It feels as though it was just yesterday when Hannah played on Kona’s current #dirtydropbargoodness range in the dust last year. Times move fast in the bike industry though. Kona‘s latest gravel bike isn’t exactly a huge surprise – the keen eyed will have spotted it at Sea Otter, Eurobike and the Dirty Kanza already. The time has come for the company to formally launch it though, so here’s the full lowdown.
As gravel bikes diversify, it seems increasingly necessary for companies to describe what kind of gravel riding their bikes are designed for. Kona has set out its stall early with the Libre – it’s for everything from road to trail riding. Looking at the current Kona range, it is designed as something between the Rove and Sutra, taking the more relaxed geometry and luggage carrying ability of the Sutra with the Rove’s carbon frame and shorter chainstays.
One Bike, All Surfaces
Good things come to those who wait. If road biking were to dream up a version of itself that was capable of not only smashing distance on pavement, but also excel at actual trail riding, it would fall in love with the Libre. Light and fast are the motto with carbon frames, wheel size interchangeability, and two specs that are aimed to perform. No matter the distance or terrain, the Libre is the answer.
So, one frame, two bike specifications – which are more than simple “build to a price point” changes.
Kona describe the DL as the ultimate adventure machine. Both Libre bikes come with a carbon frame and Kona Verso carbon touring fork. Both frame and fork are scattered with bosses for multiple mounting options – Anything Cages, racks, bottles, bento boxes are all catered for. The frame features internal cable routing (including the option for an internally routed dropper post). The DL comes with a high end spec list: Easton EA70AX 700c wheels (shod with 45c tyres) and SRAM Force 1 groupset/braking being the highlights. Price is £3699.
The Libre isn’t simply a cheaper version of the DL (although, it is significantly less expensive at £2899). It swaps the 1x gearing for a Shimano 105 2×11 drivetrain for maximum gear range, and uses WTB 650b tubeless ready wheels in place of the Easton 700c numbers – giving even larger clearance for high volume tyres (the Libre build comes with 47c WTB Byways). We see this as being a little more versatile if your chosen preference is loading up the bike and heading into the distance for multiple days.
Both framesets feature everything that has become standard on gravel bikes in the last few years: tapered headtube, bolt-through axles front and rear, flat-mount brakes and a Press-Fit bottom bracket. We’ve got no problems with any of that, with the possible exception of Press-Fit. Give us a threaded number any day of the week.
To celebrate the release of the bike, Kona sent 24hr World Solo MTB Champ Cory Wallace along on his inaugural 200 mile race. It’s a cracking story and with some stunning images spare a bit of time to enjoy the photo story here: http://stories.konaworld