There seems to be an unwritten mountain biking law
that says if you ride a Kona with over 4 inches of
travel, you are expected—no, required—to abuse it
beyond reason. Kona owners expect their steeds to be
tougher than they are, and complaining or whining is not tolerated. Kona seems to understand this better than anyone
(maybe they wrote the unwritten law), and the all-new
Process is built to keep the Kona loyalists happy—and hopefully welcome a bunch of new loyalists.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Kona Process walks a tightrope between a pedal-to-
the-top trailbike and a lift-ticket or shuttle-ride gravity sled
(with plenty of pedaling chops). A young charger in good
shape can use the Process as a do-it-all trailbike, while riders
who currently have trouble on their technical trails (especially descents) will find the Process up to the task.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The only material tough enough to stand up to the Kona
faithful—and the frame’s lifetime warranty—is Kona’s own
6069 aluminum-butted tubing. You get a tapered head tube;
Kona’s walking-beam, four-bar linkage rear suspension; and
12x142-millimeter rear-axle spacing. The front derailleur is
direct-mounted in line with the chainstay’s pivot point, so its
relationship with the chain and chainrings does not change as
the bike dips into its travel.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Kona includes a Crankbrothers Kronolog dropper seatpost
(required on a bike like this), meaty Maxxis High Roller 2
tires, a long-stoke RockShox Monarch shock and—are you
ready for this?—pedals! And not just some slap-them-on junk;
they are Kona Wah Wah pedals.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: RockShox’s patented gradients on the fork’s stanchion tube and shock shaft make measuring suspension sag
easy. RockShox offers fork springs in five different weights so
lighter or heavier riders can dial in their fork’s sag, and the
fork uses internal spacers to set the spring preload. The
shock is an air-sprung unit. The fork and shock both have
external rebound adjusters that we set in the middle of their
Ergonomics: You expect some pedaling interference with
stays, linkages or oversized tubing on a long-travel trailbike,
but the Process tucks in everything tightly without compromising tire clearance. The bar is a slight riser with plenty of
width. The rider, in classic trailbike position, is centered
between the wheels.
Moving out: The Process is a firm-pedaling bike
that doesn’t feel anywhere near its weight when get-
ting up to speed. The shock and fork have no pedaling-platform adjustments, and we never found ourselves wishing for them. The 2x10 drivetrain was
invented for this bike. There was always a gear
that felt right for the trail.
Cornering: The coil-sprung Lyric fork is a bulldog that refuses to unclamp its jaws from the chosen line. Backing up the fork’s performance is a
meaty Maxxis High Roller 2 that rolls along great
and still offers lots of side-knob bite. The rear suspension falls right into place for a balanced feel that
puts the rider in a total-control frame of mind.
In the rough: The Process comes alive in the
rough. Sections that cause hesitation on a 4-inch-travel
bike will inspire the Process rider. The operative word
here is “predictable.” You always know how the bike is
going to handle a rough situation, and that inspires confidence.
Climbing: While the suspension is not firm enough and the
bike is too heavy to be a factor on long, smooth climbs, watch
out on loose, technical climbs. The Process simply motors over
terrain. Stay seated and committed and you will be rewarded.
Descending: What we experienced in the rough was magnified while descending. The Process eats up the downhills in a
controlled and confident manner. The dropper post gets your
center of gravity lower, and, as an extra bonus, the bike
descends quietly. There is no annoying chain slap on any of
Braking: Kona gives you a 7-inch front rotor matched with
a 6-inch rear rotor, and the Avid Elixir 5 brakes like that combination. The braking power was easy to dole out. The rear
suspension felt active under braking, and these guys remained
silent throughout our testing.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
We used the platform pedals for the entire test without
complaint. If you do a lot of climbing, a clipless pedal
would be a sensible upgrade (but not mandatory).
RockShox offers fork springs in five different weights so
lighter or heavier riders can dial in their fork, but it
appears that Kona and RockShox have done their homework. Unless you are heavy or light for your height, you
shouldn’t have to mess with swapping springs.
The Process is simple to set up, and it should not require
a lot of attention to maintain. From its handlebar grips to
its tires, it doesn’t need a thing off the showroom floor.
The Process is ready to rock.
It is too much bike for smooth, rolling trails, but take
this baby to the rough world of big mountain riding and
you have a bike versatile enough to charge the descents and
then climb back up them. And, Kona has put it all together
at a great price.