Retro Steel from Kona

Kona%20Kapu.jpg You know, I totally missed this one at Interbike, and I don’t think I’ve seen much ink about this either. But I saw this Kona Kapu prominently featured in a Japanese bike mag. Japan seems to have a big retro steel road trend. What I find significant about this bike is that it is a full-on retro steel bike, chromed lugs and chainstay, from a mainstream bicycle manufacturer. I can’t help but wonder if this will be part of a wider trend that will also be visible in the US market.

Extra points to Kona for the rack mounts and fender clearance. Minus one for the vertical dropouts (no fixie mods for this frame).


Chromed lugs from a brand as churlish as Kona is wrong.  Stiletto bladed fork on a retro bike is wrong.

colnagos sported straight-blade forks . . . I had one and I wished I never sold it. It was the old red/orange flames wordperfect team one. Masterlight, crimped tubing, chrome lugs, beauty.

I had a titanium Colnago…and honestly it was a piece of crap.  I’d never buy anything but a steel Colnago. I’m really digging the style on the Kona, but I wish the headtube on the smallest frame was shorter.

I have a vague recollection of ti Colnago—no wait, that was the Master Ti with the double-down tube and it was restricted to the featherweight class.

Not the best work Mr. C has done. Around the time of the Master Ti I had a Titanium Sports prototype. It was the triple rear triangle GT design and OMG was that not ever a springy, ti bike. It was one of the ti bikes that gave ti a bad name, back in the day.

I think its cool, perfect for touring…It reminds me of Masi’s Speciale Fixed in orange. Nice pics of it on flickr.

BTW. I can’t believe what they’re charging for this, what a rip. Oi.

I’m on board with the gripes about the fork and have one more to add.  That black fork just ain’t jiving with me…why paint an OEM steel fork black on an orange steel bike? Should have been painted to match.  Kudo’s to Kona for coming out with a production lugged steel road bike.  The Kapu would be an interesting barometer for the steel bike resurgence.


The fork is sexy, like stiletto heels, American Apparel catalogs, and [men in tights](

The fork should be black at the top half and chrome on the bottom half.

Great and interesting posts Mark V!!

The graphics (type) should be retro. Not on that white band.

Maybe Kona doesn’t think of it in a retro sense though. Could be so much stronger with a few visual tweaks.


A step in the right direction.

It’s seems like a fashion thing (Ti, carbon, steel, versus Al). Perhaps the winds of fashion are shifting from carbon fiber back to steel.  This would make some sense given that every bike vendor now has a carbon fiber rocket ship in their line, so to be different people are reconsidering other materials.  Granted, there are niche companies that never embraced the carbon fiber wave, but this is the exception and not the rule.

I think like with Alum, it’s also economics. There’s a profit-margin reason in this bike I presumed, beyond the fact that Kona’s designers wanted to make sure there was a steel bike in the lineup.

And to the material point, the reason we did the [Hotspur]( was in part to demonstrate that Ti is still a relevant material and that bike performs as well, if not better than carbon.




a light, steel frameset has a particular ride quality that many people enjoy, myself included. It’s logical that the supply of used European steel racing bikes isn’t growing fast enough to meet demand…for one thing, most amateur racers don’t buy steel anymore and sponsored teams don’t either.  Some companies are going to fill that demand with new bikes in a nostalgic form.

Also, a few things to keep in mind about the Kapu.  It’s been in the Kona line-up for years.  The earliest one I can remember (this is strictly from my head, no research) was made from Columbus Genius tubing (TIG’ed)and had a straight-blade fork.  This is mid-90’s, and ALL Kona bikes had straight-blade forks (unless they had a suspension fork).  Thus the current Kapu adheres to certain traditions within Kona.

The logo/graphics are in line with the rest of the Kona line-up this year, and I’m not surprised.  You wouldn’t believe the in-company politics that go into graphics…to get a separate graphics design on a single model wouldn’t be too likely.

Byron: the Colnago I had was a Bi-Titan with double-down tubes.  It sucked (I could write an article why). The Master Ti had a single, deep-section down tube.  The worst Colnago ever was probably the Carbitubo…bounded carbon tubes on aluminium lugs and double-down tubes.  Five different bonds to fail at the BB.

My favourite Kona ever…the early Explosif made with Columbus Max OR.  Back in G-ville, I knew this exotic dancer who rode one on campus.  She wore miniskirts with striped thigh-highs while riding…  good times.

@ Mark,

You had a Bi-Titan! The obsession runs deep man, deep. Did you dump that on ebay?

I don’t think any thing would ride more awful than that Ti GT prototype I had. Now it was cool that it was a prototype and all, but I’d ride it and actually watch the rear end flex.


I repeat: my Colnago Bi-Titan sucked.  I sold it off of Bicycling Magazine’s AOL message board in 1995, when most people outside of Seattle barely knew what “dot com” meant. Ebay was a long long ways away.  Some kooky German guy named Hans bought it from me. 

The bike was 2.5 DEGREES STEEPER on the seat tube than advertised and the front end flexed scary-bad.  You had to deflate the tire to fit the rear wheel into the frame.  And the bike would literally take on 6oz of water in a rain storm.  Pure rubbish.  Ernesto Colnago earned my undying hatred with that bike. My Bianchi EL/OS was better in every way to that bike and cost less than half as much.


Got it, i was just surprised . .  . I’ve known you for like 10 years and didn’t know you had a Colnago in your past. How did that not come up? Sort of like discovering a good friend in a past life lived in a commune or something. Or like you fronted a Ska band.

I just built up one of these Kapu frames and they are sweet. Old school looks, but modern geometry makes for a slicky slick ride. It has rack eyelets too for mounting fenders or a pannier.

My velospace photos here:

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