Bike Review: Kona Process X Trail Bike
Kona Process X
The Process line from Kona offers three different travel options, along with multiple build kits to meet your desired price point. The Process X is the heavy hitter of the group, earning the letter X for its adjustable travel. Meanwhile, the Process 134 and 153 are direct representations of their rear-wheel travel in millimeters. The Process X is designed for enduro racers and aggressive trail riders looking for a point-and-shoot bike for race day or blasting down the bike-park trails. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of the Process X to find out what this new Kona is all about.
Kona’s employees love to ride as much as they love building great bikes. The team’s passion for riding allows them to pick up on small details that make huge differences when riding, servicing or transporting their bikes. First and foremost is the tuneability the Process X offers. Every frame size comes with a Flip Chip in the linkage, allowing for the use of either a 27.5-inch or 29-inch rear wheel. These chips help preserve bottom-bracket height for the respective rear wheel size. Small Process X frames come standard with a 27.5-inch wheel in back and a 29er in front. Medium, large and XL sizes offer 29-inch wheels front and back.
Kona designed the Process with tube-in-tube cable routing, allowing mechanics to easily swap components, and a Y-connector offers clean cable routing for regular or moto-style brakes. Kona reduced the seat tube length, providing additional clearance for long-travel droppers, and offers adjustable chainstay lengths using a rear-axle Flip Chip. This adjustment to the rear-axle positions not only changes the riding characteristics but also slightly changes the amount of rear-wheel travel.
Last but not least, the Process received bottom-bracket and downtube protection, along with an additional guard that protects the frame while the bike is being transported on a tailgate pad.
The Process X is offered in two build kits, including the one you see here, along with a Deluxe model showcasing additional bells and whistles. The top-of-the-line CR/DL model demands a price of $8799, while our standard-trim test bike retails for $5999. The key difference is that the Deluxe offers a SRAM and RockShox build kit while the standard X model has Shimano and Fox components.
While the bike we tested wasn’t the cream of the crop, it’s still a highly competitive enduro bike build with a great list of parts. A true standout is the Fox 38 fork, offering buttery-smooth suspension action and unrivaled stiffness. Meanwhile, the drivetrain combines Shimano XT shifting with an SLX cassette and a Deore crankset. The brakes are also Deore with four-piston calipers. Kona made sure that all size frames could carry a water bottle and run maximum-travel dropper posts.
The bike rolls on DT Swiss wheels with grippy Maxxis rubber and provides the pilot with a Kona-branded cockpit. A Shimano dropperpost lever provides an out-of-the-box upgrade over other standard dropper-post levers.
Kona naturally went with its link-driven, single-pivot Beamer suspension design to keep the Process X performing at its best. This bike is said to play nice with both air and coil shocks, thanks to its revised leverage curve. The Process isn’t a bike that gets overly harsh as you work your way through its travel; it manages to retain a nice amount of small-bump compliance. It has a predictable suspension feel throughout its travel.
Speaking of travel, we mentioned the Process X has some adjustability. While for marketing purposes Kona claims the Process has 161mm of travel, the bike actually provides 158mm or 164mm of travel depending on the position of the rear axle. In the longer setting, the wheel has more room to arc while the shorter position pulls the rear wheel in towards the bike for slightly less travel.
DOWN AND DIRTY
The Process X is a go-fast enduro bike built for the likes of Connor Fearon and Miranda Miller. In fact, we’re likely to see those two elite athletes racing this bike down some downhill tracks and most enduro courses. The Process X is for the rider who dares to push the limits of speed while having the ability to earn each descent in between.
Considering this Kona is a long-travel enduro bike, you can’t exactly expect it to race up the mountain; however, its eagerness to fly back down the mountain offers riders emotional support as they power their way up the trails. The Kona puts riders in a powerful climbing position when seated, thanks to the 78-degree seat tube angle. That, combined with a traction-filled suspension design, gives riders the ability to clear technical climbs or lay down a consistent pace up fire roads. While you might not beat your cross-country friends to the top of the hill, the bike will greatly reward your effort as the trails point down.
It’s hard to avoid the marketing buzz words “long,” “slack” and “low” when talking about this Kona, because the Process X is just that. It’s a super-long and slacked-out bike that absolutely loves pointing itself down an open singletrack. Additionally, the multiple adjustment points allowed us to fine-tune the ride to our liking.
Riders can experiment with mullet-wheel sizing with the linkage Flip Chip or use the rear-end chip to customize wheelbase and travel. Our testers preferred the bike in the short wheelbase setting combined with 29-inch front and rear wheels.
Running wild is this bike’s favorite thing to do. The Process could be a great option for aggressive trail riders, enduro racers or even some bike-park junkies.
MODS AND UPGRADES
Considering the bike costs $6000, we would’ve liked to have seen slightly higher level components, but we understand that compromises had to be made. Kona offers an excellent drivetrain and suspension package but elected to save money on the crankset and brakes. These two areas are where we would look to upgrade further down the line. That said, out of the box, it’s a solid package capable of conquering just about every trail.
The bottom line is that the Process X might not be for everyone. It’s a bike built for riders who want to send big jumps, rail corners and cause trees to blur past like telephone poles on the highway. If you think you can handle a bike that demands such a confident rider, the Process X is hard to beat.
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