Long Termers: James’ Kona Process 111

by
March 24, 2015

James' Kona Process 111 Long Termer

Brand: Kona
Product: Process 111
From: Kona Europe
Price: £3,599.00
Tested: by James for since September '14

Staffer James and his Kona Process 111 long termer.

The Kona Process 111: made for moss
The Kona Process 111: made for moss

I rode the Kona Process 111 here, there & everywhere when it was in for issue 93’s bike test.

I was impressed by how capable and rewarding this long’n’low, short travel (111mm rear & 120mm front), big-wheel bike was. It has great fit & balance, the rider’s weight distribution is centred and there is an ease of movement about the bike, with none of that overcompensating with weight shifts.

So I stopped gazing at longer travel bikes and wondered what it would be like to hang on to the 111 and ride it for a longer period of time… happily, Kona Europe obliged.

James' happy face
James’ happy face
Filth lurking just out of shot
Filth lurking just out of shot

After hearing that I could hang onto the Process for a while I disappeared into the workshop to make some simple seasonal changes for wet weather riding before heading out into the filth.

The first job was to replace the stock tyres (Maxxis Ardents) for more condition appropriate rubber – mo’ grip, less slip mud tyres from Maxxis, in the Beaver (rear) & Shorty (front) pairing.

Second job – zip-tie a Mudhugger to the Pike fork. It’s a front mudguard, designed and made in Britain, simple, lightweight and offering a good level of protection for my face and headset bearings from errant clart.

The last job was to switch the stock saddle for a DMR Stage1, another long term test product.

The British-designed and made Mudhugger
The British-designed and made Mudhugger
Mud tyres from Maxxis
Mud tyres from Maxxis
DMR's Tangfastic-specific Stage1 saddle
DMR’s Tangfastic-specific Stage1 saddle

Then I went out riding. First on my local trails for a sideways and steep play day, and then pedalling for miles and miles on a big ol’ day ride (+35 miles) in and out of the valley sides and up onto the tops.

With the seat down and riding hard trying to solve technical trail puzzles or going the distance on longer forays into the hills, I am happy with how the 111 rides in varied situations. It’s versatile, capable and comfortable.

Solving a technical trail puzzle, or just dicking about? You decide...
Solving a technical trail puzzle, or just dicking about? You decide…

The rear wheel needed attention after the first couple of rides. The rear end started to feel a little odd – the hub had developed some play, easily solved by adjusting the locknut on the axle and adding dab of Loctite on the threads to keep it there. It hasn’t come loose since.

KonaProcess44

The stock wheels (WTB ST i23 TCS w/Novatec hubs) have been standing up well to aggressive riding. They have a good rim width – not super wide but generous enough to support tyres well. I have managed to ding the rear rim and loosen a couple of spokes– par for the course really, when you case a jump and land on a rock. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed by a few spoke key tweaks and the rim is not damaged enough to be unuseable. They set up tubeless easily too, with rims already taped and valves supplied.

KonaProcess6

KonaProcess9

The 111 features on Kona’s site in its enduro category and on the handlebar there is an XC/BC graphic in an AC/DC style…for me this says it all, the Process 111 rocks! It shines for progressive XC. Progressive XC? What does that mean then? Well, it’s an XC bike that is not focused on racing; its focus is fun and it relishes a technical trail challenge.If in doubt give it some beans. Pop, sweat and smile! This is a robust and dependable chassis with super-low standover that offers efficient pedalling, balanced geometry and a considered component spec, that all combine to give a fun and engaging ride.

KonaProcess28

Stacks of standover
Stacks of standover

It’s a well proportioned bike too, with a layout that puts me in a good place from which to control the bike easily. I can pump downslopes and launch off rises. It is easy to understand and find grip and balance points, handling is intuitive and the progressive suspension is simple to get on with, with no oddness. This gives a high level of confidence and capability that you have to keep in check when you’re haulin’ and heading into the danger zone/find yourself on a Highway to Hell!

It is after all still a short travel bike and in demanding terrain that is rough and rocky, with repeated hits, you’ll find its limits sooner than you would a longer travel bike. Pretty obvious really. Play to the Process’ strengths – it is a precision tool with agility that can be skimmed down the trail. The stability and balance will get you there at speed. Rewards come from a flow and finesse approach – it’s not a plough.

Sploosh!
Sploosh!

The bike has been covered in a winter coat of detritus and trail debris and has still fared well, requiring very little maintenance. The press-fit bottom bracket and the big swingarm bearings are still running smoothly and the gears still shift fine; however I’ve had some difficulty removing the X1 cassette when I went to fit a pair of Hope Tech Enduro 29in wheels this past weekend. This suggests that a deeper level clean may be in order in readiness for more riding, whether it be short blasts or days out locally and further afield… Spring’s almost here and the sun will shine! I’m hoping to go rally the Process at the PMBA Grizedale event at the end of April… braaaaap! For peace of mind I’ll be fitting an MRP AMG chainguide to the frame’s ISCG mounts.

Smiles for miles
Smiles for miles

The Process 111 is such a fun and confident bike…the special blend of geometry, progressive suspension with justenoughtravel™ and wide-rimmed 29in wheels works well for a broad spectrum of riding. Three months of dark and damp winter riding after it first came into my life, it still delivers good times and puts a smile on my face performing well for longer (get the miles in) rides as well as leckin about int’ woods slithers. I’m looking forward to further adventures as we get stuck into spring.

Springing!
Springing!

What’s changed:

Maxxis Shorty 29 x 2.30in 3C Maxx Terra Tubeless Ready, £49.99
Maxxis Beaver 29 x 2.25in EXO, £42.99
Both from One Industries Europe, oneindustrieseurope.com, maxxis.co.uk

Mudhugger standard front w/extender, £18.00
From Mudhugger, themudhugger.co.uk/

DMR stage 1 saddle, £49.99
From Upgrade, upgradebikes.co.uk

Happy Face sticker for good vibes, £1 for a sheet of 50
From local bits n’ pieces shop

 

Premier Partners

Categorised as:

Bikes Long Termers review