Refining a cult classic
In 2014 Kona introduced its Process line as a dedicated trail platform with various suspension travel and wheel options. These bikes quickly developed a cult following with their progressive geometry and all-around fun nature. Over the last few years the Process has been exclusively offered in aluminum, but riders were constantly asking Kona to produce a carbon version. After three years of development and testing, Kona has finally introduced the new carbon Process 153.
PROCESS 153 29
Not to be overshadowed by its smaller-wheeled counterpart is the new Process 153 29er. The 29er version has the same chainstay length and bottom bracket height as the 27.5 version and also sports a 66-degree head angle. This bike is only available with an aluminum frame. Like the smaller- wheeled 27.5 build, the 29er linkage was designed around the ability to run an air or coil shock
PROCESS 153 27.5
The Process 153 has always been aimed at aggressive all-mountain and enduro riding with 153 millimeters of rear travel. For 2018 the Process 153 has a carbon fiber frame and seatstays, but Kona opted for aluminum chainstays for the sake of longevity. Aside from the carbon fiber frame, the most notable change to the Process 153 is the ability to run a water-bottle cage in the main frame. Kona found this extra space by using a horizontal, Trunnion-mounted shock.
The new linkage has a revised leverage curve that is more progressive than on the previous Process with a slightly regressive hump for better pedaling support. This leverage curve was designed around air- and coil-sprung shocks. Kona uses larger 20-millimeter bearings in the main pivot to increase the frame stiffness and provide a stronger contact point.
Kona revised the geometry a touch with a slightly steeper 66-degree head angle and an effective 76-degree seat tube angle. Balancing out the geometry are 425-millimeter-long chainstays. The main rocker sits further forward on the seat tube to allow for a deeper
insertion and thus longer dropper posts.
PROCESS 165 27.5
While the Process 153 options were made for pedaling up and down the mountain, the new Process 165 is focused on descending. For 2018 the Process 165 got refined geometry and a suspension platform similar to that of the 153’s. Kona beefed up the suspension to 165 millimeters of travel in the rear and 170 millimeters up front with a 65-degree head angle and an aluminum frame and rear triangle. This bike is only available with 27.5-inch wheels, appealing to the dedicated “senders.”
We spent two days riding the challenging trails in Squamish, British Columbia. The trails ranged from technical granite slabs to high-speed B.C. flow trails with moderate rocks and roots. We gravitated towards the Process 153 CR 27.5 that sits just below the top-of-the-line build with a RockShox Deluxe rear shock and Lyrik fork. One of the main goals for the new Process was to make the suspension easy to set up. As per Kona’s recommendation, we ran 25-percent sag in the shock and 20 percent in the fork. Each bike comes with two volume reducers installed in the shock, creating a very comfortable level of progressiveness.
There is no doubt that the new Process 153 pedals much more efficiently than the previous generation, even with the suspension wide open. The long, low geometry gave us a comfortably low center of gravity to confidently roll the steep granite slabs on Rupert and Boney Elbows. At high speeds the 153 was nimble, playful and just fun to ride. The smaller 27.5-inch wheels were as nimble as we would expect, but carried they’re speed well over the rocky and rooty Squamish terrain. We noticed a pretty big difference when turned up the rebound even one click. During the midst of us earning our “slab merit badge” we ran the shock a little slower for more traction, but on higher speed trails like Crouching Squirrel Hidden Monkey we opened up it up two clicks and found the rear linkage to be incredibly responsive and active.
Full review on the CR/DL is coming in a future issue of Mountain Bike Action.