2015 Kona Precept DL: First Impressions

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Dec 7, 2014

“Hey Dave, we got a new bike that we want you to test.”

Who doesn’t like that text message?

“Ya, it’s this Kona worth $2100. And bring the Bronson back when you come pick it up.”

Give up my cherished, super light, carbon framed, XO1 equipped wonder bike and swap it for what? You realize that for the price of that Santa Cruz, I could buy three of these with money left over for a really nice dinner? For four? Plus drinks? What did I do wrong, Cam?

This Kona Precept DL was in my doghouse before I even saw it. I avoided Cam for several weeks.

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Actually not a bad looking little bike.

First Impressions

Huh. I picked up the Kona, and I don’t hate it. It actually looks like a pretty nice little bike. The frame seems like something meant for a higher dollar bike. Aggressively formed tubes. Beefy pivots. Tidy cable routing. Even a spot for an internally routed dropper post.

The parts spec hides a few little nuggets, as well. The tires are far from the worst thing I’ve seen as an OEM spec. The rear derailleur is an SLX, albeit a clutchless one. The bar doesn’t have a terrible bend to it. Shimano hubs. Even lock on grips. Not bad, Mr. Product Manager.

Of course, $2100 buys you some compromise. The drivetrain only has 9 speeds and a 34t max rear cog. The shifters are Altus. And the fork and brakes…well we don’t have time for that now.

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A spot for your stealth dropper post, which would increase the value of your bike by about 15%. And have you seen this before? Not one…not two…but three chainrings! Crazy.

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Severely formed tubes. Impressive shock mount details. And a gen-you-wine Rock Shox shock.

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Of course, there is some give with the take. Both good (lock on grips) and bad (Altus shifters) surprises.

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I think I’m going to have more to say about these brakes when the time comes.

First Rides

I have a ridiculously short amount of time on this bike so far, but it’s already left an impression.

The copy on the website says “race enduro, ride singletrack all day, enjoy amazing descents.” And I did. And learned two things. So far.

#1 – This thing kind of rails

On smooth, windy singletrack, the bike is a blast. It turns quickly, goes where you point it, and feels very playful. Honestly, It makes you forget that it’s a cheap bike.

#2 – There’s definitely some compromises on the parts spec

What would it say about our sport if I had come back from my first ride and there weren’t some issues with the parts spec? What’s going to be interesting is figuring out whether or not they’re solvable. I have my suspicions, but it definitely requires some more investigation.

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I’ve seen worse tires come on better bikes.

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Decent controls.

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The bike in a nutshell. Burly links throughout. Some decent parts. And some (necessary) corners cut.

Moving Along

So I’ve hardly ridden this bike. And I’m going to ride it more. It already seems like a bike that will provide good value to an entry/intermediate level rider without holding them back. But I also want to see how far I can take it. Can I change a few things and make this sucker kick some real ass? What are the weak links? Stay tuned.

In Canada, as Dave mentioned, the Precept DL MSRP is $2100 and it’s $1900 in the US.


Can Dave make sweet lemonade out of the fruit Cam has given him? You can be sure he’ll give us the straight goods after spending more time on the bike, when he posts his full review.

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Comments

chris-fletcher
0
Chris Fletcher  - March 4, 2015, 3:04 a.m.

Hey Dave, is there an ETA on the full review?

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weekender
0
Weekender  - Feb. 10, 2015, 7:52 p.m.

When do we get the long term review?

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victor-l
0
Victor L.  - Dec. 24, 2014, 1:50 a.m.

I have a 2014 Precept DL. Overall the bike isn't bad considering its price tag, but some compromises were definitely made. Some of the things I considered upgrading:
- Cassette (Acera part)
- Shifters
- Brakes (mixed feelings with resin pads / rotors)

Can't wait for your full review!

Reply

tim-ernst
0
Tim Ernst  - Dec. 18, 2014, 8:32 a.m.

I always laugh at the arrogance when some big shot calls a $2000 bike, cheap. Most weekend warriors would love to own a bike like this. Should I feel like a loser cuz some douche calls it cheap? This happens to be a great bike and is in my price range.
Great specs and durability for my budget and riding style. Look Dave, I get it. You are very important to the biking world and everyone is hanging on your every word. You are all about carbon and how many dollars are stuck onto the ride. Not all of us are in your atmosphere, clearly. But can we ever have someone review a bike without all the cynical phrasing? Kona should tell you to F*** off. Ciao

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brock-fisher
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Brock Fisher  - Dec. 10, 2014, 12:59 p.m.

A euro Bike Mag summed this bike up perfectly. A bike worth upgrading at a price that leaves room to do so.

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jasper
0
Jasper  - Dec. 9, 2014, 11:21 a.m.

I wouldn't spent this amount of money on a bike specced like this.. Even on the process line, there's a discrepation between the specs and the price.. At least in Europe..

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Dec. 9, 2014, 2:11 p.m.

Playing the spec game can be a bit dangerous. Still, I'd love to see some links to bikes that you'd prefer to spend your $2100 on.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Dec. 9, 2014, 3:39 p.m.

Giant Trance 27.5 3 retails for $1950 CAD and appears to blow this Kona out of the water in both frame and components. Giant seems to have some serious buying power.

Reply

jasper
0
Jasper  - Dec. 9, 2014, 10:41 p.m.

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Dirk
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Dirk  - Dec. 10, 2014, 8:23 a.m.

By my math, that Canyon is $2800 Canadian. The Giant is interesting though. Thanks for that.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Dec. 9, 2014, 9:49 a.m.

One thing Kona really has going for them is their geo - steep seat angle, reach that's long but not too long, short stays. While this bike looks decent for the money, it's a bit of a shame they didn't copy the numbers from the Process 134. The reach on this bike is much shorter. I bet the bike would shred like a Process if you went with one size larger.

My Taro borrows the geo from the Honzo but comes with a budget part spec, yet the bike rips because the numbers are right. It performs like a bit worth hundreds if not thousands more.

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Dec. 8, 2014, 3:09 p.m.

For the brakes, do the rotors have a stamp in them that says "resin only"? If not then -- given it is most likely the brakes ship with resin pads -- it would be cheap performance upgrade to install some sintered pads (Shimano or after market). If the rotors are "resin only" then you would have to replace them as well, but if you can find some cheap rotors + pads you would probably find that the brakes themselves are more than adequate. Used to see this all the time on entry level hardtails and swapping the pads, or pads and rotors, made them ride significantly better for under $100.

What about a 30t Narrow Wide ring (30t//11-34t) with the granny left on (just space it inboard slightly as the 30t is inset) for "those" climbs where you don't mind taking a moment to manually shift anyways. That way you ditch the poor front shifter, front derailleur, and poorly shifting stamped rings (and get back the clearance from the big ring). Doesn't solve the cheap rear shifter (although, it is pretty easy to find used or new higher end 9spd shifters for fairly cheap these days).

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Dec. 8, 2014, 4:10 p.m.

Yes. They most definitely have a "resin only" stamp. This will be discussed in more detail in the review. I hadn't really thought about "upgrading" them in this way. Might be worth a look.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Dec. 8, 2014, 4:50 p.m.

That definitely adds money compared to just replacing the pads, but even if you just do the front rotor/front pads I think you'd be impressed how good those basic brakes are… I have a center-lock-to-six-bolt converter somewhere that I don't need (adapts 6-bolt rotor to centerlock) if you want to try it on-the-cheap. Just fire me a message.

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riley
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Riley  - Dec. 8, 2014, 12:38 p.m.

Threaded BB?

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Dirk
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Dirk  - Dec. 8, 2014, 4:10 p.m.

I will take a closer look tonight and let you know.

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oregontrailape
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Oregontrailape  - Dec. 8, 2014, 9:05 p.m.

yup, threaded. Octalink bb.

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Dirk
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Dirk  - Dec. 8, 2014, 7:32 p.m.

I don't see any external bb cups/bearings, so I'm going to assume it's some kind of pressfit. There's no details on the website, but I'll try to dig it up for the full review.

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jprime
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jprime  - Dec. 8, 2014, 10:51 a.m.

Has a very Bottlerocket-esque look to it

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elliot-goodrich
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Elliot Goodrich  - Dec. 10, 2014, 5:10 a.m.

while we're on transition bikes… may as well draw the comparison to a bandit! it's almost identical from the linkage to the geo.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Dec. 10, 2014, 8:26 a.m.

I don't see the Bandit on their website any more. The Scout is similar in travel, but the frame cost is almost what this costs complete.

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oregontrailape
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Oregontrailape  - Dec. 8, 2014, 8:50 a.m.

They don't offer it as a frame only, I already tried that route. 🙁

Reply

drakche
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Dragan Stojanović  - Dec. 8, 2014, 4:35 a.m.

Can't wait for the full review. I had my eye on this frame, and I think if I can get it as a frame only it can make a really sick bike.

Reply

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