Shakedown Ride Thoughts

I’ve been away from the blog for quite a while now.  The last post was in November? Wow.  I haven’t had a lot to write about though.  With the season getting started up and a new bike in the stable, there should be more material for discussion…

After musing about it for a while, I ended up buying a Kona Jake the Snake.  Based on finances, I had rather resigned myself to just buying a Trek Crockett frame and swapping parts.  It turned out that a friend from church wanted a bike for his son.  I sold him the Tricross (along with all the sweet parts on it) and used that money to make up the difference between the prices of a new frameset and a whole new bike.

Why the Kona?  It mainly came down to availability.  The Jamis Nova Race wasn’t available.  The Norco Threshold A1 wasn’t available.  Everything else was going to cost a whole lot more.  The Kona was getting all kinds of praise from both owners of the shop, so I ordered one.  With 65°F temperatures yesterday, I headed out for a ride.  It’s too early to do a proper review, but here are some first impressions:

  • The bike is light and stiff.  Not uncomfortably stiff, but it definitely lacks the compliance of the Tricross.  I think I’m ready to make that tradeoff on the ‘cross course — give me some snappy acceleration and let my body absorb a bit more abuse.  It worked last year with the Dark Horse.
  • The WTB Volt Comp saddle looks nice, with Kona graphics and lime green highlights that match the frame.  A reviewer remarked, “WTB has been in the saddle game for as long as I’ve been riding mountain bikes, and they have a pretty good (and deserved) reputation for making something in a saddle that will work for you.”  I have found this to be patently untrue, as I have never found a WTB saddle that I liked.  The most positive thing I can say is that the Valcon that came on my Kona Big Kahuna is not so bad that I didn’t feel compelled to immediately replace it.  The Volt is tremendously uncomfortable, pushing you forward with the stupid “whale tail” shape onto a very narrow portion of the saddle.  My inaugural ride was only 20 miles, largely due to that saddle.  I would rather sit on a 2×4.  I’m going to try some adjustments before I throw it out, but don’t hold much hope.
  • Rolling 100% pavement on Clement MXP ‘cross tires isn’t a ton of fun.  I need to swap something more tarmac friendly on that will still allow me to crush some gravel.
  • Road discs are awesome.  This is the future, right here.
  • The stem was set at -5° and I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable such an aggressive position felt.
  • The Alex wheels are nice.  I appreciate the quieter hub than my old NoTubes Alpha wheels.  I’m looking forward to trying them tubeless.
  • The verdict is also still out on the bars.  They’re standard Kona OEM stuff, but I wasn’t easily able to find a super-comfortable position in the drops.
  • The new Shimano 105 shifters felt a little stiff, but had crisp shifting.

Looking forward to many more test miles…


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