Featured User Review: Kona Major One

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Featured User Review: Kona Major One
by MtnSingleSpeed

Price: $1000.00 at Tennessee Valley Bik
Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 4 of 5

Bike Setup:
Frame & Fork
Frame Construction: TIG-welded
Frame Tubing Material: Kona Race Light Scandium Butted
Fork Brand & Model: Kona Carbon Cross
Fork Material: Carbon, aero crown

Components
Component Group: Cyclocross Mix
Brakeset: Kore Sport brakes, Tektro R200A levers
Crankset: FSA Gossamer, 42 teeth
Pedals: Crank Brothers SL
Bottom Bracket: FSA Mega EXO
BB Shell Width: 68mm
Rear Cogs: 1-speed, 18 teeth
Chain: KMC Z510HX
Seatpost: Kona Road
Saddle: WTB Rocket V Comp OE
Handlebar: Kona Road
Handlebar Stem: Kona Road
Headset: 1 1/8″ threadless TH

Wheels
Hubs: Formula
Rims: Alex R390
Tires: 700 x 35c Continental Speed King Cross
Spoke Brand: Sandvic stainless, 14ga. (2.0mm)
Spoke Nipples: Unspecified

Favorite Ride:
World’s Fair Park CX Course

Summary:
This review is for the 2009 Kona Major One which has inexplicably escaped a presence on the internet. If it were not gleaming from the garage, I would be hard pressed to prove it existed. The only difference I can find between 2009 and 2010 is the paint scheme. It’s a beautiful metalflake rootbeer brown with white banding.

I bought this bike from TVB, my top choice of LBS in Knoxville, just before the 2009/20010 Cyclocross Season kicked off. I had raced for the first time in 2008 on a SS converted 2001 Schwinn Homegrown and a 2006 SS Raleigh Rush Hour with road tires. It was time I took this cyclocross racing a bit more seriously.

I picked up the bike the day of a Mud Sweat & Gears race and literally walked it out of the shop, drove it to the race, and rolled out on the start line. No setup, no seat adjustment. Just plug and play… and play she did!


It honestly took a little adjustment to get used to racing on an authentic cyclocross-purposed machine, but once I dialed in the right body position, she responded to every move. The pure power transfer to the wheels felt like I was hard-wired to the tires, and though part of that is just the difference between the geared and single speed experience, it just felt better on this bike.

Climbing was solid, though I am still trying to find the right tire pressure for varying conditions as it got a bit slick in the turns. Downhill was stable, and control was a second thought in all but the most technical sections. The almost unbelievable lightness of the full build made barrier crossings quick and smooth and after a few laps, the steep hill carrys were a cinch with ample clearance under the top tube and a solid grip on the downtube.

Braking in dry to slightly damp or dewy conditions was good, but in the nasty slush of rain and snow, you begin to wish for disc brakes. That being said, even the gearies with disc brakes had issues in the snow as ice built up around everything that was supposed to move.

Strengths:
Light, responsive, great control and climbs like a goat. Great in cornering and built to race. She’s beautiful in that dirty utilitarian way Angelina Jolie is in Gone in 60 Seconds. She’s beautiful, and she’s changing your oil, and now she wants to go very very fast.

Weaknesses:
Brakes are a little weak, but may be more attributed to the racing conditions (rain, snow, ice) applied to canti-brakes than the actual brake performance.

The price is high for a single speed specific cyclocross bike. This has no future for gearing conversions, but adjusting the chainring and cog combinations can be a good way to build up to single speed riding. If you don’t enjoy riding SS, do not buy this bike. I also tend to hop on my road rig for distance or even Alley Cat races, and anything more than CX type off-road will take its eventual toll on your wheels, so CX racing and local commuting is kind of a small niche of use for a $1000 bike.

The only other suggestion which may be a possible after market addition is a rear wheel tension adjuster. For racing, this would completely encumber a tire change, but during training rides or commuting, it would help get the rear wheel centered easier and get the perfect amount of chain tension set.

Similar Products Used:
Raleigh Rush Hour 2006
Kona Major Jake 2010
Schwinn Homegrown SS Conversion 2001

Reviews by community members are the foundation of RoadBikeReview.com. Share your experience with other cyclists by writing reviews for your bikes, gear, and other related accessories. You don’t have to be an expert – everyone’s opinion counts.

About the author: Thien Dinh

Thien Dinh gained most his cycling knowledge the old fashioned way, by immersing himself in the sport. From 2007 to early 2013, Thien served as RoadBikeReview Site Manager, riding daily while putting various cycling products through its paces. A native of California, Thien also enjoys tinkering with photography and discovering new music.


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