Kona Process 111 Initial Review – Impressive Versatility

Given that Kona built the Process in the vein of enduro performance, the versatility of this bike is impressive. It worked for everything, not just ripping down technical descents. This bike is certainly one of the best values on the market with the best performing parts that can be found at this price point. The only weaknesses are that it’s a bit high on weight for the XC crowd, and a hair low on travel for the downhill oriented rider.

Kona Process 111

About the Kona Process 111:

In designing bikes, bike companies have historically set the bikes travel range, and then set the geometry where it felt appropriate for its intended use. Kona flipped that notion on its head in development of the Process line of bikes, instead focusing on geometry as the first priority, then fitting in as much suspension travel as that geometry would allow and was reasonable.

Test conditions:

The Process was ridden in Phoenix, AZ at South Mountain Preserve. It was ridden for a total of 90 miles over three days. Trails ridden include Telegraph, National, Desert Classic, Mormon Loop, and Beverly Canyon. The trail surface can be characterized as rocky and sandy. There are many technical climbs and rough technical descents with numerous consecutive one to three foot drops. A few challenging roll-overs are thrown in for good measure. Only Desert Classic was smooth and fast, most of the terrain did not allow sustained high speeds.

The Process was rented from a local bike shop. Unfortunately the shop removes the original equipment dropper posts from all its rental bikes, a change they said they make to avoid excessive maintenance on the rental fleet. As a result, frequent stops were necessary to lower the saddle on some for South Mountain’s more technical trails (Telegraph and National).

Bike Details:

  • Bike Model: Kona Process 111
  • MSRP: $4099 usd
  • Bike Size: Large
  • Bike Year: 2015
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Suspension Travel: 111mm rear/ 120mm front.
  • Bike Weight: Not weighed

Geometry:

The geometry of the Process fits right in with the recent batch of long, low, and slack trail bikes. In fact, one could argue that the Process pioneered this approach. The overall bike length is pretty long, and the chainstays are short. The roomy cockpit made it suitable for big miles, even with a 40mm stem fitted. Sizing was consistent with most other size Large bikes. The 68 degree head tube angle is not quite as slack as some other bikes are going these days. The geometry works well everywhere though, it is confident and secure down the steeps and over drops, and doesn’t sacrifice anything on the climbs. I felt the Process was impressive on short, technical climbs. The short stays allow the rider to stand for big efforts, while keeping the rear tire adequately glued to the ground while standing.

Process 111 Shock

Frame Shock and Fork features overview:

The Process 111 has a nearly all aluminum frame, with a very small piece of carbon bridging the left and right hand sides the shock swing link (cleverly labelled “This Piece is Carbon”). An extremely low top tube allowed ample standover room and prevented knees from impacting it in more awkward technical moves, but did not allow for placement of a water bottle in the main triangle where it can be reached while riding. A bottle cage mount is provided on the underside of the downtube, however. Cable routing was well executed, trouble free, and quiet.

Kona Process 111

Suspension was handled by RockShox both front and rear. On the front was a RockShox Pike RC, I have ridden the RCT3 model extensively, and although the RC model lacks the threshold settings of the RCT3 model, it performed just as well on the trail. The rear shock was a Monarch RT, I feared that the bike would not pedal well without an intermediate level threshold setting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I never felt the bike needed it. The well tuned damping of the shock prevented unwanted suspension movement, even when in the open position. The shock was up to the task of managing the 111 mm or travel. I would say that it felt like 111mm of travel vs. other bikes I’ve ridden at 100mm, 120mm, 130mm, and 140mm.

The component spec is smart, simple, and functional. It’s a quality, no-nonsense build, with virtually no weakness. Highlights are Shimano SLX Brakes, SRAM 1x drivetrain, RockShox Pike RC, Monarch RT, WTB tubeless ready wheels, and smartly sized Ardent tires, 2.4” front, 2.2” rear.

The Ride:

Good:

  • Geometry: Perfect, without a fault.
  • The build: Impressive, especially at this price point. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
  • Short technical climbs were a breeze, the short stays allowed the rider to stand and punch over the technical bits without losing traction in the rear. Long steady climbs didn’t feel slow at all, despite this being the heaviest bike I’ve ridden in quite some time.
  • The Process makes it’s riders feel instantly comfortable and in control. The front tire hooked up on flat corners and didn’t dive on the drops. The rider can stay neutral and centered over the bottom bracket in nearly all situations. It was easy to keep moving quickly over technical terrain when fatigued.
  • Cable routing was simple and well executed, with no issues to report.

Bad:

  • Weight: I didn’t weigh it, but it seemed to be right around 30 lb, if not a bit more. I looked up the frame weight on line and found folks reporting it right at the 8 lb mark.
  • Short Seat tube: If you have long legs, test ride to be sure the seat post is long enough to not go over the max extension line.

 

Overall rating: 9 out of 10

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Planksinatra

    Amazing bike

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