Kona WO – Mid-Term Testing


We’re about two thirds of the way around the testing of Kona’s first foray into the fat bike genre. I shared a product intro of the Kona back in October. We’ve given two new contributors a crack at testing the WO. Each will spend the better part of a month with the bike. Our report today is from my brother from another mother, Ernesto Martinez-Ordaz. You may know Ernesto from his soy based chain lube ‘ernestolube’. Ernesto owned a fat-bike, but then lost it in a dice game, so we hooked him up with the WO for him to evaluate. As you read this the Kona is undergoing snow testing with Michael McColgan and we’ll share his report in January.

But First… My Two Cents

I rode the WO for a couple of weeks before we passed it on to Ernesto. The WO has a very similar ride to the way that I remember my first pugsley felt (portly, but fun). The ride was normal or nondescript, which is way better than saying that there were unpleasant surprises. The component mix, which has received negative commentary on the forums, worked fine, but also contributes to the thirty-seven pound WO-Fatness. Another thing to keep in mind, is that I only tested the bike for the first 3 weeks of its life, so my impressions have no basis for how long they will stay working. I took the WO out to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in the hilly driftless region in Southwest Wisconsin for a weekend and it did everything that I asked of it. While not the easiest bike to climb, the fun factor was definitely there in spades, when things leveled out or zoomed downhill. As with every freshman offering, there are a few areas that could use some tweaking. The cable routing should be moved to avoid the slush zone down on the bottom bracket. The wheels could lose some weight and as we mentioned in our first post about the Wo, the handlebars  didn’t fit my particular comfort settings, but YMMV. I’m going to give the Kona WO 3 1/2 out of 5 gnomes.

Next up in my good friend Netto’s review. Ernesto once uttered three hundred and twenty-seven non sequiturs in an mtbr forum thread and is the OG (original gaucho) that put the ‘gnome’ in gnomefest!

Ernesto on the Beach

Observations on the 2014 KONA WO

On a rainy afternoon, I swing my leg over the Rad Side of the Force known as the Kona WO.  This is no ordinary Rad Side, this is the kind of bike that when ridden, makes you wish you could quit your job and just go on a forever adventure for the rest of your life. Indiana Jones style.

Original handlebar had to go. Not comfortable for a mere mortal and not conducive to proper climbing. So take note, the original handlebar was replaced with a much more comfortable riser bar that made sense. Comfort makes sense.

The WO is already sturdy. The frame is made with KONA 6061 Aluminum. Some people like either aluminum or steel. I like either, and with a fat bike made of aluminum, it doesn’t matter if the bike “feels” stiff. It’s the tires silly, it’s the tires that make up the difference.  And while it seems to be in the development phase of its embryonic birth, it does need bike rack eyelets, aka, braze-ons on the fork and back of frame for racks. One single eyelet in the middle of the fork crown won’t do if one wants to install a rack. Why install a rack? Up front? Because it is another part of the bike to carry stuff you’ll need during the impending apocalypse. I can see Mad Max riding a fat bike. I can see him riding his Kona WO in the middle of the desert, biking  away from Tina Turner and Master Blaster. If I could, I’d remake Mad Max, and everyone would ride fat bike contraptions. And have a nice warm bowl of emu chili.


This Kona WO did get a dose of Ernesto Lube on the chain after a moist ride. Ernesto Lube was the lube that was invented out of necessity with my cell mates in a Turkish prison.

The fork has additional braze-ons for bottle / cages. So drink up butter cup! Bring your bottle of mead for whatever ails ya, even a bottle of warm gravy for those instances when gravy becomes currency.  But seriously, one hole on the fork crown? No. Kona, I ask Santa to please install two eyelets up top of the fork blades.

P1100586The Mission tires gripped well on packed sand with 10psi. The tires have a good grip on gravel, where it was ridden mostly. They corner like gum-chewing-hookers down the alley.  Good flotation at the beach. Too bad it isn’t summer, otherwise there would be pictures of bikini-clad ladies drooling over this monster machine of the sand.

All praise the Kona WO’s (chunky) wheelset!  The 9mm skewers are a nice upgrade from standard sized ones you’ll get from regular hubs. Beefy like a beefcake because this bike demands it. If you have the ability, endurance, and stamina, this bike climbs well a la hungry goat spotting a nice leafy morsel on the side of a cliff. Of course it is an exaggeration – the thing about the goat. It does climb if you ride it in the flatlands. Kona did good in the fiasco department and produced something that rides well.

The components are pretty basic. No need to upgrade right away. The WO is a smile factory. You’ll get a sore face, while you try to wear things out. The WO comes with a plethora of balance and aesthetics. It’s a bike designed for fun excursions on messy terrain. I say why upgrade to a pricier component system if this bike is meant to handle dirt like an angry mule? Lower level components are better than they’ve ever been.

Vertical dropouts on this bike are a blessing. No fidgeting with proper wheel setting. Just plop the wheel and off you go. Besides, who’d want to ride a fat bike in a single speed demeanor? Been there and it isn’t fun. Fat bikes are meant to have gears and them shifty mechanisms to go up and over tidal debris, mountain ranges, back yards, deep frothy slurm and your urban jungles.

This bike made me momentarily exempt from natural law because it is a fun ride. Makes one remember that riding a bike is fun, and fat tires this fat allow for more riding where other bikes shy away.

Alright kids, time to go to bed. Put on your pajamas and blow out the lantern. Make sure you keep an onion in the sock drawer. Keeps the boogeyman away.



For more information about Kona visit – http://www.konaworld.com/


Editor’s Note : Don’t grumble too much if the last part of this review makes your brain feel funny. ~gomez~



About Gomez 2576 Articles
Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.


  1. Kona named it the “Wo” because the first time that you go over to check out the bike and pick it up, the natural response is, “Wo!” Nuff said!

    • Voici un avis d’un petit français quant au Wo! D’abord c’est un vrai VTT qui descend et monte bien aussi, le tout est de pédaler régulier sans chercher la vitesse. Je roule avec dans la boue, les pierres et les racines… mon vélociste m’a installé un guidon plat et des freins Avid BB7 pour le même prix. De mon coté j’ai monté à l’arrière un pneu Surly Nate et à l’avant un pneu Surly Bud!
      ça roule beaucoup mieux! Mais j’ai acheté le WO parce qu’il était moins cher que le Salsa Mukluck et je me deamnde si j’ai eu raison car déjà un ajout de 230 Euros pour les pneus (320 dollars)?

  2. Wo, someone hit that frame with an ugly-stick! As my Dad would say, “she’s no oil painting.”
    Speaking of ugly… yeah, swept-back bars are kind of ugly, but it’s saddens me a little (but doesn’t surprise me) that people right them off without giving them a chance. Same thing happened with the Haro Mary.
    Having ridden my Pugsley singlespeed the last seven years set-up with On-One Mary bars, they are just fantastic for climbing, especially when standing. I’m old enough to remember bar-ends and it’s a similar feeling with your arms hanging naturally at your side and the bike rocking beneath you. But hey, each to their own.
    I wish Kona well. They don’t seem to have that “rule the world” mentality some of the other big players exude and the more fat-options out there the better.

  3. Yo for the Wo,

    I’ve been riding this fat beast since late October with a couple hundred miles of New England single track dirt and snow and am having a blast. I love the frame and geometry and as others have–the bars were switched day one. Easton carbon risers are perfect for comfort and a back friendly push.
    Picking away at parts–XO gripshifters and 9 rear and those heavy ugly levers were replaced with my old and trusty Altek machined aluminum set.
    Nates for winter grip and Wo is Go anywhere I’ve taken her.
    My face is fused into a big fat smile and this great winter of snow isn’t half over.
    Weight? I thought fat bikes were supposed to be. I don’t think about it while riding. I’m having wo much fun.

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