This past November we introduced you to the new Kona Woo Fat Bike. The version we received came with the 12-speed NX Eagle kit. Here is the link to the first review article for all the specs and initial thoughts. https://fat-bike.com/2019/11/first-look-2020-kona-woo-by-jp-syverud. I decided to test this bike out on every style of trail condition. Someday I will ride a fat bike on the Moon but, until I join Space Force and travel up there, I tested this on gravel, fire roads, single track, sand, pavement, and various snow conditions.
To remain unbiased, I kept the bike completely stock except for adding a set of Crank Brother Double-shot pedals. Anyway, let’s get down to the big question. Who is this bike for? Is this the bike for you?
This bike has really impressed me. I like the slack feel of the Woo. This is a more trail orientated fatty and helps me feel more confident while descending sketchy terrain. The internal headset was a nice touch as well. You can adjust the bars and stem height more with the reduced stack height. The tapered headtube also puts the load right into the lower headset cup to make it feel stable and strong. The lowered bottom bracket height and dub press fit are both strong and stiff. I really like the 420mm short chainstays with the paragon sliders. The shorter chainstays with the lower bottom bracket really help this bike whip around berms and twisty single-track. The best way to describe this bike is it has a 1980’s mullet feel, business up front and party in the back.
I’m glad that Kona made this a 26er and not a fancy fandangle 27.5. I don’t think a bike with 27.5 tires and shorter chainstays are as nimble and playful on the corners and turns.
The Not So Bueno:
No bike is perfect, but for the price, this one comes close. The only notable negative with this bike is the drivetrain. I feel for this price point the bike should include the GX version of Eagle. The NX skipped a lot and it dropped the chain a bunch of times. I had to use SRAM’s plastic alignment tool 5 times in the past 6 weeks. I’ve ridden SRAM GX over the last few years and have never had issues with it coming out of alignment like the NX on our demo. (YMMV)
The bike weighs an even 33 pounds. That can easily be rectified with a little upgraditis. A tubeless conversion and some lighter components would shed a little weight. At this price point, this is a pretty common ‘out of the box’ weight. It seemed a bit heavy in the rear and super light in the front. To fix this, I put two full water bottles on the fork attachments. This helped quite a bit to displace the weight.
I had a small issue with my boot heels hitting the top of the rear stays. I don’t have huge feet or boots and quickly figured out I had to point my toes in a bit and adjust my cleats to an offset position. I was using my 45NRTH Red Wing Edition Wolvhammers in a size 43, so, if you have some big honking Hobbit feet you should definitely give this a bike a long test ride to make sure it works for you.
When the bike arrived Tio Gomez barely had it out of the box and set up when the urge to ride struck us. The very first ride I took was a snowy Single-track ride in his back yard. It felt heavy and sluggish at first, but after I tweaked the seat height and adjusted the handlebar angle, it was absolutely fine.
The next ride I had all the tweaks out and decided to test out some long twisty singletrack. I took it up to Levis mounds in Wisconsin. They had just got dumped with 6 inches of fluffy white stuff. Most of the trails were groomed the night before except the good tight single track leading up to the top of the mound. So, I decided to help “Groom” it old school style by riding it. No Snowdog required.
I usually use Centerline rotors and mechanical TRP Spyke brakes but these RT56 rotors and Shimano hydraulics stopped nicely with no excessive squealing or overheating. I can see why people use them. They are smooth as butter.
This bike was a lot of fun on the gravel and dirt roads. I took the Woo out on a sub-24-hour gravel bike packing excursion to Blue Mounds, Wisconsin when Wisconsin actually had some snow in early December. It rode effortlessly when it was all balanced out. I noticed I had to put more weight in the front to get the weight distributed proportionally. But once the weight was dialed in, it rode superbly. The Kona Woo is definitely a nice capable bike to take on some exploring missions of your choosing. Adding a front rack would help out the load balance. I do wish it had the option for a bolt-on rear rack, but you could still add a rack with after-market options.
When I took this bike to visit the beach, I did notice that it was pretty difficult to get the front tire’s pressure dialed. The stock tires ran great in the snow, but I struggled to find the sweet spot in the sand. I tend to run tires with less aggressive tread for beach rides. I like a tread pattern with lower rolling resistance and set up tubeless on the sand. The Woo would be a super sweet ride for anyone just getting into fat biking. The rims are tubeless-ready and should set up easily.
Kona has done a nice job of adding this to complete their full bike line up. It’s a solid bike. The Kona Woo sets itself apart by the nice color scheme. Kona has a lifetime warranty on this bike, just make sure you register it with Kona within the first three months of purchase.
I went on about 30 rides with the Woo, and I am confident recommending this bike to first time fat-bikers. Take the Woo bike-packing with friends for a night or a week. Go adventuring. Hit the beach. Take it off some sweet jumps. You won’t regret it. It is a solid option. Plus, the Kurt Cobain’s dreamy blue eyes color scheme is absolutely stunning. Pictures just don’t do it justice. Go find one at your local bike shop and check it out.