Mountain Bike Action Bike Test: Kona Process 153 DL 29 All-Mountain Bike
KONA PROCESS 153 DL 29
Kona’s Process 153 is its enduro bruiser that’s capable enough to bring professional racer Miranda Miller EWS podium success. It’s also the go-to bike for Kona staff riders looking to take on the rugged terrain the Pacific Northwest has to offer. This year, Kona introduced a more affordable version of the Process 153, now offering it with an aluminum chassis. Kona offers the alloy Process in three models with both 29-inch and 27.5-inch tires. This month, the MBA wrecking crew grabbed the Deluxe aluminum Process and hit the trails to see what this new shredder is made of.
Constructed from a 6061 aluminum butted frame and offering 153mm of suspension travel, the Process is ready to charge through challenging singletrack. Kona built the Process with short 435mm chainstays and a progressive leverage curve for a stable yet playful ride and a bottomless feel. The Process also received a new Rocker link and kinematic suspension update designed to further enhance its progressive curve through the crucial parts of its stroke. Next, Kona designed a deeper seat tube, allowing for long-travel dropper posts. The bike has a slack 64.5-degree head tube angle paired with a 160mm-travel fork.
Tire size: 29”
Kona’s Deluxe model Process offers a nice list of components from SRAM, RockShox and WTB. It also features a unique adjustable dropper post from Trans-X. The post’s travel can be internally adjusted by 30mm, ensuring riders of all heights receive optimal dropper-post travel. Powering this bike up and down the trails is a 12-speed SRAM NX drivetrain. The bumps are handled by a RockShox Lyrik and Super Deluxe shock. The bike rolls on WTB KOM Trail i30 wheels that are tubeless ready and wrapped with grippy Maxxis tires. Last but not least is a powerful pair of SRAM G2 brakes mounted to Kona’s house-branded cockpit.
Suspension: 160mm front, 153mm rear
The Process pivots on Beamer independent suspension, offering 153mm of travel. The latest model of the Process 153 was redesigned to offer more progression between key areas of the stroke. Kona claims around 13-percent progression from the 30- to 95-percent travel mark. These updated kinematics deliver a plush, off-the-top feel that gets more progressive through the travel, keeping the fork high in its stroke. Approaching big hits, it soaks up the landing with a controlled feel, but riders can expect to feel the trail through the bike.
DOWN AND DIRTY
The Process 153 is an all-mountain bruiser made to handle free-ride lines or laps around your local trails. The bike requires a good effort to get up the trails, but rewards riders with a bombproof feel on the way back down. The bike provides confidence and stability throughout the entire descent.
The Process is no slouch, but its hefty build requires riders to put in the work to earn their turns coming back down. We noticed very little if any pedal bob, and actually found the bike pedaled quite well over most sections of terrain. The bike provides a comfortable seated position with a forward-leaning seat tube that balances rider weight well. On steep climbs, the Process delivers a planted front wheel to keep steering under control and a traction-filled rear end that helps deliver power to the ground.
Kona’s roots bleed through once the Process is pointed downhill. This shred-worthy bike is incredibly playful, yet stable and confident, all at the same time. Riders aboard the Process will have no issue tossing this bike around and going for bonus features anywhere on the trail. When the trails get rough, the bike tends to bounce a bit more than bikes with other suspension linkage designs, but it didn’t slow our test riders down. Some saw the added trail chatter as a better connection with the terrain, while other riders hoped for a plusher feel. The Process 153 is the most fun for riders who enjoy popping off every obstacle in sight and slashing around turns. The bike is highly capable and often made us forget we were riding a 29er on account of its playful characteristics.
Kona did a nice job of spending money where it counts. From quality suspension to well-spec’d tires to an adjustable-travel dropper post, this bike is well-appointed right out of the box. That said, riders looking for a lighter-weight package may want to look into upgrades. The Process could quickly shed some grams with a lighter crankset and a lightweight enduro wheelset. A less-expensive option would be to replace the alloy handlebar with a carbon one. Overall, the Process 153 delivers value and performance right off the showroom floor.
Riders looking for a bike that will handle their local climbs and take full advantage of descents will find the new Process is a great tool for the job. It offers a solid design and proven suspension that can handle most any trail. Considering its price and the parts included, the new Process merits the recommendation of the Mountain Bike Action crew. We would recommend the new Process to our closest friends seeking value and performance.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.