back to topic - The Unit comes off the hook for most rides, while the FS gathers dust.
    Whatever you say man Lol.

    Thanks Umarth!

    OP let us know what you pick!

  30. #30
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    I'll let y'all know if I ever make up my mind. I honestly think it's a compromise no matter what, and you just figure on replacing the wheel set on whatever. Short wheel base and low BB height or long wheel base and high BB height? I'll debate it for a month, and probably still buy the one with more BB height.

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    Aww man, as a Kona unit owner (and I like it) that Civilian Luddite does look sweet... And am I reading it right that frame plus build kit is less than 8 hundred? And build kit is 17lbs, so assume frame at like 5, and you have a 23 pounder? Unit stock is like 27... That would be very tempting especially since you have no lbs with SS in stock anyway.

    Good luck with your search!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by montana_ben View Post
    Aww man, as a Kona unit owner (and I like it) that Civilian Luddite does look sweet... And am I reading it right that frame plus build kit is less than 8 hundred? And build kit is 17lbs, so assume frame at like 5, and you have a 23 pounder? Unit stock is like 27... That would be very tempting especially since you have no lbs with SS in stock anyway.

    Good luck with your search!
    Luddite is $630 now with a coupon code at Department of Goods. It weighs around 26 stock but comes with 980 gram tires, so it can be lightened up easily.

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    Just for the record I have a 2012 Karate Monkey and I thoroughly enjoy it.

    And I am a midwest mtber whom loves fast flowy trails. Though it does get use on tech scratch and does that well to.

    I would not want this bike if I was flying down a mtn at break neck speed.

    Ehh. . . my two cents.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by cable_actuated View Post

    I measured the bottom bracket height of my KM at 10.75" with the stock Exiwolfs on. The Kona site claims 12.2" for the Unit.
    On the paper, BB height is very similar, if not the same.

    On Surly website, they only provide BB drop, which is the height difference between the BB and the height of hub. It's 68mm.

    On 29" wheel, hub's sitting at 14.5" off the ground, which is 36.83cm or 368.3mm off the ground, and since BB drop is 68mm, the BB height from the ground should be at 31.5cm or 315mm, or 12.4"

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4nbstd View Post
    On the paper, BB height is very similar, if not the same.

    On Surly website, they only provide BB drop, which is the height difference between the BB and the height of hub. It's 68mm.

    On 29" wheel, hub's sitting at 14.5" off the ground, which is 36.83cm or 368.3mm off the ground, and since BB drop is 68mm, the BB height from the ground should be at 31.5cm or 315mm, or 12.4"
    I emailed kona and the drop on the Unit is 53mm vs the 68mm on the KM. .2" vs 2.6"

  36. #36
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    I was set to get a KM, but I found a practically new unit on CL for 390 (2011 white). My time on the KM has been on a bike too big for me so I can't compare. The unit rocks btw.
    It would be a hard choice but for me the orange is kinda of a deal breaker.

  37. #37
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    yeah the orange is terrible...i had a bright yellow Heckler years ago and vowed never to get a bright colored bike again. a color somewhat related to dirt is so much better...black, brown, green, tan etc...the rest of the 2013 konas get released in about a week so maybe the new color will be better. but then the 2012's at the shop are going to go on sale and i will have to buy the orange one cuz the price will be too good to pass up!!!

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusheleven View Post
    Just for the record I have a 2012 Karate Monkey and I thoroughly enjoy it.

    And I am a midwest mtber whom loves fast flowy trails. Though it does get use on tech scratch and does that well to.

    I would not want this bike if I was flying down a mtn at break neck speed.

    Ehh. . . my two cents.
    +1 for KM. Singlespeed is about simplicity for me...steel, surly drivetrain is really good looking componentry that works...

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