The One Bike you Need?

Kona Ute I stopped over at Byron’s place Sunday and got a chance to ogle his stable of bikes. Of course the one I went to see was the Kona Ute. I’ve long been interested in the longtail concept - mostly for a short-haul option and trips to the store. I live on pretty serious hill, so for me the idea of a 50lb bike is p”robably a little foolish, but there is a local grocery that I’d love to have a quality longtail for (today I schlep messenger bags or tow the trailer).

Anyway it was raining so I didn’t get an extended test ride, but the Ute was awesome. It’s far more sturdy than the Bettie which has a decent amount of whip to it. The Ute just makes more gradual turns than a regular mountain bike, but it doesn’t have that unstable feel that you get on some xtracycles. The deck and the footpegs (standard? not sure) looked great and added a nice 2nd-passenger option. One of the nice points on the trim was the Hayes mechanical discs. I’m a big disc fan, but I’m easily disappointed by manufacturers cutting corners to save money. In a lot of lower-range bikes they use the Tektro disc setup. I love Tektro parts just not their disc brakes. The rotors warp too easily and adjustable they are not good choice by Kona for taking the high road there. The rest of the drivetrain was predictably predictable Shimano. The Cork grips were a nice touch too.

What would I change? I’d go with a Brooks saddle for that nice up-right position. I’d probably go with a slightly wider mustache bar and add some campus pedals - having that upstroke can be a good thing when hauling a load. Other than that it’s built pretty nicely. When I can convince the wife that I need one more bike…this one might be it.



8 Comments

Bear in mind that once you enter the world of cargo hauling, you need to, and will, look at weight in a completely different way than you now do.  If you take this step, you will find yourself looking for bigger and bigger things to haul, and putting them on the bathroom scale when you get home, for the bragging rights.  I routinely cart 80-95 lbs of groceries up one mile of 10% grade, and only consider it worth mentioning if my payload is over 100 lbs.  A 50 lb bike?  Shucks, that’s my light ride.  You get used to it, honest.

Interesting thoughts on the Ute.  I’ve not been a big fan of Xtracycle equipped bikes because of the handling issues.  I’ve been on three, and they all had some serious issues.  That said, I’m pretty excited about both the Ute and the Big Dummy because I’m pretty well convinced that designing the frame around the wheelbase can cure these issues.  Thanks for the report.

Sean,

In my review [of the Bettie](http://bikehugger.com/2007/05/looking_for_a_bettie.htm) I noted that standover height and whippiness under big loads are the concern and longtails address that. That’s no diss to xtracycle, just an evolution of the cargo bike and for serving more purposes. I also see a need for an improvement of the bags, others disagree. Where they handle a variety of load types like surfboards and groceries, they also sometimes lose a load, like a helmet and are not rainproof.

so the bike by its self weighs about 50 pounds? man those things are cool, I think i would like to see one with a rohloff, I imagine it would be easer for unexpected shifts under load on big hills

Erik: for absolute confidence in shifting unexpectedly, what you really want is a NuVinci hub, for about 1/5 the price of the Rohloff.  It doesn’t have quite as much range, but multiple chainrings or a Schlumpf crankset could extend that.
  For another perspective on riding with weight, take a look at:  http://www.teamalameda.com/FlashBlog/?p=14

That reminds me about our pending Nuvinci review. I’d ride that first as it’s a whole different thing.

Check out the Yuba mondo, good frame, reasonably priced and easily upgradable. They have even raced a standard mondo, 10 miles in 31 minutes, 44th in the chilly duathlon castle coombe last weekend.

Selling a very good bike in Shanghai…Pictures and price to be disscused !

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