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Thread: Kona Unit Size

  1. #1
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    Kona Unit Size

    So I have a chance to buy a 2012 Kona unit for a decent price. The size is the 16inch. I looked at the Geo of the bike to see if it would fit me, but I don't really understand what to look for.

    So I looked at the Geo of the 17.5inch Gravity 29er, claims it would fit me fit (well loosely claims) I'm about 5'10.

    The geo on the Kona seems larger, I'm buying this bike online so I can't really test to see how it feels.

    Suggestions? Can I go for it?

    Might be a little too excited to buy it :x

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    I'm 5'7.5" and I ride a 17" 2014 Unit and it fits me great. Any smaller and I think the cockpit could feel cramped, personally. I was comparing the 2012 to 2014 specs and you've got an inch less top tube length there, and you're taller than me. I'm no expert by any means but it seems like it could be a little small for you(?).

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    I'm 5'9" and prefer very short top tubes. I like a small feel that you can whip around.
    You need to determine what you like for cockpit feel as far as reach and pick a front center you like. Compare it to other bikes you are comfy on and start there.

    Btw I ride a small Kona Unit, smallq Karate Monkey and a very small custom Waltworks. BUT this is really pushing it for most people. They would feel cramped on the sizes I like.
    When people see me and my bike, they are surprised on the size bike I ride.

    I would think at your height your torso length and reach will be a bit much on a small.

    And if you have long legs, seat post extension is going to be at the very end of acceptable on a 16".

    I doubt you'll go wrong on a medium in almost any frame.
    CRAMBA Chairman

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    I'm 5'9" with a 30" inseam and own both a 2012, 16" and a 2011, 18" Unit. I'm happy on either but like the 16" a little better. I wish the 17" was around when I bought my frames!
    I don't know your proportions but if your any bigger or longer legged than me, at least consider a lay back seat post. I'm running a straight Thomson with the seat all the way back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pokeynrs View Post
    I'm 5'9" with a 30" inseam and own both a 2012, 16" and a 2011, 18" Unit. I'm happy on either but like the 16" a little better. I wish the 17" was around when I bought my frames!
    I don't know your proportions but if your any bigger or longer legged than me, at least consider a lay back seat post. I'm running a straight Thomson with the seat all the way back.
    I have a set back thomson post, will it actually make a difference? I feel like I would like a smaller bike and thats why I'm entertaining the idea.

    As far as figuring out what kind of bike fits me, how can I do this without taking the time of a LBS and then not buying anything.

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    Here's my perspective as a short guy living with a short family.

    Wheel size puts certain hard constraints on frame geometry, and with 700c wheels those constraints tend to impact geometry at the lower end of adult frame sizes. On a 29er, once your effective top tube length starts getting much less than 24 inches, you start running out of room for wheels and feet and stuff, and if they want to have a size "small" in their range, manufacturers will start slacking out the head tube angle to make room. Getting the front end right is a delicate art, requiring that you balance the head tube angle with offset, and making those numbers work with your wheelbase and chainstay/wheelbase ratio. All those things go out the window when the marketing guys insist on having a size "small" in their range, because all they are thinking about is standover height.

    The same basic principle applies to larger frame sizes, although to a lesser extent. Your bike shop will try to fit you to a frame, not taking into account overall wheelbase and weight distribution. What I hear you saying is that you want a shorter wheelbase and prefer to keep your weight well back in the cockpit by using a setback seat post. I hear you and I think that's a great idea. It does suggest to me that you want a bike with sharp handling. Something good on singletrack, even though it might be a tad squirrely for the street.

    With this in mind, I don't like this "16" frame.

    What I see in this frame is, they slacked out the head tube angle compared with the next size up, and they didn't adjust the rake to account for that. Note also that every bike in the range has the same chainstay length, so with the shorter frames, your chainstay/wheelbase goes up. These two things will conspire to make the bike turn less sharply.

    Now, I don't know that 29er geometry is settled science. For all I know that might improve the bike's handling in every conceivable way. But I doubt it.*

    So I would pass.

    When you're evaluating a range of bikes, look at what happens to the head tube angle as the frames get larger. You'll see that settle on a value, which reflects the designer's intent. You'll probably want the smallest frame that has that value. Also look at your chainstay/wheelbase ratio. Right around 40% is considered "balanced." Maybe you like your chainstay a bit shorter. If so, check the next size up frame. Either way, don't be surprised if you effective top tube length is right around 24 inches, regardless of design or brand. Or, you could go over to Jones Bikes, because he only carries one size frame: the optimal size. Jeff Jones would love the way you think.


    --------------

    *Although, if you put some drop bars on there, it would probably have pretty good road manners. Maybe. You'd have to ride it to see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    As far as figuring out what kind of bike fits me, how can I do this without taking the time of a LBS and then not buying anything.
    you can measure your current bikes ETT. you can also go to LBS and bring a tape measure. sit on a few bikes that are similar to what you want and take a few simple measurements. the most important of which is probably ETT. (center of seatpost to top of headtube).

    if you have your current bike side by side with a friends bike all you need is a piece of string, or the wire from your ear buds. measure from the saddle to the bars, just take note of the position of the saddle on the seatpost, and if the stem is abnormally long or short. the actual number is not important, your just looking for a point of comparison.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    ^I don't thiink buying based on ETT is much better than buying based on standover.

    When I bought my bike, I had a choice between a "17.5" and a "15.5." LBS put me on the 17.5 because the reach was perfect with a 90mm stem. Problem was, my weight was too far forward in the cockpit, causing me to frequently lose traction in the back, and occasionally lose traction in the front, the latter hurling me off the bike.

    I fixed it by slamming my seat back, putting a shorter stem on there, and getting handlebars with a lot of sweep. That put my hands slightly behind the steering axis, but it works. Smaller frame with a setback seatpost would have worked too.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat.

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    Hmmm ok still considering it. Gonna reach out to a local bike shop. Or maybe Rei so I don't feel bad about testing the bikes lol

    Gonna measure my current bike. It's a FS stump jumper but I always feel like I have too much weight and the back and lose front tire traction a lot.

    What would that say for me about the size of my stump jumper. Or is that my fail riding skill

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaDave View Post
    ^I don't thiink buying based on ETT is much better than buying based on standover.

    When I bought my bike, I had a choice between a "17.5" and a "15.5." LBS put me on the 17.5 because the reach was perfect with a 90mm stem. Problem was, my weight was too far forward in the cockpit, causing me to frequently lose traction in the back, and occasionally lose traction in the front, the latter hurling me off the bike.

    I fixed it by slamming my seat back, putting a shorter stem on there, and getting handlebars with a lot of sweep. That put my hands slightly behind the steering axis, but it works. Smaller frame with a setback seatpost would have worked too.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat.
    ok, but you just named one very specific scenario. that setup is unique to the bike you bought and your body. doing that exact procedure is not the norm. if the frame size is close, a simple and minor stem/bar adjustment is all that should be needed based on personal preference.

    stand over is a useless measurement to me on modern mountain bikes. there always seems to be ample clearance. that measurement is more relevant for road bikes or cross bikes etc.

    all i was saying is that assuming the saddle is in the right position, cockpit length is the quickest and easiest form of measurement for comparison.

    i agree there is more than one way to skin a cat. I've adapted frames that were too small for me with all kinds of parts but when you have to change everything out it gets expensive in a hurry. and if you do it on the cheap you end up with a pile of crappy parts you don't want on your bike, or in your parts bin.

    it's just not worth it. buy a bike that fits!
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    Hmmm ok still considering it. Gonna reach out to a local bike shop. Or maybe Rei so I don't feel bad about testing the bikes lol

    Gonna measure my current bike. It's a FS stump jumper but I always feel like I have too much weight and the back and lose front tire traction a lot.

    What would that say for me about the size of my stump jumper. Or is that my fail riding skill
    doesn't necessarily mean it's the wrong size or that you lack skill. it could just mean that you have never dialed in the cockpit to suit yourself. the two easiest things to do based on that info is 1. lower the handlebars with headset spacers if there is any adjustment available. 2. try a longer stem.

    if you are using riser bars you can also swap them for flat bars. the goal would be to get your hands a little lower, and hence more weight on the front wheel.

    it's not uncommon for people to just buy a bike and ride it the way it came. never realizing that it may not be the best setup for them. or maybe you bought it as a beginner and now your riding style has evolved and you need something different from your bike.

    there are easy solutions though. most bike shops will do some kind of fit analysis for $30-50. depending on where you live there may be professional specialists where that's all they do is fit people to bikes they already own. but those usually start around $75 and go up from there. it's still a good investment though if you want to optimize your riding and comfort. you will end up with detailed paperwork showing all your measurements and how that applies to your current bike. you will learn all about stack and reach and stuff, and how it effects your riding and comfort. then when you look at the geometry of a bike online you will know exactly what to look for and be able to determine size and other specs with ease.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    Hmmm ok still considering it. Gonna reach out to a local bike shop. Or maybe Rei so I don't feel bad about testing the bikes lol

    Gonna measure my current bike. It's a FS stump jumper but I always feel like I have too much weight and the back and lose front tire traction a lot.

    What would that say for me about the size of my stump jumper. Or is that my fail riding skill
    Is it more like

    A) front tire feels vague and not connected with the trail. Bike doesn't want to turn and when it does, it doesn't seem to carve well and wants to run wide. You don't get tossed very often but you tend to run off the trail.

    B) bike definitely wants to turn, might even feel twitchy. You tend to skid through turns and sometimes you go flying.

    If it's "a" then yeah it's probably a geometry problem and you'll probably like the Kona. You can go a size smaller if you want, the shorter wheelbase will make it seem really frisky.

    If it's "b" it's probably not a geometry problem (my issue notwithstanding). There are a couple of ways to fix it. Could be as simple as putting a new tire up front that has more stickum. But more likely you want to look at your technique. In particular, don't brake too late into the turn. Brake first, then turn. That'll help keep from overloading the front tire. That and watching your weight distribution -- keeping yourself balanced -- should help.

    Depends on how fast you're going. If you're really screaming, you might want a frame that's built for that sort if thing: stretched out, longer wheelbase, more raked out front end.

    Note how Kona reduces the head tube angle in the larger frames. I think it's to match the longer wheelbase for people who want more stability. Very cool.

    So what size bike are you on now?

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    Feel like it's a, but at the same time I'm not sure if I can't carve well and turn wide because of skill.

    I'm not sure what size bike I bought my first one used on an impulse and it was painted over.

    Say I get the small kona and it's too small for me. What could be the problems I run into?

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    Handling wise, it may not solve the problem. The 16 inch frame might have too much trail.

    Trail refers to a handling parameter. Project a line through your head tube to where it intersects the ground. The distance between that point and where your tire touches the dirt is trail. The Kona is designed for a certain trail, probably somewhere in the 80mm range. Too short and the bike feels twitchy; too long and it feels hard to turn and will paradoxically dive into turns when it finally turns. Be careful of adult small frames, they tend to rake out the front end to make room for wheels and feet. This will increase the trail. The short wheelbase might aggravate the tendency to dive into turns. Us short people have to live with that kind of stuff, you don't have to.

    But, ask around. Find someone who is on the 16 inch frame, maybe it's ok.

    I'll let others comment on the cramped cockpit issue since I've never had that problem. Although I'll note that I can ride around on my daughters 14 inch frame with a comfortable reach because she has drop bars. With my hands so far out in front of the steering axis, the bike is very stable in a straight line but steering is sluggish initially and the dive problem is really noticeable. It's ok on the street but I could see it causing problems on the trail. So it would not be too good I don't think to need too long of a stem on that frame.

    Measure the effective top tube length on your bike. Lay a ruler parallel to the ground from the steering tube right above and in the center of the head tube and see where it intersects the seat post. That'll give us some idea of where you're at now.
    Last edited by TampaDave; 05-17-2015 at 07:27 PM.

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    Thanks for all the info, you rock! I'm gonna get that information as soon as I can.

    I started looking at this larger bike, I can't seem to find the geo so any input would help.

    Haro Mary SS Single Speed Mountain Bike 29er Blackout Custom 20" Complete Bike | eBay

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    You can get a Kona frameset for $525. What kind of condition are the parts on your current bike? Worth swapping over?

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    My observations, having actually owned and ridden both 16" and 18" Units. The 18" Unit steers fast but quite neutral and predictable, all greatness in my eyes.
    On the road or hard double track, the slacked steering angle is noticeable on the 16". Having that slight resistance to initiate a turn, followed by the "falling into the turn". In the tight local trails, the 16" comes into its own, its steers REALLY fast but has great stability.
    I love both bikes and they do feel near indentical. The slight edge goes to the 16" since it seems to turn sharper.
    Now the disclaimer, not a true apples to apples comparison since the builds are totally different. Both were bought as frames and build up with whatever parts I could source cheaply. So take this like a grain of salt.

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    TampaDave - No the parts on my current bike are old and worthless aside from some salsa QR and Chrisking headset.

    This is thye Kona I can get for 530 (550 shipped) - http://www.ebay.com/itm/171789448620...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    pokeynrs - How tall are you?

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    The offset on that niner fork is 45mm compared with 19 on the Kona fork. Should sharpen up the steering considerably. Nice bike. Love the rims, love the tires. Thomsen seat post, oh my! Shoot I should be riding that bike.

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    That is making me feel like I should make the purchase. Me thinks I will haha.

    Would you mind explaining what the difference in offset does on the fork does?

    Also poke, saw your post before. Sorry and thank you.
    Last edited by Giorgioc722; 05-18-2015 at 04:50 PM.

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    Also, I think I finally found a dealer who sells Kona unit's.

    Might be be smarter for me to invest the extra 500 for a 2015 unit at a LBS?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    Also, I think I finally found a dealer who sells Kona unit's.

    Might be be smarter for me to invest the extra 500 for a 2015 unit at a LBS?
    Can't go wrong with that! I think the 2015 color is really cool too.

    Dunno where you're located but the shop I bought my 2014 Unit in Dec. has another one in right now (not sure what size). So, there must still be a few new 2014's out there--maybe they could order you one if you prefer that color, etc.

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    I live in North NJ, willing to travel few hours at most.

    I'm thinking about taking a trip down there, I can't really bare spending 600 bucks and being unhappy.

    I already did that once.

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    Two ways to decrease trail and thereby make the bikes handling sharper. The first is to steepen the head tube angle. This is pretty much the classic approach, and when you see a bicycle or motorcycle with a steep head tube angle you think, that's a quick turner, should be nimble. The other way is to move the tire closer to the point of intersection of that imaginary line through the head tube with the ground. Think about a dirt bike where the axle is way out in front of the fork. That's offset.

    Some 29ers, like the Kona, sharpen up handling with steep head tube angles. They will run them with low-offset forks to get the trail numbers right. Others, like Trek or Jones, sharpen up the handling by using slack head tube angles with forks that have a lot of offset.

    On this bike, if we feel that slackening out the head tube adversely affected handling, raking the fork out a bit should fix that. That's the theory anyway, who knows how it'll feel in the dirt. Looks good to me though, I'd love to ride that bike.

    Don't think it would hurt to at least let the LBS think you might be interested in buying a bike. That way you get to ride around on them some. Also it depends on how much you like working on bikes. If you're all like, "no sweat, if anything doesn't work on the ebay bike I'll just fix it myself," -- and my experience with ebay is, you should plan on it -- then go for the ebay bike. If you're thinking, "if there's anything wrong with this bike I'm taking it back," better off buying at the LBS. Also hopefully you get to try out the 17 and the 19. You could like either one. That said, the ebay bike has some really nice upgrades. I'd buy it in a minute, but then I know I could fit on that frame, and I wouldn't mind fixing stuff if I needed to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    I live in North NJ, willing to travel few hours at most.

    I'm thinking about taking a trip down there, I can't really bare spending 600 bucks and being unhappy.

    I already did that once.
    I had my heart set on the Unit and eventually found one at an "LBS" that's actually over an hour away from me with our SoCal traffic. My truly local LBS that carries Kona won't stock ss'rs
    It was totally worth it to go out there--I'm too much of a noob to buy a bike sight unseen/unridden. If I had ordered one from the local LBS and it didn't fit me right they basically said I'd be stuck with it.
    The downside is I had to drive out there a couple times in the last 6 months for a few tweaks and a tuneup while the service was still free. But, I made the most of it--there's a great trail out there

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    Making a trip up there tomorrow, I shall post what happens :O!

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    Well after heading to this LBS and testing out the 17inch and sitting on a 15inch bike, I realized that the ebay bike would be too small :/

    So I decided to purchase a 2015 Kona Unit 17inch

    Got the LBS to swap the brakes to shimano deore hydro and tubeless tires. As apart of the price :x Still blew my budget, oh well.

    Tossed on some Salsa QR, didn't like the stock ones.

    Had fun today, crashed once because I was being stupid, but no damage.

    Any advice on better grips? The stock ones, well they suck.

    Kona Unit Size-image1.jpg

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    Congrats! Looks great.

    I put Renthal Kevlar grips on mine - very grippy and seems to tone down the trail chatter more than the stock: Renthal Lock On Grips > Components > Handlebars, Headsets and Saddles > Grips | Jenson USA

    I think you'll love the bike. I haven't ridden my geared hard tail since I got mine 6 mos. ago!

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    The bike is amazing, just I realized that I need to work on how I take on rocks and roots. Deff was treating it like it was a full suss, and it was unforgiving

    altho fun, makes me want to get in better shape to climb more too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgioc722 View Post
    ..altho fun, makes me want to get in better shape to climb more too.
    I did put a 20t on the back straight away. I don't have a trail even close to me that doesn't involve a significant climb--most right from the trail head!

    I still go really slow and creep through rock gardens, etc. I just put a 2.4 tire on the front and haven't even ridden it yet--anxious to see how that feels in the rough stuff.

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    You learn so much riding a rigid SS. But there is definitely a learning curve.

    Remember the tires are your new suspension. I went tubeless pretty quickly to get my pressures down, I'm down to 26psi now which is probably not enough for my fat rear end but it definitely helps the ride. Really noticeable increase in traction too.

    Try some Ergon grips. Very comfy. Makes flat bars almost tolerable. Almost.

    That is one gorgeous bike. You're gonna love it. And it's purple. I am all about the purple.

  32. #32
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    congrats! great choice. looks sweet. kinda makes me want to replace my somewhat beat up frame. sounds like you got a good deal, but more importantly ended up with a bike you are really happy with.

    now go get that thing dirty
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    Thanks man! Super excited all I want to do is practice haha I really like the purple, no idea why.

    Also, anyone know if I will be able to transfer my chris king headset to this one, and if I even should.

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