2016 Kona Process 134 Supreme – First Impressions

Words Andrew Major
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Sep 13, 2015

It seems asinine to be talking about ‘value’ when it comes to a $6000 bicycle, but on the day I pushed it home from NSMB.com HQ (sans pedals and with a toddler in my backpack if you’re wondering why I didn’t pedal it) listening to the pleasingly loud rear hub, it dawned on me that the stock hubs on a lot of 6k+ bikes are pretty pathetic. This 2016 Process 134 Supreme has Hope hubs laced to WTB i23 rims using butted DT spokes. Reliable. Quality. Loud. Nice.

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Size Large: The Process bikes have incredibly generous standover.

I’m a fan of Kona (more on that below). And since they launched their latest line of Process full suspension bikes it seems that a lot of riders are joining me on the bandwagon.

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The spec of this Process lives up to the Supreme handle.

The build kit is supremely populist with a full SRAM drivetrain, in this case a top end XX1 setup, mated to Shimano’s benchmark XT brakes. An excellent side benefit of this combo is the utter lack of ‘i-match’ ™ integration so if you do want to upgrade/change the brakes or drivetrain in the future you’re not paying for, and sourcing, expensive adaptors to break up your controls.

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That’s a 140mm Rock Shox Pike Solo Air RC3.

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Andrew is not a fan of the Ardent on the front.

The Process avoids all the shifty crap that some companies pull to scale down the weight of their bikes on the show room but that end up costing you a pile of money if you actually want to ride the bike as intended (or is the word marketed?). Rather than spec an over stretched 32mm XC fork, the 134 Supreme is running a RockShox Pike Solo Air dropped to 140mm of travel. Instead of some narrow XC/Trail handlebar we see a sweet black-on-black 785mm RaceFace Atlas bar, while Kona-branded stem and grips round out the cockpit. A comfy Kona logoed, titanium-railed WTB saddle sits atop a KS Lev Integra seatpost.

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XX1 Carbon cranks, a Rock Shox Monarch RT 3 shock, XT Brakes, Hope Pro2 hubs – lots to like here.

For my local riding the bike brings two small concerns, which I can probably accept when thinking of the global market for 5.5″ travel ‘Enduro Light’ or ‘Race-able Trail’ bikes. Firstly, even for someone with the ignorance, or stupidity, to pedal around a single-speed, a 34-tooth ring up front seems a bit steep. From my experiences with 1x setups a 30t ring would better suit the average set of legs for local climbs. I will give the 34t a go and either surprise myself or switch out to an easier gear if ‘No Quarter’, a fantastic new single track climb on Mt. Fromme, proves too relentless.

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A nice, 785mm wide Race Face Atlas bar confirms the quality of this build.

The other concern is a personal distaste for the Maxxis Ardent tire up front. I can accept it as a fast-ish rolling, decent braking, reasonable cornering rear tire. As a front tire I have no love for it skipping across wet roots, the vague straightline braking, or the upredictable drift while driving it into dusty corners like the ones we saw in the Shore-To-Sky this summer. For these trails I’m happy to pedal around my prefered 3C EXO Maxxis Minion DHF or SG Schwalbe Magic Mary, and if purchasing the Supreme I would arrange to have the front tire swapped before leaving the shop. In this case, to properly assess the bike itself, I will swap out the front tire to one I’m more comfortable with.

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In case you were wondering… The frame on the other hand is alumin(i)um.

If I’m allowed one final nitpick, I will say that Jagwire cable and housing has no business on a 6k+ bicycle. For a few pennies more at the OE level some nice Shimano 4mm housing with a stainless cable (there is only one after all) would keep the shifting sweet significantly longer. It’s a little detail that a bike nerd will appreciate.

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A KS Lev Integra dropper post. Not the best name, but the post works well.

From the preliminary ‘getting to know you,’ I’m looking forward to racking up the hours on the Process. Riding time is before 7am or after 9pm most days so a stable platform that complements an under-caffeinated or over-caffeinated rider is an exciting proposition – and to report back in detail after some steady saddle time.

MSRP for the Process 134 Supreme is $5999 Canadian or $5499 US

Have a look at Konaworld.com for more.


Andrew and Kona
Inviting me to test-write the Kona Process 134 could be construed as asking the fox to review the hen house. I am a fan of Kona, going back to my days working at a Kona Dealer (Different Bikes) and I feel they run their business with integrity and they do what they say they will – even when it is inconvenient. They back the people that choose their products as best as they can, and from their Dew commuter line to their steel hardtails, they make high-value, high-performance, interesting products. My main ride is a single-speeded Explosif frankenbike, and I pull my daughter around town on an old-school steel Kona road frame with a flat bar conversion.


A note about our First Impressions articles
We do these quick looks at bikes for a couple of reasons. The first is to let you know what we are testing so you can keep tabs and ask any questions you may have. The second is to avoid the temptation to talk too much about the parts spec in the final review. What you really want to know, and what we are really out to determine, is how the bike performs on dirt, not that the tires don’t work on our soil. Stay tuned for the full review.


How many millimetres of travel do you need?

Comments

agleck7
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Agleck7  - Sept. 16, 2015, 6:54 a.m.

I'd love any comparisons to the Scout since they look awesome and really similar on paper

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reformed-roadie
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reformed roadie  - Sept. 15, 2015, 12:58 p.m.

Can you get a water bottle boss in the main triangle for $6000???

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 15, 2015, 1:26 p.m.

There are quite a few okay bikes on the market in this price range and segment and if a water bottle cage is a top priority for you a different one would probably be a more prudent choice.

I love how seamlessly the swing link drives the horizontally mounted shock and a water bottle isn't a deal breaker for me.

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denomerdano
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Denomerdano  - Sept. 15, 2015, 9:35 a.m.

I am far more interested in your riding schedule as a father. With a 11 month old tugging at my heartstrings everytime I leave for a ride, i am looking for worldly advice from fellow dad's who shred. I love night rides, but hesitant most of the time for a solo mission on my banshee rune as i tend to have too much fun on that bike. I'll still read your full review but probably will keep the rune for a while longer! Cheers, shreddad

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 15, 2015, 1:12 p.m.

I road Fromme this morning at 5:30am; home in time for breakfast. I'll ride tomorrow night after she's gone to bed.

I find I ride ~ as much now as I did before having kid… I just do it by myself a lot. It is however Crazy how often I have company whether late or early. It's about motivation (to go -- especially now that the rain has come) and mental health (knowing I'm a way better papa if I'm pedalling multiple times a week).

Mine is in a Thule/Chariot trailer now as well, so we try and get out for a road ride a couple of times a week. As a long time cycle commuter comfortable in traffic I never really understood the impetus for separated bike lanes but now we take the Spirit Trail (thanks DNV!), ride through Stanley Park (thanks early Vancouverites with foresight), and then bomb around Vancouver in relative safety (thanks Mayor Moonbeam et. al!).

It's awesome!

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reini-wagner
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Reini Wagner  - Sept. 16, 2015, 10:57 a.m.

We have a 2 year old girl…what helps a lot is: Take as much burden off the mother during the week, then she'll be ok if you take a couple hours off on the weekend. And: Daycare helped ease stuff a lot for all of us. I'm taking her along on my citybike in her bike seat since more than a year. She enjoys watching other people and cars and whatnot, sleeps great in it, and what's best:she already does relate biking with having a good time. This summer finally pushbike time has come, and I'm so much enjoying watching her shred 🙂

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gdharries
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Geof Harries  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:15 p.m.

I'm a dad of three kids - ages 4, 9 and 11 - and I ride to work most days plus a couple times a week. Those longer rides (the non-commuting ones) are either disturbingly early in the morning or later at night, starting at around 8:00 pm. Thankfully we live in the land of the midnight sun, Whitehorse Yukon, and that extends the riding hours by quite a bit. Not so much in the winter, but that's what fat bikes are for, right?

Reality is, you have to make changes to your cycling lifestyle, especially as more children are added to your family. As they get older they too become interested in bike rides, which is awesome, but you also have to deal with dance classes, soccer practice, music lessons and all of the driving around to their respective activities which eats into your personal recreation time. But hey, look, no more diapers.

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jamie-hamilton
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Jamie Hamilton  - Sept. 14, 2015, 1:43 p.m.

Yes I agree with all that's been said so far. Same here swapped to a 30T NW and swapped the forks to a Marzo 350 CR set to 150mm ( does not effect handling negatively at all & I highly recommend if you like steep & tech ) also swapped the front tire to a DHF 3C. By far this is the best "riding" "feeling" bike I think I've ever owned! Having come off a 6inch "Unduro" bike I have never missed the extra travel. But have actually relished the poppy, responsive nature of my lil blue steed. And really at the end of the day, time is precious, so having a bike that extracts every ounce of fun out of each ride & leaves you with a sh%$# eating grin every time, is a winner.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 14, 2015, 4:39 p.m.

What is the axle-to-crown height of your 150mm Marzocchi? I know that compared to a new Fox 36 the Pike is ~10mm taller for the same amount of travel.

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jamie-hamilton
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Jamie Hamilton  - Sept. 14, 2015, 4:51 p.m.

Hey Drew! I always get these measurements wrong so for context I measured from the dead center of the axle to the top of the crown ( not including the air spring cover ). And it came out at 525mm on the dot.

Does this help? I figure it takes the head angle from 68 to 67 or there abouts? Maybe raises the BB buy 2-3mm? I think if I pushed it out to 160mm it'd probably start to feel a bit weird but at the moment I love it!

Ask Seb what he thought of it at 160mm I remember talking to him, and that's what he'd done. Albeit with a Pike if I recall?

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 14, 2015, 8:21 p.m.

You want to measure from the center of the axle to the bottom of the crown race to get an apples:apples comparison.

This Pike is ~535mm with a quick tape measurement.

I had a buddy measure his 350 @ 160mm (again -- not perfectly accurate as mounted on a bike) and he's getting ~560mm. That would put your 150mm @ ~550mm. That's giving you a ~ 1/2 degree slacker HTA and STA from the fork plus any difference in the height of the casing or knobs from your DHF.

The difference in BB height will be very small: maybe a cm between the fork and the tire.

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cory-booker
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Cory Booker  - Sept. 14, 2015, 7:30 a.m.

I brought one of these home late this summer, and I agree with everything so far. Just swapped the 34T ring for a 30, and I'm faster overall on any ride that includes significant climbing. I too left the rear Ardent alone, but went DHRII up front (due to a worldwide shortage of 27.5 DHFs, it would seem).

Otherwise, the bike is brilliant. Coming from a 66.5 degree head angle bike I had concerns about that, but so far the steeper head angle has only bitten me once, and provides benefits elsewhere on the ride that make up for it. I am amazed on every ride at how capable a 5ish inch bike can be.

I don't have a long history with Kona, my only other one having been a 2004 King Kikapu, but so far I'm a fan. Looking forward to hearing more!

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 14, 2015, 9:01 a.m.

Thanks Cory,

Without going full-nerd (or going full nerd with some gentle editing by Cam) I am planning to talk about static geo vs. sagged geo in the review. Running ~22% sag in the Pike and ~24-25% sag in the Monarch coupled with how the bike sits in its travel gives a very balanced ride but definitely feels much more aggro than other bikes with similar stated geo.

The weight bias (long front center // short rear center) definitely contributes to this as well.

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