- For fat bike aficionados, the Kona Wo offers all that big-tired goodness in a lightweight package.
- Costing $1,799, this bike is awesome value for the money with a solid frame and components.
- The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim TR 26x4.8” tires on this bike are great for sand, snow, and singletrack.
- The Kona Wo is very quick and maneuverable for a fat bike.
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If you’re in the market for a new fat bike, this review will dive into all the details on the Kona Wo so you can decide if it’s the one you should buy.
The Kona Wo is a dependable fat bike that will take you wherever you want to go. Fat bikes are awesome for their ability to cover terrain that’s impossible to any other bike, and the Wo is a great way to get into the fat bike world. A sturdy frame and reliable components make for a great ride.
I love bikes that can take me anywhere, and fat bikes are the epitome of that idea. For this review I delved into the specs and performance of the Kona Wo to see how it compares in the entry-level fat bike lineup.
Kona Wo Performance
For those not familiar with the benefits of a fat bike, here is a quick summary of reasons fat bike aficionados love these big-tired rides:
- Massive tires give you much better tire grip so you can ride on slick, loose surfaces.
- You can run lower tire pressure to give you a cushy ride on the trail without complex suspension.
- The big tires spread out your weight so you can ride on soft surfaces like snow and sand.
- Rigid fat bikes are supremely simple and reliable.
The Kona Wo rides like a fat bike should: it’s stable, grippy, and can roll over anything. This bike does a great job of giving you the go-anywhere confidence of fat tires without being cumbersome on the trail.
Nimble usually isn’t a work used in the fat bike world, but if anything with 4.8” tires could be nimble, this is it. With balanced geometry and impressively light weight, this bike excels at providing confident steering performance and makes you feel in control.
With no suspension, this bike relies totally on it’s big, squishy tires to smooth out the trail. This is pretty typical for many fat bikes.
The balanced geometry and lack of suspension mean you won’t be bombing down technical trails at high speed. On really rough descents the Wo can feel out of it’s element. This bike feels stable and planted while descending moderate, flowy trails.
The Kona Wo is very lightweight for a fat bike. At 31 lbs, you definitely won’t feel the weight holding you back on climbs. When climbing, the Wo feels surprisingly maneuverable and responsive.
The Shimano Deore 11spd drivetrain gives you awesome gear range with an 11-51 tooth cassette in the back. With a 28t chainring, you get great low gears for winching your way up hills.
Fat bikes can feel sluggish and cumbersome on climbs, but not the Wo. The light weight, balanced geometry, and massive grip make it an impressive, and even fun, climber.
If you take this bike out for singletrack riding, you’ll have a much different riding experience than a trail bike, but it performs surprisingly well. The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim TR tires have awesome roll-over ability to go over any obstacles in the trail, and you’ll have mountains of grip.
With no suspension, this bike won’t be super comfortable on rough terrain, but the big tire volume does help smooth out the ride.
If you want a fat bike for snow or sand that also works on the trail, the Kona Wo is a pretty good choice.
Snow and Sand Riding
Fat bikes really come into their own on soft surfaces where other bikes sink in. The Kona Wo’s light weight and easy handling come into their own in sand and snow. It never feels like you are hauling the bike around, and it’s easy to stay in control.
When riding on soft surfaces, the 4.8” tires are great for float and grip. The Kona Wo is especially great in sand and desert riding.
Make sure you drop the tire pressure to get the most benefit from the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim TR tires in sand and snow.
Kona Wo Frame and Geometry
The Kona Wo has a butted 6061 aluminum frame. The geometry is nothing to write home about. With average reach and heat tube angle for a fat bike, it is balanced rather than aggressive.
This particular frame’s strength comes with it’s light weight. Kona has managed to build a sturdy frame with significant weight savings that make the Wo easy to handle on the trail.
The tapered head tube and suspension corrected forks make this frame compatible with most fat bike suspension forks if you want to upgrade in the future.
A descent array of mounting points make this bike ready for bags and racks if you want to dive into fat bike bikepacking.
Specs and Components
For the price, the Kona Wo comes with a pretty solid build kit. Fat bikes are more expensive than other bikes, mainly because of their huge rims and tires, so it’s nice that Kona was able to hit this price without too many compromises in the build.
The Kona Wo comes with a Shimano Deore 11spd drivetrain with an 11-51 cassette and 28-tooth chainring. You shouldn’t expect to be cruising at high speeds on a fat bike, so this low range gearing is perfect.
The fat bike specific Race Face Ride cranks are lightweight, and sturdy.
In my opinion, you don’t really need the finer gear jumps of a 12-speed on a fat bike, so this drivetrain is a fantastic choice for this bike.
The Wo is a fully rigid bike, so no suspension here other than the squish of the big-volume tires. For the fork Kona fitted this with their own Kona Wo Fat Disk rigid fork.
This fork is suspension corrected so you’ll be able to upgrade to a suspension fork without changing the ride geometry if that’s something you’re interested in.
The Shimano MT201 hydraulic disk brakes included with the Wo are nothing fancy and don’t have the best modulation, but they do the job. You get a 180mm rotor in the front and 160mm in the rear.
With the massive tire grip, you’ll have no problem stopping on flowy downhills.
The Kona Wo comes with 26” Sun Ringle Mulefut 80 tubeless ready rims. These are great lightweight rims for this bike and help you get the most out of the giant tires.
The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim TR 26x4.8" that come on this bike is lightweight for such a big tire and has surprisingly low rolling resistance.
These tires are especially fantastic on sand and loose gravel where they float and grip with ease. Performance on snow is also good, though you may experience some slipping.
Competition for the Kona Wo
As fat bikes continue to grow in popularity, more manufacturers are starting to make affordable, go-anywhere bikes with big tires. Here’s how the Wo competes in the entry-level fat bike lineup.
Kona Wo vs Surley Wednesday
Surly is a household name in the fat bike world. This brand played a big role in creating the category and even has their own range of awesome fat bike tires and wheels. The Surly Wednesday sits in the middle of their big-tired trail range.
The steel-framed Wednesday is 35 lbs, much heavier than the Wo. It’ll feel more comfortable on rough trails, but it’s sluggish climbing.
The Surly only comes with 3.8” wide tires, which is more in plus bike territory than true fat bike. It can fit up to 4.6” tires, but if you want a bike that’s ready for snow and sand right off the bat, the Kona Wo is probably a better choice.
Kona Wo vs Rocky Mountain Blizzard Alloy 10
The Rocky Mountain Blizzard Alloy 10 is a seriously capable fat bike. Massive 27.5x4.5” tires make it ready to roll over everything in your path. It also has tons of mounting points to keep you ready for bikepacking.
The compromise made for the Blizzard Alloy 10 is in the drivetrain. It only has Shimano’s 10-speed Deore drivetrain which is limited to an 11-46 cassette. You definitely don’t get the same gear range as the Wo, and the Blizzard will wear you out more on big climbs.
Kona Wo vs Trek Farley 5
The Trek Farley 5 is another popular budget fat bike. It has similar geometry and overall design, but like the Rocky Mountian Blizzard, this ride is held back by its Shimano 10-speed drivetrain.
At $1,999, this bike is $200 more than the Kona Wo. In my view, there isn’t really much reason to get the Farley 5 over the Wo.
Where to Buy the Kona Wo
Because of supply chain issues, you may have a hard time finding this bike available to buy online. Your best bet is to find your local Kona dealer.