Kona SatoriSaturday April 21, 2012
The 2012 Kona Satori is proving to be amazingly versatile. This 130mm travel 29'er is a better than respectable climber and really comes to life when you point it downhill.
I first rode this bike last summer in Bellingham, WA. Whatcom County is a superb testing ground for bikes of all categories and destinations. I was immediately struck by the climbing prowess of this bike and I was eager to see how it would fare on the long steep climbs around Missoula. But first I took the opportunity to take on the twisting and turning technical trails of Galbraith Mountain.
When riding Galbraith there are no stretches that come even close to tempting you to lock out the suspension which is fine with me. For many years, with he advances in suspension technology I have discovered that a well dialed suspension system can and probably should be run in the fully active mode once you touch the dirt. KONA bikes have regularly met this requirement quite well. Give the pedals a good push and the rear suspension refuses to yield and yet, when you hit a the inevitable log or rock the suspension initiates quite easily.
I was also shown that the capabilities of this bike far exceed my riding skills when I watched Paddy White - KONA product manager - riding his Satori, launch a 12ft drop and ride off with seamless transition.
Now back in Missoula, and with the trails opening up I have taken every opportunity I can find to get out on the Satori. I am very impressed with just how well the Satori climbs. KONA have moved away from their tried and tested walking four bar suspension system for the first time in company history. The Satori uses a swing link suspension system and thus far it s proving to be quite effective. I would suspect that KONA will use this suspension linkage on more bikes in the future. On the Satori pedaling inputs do not result in compression of the rear suspension. I have ridden some long climbs on this bike with both front and rear suspension in the fully active mode and have experienced very little in the way of suspension bob. The only thing that tempers the speed of the bike on the climbs is simply the fact that the stock bike sits right at about 30lbs and that includes pedals. But a 130mm travel 29'er that is 30lbs and climbs this well is a thing of beauty.
But enough of the Satori's ability to climb, the real reason to get this bike is to experience it truly come alive when you point this bike downhill. The short chainstays and relatively slack head angle both allow you to flick the bike around short quick turns and find loads of sure-footedness when the the speed get high or when you bury the wheels hard into a turn. Admittedly I am sure that a better rider would discover even greater thrills from this bike than I do. I chicken out when things get really hairy but I have not gone this fast for a long time on any other bike. On my hardtail I am used to picking my way through rough patches but the Satori allows me to lay off the brakes and straight line through rocks, ruts and roots. This bike shines on the descents and asks to go faster and faster with complete confidence. The Maxxis Ardents definitely contribute to the confidence inspiring nature of this bike. With 2.4's up front and 2.25 in the back there is a lot of meat holding onto the dirt beneath you.
We liked this bike so much that we brought in several to use as our shop demo. We have them available to you now. The trails are drying out and they are riding very well right now. Give a call to the shop and reserve a Satori for a day or two. Be warned, you will not want to give up this bike. The great thing though is that this could be the bike to replace a couple of bikes in your quiver.
As a matter-of-fact Barry Wicks raced his Satori at Sea Otter and finished in 5th place in the short track - on a long travel 29'er! Yeah, this bike pedals really well.