Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kona Satori review

Kona came out with a couple new bikes this year that have really caught my eye and peaked my interest. One of which is the new 130mm travel Satori. I have been riding this bike for about 2 months now, and here is my review.

The Satori has a swing link 4 bar design, that allows the rear triangle to be relatively short (17.3 inch chainstays). This is important because a short rear end makes the bike much easier to manual, bunnyhop, and accelerate hard out of corners. It has a tapered headtube and 142x12mm rear axle to increase overall stiffness. A 68 degree head tube angle makes high speeds and steeps more manageable than your typical trail bike. An extremely important feature to me is the 13.3 inch high bottom bracket. This greatly lowers your overall center of gravity and helps the bike to rail corners extra hard, and feels like you can pop or bunnyhop higher as well.

It comes pretty well equipped for the price with a sram x-7 2x10 build up, a rp2 shock, and a monarch RLT fork. The highlights include a "real" 7inch front rotor with Elixir 5 brakes, and a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 front and 2.25 rear tire combo (my personal favorite for a 29er tire) and ISCG 05 tabs so you can run a proper chain guide. Kona says it wieghs about 30 pounds.

I immediately added a 60mm 0 rise stem and a 31 inch low rise handlebar. I feel the big wheel and big fork often raise the 29er front too high to properly weight the front end for aggressive cornering, so I lower the bars as much as possible with the stem and spacers. I also added a much needed KS dropper post. I still want to build up stronger/stiffer wheels and add a single front 36 tooth ring and a chainguide.

I think the only 2 things worth complaining about will not affect everyone and are mostly a matter of preference. The bike has a direct mount front derailleur and the chainguide mount. It doesn' t need both, and the dual front ring and derailleur were a let down, and could not retain the chain when riding fast in the rough. The Satori also comes spec'ed with a 24 spoke Easton vice wheelset that feels mushy, and soft. They are still straight after two months of abuse, including 3-4 foot drops and plenty of double jumps, etc, but I dont think they could take much more. I am 6'04" and 190 pounds and prefer really stiff wheels.

The bike feels like a balanced and well thought out package. The bottom bracket is really low and you might drag a pedal here and there if your not careful, but it is well worth it. The bike corners really hard and maintains speed effortlessly through the nastiest terrain. It navigates the tightest trails beautifully, and is extremely stable at speed. Brake jack was not an issue, and with a flip of the switch you can have fast firm climbing, or full, damp travel for the descent. I have been thrilled with this bike's climbing, and often clean new technical climbs I haven't been able to before. Then I drop the seat at the top and really surprise everyone with its downhill capability. I have gotten away with jumping it farther and faster than it was probably designed for. It feels much more playful than a 29er should be, and begs to brake late, and be stuffed into corners with excessive speed. Overall I am really happy with the bike. I feel I got a really good value, and a very capable trailbike. It seems that people are constantly surprised by how fast and hard these new 29ers can be ridden. It has inspired my speed and confidence so much that I think I will race a few enduro's on it this summer.

Try one for yourself. Get stoked.


  1. Thanks for this really helpful review, I've got a Satori on order and look forward to riding it more after reading this.


  2. What size frame are you on. I'm also 6'4" and thinking about getting one.

  3. Hello! Thank you for the great review...I'm in the market for a new mountain bike, and had made up my mind that I would get a Cannondale Jekyll, and written off the 29'er to be a capable all mountain bike that could be ridden fast downhill. I'm demo'ing a Satori tomorrow, and will definitely go into with a much more open mind.