KONA PROCESS 153 DL - BIKE TEST
Updated: Jan 18
Kona have to be one of our favourite brands here at Descend. Having Connor Fearon ride for them does help.... he’s just a top guy! The current line of bikes that Kona are pushing out include a few great looking 29” options. This Process 153 DL is one of them.
We got our hands on the aluminium bike with a mid range spec to see how it performed against Kona’s from old, especially the exceptional 111, a bike that we have spent time on in the past before Descend was even born.
Suspension and Chassis
Kona have gone full RockShox on all of the bikes in the current lineup. This was a lower end build which had the Yari fork up front offering the same chassis as it’s bigger brother the Lyrik. The Yari comes equipped with the Motion Control and the Debonair Chamber. This should be a hefty performer and shouldn't hold the bike back at all.
At the rear the DL Link suspension that the new range of Process bikes have is in full swing. This has the same carbon rocker that you will find on the higher end full carbon bike. This then drives a RockShox Super Deluxe air Damper. A high performer on anyone’s books.
Shape and Fit
The Kona Process has a great look. The size large sent over, which was suggested by Ben at Kona UK, fitted like a glove. The figures on paper seemed to add up nicely too. Having a 475mm reach and super short 425mm rear stay meant there was plenty of room whilst having the snappy rear end to keep the bike lively. The figure that we were a little suspect of was the 66 degree head angle and the 348mm BB. These numbers seemed a little bit steep and high, but remember this is an assumption before riding the bike and they can easily be changed with a simple offset bush. The seat tower measures in at 75.8 degrees, so this is plenty steep enough to handle a big climb.
Material - Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted 153mm Travel
RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 Trunnion
RockShox Yari Charger DebonAir 160mm Tapered 110mm Spacing
SRAM NX Eagle DUB - 32t X-Sync Eagle - B/B SRAM DUB PF92
SRAM NX-Eagle 11-50t 12spd - SRAM GX-Eagle rear mech - SRAM NX-Eagle shifter
SRAM Guide R - SRAM Centerline 200mm front rotor - SRAM Centerline 180mm
FSA Orbit 1.5 E ZS
Kona XC/BC 35
Kona XC/BC 35
Trans-X Dropper Internal 31.6mm
WTB Volt Comp
- Formula 110x15mm, Formula 148x12mm hubs.
Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 29x2.5" WT - Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 29x2.3"
Gloss Dirty Aqua w/ Charcoal, Pale Yellow, & Brick Decals
As suspected the Kona Precess is super fun and playful. You can throw this bike about like it is a little 650b bike and you soon forget that you have the bigger wheels bolted in. That is until you find a corner and realise how much grip is on offer. The Maxxis rubber did help out nicely in this area. After going out for a few rides the most impressive thing about the bike was its ability to climb up hills with ease. There is no real struggle, having a good riding position makes this possible and comfortable. Having questioned the headangle and BB height before it almost made sense as times. When tracks were tight and picky the Process was easy to navigate through the sections with little effort. When tracks were higher speed on the other hand that extra degree of rake from the front end would have been nice. If we had the bike for a longer period the offset bush would have been experimented with to see if it made the all important small change that makes a big difference.
What is worth noting is that Kona have built this bike to last, and I mean last too. The large bearings matched up with the hardy paint job makes for a bike that will stand the test of time. In the UK with all of the crazy weather that can be had, this makes all the difference.
When picking through the specification of the Process that we had on test, there were a few items that would have been swapped out if it was to become a personal bike. Firstly was the bar and stem. This did not have the feel or overall height that was suited to the bike. The cockpit is a personal thing but it is something that has been noticed on a few of the lower end bikes of late. The bars just do not have the higher adjustment that would be expected. Other than that the bike was pretty bang on. Nothing failed or broke and the build did not feel lacking for the price point.
As mentioned earlier the bar height or overall stack that the Process offered was just a little low. Having a riser bar that could be risen and lowered to suit the rider would have been nice. This was the same on the recently tested NS Snabb.
Another item worth a mention was the stoppers. Now the price point on the Process is not on the high end of the scale, but having a SRAM Code R to replace the Guide R would have been nice. The guide was just not the tool for the job when looking at how fast this bike is.
Clean lines and a quiet reliable ride. The Kona Process has held its own with the expectations that we had for it. After swapping the bar out for a Deity setup with more rise, it really opened the bike out to its full potential. The Process really is a fast and easy bike to ride. We only wish we had more time onboard the bike to really get into the nitty gritty. All in all we liked the overall bike. If you can afford it. aim for the higher end builds and even opt for a coil Damper as that could really show the bikes full potential. It would be an easy contender for Descends 'Enduro Bike of the Year' with the correct build.
Words - Ieuan Williams
Photos -Ieuan Williams/ Tom cooper
Price - £ 3699