Thursday evening I had the opportunity to preview this season’s Kona Factory Team bike. This brand spanking new orange Kona belongs to Portland’s own Erik Tonkin, local legend and proprietor of Sellwood Cycle Repair.
The bike is orange. Very orange. It’s got a nice white panel on the down tube for the classy script Kona logo. You aren’t going to miss this bike when it whizzes past you in a race. Like Kona’s other cross offerings, the dérailleur cable routing is along the down tube. Erik prefers this routing because less housing means better shifting. Also, routing the rear mech cable along the chain stay eliminates the drip effect casued by water/mud running down the cabel when it’s routed along the seat stay. There’s also a lot of carbon on this rig which is kind of ironic given Erik’s druthers for outfitting a cross bike. The frame is fabricated from Kona’s propriatary scandium tubing. With all the carbon and scandium, the bike is predictably light.
There are two big updates this season. The first is the sheer number of FSA components on the bike this year. And since this is a factory team bike, Erik gets all the new ceramic bits in FSA’s lineup. The other change is the absence of Easton as a sponsor. That means Kona went to their own tubing and speced a True Temper Alpha Q CX20 fork.
The FSA K-Light wheels are what they say — darned light. I hefted the front and the rear and these things must be like riding on air. The rear with a Dura Ace cassette felt about as heavy as my front wheel. Of course they roll on ceramic bearings. The quick releases are well designed and engage the hubs as well as Shimano and Campy (the gold standards). Erik tells me these K-Lights might be the first ones in North America. Apparently he’s trying them out for the team. The wheels are adorned with a Griffo Challenge in the front and a Dugast in the rear. Both have been repaired with new tubes and base tape.
While Erik is a member of the Kona Factory Team, he isn’t under contract. That means he has more latitude with his equipment than do some of his teammates. His first modification was to replace the saddle with an SLR, though he did report that the WTB saddle felt pretty good. Initially he suggested he would most likely replace the Kore cantis with Pauls. He said the Kores set up well and worked fine but didn’t have the same quality as Pauls. However, in restrospect, he has decided to keep the Kores on the bike and believes they might be the best new brake out there.
Shimano sponsors most of the drive train and also provides the shoes. Erik doesn’t like to use carbon soled shoes for cross so he sticks with molded sole mountain bike shoes (Gaerne Samos). He uses the carbon soled Shimano mountain bike shoes when racing mountain and road. These shoes tend to be a little slick and he hasn’t had much luck gluing rubber in the right spots. The biggest problem is the slick area near the cleat that tends to make the pedal skate when trying to clip in. Erik also prefers the Shimano 959 pedals because of their superior bearings and durability.
Erik has been racing on the FSA carbon seat post through the mountain bike season and it has treated him well. He expects the same performance on the cross bike. The Easton carbon seat posts regularly failed the team in the past and he’s happy to have made the switch. He’s very glad not to be using carbon bars (Easton last season) since they have also suffered failures in the past.
Since I didn’t meet Erik until 7:00, the evening light was fading fast as I raced to snap some photos. I apologize for the substandard photos (kind of shaky and not so well focused).
- Front derailleur: FSA
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace
- Chain: Shimano Dura Ace
- Brifters: Shimano Dura Ace
- Cassette: Shimano Dura Ace (12-27)
- Crank: FSA SL-K Light 130bcd 39/46t (he’ll switch to a 42 single when he gets the rings from FSA)
- Bars: FSA Energy (traditional bend, shallow drop, alloy, 31.8mm/44cm c-c)
- Brakes: Kore canti
- Seat post: FSA K-Force
- Stem: FSA OS-115 (100mm/31.8mm)
- Wheels: FSA K-Force
- Seat: WTB Silverado Ti rails w/ kevlar patches (Now changed to Selle Italia SLR w/ tubular Ti rails)
- Frame: Kona scandium proprietary tubes
- Fork: True Temper Alpha Q CX20
- Pedals: Shimano 959
- Headset: FSA Orbit Xtreme Pro (alloy, non-integrated)
- Bottom bracket: FSA MegaExo Ceramic