Our Third and Final Test Cycle of the 2014 Kona Wo
By : Michael McColgan
When the Kona Wo arrived at my doorstep, I was very excited to get her put together and out on the trail, for several reasons. The obvious one is it’s a new fatbike to play with and I like to play bikes. Also, there was a lot of hullabaloo on the webspace about the components on the bike, and it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
After a month of putting her through the paces, I am more than satisfied with everything this bike has to offer. No, it doesn’t have the top of the line name brand components, but it’s priced to be an entry level fatty, and you’re getting more than you bargained for. Although with any entry level bike, I think you should spend a couple bucks and replace the shifter and brake cables/housing. One of the easiest upgrades you can do.
I had been tasked to give my thoughts on how the Wo handles in the snow but when she arrived, there was no snow to be found. But it did arrive in time for Global Fat Bike Day and I did what all the Nebraska fatbike riders do on that special day; headed to Manawa State Park in Iowa with its flat, but tight singletrack.
The first thing everyone noticed was the bars. While Gomez shipped her to me with three bar choices, I figure the best way to tell you what’s awesome/not so awesome was to ride the Wo as a stock bike. And I love the Jones Loop H-Bar and the sweep was the same so I figure I’d keep it on the bike.
While I waited/hoped for snow, I put the Wo through the paces and the ride is what you expect. It’s a great frame with an entry level component package. The overall ride is above average, not great, but you’re also not dropping 5K on this bike either.
When I finally got the chance to see what she could do in the snow, I wasn’t disappointed. It was obvious that Kona put together a bike not only for the snow, but the year round fat biker. I was a huge fan of the fork and it’s clearance for five inch tires, and I loved the frame design with its sloped top tube for a little extra protection for the inevitable slips, but I had my reservations about the tires, which didn’t have the aggressive tread pattern I’m used to.
That’s not to say the tires are bad, they are just designed to be a year round tire, they’re just not the aggressive tread pattern I’m used to. That just means some places I had to take a turn a little slower and a couple of climbs had me sitting and spinning instead of standing and mashing. The 2×9 drivetrain was geared low enough that I could spin up some hills and high enough that I could keep up on the flats.
As far as my awesome/not so awesome list, under the awesome I put the bike as a whole. I think it’s a good deal for an entry level fatty, or a great frame to build up your personal version of perfection. The not so awesome to me are the parts that would be on my early upgrade list. Everything does what it’s supposed to do, but there are a couple places upgrades would make an immediate improvement. As I said earlier, I’d put new cables/housing in right away, but I think that should be done to pretty much every entry level bike. After that, I would grab a more aggressive tire for the rear, then just ride the rest of the stock parts package till you break or wear out components and then upgrade as needed.
Overall, I think Kona did a great job on their first foray into the world of fat. They’ve put out bike that’s a blast to ride and won’t break the bank. If you want to ride a fatty and don’t have the funds to walk off the shop floor with your dream bike, this ride should be on your shortlist. I’d give her four out of five gnomes.