Kona Sutra Touring Bike

Frame sizes: C49cm, C52cm, C54cm, C56cm, C58cm, C60cm
Frame tubing: Dedacciai COM 12.5 Butted Cromoly
Fork: Kona Project Two TB Disc w/Lowrider
Color: Grey/Black

User Reviews (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10  
Ian   [Nov 09, 2014]
Strength:

Comfortable
very stable even when fully loaded
Unbreakable after rough dirt road on Continental Contacts 32 mm

Weakness:

HEAVY!
Long shoes might touch front wheel when turning

Owned this 2013 model for a year and finally done a 400 km 4 day tour in Vic alpine area. The Sutra was faultless except after normally riding a 7 kg Giant Tcr the 37 kg loaded Sutra was heavy and slow. With 4 Ortlieb panniers and 30km of rough bush dirt road crossing many steep spurs the bike never missed a beat not even a puncture or loose spoke when I expected wheel damage at every rock and hole hit. It is very sturdy and appears ready to tour many kms yet. I am very impressed.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
lzurlo   Recreational Rider [May 28, 2009]
Strength:

Smooth and controllable ride, feels lighter than it actually is, very confident at speed

Weakness:

none, designed well, very versatile frameset

Sweet Dedacciai butted steel frameset with Ritchey dropouts, versatile design, very durable component spec. Can set it up anyway I like, even cyclocross, wheels are bombproof. Feels heavy but rides as though pounds lighter, rides as though on rails, very predictable, nimble not squirly. The weight did put me off when testing but damn I loved the way this bike felt on the road. Almost pulled the trigger on a C'Dale Caad5 at 18 lbs... still think about that bike when I'm riding the Sutra. No regrets, however. Still a Caad5 at LBS but the Sutra is gone.

Similar Products Used: none, Sutra is unique
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
fotochap   Commuter [Apr 22, 2009]
Strength:

Strong frame
Strong wheels
Aggressive geometry for good climbing capability
Great braking
Beautiful styling
Great ride

Weakness:

Heavy
Fitting new parts can be fiddly


Kona Sutra 2008 - Long Term Review

Having owned the 2008 Kona Sutra for ten months, and just completed the first chain/cassette replacement, I thought it was about time for a long term review, to give other people an idea of what living with the Sutra has been like. My previous post explains why I chose the Sutra - I came up with what I thought was an impossibly eclectic list of requirements from a bicycle, and the Sutra ticked every single box.

My primary (i.e. 99% of the time) use of the Sutra has been for commuting. I have covered over 2700 miles (4500km) in the time I have owned it. My commuting route through London is pretty tough on bikes - the roads south of the Thames are awful and full of potholes, through the City there is broken glass all over the place, and further north of the river there are speedbumps everywhere. When I first got the Sutra she was wearing Continental Contact tyres, and they were pretty poor for commuting. They punctured easily and transmitted the bumpiness of the road right up into my forearms. Not much fun. After one puncture too many I replaced the tyres with Schwalbe Marathon Pluses, in their largest diameter, and the difference was marked. The increased volume of air provides a lot more cushioning for the arms, and I have not had a single puncture yet, despite having pulled 6mm long pieces of glass out of the tyre surfaces. The tyres are relatively heavy, but then so is the rest of the bike, and extra weight makes you stronger!

The original rear rack was pretty flimsy, and it did not allow the attachment of the Bikebin panniers I bought to try and add some rigidity. I ended up having to angle grind chunks out of the rack to fit the panniers, which can't have improved their structural integrity. After a month of experiencing the odd sensation of the bike wagging its tail whenever I stood up to pedal hard, I bit the bullet and upgraded the rack to a Tubus Logo. It was a tight fit with the rear disc brake, but the difference was immense. Gone was the sensation of a jelly-like bike, to be replaced by a sensation of rigid stability. Whilst the rack was expensive, it made all the difference, and I would highly recommend it.

Speaking of the brakes, they have saved my life on more than one occasion, usually when a Taxi decides to perform an emergency stop to pick up a fare. The brakes stop consistently in all conditions, and so far I have not had to replace the pads, althoguh I think it will be time to do it soon. Not bad considering I have travelled almost five thousand kilometres in all weathers in the stop-start conditions of London. I was concerned that the brakes might be too powerful, but the modulation provided by the levers and the flex in the arm of the brake means that whilst the power is there if necessary, you have a lot of control over it. There is some disc drag, but this is owing more to my laziness than the brakes themselves, and seems to have little impact on cruising speeds.

Using the bike in all conditions has been excellent. The all-over fenders (something I have never fitted to a bike previously) really keep the rain off and eliminate spray from the road. I had to saw a bit of the front fender off to fit it over the larger tyres, and a little bit off the rear for the same reason, but after the modification they have been flawless.

I had heard reports of spokes snapping, and nothing happened to me until recently, when I noticed a detached spoke whilst replacing the rear cassette. I had no idea how long the spoke had been damaged for, and replaced it myself. The rear wheel is slightly askew, but it does not foul on anything, which is good considering the small tolerance between it and the fender. To be fair, I have been jumping off kerbs and sometimes it is impossible to miss a massive hole in the road when you are in busy traffic. An upgrade I am considering is a stronger rear wheel, although it is not pressingly urgent.

The ride of the bike is super smooth, and certainly not anything like the road bikes I am used to. I use my other road bike for triathlons, and whilst it is a lot more nimble, it is much less comfortable. The Sutra is comfortable all day long, owing in no small part to the Brooks B17 saddle, which took about two thousand miles to properly break in! It was worth it though - sitting on the bike is like sitting in an armchair (albeit a very odd armchair, but an armchair nonetheless). I tend to cruise at about 20mph on her, and my 10.5 mile commute to work takes about 37 minutes. I have started seeking out hills in preparation for some touring of Wales, and the sutra certainly loves to climb. The aggressive, mountain-bike-like frame geometry no doubt assists in this, and is confidence inspiring when climbing and descending. The bar-con shifters were a novelty for me, but they make a lot of sense, especially if replacement shifters were needed on a tour. There are even bosses on the downtube to fit truly old-school shifters in an emergency.

The weight of the bike was a shock initially - weighing in at 15kgs without the accessories, she weighs significantly more than my Specialized Hardrock mountain bike, which is saying something! Over time I have become accustomed to the weight, and now it feels normal. The main advantage of this is that when I ride anything else, it feels super light and goes very rapidly. This makes this bike an ideal training steed.

In conclusion, I have found a lot to love about the Kona Sutra - she's tough, strong and surprisingly fast. There were some niggles about fitting add-ons, but they were all easy to overcome, and the result has been a reliable bike that I think will keep delivering for years.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
brentkious   Road Racer [Mar 02, 2009]
Strength:

Sliding dropouts make switching from single-speed to geared and back very easy. Comfortable ride. Good clearance for big tires.

Weakness:

My version did not have adjustment screws on the sliding dropouts, so they were impossible to position until I drilled out the frame and put in some adjustment screws of my own. Frame finish is very poor--the cable bosses were out of true and on both sides the holes for the zip ties were welded closed. Fork is crap--it's too flexy to use with disc brakes, and the spacing was 10mm too wide, until I had it reset. Will eventually upgrade to something more stiff.

Comfortable ride. Versatile frame. Poor frame finish.

Similar Products Used: Soul Cycles Monk.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
use-less   Commuter [Nov 22, 2008]
Strength:

fun, fast, good commuter and not bad on uneven terrain

Weakness:

brakes are a nightmare to adjust and are a constant battle!

I did enjoy this bike and have probably ridden it for 700-900 miles. however the negatives are outweighing the positives.
THe brakes are hard to adjust and seem to get out of whack each week. They are also hard to align after you put the front wheel back on. The front derailler has been adjusted at least 3 times and still makes a horrible noise in certain gears. I have taken the bike into 3 different bike shops and it has been fixed 4 times, estimated at about $115. I am selling it and buying a Surly Cross Check.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
FunkytownNative   Commuter [Aug 27, 2008]
Strength:

Strong frame, those BB7s are STRONG brakes, nice drivetrain, stable at high speeds (even WELL loaded. I am currently moving and am using this bike along with a 7-foot Bikes at Work trailer to move all my furniture across the city and I have had all four panniers full of laundry and my dresser full of laundry in tow and made it up some hills (in my 30-32) that I have seen other unloaded cyclists walk up. Very stable up and down the hills with all that weight.

Weakness:

Wow, it's heavy. And there's a lot of crap going on in the back, hardware-wise (QR, disc rotor, rack, rear der, fender stays) that can make working on any of it a pain. I don't have others' problem with toe overlap even with fenders (size 60) but I do have to use a small water bottle. I had to install a steerer extender which I thought was VERY lame. A touring bike should be tall in the front... The disc brakes while they will stop you quick can be a pain to adjust and keep adjusted.

I have the 08 (I know it says 07 up there) Sutra, when they decided to ship the bike with front and rear racks built specifically for it.

Similar Products Used: None.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Kevin   Recreational Rider [Jan 25, 2008]
Strength:

Solid frame, good components for the price.

I bought the Sutra specifically for a month-long bike/camp tour of Europe. I have a mountain bike but didn't want to tour on the shorter wheelbase and general geometry. I liked the Kona's solid feel under weight, and wanted drop bars and disk brakes.
Maybe I got lucky, or my bike shop has dealt with it before, but I didn't have any of the problems opthers have posted about. I carried rear panniers only; the rear rack went on without issues and did not interfere with the mechanical stuff back there. I couldn't adjust it to be horizontal (tilts back about 10 degrees) but that didn't bug me.
The front wheel is a little tight to the frame, but with the wheelbase as long as it already is, I can see why Kona did this. Under load, I wasn't turning too quickly, even while navigating Paris and Amsterdam streets (or maybe I just unconsciously avoided pedaling into the wheel while turning?).
Reliability? Just before heading to Europe, I took an end-over spill that hammered the front end - I had to replace the drop bars, but the shifters and brakes came through fine with only some nasty scratches. The front derailleur was banged up in shipping but worked fine after some tweaking. A month of biking and loading on and off of trains didn't faze it, and I have since been using it as a commuter with no problems.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Jeremy   Road Racer [May 28, 2007]
Strength:

Strong frame with little flex. Good quality drivetrain, and disc brakes are a nice addition.

Weakness:

Lack of clearance on front and rear. difficulty mounting racks and fenders.

This bike is a typical Kona, it attracts you with it's high end compents, but falls short in attention to detail.

First off, My toe strikes the front wheel when I don't have fenders on. I CANNOT mount ANY front fenders on this bike because my foot will just tear them off while turning. Finding a rear rack was a genuine pain in the ass. Kona was trying to think, by adding braze on's that are infront of the disc brakes, however, they are WAY too far forward, so your heels run's into your panniers. After much modification, I managed to attached both the rack and rear fender.

That all being said, the bike actually handles very nicley loaded and is comfortable to ride.

Similar Products Used: Cannondale T800 (far superior)
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Steve   Commuter [Apr 03, 2007]
Strength:

-rigid frame
-parts spec for the price

Weakness:

-interference between my foot and front wheel when turning sharp.

I've had the Sutra for just over 3 months now and must say that I am pretty happy with it. My previous bike was a Gary Fisher aluminum hybrid and the ride of the Sutra is a dream compared to the Fisher. The steel frame dampens out the road vibrations and takes the harshness out of potholes quite nicely. The frame is also super rigid. The time I appreciate the rigidity of the frame most is when I have loaded panniers on the rear and stand up while pedaling. The rear end seems to have very little flex (unlike my Fisher which I would describe as a wet noodle in this situation). I must say that I also really enjoy the down hill rides on this bike. It seems very stable at high speeds.

Now for my complaints. I had an extremely difficult time trying to mount a rear rack to this bike. I bought a disc specific rack and put it on, but my as I rode with loaded panniers the rack had quite a bit of flex and the pannier was banging against the disc brake. This made me nervous that the brakes would be damaged--and I like to have brakes that work. Next I bought a non disc rack and had to make quite a few modifications to it in order to make it fit. Now that it fits I'm happy with it though. The thing I find most annoying with this bike it the interference between the pedals and the front wheel. When I turn about 15 degrees the front wheel and my foot contact. This has almost caused me accidents several times now. Because the front wheel is so close to the frame the third bottle mount under the down tube is useless. I can't even fit a small bottle in the the cage.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
ckbridge   Recreational Rider [Nov 07, 2006]
Strength:

This is a really comfortable bike. The MTB geometry is very stable and relaxed. It carries a load well. For the price it has pretty good components. Disc brakes.

Weakness:

Rear wheel spokes keep breaking. First frame was misaligned, but Kona did replace it. Hard to mount racks/fenders. Seat. Lack of response from Kona about the spokes.

I use this bike for recreational riding, errands, family picnics and for fitness. It has very neutral handling, very stable and comfortable. It rides fantastic, and has become my primary bike. I was shopping for a touring bike with a road triple, and disc brakes. After I had the bike for a couple weeks I began to suspect that the frame was not true, the bike shop checked it and found that the frame needed to be replaced. Kona needed to have the original frame before they would replace it. So the shop had my bike disassembled and the parts banging around the workbench for five weeks, really dinged up the shifters. After I finally got the bike with a new frame (and scratched up components) back all was well, until the spokes in the rear wheel started breaking. The shop where I bought the bike does not stock that spoke so I had to take it to another shop. Altogether five spokes broke before the original shop “loaned” me a rear wheel so they could investigate why they were breaking. That was a year ago. The loaner has since had three spokes break and I will have it re-laced this week. I have tried to contact Kona about this with no reply. It would be nice if they would give me some input, and nicer if they would reimburse me for the repairs. It is difficult to mount fenders or racks on this bike. Kona should dump the adjustable wheel base drop-out in favor of rack/fender mounting ease. This could be a much better bike for touring.

Similar Products Used: This is my first “Touring” bike.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 10