Best Kona Bikes | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • The best Kona mountain bikes are the Kona Honzo ESD, Kona Process X CR/DL, Kona Kahuna, and the Kona Hei Hei CR/Dl.
  • The best Kona road bikes are the Kona Libre CR/DL, Kona Rove LTD, and the Kona Sutra LTD.
  • Kona features model variations of most of their bikes, which vary in specs, performance, and price.

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Kona has been manufacturing world-class bikes for decades, and their line-up continues to become more expansive and advanced with each new riding season.

The best Kona bikes are:

  • Kona Honzo ESD (Best Hardtail Mountain Bike)
  • Kona Process X CR/DL (Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bike)
  • Kona Kahuna (Best Budget Mountain Bike)
  • Kona Hei Hei CR/DL (Best XC Mountain Bike)
  • Kona Libre CR/DL (Best Hybrid Road Bike)
  • Kona Rove LTD (Best Gravel/Road Bike)
  • Kona Sutra LTD (Best Adventure Gravel Bike)

After extensively researching the Kona Bicycle Corporation, I have gathered enough information to shortlist the best bikes in their line-up. My research has indicated that you should carefully consider the specs of each bike model, as this will heavily influence your performance capabilities.



Best Kona Mountain Bikes

Kona entered the scene as a mountain bike manufacturer in 1988 and is widely considered to be one of the sport's leading brands. Although Kona has changed a lot over the years, their commitment to building top-of-the-line MTBs has not, which is why many industry pros rely on their bikes when competing.

The one characteristic that Kona’s mountain bikes are particularly known for is durability. No matter how hard your ride or jump, Kona’s MTBs are built like tanks, and they are guaranteed to outlast the bulk of their competition. Buying a quality Kona mountain bike may just be the last MTB that you ever have to purchase, as many riders still have their bikes from the late 80s and 90s.

These days, Kona’s collection of mountain bikes is more impressive than ever, with an expansive selection of models that range in specs, performance, and price. There is a lot to take in when shopping for an MTB, which is why you should consider your riding needs before you buy.The first place to start is deciding between a hardtail and a full-suspension MTB. A lot of diehard riders swear by hardtails due to their all-purpose riding capabilities, low maintenance requirements, and durability. But full-suspension mountain bikes have seen a lot of upgrades in recent years - with many challenging even the best hardtails on the market. With that said, let’s break down the best mountain bikes in Kona’s line-up.

Kona Honzo ESD (Best Hardtail Mountain Bike)

Kona Honzo ESD
Kona Honzo ESD

Kona has a handful of top-notch hardtails available, but the Honzo ESD is hands down the best of what the brand has to offer. The Kona Honzo ESD is an aggressive hardtail, designed to take on the world’s most intense trails and jumps.

The specs of the Honzo ESD make this a favorable option for an XC rider that wants more explosive power out of their MTB. This hardtail was built with a Kona Cromoly Butted frame, which is guaranteed to handle any expert-level track. To ensure optimal performance, Kona designed the Honzo ESD with a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Grip Damper 150mm Tapered fork that has superior absorption and dampening.

Kona equipped the Honzo ESD with high-end parts from Shimano which can be found throughout the drive, brakes, and other components. The tubeless compatible rims allow you to ride on adverse terrain with total confidence, as they are about as puncture-proof as you could ask for on a performance hardtail MTB.

To improve steering capabilities and eliminate brake shuddering, the Honzo ESD features a tapered head tube that greatly impacts the comfort of the ride and the performance of the bike. While some riders may prefer to ride a hardtail made out of carbon fiber, the high-grade aluminum that Kona built the Honzo with is lightweight and durable.

All in all, if you are looking for a low-maintenance hardtail that can deliver astounding performance, you really can’t go wrong with the Honzo ESD. If you have any reservations about the quality or durability of the Honzo, Kona is backing the frame with a lifetime warranty, so you can shred with total confidence on any trail.

Kona Process X CR/DL (Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bike)

Kona Process X CR/DL
Kona Process X CR/DL

Full-Suspension MTBs have come a long way since they were first introduced to the market and bikes like the Kona Process X CR/DL are taking performance to a whole new level. This Kona mountain bike was designed to do it all, which makes it a perfect option for anyone looking for an all-arounder that they can rely on through thick and thin.

The Process X CR/DL features a Kona Carbon 162mm Travel frame that was built to last and perform on any professional track. I found that the suspension was phenomenal due to the Zeb Ultimate RC2 Charger 2.1 front fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate Trunnion rear shock from RockShox.

Given that the Process X CR/DL is a full-suspension bike, riders not only gain a performance boost from the increased absorption but also a more comfortable riding experience. Although the Process X CR/DL has dual suspension, the bike still has excellent rigidity to maximize aggression and explosive power.

This MTB is stacked with top-notch SRAM parts throughout; including the crankarms, cassette, brakes, and shifters. The bottom line is that the Kona Process X CR/DL is a performance machine that is suitable for various kinds of trails and riders of different experience levels.

With that said, one of my favorite things about the Process X CR/DL is that Kona released it in over a dozen model options. To make the Process as accessible as possible, Kona designed this full-suspension MTB with different specs and price points so that riders can choose a model that suits their riding style and budget.

The Process X CR/DL is the high-end model featuring a carbon fiber frame and top-notch components. If you want a budget-friendly variation of this Kona full-suspension MTB, I recommend the standard Process or the CR. Downgrading to an aluminum frame considerably lowers the price tag and the design of the bike is virtually identical. However, riders have over a dozen options to choose from - making the Process the most dynamic mountain bike in Kona’s line-up.

Kona Kahuna (Best Budget Mountain Bike)

Kona Kahuna
Kona Kahuna

If you are looking for a solid mountain bike on a budget, evaluating the MTBs on the market can feel rather intimidating. Top-of-the-line mountain bikes made by reputable manufacturers can easily set you back $5,000 to $10,000+, which can make buying an MTB unrealistic for a lot of riders who want quality performance without breaking the bank.

Kona strives to design high-end mountain bikes that deliver peak performance, but they also pride themselves in releasing bikes that are accessible to a wide range of riders. The Kahuna is Kona’s best-value MTB and it allows you to shred without dipping into your life savings.

This is a hardtail MTB with well-rounded specs and performance capabilities. It is equipped with a Kona Race Light 6061 Aluminum Butted frame and a RockShox Recon Silver RL Solo Air 100mm fork. The 6061 Aluminum used for the frame is top-notch and tested extensively for durability; maintenance and unwanted repairs will be virtually non-existent with this MTB.

Riders who desire the feel of a traditional hardtail will feel right at home on the Kakuna, as this bike ticks all the boxes of a classic MTB, but with modernized parts and components. Despite its very reasonable price tag, Kona was able to install quality Shimano parts throughout the chain, cassette, crankarms, shifters, and brakes.

With a 12-speed drive, the Kona Kahuna offers riders plenty of versatility to adapt to changes in grade and terrain without sacrificing performance. Whether you are a seasoned rider looking for something familiar or a newbie that is just starting out, the Kona Kahuna is a hardtail that you should keep at the top of your list.

Astonishingly, Kona was able to keep the price of this MTB under $1,000, which is practically unheard of for a bike with these specs. If you like the design of the Kahuna but want an upgraded variation, Kona released the Kahuna DL, which features advanced specs at a slightly higher price.

Kona Hei Hei CR/DL (Best XC Mountain Bike)

Kona Hei Hei CR/DL
Kona Hei Hei CR/DL

XC mountain biking is here to stay. Whether you ride professionally or simply love the sport, few things compare with the thrill of hitting a cross-country circuit. An MTB designed for cross-country riding must deliver peak performance on dynamic trails with adverse terrains.

The Hei Hei CR/DL is the best of what Kona has to offer in the XC MTB category. This 29er can handle anything that you throw at it and will roll over anything it can’t. With superb geometry that improves ride performance and comfort, you can shred on expert-level XC trails for hours without compromising performance.

The Hei Hei CR/DL features a Kona Race Light Carbon 120mm Travel frame, which is lightweight and very durable. In addition, this MTB is equipped with a Sid Ultimate DebonAir 120mm front fork and a Sid Luxe Ultimate rear shock from RockShox. Kona spared no expense when designing the Hei Hei CR/DL, which is why you can find high-end SRAM components scattered throughout the build.

A lot of diehard XC mountain bike riders may prefer the rigidity of a hardtail compared to a full-suspension MTB like the Hei Hei CR/DL. However, this full-suspension MTB is a lightweight performance machine that will give any hardtail in an XC circuit a run for its money.

This is a race-ready XC mountain bike that weighs in at just 25 lbs - making it an ultralight model of the standard Hei Hei. If you have the money, the CR/DL model is hands down the best XC mountain bike in Kona’s line-up. However, if you are shopping on a budget and want a quality XC MTB, the standard Hei Hei is an excellent bike to consider.

The Hei Hei is part of a series of XC mountain bikes from Kona and riders can choose to buy a model variation with downgraded specs such as the standard Hei Hei. This is a well-rounded XC MTB from Kona and it features a quality 6061 aluminum frame instead of carbon fiber. If you are not planning on competing in an XC race and just want a cross-country mountain bike that is reliable, affordable, and has solid performance, the standard Hei Hei is a great option to consider.

Best Kona Road Bikes

Although Kona made a name for itself by releasing high-performance mountain bikes, the brand has branched out over the years and now designs an impressive range of road bikes.

With more and more people preferring to use bikes for commuting, the demand for road bikes is bigger than ever. However, it’s important to understand that ‘road bikes’ is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of different types of bikes.

Are you looking for a bike that can deliver optimal speed on clean paved roads? Or are you the type of rider that likes to get off the paved trail and hit some gravel here and there? Most riders will choose either a traditional road bike that was designed to be lightweight and fast - whereas others may prefer a versatile machine that can deliver speed and ruggedness in one package.

Regardless of how you like to ride, Kona has a solid selection of quality road bikes for you to choose from. Let’s dive into the best road bikes from Kona.

Kona Libre CR/DL (Best Hybrid Road Bike)

Kona Libre CR/DL
Kona Libre CR/DL

The Kona Libre CR/DL puts a spin on the design of a traditional road bike. In many respects, this is a high-end, lightweight road bike that was built for speed and agility. On the other hand, this is a dynamic gravel bike that can handle adverse terrain when needed - making it the perfect hybrid.

Kona built the Libre CR/DL to satisfy the temptation that road cyclists feel when they see an unpaved track that their machine simply was not meant for. If that sounds like you, then the Libre CR/DL is going to be a one-stop-shop solution to take care of your paved and gravel riding.

This top-notch hybrid is equipped with a Kona Race Light Carbon frame and a Verso Full Carbon Flat Mount Disc. With these ultra-light materials and components, Kona was able to achieve a weight of just 21lbs for the Libre.

The Libre features a plethora of high-end parts from Shimano throughout the drive and groupset. To make this bike as versatile as possible, Kona designed the Libre CR/DL with bento box mounts and cage mounts; allowing riders to haul a ton of gear on bike trips.

All in all, the Kona Libre is a hybrid bike that can do a bit of everything. Whether you are into long-distance, gravel, or paved, the Libre has got you covered. To make this bike available at different prices, Kona designed a few different model options - with varying specs. The Libre CR/DL and CR are Kona’s high-end models with carbon fiber parts. Whereas the standard Libre has aluminum parts and downgraded specs, but at a much more affordable price.

Kona Rove LTD (Best Gravel/Road Bike)

Kona Rove LTD
Kona Rove LTD

If you are looking for a bike that you can use for both adventure cycling and commuting, the Kona Rove LTD is a fantastic option to consider. This gravel bike can do it all and a lot of riders that want a bike that can handle all of their cycling needs often opt for the Rove LTD.

The Rove LTD strikes the perfect balance between a lightweight road bike that focuses on speed and a gravel bike that can handle adverse terrain. You can hop on gravel trails on the same day that you are cycling on paved without having to change your bike or worry about wear and tear.

This gravel bike is equipped with a Kona Butted Cromoly frame. Although the aluminum frame does add a bit of weight to the bike, it opens up a lot of possibilities for rugged riding. The last thing you want to experience is a cracked carbon fiber frame as you race down a gravel trail, which is why Kona decided to use quality aluminum for the design.

With that said, this bike features a superior Kona Rove Verso Full Carbon Flat Mount Disc fork, which has excellent absorption on adverse trails. This also keeps the weight of the bike relatively low so that you have optimal speed performance when riding.

You will find nothing but quality components from Shimano under the hood, as well as custom parts from Kona. However, riders can choose whether they prefer SRAM or Shimano when picking out their bikes, as Kona has designed model variations with both.

The top-notch hydraulic disc breaks offer exceptional stopping power and Maxxis Rambler EXO TR 650x47c tires are perfect for gravel riding. The Rove LTD is Kona’s high-end model, which comes with enhanced specs and performance. If you want to save money but like the specs of the Rove LTD, you should consider the standard Rove model, as it has similar specs at a much better price.

Kona Sutra LTD (Best Adventure Gravel Bike)

Kona Sutra LTD
Kona Sutra LTD

A lot of people have a hard time deciding which bike they want, especially if their preferred riding style involves road, gravel, mountain, and touring. There are few bikes built for this kind of adventure, which is why a lot of people often have more than one in the garage.

Kona challenged itself to release a bike that could adapt to virtually any riding condition - the Sutra LTD. This an adventure gravel bike that can take a beating and get you from point A to point B efficiently.

The Kona Sutra LTD resembles the characteristics of a standard road bike, but the fat tires immediately make most riders think this is an MTB hybrid. Kona’s mentality was, ‘why put a name on it?’. Instead of boxing themselves into a specific design, Kona simply built a bike that could deliver on the performance capabilities that a lot of riders want - an all-arounder suitable for just about anything.

The Sutra LTD features a Kona Cromoly Butted fork and a Kona Project Two Cromoly Disc Touring Fork. This adventure gravel bike has quality components from SRAM and an 11-speed drive that gives riders plenty of versatility when needing to adapt to changes in grade.

Adding mounts and racks to the Sutra LTD is very easy and you can transform this machine into a touring bike in minutes. Depending on your budget, you can choose to buy either the Sutra LTD, which is Kona’s high-end model - or you can opt for the standard Sutra. Although the standard model does have downgraded specs, it is also a lot more affordable for the budget rider.