- Kona 1988-1997 – WTF Happened Then?
Ok,so was out of biking since in or around 1998 (distracted by college, beer, boobies etc.), born again ten years later. Gotten my head around all the advances, the dead ends, big wheels, small wheels, neon, lycra, purple, freeride, gnar, fartknocking hardtails etc.
One thing I can’t figure out is WTF happened Kona? Had to go on retrobike to check it wasn’t a teenage dream, but no, a 1994 Explosif still looks cool as ****.
So can anyone enlighten me as to how a bike co. producing metal as cool as a ’67 Alfa Spider Boat Tail turned into the Kia of the MTB world in 10 short years?Posted 6 years ago
Nothing like a holiday romance is there?
Maybe he’s got that gift like Christopher Walken used have before he took to storing timepieces in his rectum and when he stuck it in her he got a glimpse of her in the future looking like a human-trout hybrid and Mr Floppy came to town.Posted 6 years agomboySubscriber
So can anyone enlighten me as to how a bike co. producing metal as cool as a ’67 Alfa Spider Boat Tail turned into the Kia of the MTB world in 10 short years?
Their focus changed IMO
Where they were once known for producing fine quality steel hardtails, they then started focussing on long travel full sus bikes capable of being beaten up day in day out by BC’s most extreme freeriders. And their hardtails largely followed suit too.
Doesn’t help that in the UK they started selling them in Halfords a good number of years ago either.Posted 6 years agoyossarianMember
The modding on here has become pretty silly but there we are. Anyway, I reckon kona stayed cool until perhaps 2000. Quite apart from the steel hardtail thing do you remember the rasta themed stinky with the bendy downtube? Kona started to drift away from it’s roots after that.Posted 6 years agoclubberMember
I think Kona just became a bit me too generic. Their full sussers were perceived as a bit basic, the hardtails were no different to other brands and the spec on the bikes was typically not very good for the pricepoint. That coinciding with selling at Halfords didn’t really help either.
My 95 Kilauea. Still cool as <naughty word I won’t say>Posted 6 years ago
turned into the Kia of the MTB world in 10 short years?
Their focus changed IMO
I don’t think it did.
Sure, Joe Murray left, but IIRC from back in the day Mr Murray was a bit of a downhiller. Look at early 90s Konas: Unremarkable at the back, but look at that front end! Oversize headset (rare) tough, straight bladed forks, 2.2in tyre when everyone else was on 1.95in. All Kona/Murray branded parts. Now remember, this was when people went downhilling on the same bike they did XC on, and konas were built like that to make going downhill faster and more fun.
Over the years downhilling gained suspension, more speed, more requirement for toughness, and along came freeriding, which is more of the same really, but bigger!
Konas bikes follwed on, they got tougher. Even the hardtails did (Hoss) the same.
Some people have this idea that if a bike is sold in a certain shop, that makes it worse. Wrong. It just meanss you can buy one there, doesn’t it?
I’ll tell you right now, I’ve had several Konas and loved them all. (I’ve had more Konas than any other make actually) And Right now, I’d choose a Kona over a Giant, Scott, Lapierre, Focus, BMC, Commencal (Any of those Euro brands) Orange, Santa Cruz, Cotic, Cannondale and a few others I can’t think of right now…..Posted 6 years agoCoyoteSubscriber
I’d agree with PP. I’ve just bought an old steel Kona that I’m really looking forward to building up. I’ve ridden a few Konas over the years and for me they work. I disagree over the looks thing too, the new Operator is a thing of beauty.
Konas a built to do a job and they do it very well.Posted 6 years ago1freezingpenguinMember
For hardtails imo Kona lost it when they stopped doing the steel framed Cindercone, Kilauea and Caldera. The Cindercone use to always win best budget racer/hardtail then they went to the gopping square/round tube aluminium and for me they were never the same.Posted 6 years agoThree_FishMember
Doesn’t help that in the UK they started selling them in Halfords a good number of years ago either.
That. ‘Serious’ riders wouldn’t want to be seen on something from Halfords.
I should add that this is not my position; but perception is primary for many people, including the MTB press, and Kona became a supermarket bike brand. Big shame, really.Posted 6 years agokimbersSubscriber
well I still have a 97 lava dome It’s my commuter now
then I got a 99 mini mula but snapped the top tube as my riding got more ‘free’
then got am 02 bear deelux which I rode in 2 megavalanches , UK dh races and uplifyt days and xc all over the UK
then I built up an 02 stab for holographic and dh did the mega on it again then swapped onto am 06 stinky which is my dh bike
finally retired the bear last year for an 08 scandium dawg
kona never lost it they’ve kept making brilliant bikes – every one icr owned has been perfect for what it was designed for
and I’m considering the new operator as the reviews all say its the best value dh bike out there
kona haven’t lost anything peoples perception of them has changed thoPosted 6 years agocrazy-legsSubscriber
A very similar thing happened with Saracen. Both brands had classic, well thought of steel and Ti hardtails which looked very cool (for the day). Kona then moved into burlier bikes, several changes in graphics and a marked decrease in the quality of components fitted. For Saracen, it was a change of direction into the cheap mass-market end of the spectrum (although Kona sort of aimed there too with moving into Halfords). Whatever you think about Halfords, it’s far and away the UK’s biggest bike retailer but the vast majority of people buying bikes there are doing so at <£300 so for Kona to be selling bikes there priced at £700, it’s a difficult sell. Saracen on the other hand had the <£300 full sus market for quite a while but the serious MTBers went way off the brand.
Kona used to do all their own brand kit (Curve) which was mostly very good apart from the brakes which were universally shit. When they stopped doing Curve stuff and went to OEM, it was always a peg or two below comparable priced bikes. Specialized/Trek etc at £xxx would have Deore and RockShox, Kona at same price would have Alivio and cheapo Marzocchi which put the weight up substantially. Just not good VFM.
Combination of high priced bikes in Halfords (compared to the mass of cheap ones there) and poor VFM bikes in normal high street bike shops really damaged the brand.Posted 6 years agoReluctantMember
There ya go…….a post ’97 Kona that’s cool as you like. I understand what the OP is getting at – the clumpiness of a lot of newer Kona’s doesn’t appeal to me either. But they ain’t all bad and maybe a steel comes into fashion again, we’ll see more old skool pretty looking bikes.Posted 6 years agojimjamMember
Things started to go off about ’06 ’07. Kona had invested massively in creating a reputation as a top gravity brand, they had top riders in all the big freeride films and Fabien Barel doing the business on the wc circuit. Then gradually things started to get stale.
The new generation of freeriders, McCaul, Berrecloth, Hunter, Sorge and co were missed by Kona and started creating amazing marketing for their competitors on progressive new bikes while Kona’s new riders seemed more dj and slopestyle focues. Then Kona canceled their DH race programe. Like it or not freeride and particularly DH are the F1/WRC of mtb. They are what sell brands and Kona dropped the ball. While other companies were trying hard to be seen to be developing new technologies, Kona stuck with the faux bar. Year on year, the only thing to differentiate a new Kona from the old one seemed to be an uglier paint job and a bigger price tag.
They are bloody expensive for what you get too.Posted 6 years ago
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