kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02560
First Look

Kona Ouroboros Gravel Bike

Photos Deniz Merdano
Reading time

In previous reviews, my feelings about the trope about gravel bikes resembling '90s mountain bikes being tired and misguided has been made clear. I’m also not really a fan of the “incredible athlete rides the wrong bike” videos: CX bikes on A-Line, gravel bikes on big jumps, etc. Neither of these facts will surprise my friends who are aware I can be more than a touch cynical and jaded at times. So with those points in mind, and the caveat that NSMB isn't in the habit of just regurgitating press releases, I’m going to introduce the Kona Ouroboros using the press kit's included handbook for the bike without my commentary.

Features & Highlights

  • 69.5 degree head tube angle, with geometry blending gravel and XC
  • 5 frame mounting points for accessories and frame bags
  • Tire clearance up to 2.5” with rigid fork, or 50c with suspension fork
  • PF86 bottom bracket for tire clearance
  • Long dropper post - 100mm (size 48-52), 125mm (size 54-58)
  • 3 build kits, aimed to cover different use cases
DSC01320 deniz merdano kona ouroboros gravel

While distinctly a gravel bike, the Ouroboros pushes up against the boundaries.

Will_Morphine-2

I can't help but notice similarities between this Banshee Morphine's seat cluster and the Ouroboros; with the current popularity of resto-modding old mountain bikes into gravel bikes, it looks like Squamish's Will Waters was ahead of the curve on this abomination from a few years back.

kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02502

I am occasionally accused of being salty and cynical. Sometimes, this may be warranted.

Geometry

As I’m (slowly) working through my series on the breadth of “gravel” bikes, we haven’t really had a chance to dive into geometry but the Ouroboros gives us an opportunity to discuss one end of the category that is “gravel”. But in order to do that, we need to step back just a hair and look at the broader picture.

I think of bikes across a spectrum akin to most visualizations of the electromagnetic spectrum. On the left, the skinniest of tires on drop bars and on the right the meatiest of DH bikes. Everything else fits somewhere in between, and in the same way that we humans can only see one portion of the spectrum (visible light), we’re often guilty of the same when it comes to bikes; many mountain bikers see everything to the left of mountain bikes as “road bikes.” Road bikers may be able to explain the geometric minutiae separating ‘adventure road’ and ‘endurance road’, but for them, the Specialized Epic and Enduro are functionally the same.

istockphoto-1414630385-2048x2048

The electromagnetic spectrum - I think of road/track bikes on the left, and downhill rigs on the right. I work to slot every bike I ride onto the scale somewhere; the Ouroboros is as close to mountain as I've seen, while still being 'gravel'.

But when you zoom in, visible light isn’t just different from microwaves, there’s a whole rainbow of colors. In the same way that red is different from green while brought are visible light, this new Kona shares little with the Specialized Diverge, and yet in the broadest sense they’re both gravel bikes. We’re in an interesting age for the gravel spectrum, discovering new wavelengths and filling in gaps between known quantities as the genre matures. To say this can be challenging for consumers - especially those new to the category - is probably an understatement.

The Ouroboros seeks to fill the space between gravel and mountain, while staying on its side of the gravel/mountain divide.

Ouroboros Geo

Geometry for gravel bikes can be confusing at the best of times given the influences from many other cycling disciplines, and because still somewhat nascent nature of the genre means it's rapidly evolving and expanding.

There are some standout numbers - stack being the most noticeable; the axle-crown on gravel suspension forks coupled with enormous head tubes mean the size 56 Ouroboros has a whopping 41mm more stack than my Landyatchz. It's 6mm more than my Rocky Mountain Element. Reach numbers are relatively long for gravel historically, however the Kona is designed around shorter stems to retain the similar fit; this is the same ethos I’ve adopted since 2018 with my Bjorn, and my current bike. Long chainstays are slowly growing in some segments of the gravel world, and also a trend I’m onboard with for stability and all day comfort.

Overall, I’m a fan of most of the geometry decisions made by Kona here, but the stack height led me to a sizing decision folks will need to think carefully about. More on that in ride impressions.

Frame Details

With apologies to alloy afficionados and the #steelisreal crowd, the Ouroboros only comes in carbon. Kona has kept things smart and simple - a sloped top tube for long droppers, lots of frame bosses for accessories and frame bags, and more than ample rubber protection in all the places you'd expect it. Hoses and cables are routed internally, and fortunately not through the headset. There is - as with last week's Yeti SB165 - no in-frame storage, which makes me happy.

Components and Builds

Kona offers the Ouroboros in a variety of builds: rigid, suspension, 1x, 2x, you can pick your build to suit your purpose within reason. This isn’t just an exercise with price points, each build is aimed to fill a different niche on our color spectrum, from fast singletrack shredders to multi-day adventure bikes.

In for long term review, I’ve got the Ouroboros CR - with its suspension fork, 1x mechanical 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain and 180mm rotors it's ready to shred.

Cooper's First Ride Impressions

I’ve been busy lately, with travel, other bike review projects, and attempting to be a good dad and partner, so the Kona has been in the NSMB stable for weeks now but I’m really just starting my time aboard. But I’ve gotten a few rides in and have some immediate impressions, perhaps the most important of which is that this is a really interesting bike I’m keen to spend more time exploring on.

Given the fairly extreme stack height on my “usual” size 56 frame, I sized down to a 54 for this review. There were a few factors here, but the short version is I lost 5mm of reach and 20mm of top tube length for 20mm less stack. I know from experience that it’s much easier to add a longer stem than it is to shorten a carbon head tube.

Sizing down is a decision I’m happy I made; even with the longer, negative rise stem the riding position on the Kona is unlike any other gravel bike I’ve ridden. This isn’t a bad thing. I found myself immediately comfortable, and the bike excels on rough terrain. The combination of geometry, long dropper post, aggressive tires, big brakes, and suspension fork all play a part in delivering what Kona set out to do, and build a gravel bike at home on terrain where most bikes in the category fall apart.

It's also a very comfortable bike, the stack height gives a riding position around town and on flatter terrain that many folks will find enjoyable, and likely lends itself to long days (I haven’t done any long rides yet). I prefer a bit more aggressive position, with more bar-saddle drop, but that’s just for the style of riding I look for; it's a tradeoff between comfort for the average rider and descending confidence against power delivery, aerodynamics, and climbing sharpness and there’s no wrong answer, just different body positions on the spectrum.

kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02493

If gravel-gravel is your jam, the Ouroboros will do that!

kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02517

But the bike really starts to come into its own as terrain gets worse.

Deniz's First Impressions

I've been around gravel bikes for a long time. We called them Mountain Bikes. That's a sure way to trigger a whole bunch of spandex gladiators for sure. The truth is, there are no guidelines for what a gravel bike should look, feel, and ride like. There are companies like Trek and Scott approaching the segment at a more versatile level. Appealing to the masses to fuse a middle ground between road and XC in a sense. Other companies reach for a more rugged stance. Bigger tires, wider bars, dropper posts?

Well, the new Ouroboros is Kona's approach to lure gravel curious mountain bikers to the darkside.

The water is warm here maaaan. With 46cm bars and 40mm of suspension up front, there is a lot to like about the new bike. It is comfortable and really puts you in an upright and commanding position. You may be dropped if your gravel crew is on skinnier tires and mostly pounding the crushed gravel paths, but the fruit is sweet when things get rough and everyone else is dismounting to get their rigs down the trail. You can ride Ned's Atomic Dustbin on this bike in relative comfort, with a side of terror. I love the way it inspires you to do stupid stuff but also question its intentions. Hopefully, I will get to put some more miles on it alongside Cooper in the next couple of months (if he lets me) and I'll come up with an answer as to whether Gravel bikes are for me, and this one in particular.

-Deniz Merdano

Conclusions

Speaking of tired tropes, I have to use one. If Kona set out to make a “mountain biker’s gravel bike” with the Ouroboros, my initial impressions are that they’ve succeeded. And, if you’re more traditional, there’s always the Ouroboros Deluxe, with its 2x drivetrain and rigid fork that’s ready to start converting roadies to the darkside in a more gradual manner.

Given how different this bike is from many other comparables, I’d highly recommend anyone thinking of an Ouroboros test ride one before plunging in. I sized down, but this bike has spent time under Deniz as well who’s generally a solid bike size smaller than me, and he feels right at home on this 54.

We’ll have a long term review in the coming months on the Ouroboros, and given the interest in this thing from other reviewers, it likely won’t just be me spending time on it.

For more details, pricing, and specs, hit the Kona Ouroboros product page.

kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02525

So far, I think this bike would have been excellent for my recent Bay Area escapades - and the article about taking the Ouroboros back to the spiritual home of mountain biking would have written itself.

kona ouroboros gravel   DSC02549

This thing is a blast - I can't wait to spend some real time on it, and get some long rides in.

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

lacykemp
+9 ClydeRide Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman Muesliman Geof Harries Andy Eunson araz bighonzo geno

I like "gravel" bikes. I don't know why. They're uncomfortable to ride for a long period of time on singletrack. They're terrifying when descending fast on chunky terrain. The climbing ratio sucks on mine, but this one seems to have addressed that. yay. It's kind of like people who enjoy riding a klunker in modern times. Is it necessary? No. Is it smart? Probably not. But is it fun? For some reason it is. I think it's the weird thrill of "whyyyy am I doing this! I might die!" While your teeth are chattering as you descend at what feels like blistering speeds. So, I'm here for this kind of bike, and I know the heart and soul that went into developing this thing too. I'm glad to see it finally arrived.

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andy-eunson
+2 Timer Toxic-Toast

Yes I totally get that. I figure that there are two markets for gravel bikes. Road riders want a fatter tired road bike and mountain bikers want a skinnier tired mountain bike with perhaps suspension. As a long time mountain biker and former road rider, this Kona really appeals to me.

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Squint
+5 Niels van Kampenhout ackshunW Velocipedestrian Geof Harries BadNudes

Was there some inside baseball, IYKYN, cool kids decision that when you are to  "Pack it expertly for the long haul" and do some "Multi-day bike packing" using "limitless custom frame bag options" thou shalt not use a rear rack? Gravel bikes are IMO the ultimate utility, loaded commuter bike, but while shopping recently I was surprised how many decently spec'd bikes came with no mount points for those of us who are running panniers. Is this like I'm the only one left wearing stonewashed jeans? 

Yes I know about Surly and Landyachtz and in the end Trek got my money for a Checkpoint, but I was surprised how many brands I passed by for this reason.

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cooperquinn
+1 Toxic-Toast

Yeah the lack of rack mounts is... certainly an odd choice, for anything geared towards any kind of bikepacking or adventure. And, I VERY wholeheartedly agree the utility is amazing. 

BUT, I covered an (admittedly expensive) way to solve this problem a couple weeks back, and we'll discuss it in more detail next week. Tailfin. 

https://nsmb.com/articles/the-box-of-shame/

You can also get some interesting options from Old Man Mountain; I'm running their front axle on my cargo bike to fit a pizza rack.

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araz
+5 Cooper Quinn Geof Harries Dan Abies bighonzo

Got a gravel bike a few years ago and it’s way more fun than I expected. As they say, don’t knock it til you try it. 

This looks like a cool vision of a gravel bike, and my wife loves her Rove. Too bad things don’t look great for Kona: https://bicycleretailer.com/industry-news/2024/04/17/wheres-kona-brand-sets-then-breaks-down-sea-otter

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cooperquinn
+3 Legs4Days Dan Abies

It will certainly be interesting to see what shakes out tomorrow morning, but it doesn't seem like its probably good news.

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Koelschejung
+3 Sandy James Oates Hardlylikely cxfahrer HughJass Jeremy Hiebert Joseph Crabtree vunugu

I have to admit that I haven't yet discovered the magic of gravel biking. Why buy a bike with wrong handlebars that isn't even remotely suitable for proper off-road use? For me it makes no sense. I can also gravel with my mtb. In addition, the with gravel biking associated lifestyle aesthetics are just awful! Guys with staches, bad tattoos wearing fancy rapha stuff don't exactly stimulate my interest in buying a bike that's primarily designed for the fire road. But maybe I'm completely wrong and missing out on the reinvention of the bicycle.

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craw
+5 BadNudes Abies Timer Velocipedestrian Geof Harries

I think that oversimplifies it. I have a gravel bike, but really it's more of a road bike with a little extra; it looks more like a road bike than a 90s MTB. It doesn't like the rockier rooty trails pictured in this article but it loves a bit of moderate gravel. It's a road bike with a little extra capacity that can handle some abuse. It does the stuff that my mountain bikes find boring for a totally different riding experience. Compared to riding the shore it's a mental palate cleanser, a tool for just cruising the mind and that's not for everyone.

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cooperquinn
+18 Shinook Mike Ferrentino BadNudes Hardlylikely Konrad ZigaK Todd Hellinga Cr4w ClydeRide Pete Roggeman cxfahrer Timer Velocipedestrian Geof Harries Mark vunugu bighonzo slimchances57

You're stuck in one spectrum of light here, unable to see the broad spectrums of the amazing things outside mountain biking.

Sure, you can ride a mountain bike anywhere you can ride a gravel bike. Or a road bike. Or a track bike. That doesn't make flat bars and knobby tires the right tool for the job. Objectively, mountain bikes as a whole are the wrong tool for a lot of riding. 

And if you want to talk shit about funny cliques and subsets of biking wearing goofy uniforms, I have bad news about mountain biking...

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mikeferrentino
+17 Sandy James Oates Cr4w BadNudes Cooper Quinn Mike Riemer XXX_er ClydeRide DadStillRides JVP Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Geof Harries Mark vunugu Kyle Dixon bighonzo slimchances57

You absolutely can gravel with your mtb, as you pointed out. But it is difficult to mtb with a road bike, and not a whole lot of fun to gravel with a road bike. For me, gravel bikes are kinda what I want road bikes to be - more relaxed geo, a bit longer, a lot more comfortable. I don't think of them as drop-bar neo-retro mtbs as much as I consider them bikes to cover a lot of ground with, regardless of terrain. And when it comes to that, I prefer the extra hand positions of drop bars.

As for the lifestyle accoutrements, you don't have to buy into that jive if you don't want to. You don't have to practice public nudity if you ride one speeds, either, nor do you need to wear goggles on the side of your half-shell helmet whenever you ride your enduro bike.

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tashi
+1 Mark

Somebody should write an article about riding the wrong bike and how much fun it is, maybe call it underbiking and have examples like airport cops on mountain bikes and stuff. ;)

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pete@nsmb.com
0

Underbiking in the real world!

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slimchances57
+1 Cooper Quinn

"don't think of them as drop-bar neo-retro mtbs as much as I consider them bikes to cover a lot of ground with, regardless of terrain. And when it comes to that, I prefer the extra hand positions of drop bars."

Thanks Mike, with this you've described their raison d'etre

Built properly, these bikes can make a ride stringing a 5 mile, 2k road climb with a black diamond descent seem like a good idea [for those of you familiar with the Santa Cruz Mtns - up Felton Empire and down "Barking Dog"].

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BadNudes
+10 Cooper Quinn Mike Ferrentino Todd Hellinga Karl Fitzpatrick Velocipedestrian Geof Harries vunugu bighonzo slimchances57 Pete Roggeman

It's easy to dismiss the hype of marketing and categories across the entire spectrum of bikes. Gravel bikes aren't new, but it's a relatively new way to sell bikes. If you've never experienced or dreamt about the magic of a ride where a 'gravel bike' would be a suitable choice, (e.g. a long ride on mixed terrain, mostly roads, gravel or otherwise, but not shying away from some more adventurous detours) I get it, riding is different for everyone. In a way it's completely different to the magic you feel when leaning a mountain bike over for a two-wheel drift through a fast corner in the forest or from nailing a jump, but it is magic and I have felt it, and in some ways it's very much the same, a sense of accomplishment, adventure, and awe, but maybe less adrenaline spikes. 

Also, maybe give the gravel guys with cringe tattoos and 'staches a chance. As a group they're no better or worse than the stereotypical MTB bro. We can all be friends.

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cooperquinn
+2 Geof Harries BadNudes

Well said. 

I'll agree with "gravel bikes aren't new", but say that the proliferation of them and the corresponding variety of available geometry and fit-for-purpose parts is (relatively) new, though.

I agree with everything else, though. The magic is bicycles, and there's a myriad of ways to experience that, all equally but differently enjoyable.

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BadNudes
0

Thank you. I think I meant to write "gravel bik_ing_ isn't new". 

There are certainly new things happening in the "gravel category" (even if it is just cross-pollination from MTB and road)

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Jotegir
+2 Geof Harries BadNudes

" Guys with staches, bad tattoos wearing fancy rapha stuff "

Cooper, you don't need to stand there and take this kind of abuse!

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cooperquinn
+5 Offrhodes42 Pete Roggeman Geof Harries BadNudes vunugu

Sadly(?), I have no tattoos. Otherwise, pretty on point... while not one for moustache wax, I love Rapha gear for mountain and gravel, hah. No one gave me a hard time about wearing it last week on the SB165, either.

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niels@nsmb.com
+1 Cooper Quinn

I like how you took Deniz' "sure way to trigger a whole bunch of spandex gladiators" and did exactly that ;-)

I don't care for gravel bikes one way or another but if they get people stoked to go out and ride (more), good for them.

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Timer
0

The way i use mine is basically as a roadbike that isn't fazed by unpaved roads or cobblestones. Just opens up more options for roadbiking away from car traffic.

Thats certainly not what this Kona is meant for, which leans far more heavly into the mtb side of the spectrum and is not suited at all for hanging with a group of roadies.

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cooperquinn
+1 Timer

Exactly - that was certainly my intro to gravel; building a commuter to avoid roads (well, avoids cars, as you note) as much as possible. 

Its not going to see a lot of pacelines, but I am definitely interested to see how this thing goes!

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tashi
+2 Cooper Quinn Andy Eunson

It’s not the right bike, but it’s fun to ride the “wrong” bike sometimes. (I mean, the best bike for most mountain bike trails is a trials moto when it comes down to it)

As for the lifestyle aspect, that’s on you but I’d get over it quick or you’ll miss out on a lot of fun being that superficial.

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Coiler
0

I have had two gravel bikes, culminating in doing the Unbound 200 a few years ago. Living in Vancouver, I actually found there are very few good gravel routes, and I got pretty bored of the options here. It was great to have an off-road capable road bike that I could ride from home, but it ended up spending 80-90% of its time on the trainer for winter fitness. 

Last year I sold my gravel bike and got an xc bike with fast rubber, and I am way happier. I can ride from home in east van to Seymour and Fromme, and then do more xc inspired rides. Obviously the XC bike is slower on roads and gravel trails, but far more capable and fun on singletrack. I also can toss it on my trainer for the winter. I still have an enduro that is more suitable for the burlier trails that I ride more frequently. But having an XC + Enduro has made me way happier than a gravel bike + Enduro.

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cooperquinn
0

I also have an XC (ok, its  probably "downcountry") bike, and its super rad.

I don't really take my gravel bike on much singletrack around here other than the occasional connector to try and link things together. I hear what you're saying about getting bored, but there's a lot of fun stuff to. But you do have to be prepared for some just awful climbs, unless you leave the shore and head east, or south.

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syncro
+1 taprider

Curious, what are the awful climbs?

Reply

xy9ine
+3 Cooper Quinn taprider Jotegir

neat looking bike. and the ratio of rc to fc (longer stays, shorter reach) paired with high stack is super forward looking (for mountain bikes; i have no idea what is normal for gravel).

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Jotegir
0

I don't even know if "gravel" as a modern, independent concept has cleanly decided what normal is. There's a lot of influence from endurance road bikes, cross bikes (which despite both having curly bars, are dramatically different), and in some cases, mountain bikes. Hard to predict where things will settle. You can see the mtb influence in this one, certainly, but the traditional road heritage is present as well with the not-adjusting seat angle as sizes go up.

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craw
+3 Cooper Quinn Jotegir DadStillRides Geof Harries Vik Banerjee

When I was shopping for a cross/gravel bike in 2018 I was shocked to see how rigid and universal the thinking around road geometry was. None of it made sense for an outlier like me. It seemed like bikes were all pretty much identical across sizes with seatpost offset and stems doing most of the fit work. I think that's just dumb. I ended up designing my own bike with suitable FC/RC/ESTA/ETT for someone my size. The latest XXL Santa Cruz Stigmata is exactly the same dimensions as the bike I built in 2019 so I'm pleased to be vindicated.

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Timer
0

There isn't even all that much agreement what normal "gravel riding" is. For some, its XC with drop bars, for others is roadbiking on cobblestones and bad roads.

What i disagree with is the view that cross bikes are dramatically different. They might have been at some point, but current cross bikes are extremely similar to gravel bikes. There is much more variety within the gravel scene than there is between cross bikes and the more racey side of the gravel spectrum.

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cooperquinn
+2 Mark Jotegir

That's my point? There is no "normal" gravel riding in the same way that there's no "normal" mountain biking. Each is a broad category that encompasses a wide variety or riding style and terrain. 

Disagree re: cross bikes though. There's some shared traits and certainly influence in both directions these days, but cross bikes are still just a (comparatively) narrow subset.

EDIT to add an example: a 54cm Cervelo R5-CX has SEVENTY milimeters less stack than this Kona.

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Timer
+1 Cooper Quinn

Yes, I wasn’t contradicting but rather emphasising your point. 

Regarding CX bikes, one can find examples either way. A 3T Exploro gravel bike in size M has 18mm less stack than a Trek Boone CX bike in 54cm.

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Jotegir
0

For clarity, I was referring to both 'cross bikes and endurance road bikes as showing their influence across the spectrum of what we now know as gravel bikes and noting that despite both cyclocross and endurance road bikes having curly bars, they are dramatically different from each other - naturally, as both influenced what we vaguely consider to be gravel bikes these days, you can find examples of 'gravel' bikes that take more after one than the other.

However, I'd also argue that like Cooper has said, true cross bikes are a narrow category - narrower now more than ever as things like all-road and gravel bikes have spun off from cyclocross race bikes. It wasn't that long ago that if you wanted a "gravel" bike, you got to pick from a racey cyclocross bike (that probably didn't have the tire clearance you'd want), an endurance road bike (that almost certainly didn't have the tire clearance you'd want), or a touring bike. Now that gravel bikes exist in their own right and are kind of good, cross bikes get to be even more focused than before.

Or perhaps a more accurate statement is that many companies no longer make true cross bikes. They make bikes for other disciplines that they pass off as race bikes, because true cross race bikes don't sell like gravel bikes.

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KristianG
+3 Cooper Quinn Geof Harries slimchances57

Ive been mtbiking for 30yrs and I have to say, I love my "drop bar" mountain "gravel" bike, its a Salsa Cutthroat and is just right for slaying rough logging roads and single track -so much more capable then the xc bikes from the 90's.  I bet this Kona would ride quite similar and be really fun for putting in long adventure rides or going out for some gnarly type two fun.

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XXX_er
+2 Cooper Quinn Cr4w

Don't know that i will buy one but up here  a lot of the paved roads don't hook up to form a fully paved  loop and thats where the  gravel bike make a lot  of sense, I  ride my  old steel HT but something faster would be nice. They are pretty hot right now so I think  it makes sense to cover gravel bikes

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cooperquinn
0

Depending on the specs you might be able to fit some bigger wheels with smaller (faster) tires?

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XXX_er
0

I've used 1.25city-slickers which are really fast but the 1.9  WTB all terrain a saurus (50mm) seems to be the sweet spot for the  go any where and still be reasonably fast tire but I've kind of realized a new bike with bigger wheels would not be a waste cuz  the kona is 30 yrs old

I would have to be more into touring/ gravel it to bother buying a new gravel bike, a couple years ago we rode from Smithers  to almost Nazco  across BC all on gravel, but right now I would rather braap around the bike area on the E-bike

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andy-eunson
+2 ClydeRide Velocipedestrian

That type of gravel bike might be ideal here. I rode a Norco Threshold cross bike for a few years. Awesome to ride in Pacific Spirit park where it’s almost entirely pea gravel highways. But here in Whistler even some of the gravel roads are terrifying on 41c (I think) tires. Far too rough. Even yesterday’s ride had sections where the subject bike would be ideal and my hardtail a bit of overkill. I could easily see myself getting something like this. Commencal makes something similar but aluminum of course. It’s the fat tires of the Kona that I find attractive. If I were to go for a gravel rig, it would to be able  to run fat tires.

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cooperquinn
+2 Andy Eunson Pete Roggeman

Yep, you're on the right track (no pun intended...) for where this thing fits in. 

As someone who occasionally rides from the Shore to Pacific Spirit and back - it's the "wrong" bike for that kind of ride. Pacific Spirit is also tough these days, its *so* full of hikers/walkers/etc. But I did think about shooting this thing out there, as its one of the original homes of mountain biking here in the Lower Mainland, as you know! Likely, we'll end up in Stanley Park for some shots instead. 

If you've never tried a tire like the Ravager, you should.

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Jotegir
0

I also had a threshold for a few years. I really enjoyed it and rode it everywhere from cool exploration back country stuff in my area to the blue jump lines at the Kamloops Bike Ranch. Man that bike was a harsh ride, though! I am hoping an actual "gravel" bike is a bit more chill while not dropping any of the fun aspects. I kept mine mostly at the regulation-approved 33c tires - the bike I'm building has clearance up to 2.6s I believe, I think I'll go 2.0 gravelly tires.

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craw
+3 Cooper Quinn Geof Harries bighonzo

From where I am in east van going east on the trans canada trail under the second narrow towards Burnaby mountain is a perfect mix. Or north up Riverside Drive to Fishermans and the dam.

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cooperquinn
+2 Cr4w Geof Harries

Trans Canada is an awesome gravel ride, with the exception of the *AWFUL* climb up from Barnet going south if you choose to loop SFU. 

Sidewinder is a lovely climb, too. I'd also highly recommend Burnaby Lake Park at night.

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xy9ine
0

had no idea there's routes out of E/V. interesting.

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craw
+1 Cooper Quinn

Just switch google maps to biking view and you'll see a ton of green lines everywhere. Just pick some and head out. It's an amazing way to explore secret parts of the city that are all surprisingly accessible. My bike started as SS and that worked fine around EV but once north of the bridges that can be tough.

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SixZeroSixOne
0

See also gravelmaps.com

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JVP
+2 Cooper Quinn Dan

Oh man, the timing of this. Kona just told all their employees at SeaOtter to take down the setup and called an all-hands meeting for Thursday. This might be the end. 

I hope not. The brand has stagnated, but there's such good memories of half the guys in my crew riding overweight Stinky-Fives on everything from Pink Starfish to 6 hour death marches in the WA Cascades.

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ClydeRide
+1 Dan

What the what?

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tashi
+2 Cooper Quinn bighonzo

Damn that will suck - Kona actually had a distinctive, and awesome, company culture. Some of the funnest group rides I’ve been on were their reps came to town, and that love of fun and bikes has always been apparent in their products, even as they branched out from mountain bikes.

Hopefully the key contributors to that can continue in the business, I appreciate those kind of folks persisting as our little weirdo hobby gets more and more corporate.

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syncro
+1 Kyle Dixon

The first page of that marketing brochure is hella awesome. Seeing as I have fun on an old Explosif, I can see the Ouroboros as being a fun enough bike that could replace the old steel steed.

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retrokona
0

The Explosif (largely unchanged from 1990 until its untimely first demise) was rad in a great many ways! This thing looks like it doesn’t really fit with anything else in the Kona stable right now. The last time I said that it was about the OG Honzo. It could be the start of something neat.

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evasive
+1 Cooper Quinn

I have a Hatchet, and it's more of a road bike than I want. This is what I'd pencil out for myself. I was looking forward to seeing coverage on this bike from Sea Otter. It sounds like I won't, though.

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JohnC
+1 Cooper Quinn

Love my gravel bike (Norco Search XR) way more than I thought I would; always surprised the difficulty of trails I can take it on and I now look for routes that mix all types of trails and surfaces.  Its just really fun and it is weird how it just seems to want to speed up on gravel fire roads and trails.  Had a converted '02 Trek Fuel for commuting/gravel, etc but the Search does everything so much better.  Even got one for my wife and we plan to do bikepacking (the Search has all the needed mounts to use racks and panniers).  Unfortunately, I can't grow a decent 'stache and my wardrobe is devoid of olive green and earth tone kit to be a true gravel afficianado. Maybe some tats will help.

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cooperquinn
+1 JohnC

"Had a converted '02 Trek Fuel for commuting/gravel, etc but the Search does everything so much better."

Now say it louder, for the people in the back! 

As a relative newcomer to the gravel-bikepack-touring-whateveryouwanttocallit scene, you're gonna have a blast! Hopefully last week's article was a bit of inspiration!

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Jotegir
0

I know you don't do music club for bike reviews/first impressions, so I'll do it for you.

This seems like a really nice balance between a XC mountain bike and a gravel bike to make a 'gravel bike for mountain bikers' that many mountain bikers would actually want. That whole phrasing makes me think of the several years old Evil Chamois Hagar, which is a very cool bike in its own right but perhaps too 'mountain bike' even for many mountain bikers. This, on the other hand, is very similar to what I would want (and am currently, very slowly, painting and building). 

Sidenote, Ouroboros Supreme is a 10/10 name, well done Kona.

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cooperquinn
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Weirdly, this is one of the not-very-many Gojira songs I really like, but I'd completely forgotten its title, haha. They're an insane band to see live. So, well played to you! 

The Chamois Hagar is interesting; it was perhaps too far ahead of its time. The looks are also... uh... lets go with "polarizing". 

We'll dive into a range of gravel tires here at some point, there's just a lot on my NSMB plate at the moment, but that piece is in the works! Personally I don't need to go wider that 50c (at least, I don't think I do...), but its all needs specific, and everyone is riding bikes differently.

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ClydeRide
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Don’t call my bike ugly, bro!

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cooperquinn
+1 tashi

Hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I said "polarizing", not "ugly", in a desperate attempt to not say ugly. Wait. Ah.... dammit.

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Matthew_Cusanelli
+1 ClydeRide

I owned a Chamois for a year and logged about 5000km on it. Amazing bike, but yes, perhaps a bit too far on the mountain bike side for some. I hope to throw a leg over the Ouroborous at some point and provide some thoughts on it after having ridden the more ‘agressive’ chamois.

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ClydeRide
+1 Cooper Quinn

Chamois Hagar rider here. I love it, but this Kona is intriguing to me also.

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sverdrup
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Any thoughts on the Apex drivetrain yet? Considering this vs an electronic setup an a new-gen Stigmata.

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cooperquinn
+1 sverdrup

I realize the price difference is very significant, but as you've asked, I'd be looking at Rival AXS? The flexibility to swap out to any other AXS drivetrain, add a Reverb if you feel like it, etc... I'm running D1 (old gen) Force AXS brifters mixed with GX T-type on my bike (details are here

This Apex so far isn't terribly impressive - that said, I'd wager it'd be a lot better with a GX or X01 derailleur, as I think that's probably where most of the shifting performance is lost? You could also upgrade the cassette, which would help further. Its not as crisp/sharp/etc as higher end groups, that's for sure. I also haven't spent much time faffing with it to see if I can get it running really well yet; check hanger alignment, limits, blah blah blah. I pretty much just ran it straight out of the box.

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sverdrup
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Thanks! Yep, large price difference, but I have accepted the potential cost and now debating the merits of mechanical vs electronic.  I currently have nothing to charge on my bike aside from my lights, and I like that...but also wonder what I am missing out on with the newer AXS stuff.  

I find I am way more sensitive to shifting quality on my drop bar bike as compared with my mtbs.  Perfectly content with older gen shimano on my chromag, but somehow find myself anticipating the new Red AXS release for the Stig (!?) Those new Red shifters paired with GX T-type is my weirdo dream right now.

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cooperquinn
+1 Kyle Dixon

Transmission on drop bars rocks - being able to stand, hammer, and just push the button whenever you want for smooth shifts... I end up shifting like a bit of a muppet a lot these days because I'm just so used to shifting whenever, and not lifting.

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retrokona
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I’m just gonna leave this link for the geometry of a 2013 Kona Kula (last year for the 26” wheel version) here:

https://99spokes.com/en-CA/bikes/kona/2013/kula 

The 54cm Ouroboros has shorter reach and a shorter wheelbase. Steeper STA and steeper HTA too. They aren’t a million miles away from each other though. I’m not trying to be a “gravel bikes are 90s (or 2010s) mountain bikes” guy. I’m saying that Kula was stable and pretty zippy too. This thing looks like it’s gonna be a hoot assuming there’s still a Kona to promote it in the morning 😥

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BC_Nuggets
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So setting up the fork...set sag to 10mm and call it a day?

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cooperquinn
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I just looked at the sticker on the back and called it a day, haha. Didn't measure a thing.

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