Written by Alex Roskin Thursday, 21 June 2012 15:46
I rationalized her in my life. I was daydreaming about her while at work, my long commute and she even creped into my dreams. I checked her status updates everyday. Searched for rumors about her. Lurked the Internets for candid spy pics.
It was an easy call. I had an opening in my lineup. Road, Cross, 29er race, even the big fatty Fatbike. Where is the single speed? Shame. I can barely lift my head. I could hear my friends whisper in the shadows. “Yeah, he talks like he loves bikes, where is his single speed?” “Its like he really doesn’t know how to ride”
The chatter on-line rumors started to pick up in late March. Then we got some new spy shots. I heard a fight broke out among Kona employees when the first ones arrived. It was beautifully simple to my eye. No overly designed swoopy carbon, with slick shinny graphic paint jobs to try to make them stand out over the dozens of others all coming from overseas. With bead blasted graphics and brushed bare titanium, it actually stands out. It has nicely curved chainstays, and a bend downtube for fork clearance. Also notable is the BB30 bottom bracket, and a machined 44mm headtube. allows you to run both 1 1/8 and tapered forks with a different headset lower or race. Utilitarian beauty. No paint, no slick graphics needed.
A little of my background,
I have had (and have) so many high-end bikes over the last 25 years. From my steel De Rosa in 1987 to my custom built titaniums of today. I have paid HUGE money to get that elusive “forever bike”. A few have stayed; many just didn’t make the cut. I was done spending huge money. (ha) I see a lot of high end bikes at the races and on the trails. Only few you can run geared or singlespeed. Some titanium. Most are made by custom frame builders and carry a frame price over 3K. The Kona is everything that frames costing almost 50% more are!
The Kona is expertly crafted by Lynskey with USA titanium, in good ole Tennessee. I briefly owned Lynskey’s first 29er when they broke away from Litespeed a few years ago. It was a noodle, and I sent it back after three rides! I couldn’t keep the chain on, as a singlespeed. I saw over the years a lot of changes, and more and more of them at the races. Everyone seemed really happy with them.
In comes Kona. Pair the legends in all mountain bike design, with the expert craftsmanship and technical titanium know-how of Lynskey. BAM! Its like fishing with dynamite! The Raijin is convertible from geared to singlespeed with Kona design tweaks to the sliding dropouts proven on their much-loved Kona Unit steel frame. Big cap head screws within titanium cup washers keep the wheel set where you want it to be. HUGE torque is thrown down when you are giving it your all to make it over that technical knoll or rock garden. Once I had her set up with some bb30 cranks, set up singlespeed I have yet to drop a chain! This was a different story when I tried the thread cups (to run regular bb in a bb30). The chain would whip off, in usually all the wrong places.
My first couple of rides I put on a Niner Carbon fork. It was so quick. Almost too quick. It dropped the front end to my estimated 71.7 Headtube angle. My race bike has a 71.5 with a 100mm suspension fork. Its pretty quick on the front end. It gets me out of trouble quick (probably gets me into trouble as well) Its razor sharp. On the Raijin I was looking for a little more intuitive control. Putting on a 100mm suspension fork I had laying around did just that. The front end handling is what I would call neutral. Not twitchy, not slow, almost telepathic. I didn’t need to concentrate on the ten feet in front of me, but could look further ahead. Nice when you are running only one gear. Raijin also has great rear end traction. My 20/32t setup gave me a 17” chainstay. Rear tire is nicely tucked and with a 70deg head tube angle give a nice stable footprint for those technical downhills.
My Sunday “A-Train” sufferfest go to bike!
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