US off-road specialist Kona recently showed BikeRadar its all-new enduro Process DL and Satori 29er models. Check out Bike Radar’s first ride review of the Satori.
Kona Satori – first impressions
Sporting 140mm front and 130mm of rear travel, the Satori is one of the new breed of bigger-hit 29er trail bikes, having burst onto the scene in 2012. With its big wheels, longer travel and nimble handling, at first glance the Satori appears to be ideal for the UK gravity enduro racer.
Ride and handling: smooth and stable to help push your limits
You’d expect this bike to ride well in all situations – and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. At 33lb (14.8kg) although it’s not the lightest bike in the world, the 29 inch wheels and 26×36 lowest gear make climbing on a range of surfaces perfectly acceptable. In ‘Trail’ mode, pushing a higher gear out of the saddle does induce energy-sapping bob, but with the shock in ‘Climb’ this is mitigated – you’ve just got to remember to switch it on and off. At speed though, hitting short power climbs in a lowish gear, even in ‘Trail’ mode, it was a very capable climber, with the rear wheel offering plenty of traction on looser surfaces.
Not the lightest, but smooth and stable
The Satori excels on rolling terrain and the trail modes on both the shock and fork keep the bike stable and responsive, pedalling well. The 29 inch wheels just seem to roll over everything, resulting in a very smooth ride, and once up to speed they provide the momentum to carry you through rougher sections with ease. In tighter sections, the bigger wheels and relatively slack head angle mean that handling is slightly compromised, but you’d only really notice this very occasionally.
This smoothness and the stability afforded by the stiff frame and forks mean that fast, rough descents are handled well – this was especially noticeable on some of the faster rocky trails where we rode the bike in Spain. Instead of having the rear wheel pinging around, the back end was very composed through rock gardens, with the suspension rarely being pushed to its limits.
Heading into steeper terrain and with the saddle dropped out of the way, the Satori performed well. Thanks to the large wheels and choice of tyres there was plenty of grip on offer, which along with the powerful brakes, aided control on loose surfaces. The only real issue was the tendency of the fork to dive slightly under light braking but having the suspension tuned, or adding a slightly heavier weight oil may help with this.
The only comment on the rest of the components is that we feel this bike would benefit from a shorter stem and wider bars. The shorter stem would quicken up the handling in tighter sections, and wider bars would really let you muscle the bike around – the Satori could be a real hooligan if you let it.
Katori’s Swing Link design provides 130mm of rear travel
Frame and equipment: dependably specced to keep you out all day
The frame is constructed from Kona’s Race Light 6061 aluminium, with suspension handled by its Swing Link design – there to allow longer travel on their 29er frames. The BB92 bottom bracket enables the use of bigger weld junctions to increase stiffness, as does the tapered head tube, which features a zero-stack headset. Further stiffness is gained from having a 142×12 rear bolt-through axle to keep the rear wheel tracking where it should be.
In keeping with its all mountain roots, Kona have specced components which take the hits without giving away too much weight. The Fox 34 CTD fork offers 140mm of stiff, plush, controlled suspension with 34mm stanchions and a 15mm front axle. The CTD system allows you to simply adjust the compression settings for climbs, trails and descents, keeping the fork doing what it should be. Shimano’s excellent SLX groupset drives the bike forward, with SLX brakes on hand to stop you.
The Satori benefits from a stiff set of wheels, which allow you to ride it as intended – hard and fast. WTB tubeless-ready hoops spin on SLX hubs, with a 2.4 inch Maxxis Ardent on the front and 2.25 inch High Roller on the rear. With enduro bikes benefiting from dropper posts, Kona have included the Kronolog from Crank Brothers. The rest of the finishing kit is largely made up of own-brand items and a WTB Volt Comp saddle.
Shimano SLX drivetrain