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Kona Smoke 2-9 out of the box

Has the venerable Kona Smoke improved by sporting 29″ tires? Let’s find out:


Riding the San Gabriel River Trail

About me:I’m 37 yrs old, 5’7″ 165 lbs. My commute is 21 miles round trip and it is mostly flat. I usually ride with panniers and about 15lbs worth of cargo.


Kona Smoke with accessories.

About the Bike:

Frame sizes: 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″. 16″ Tested
Frame tubing: Kona Cromoly Butted
Fork: Kona P2 29er Disc
Headset: TH
Crankarms: Suntour CW-XCC-T208
Chainrings: 48/38/28
B/B: CH-46
Pedals: Kona Jackshit
Chain: KMC Z-72
Freewheel: SHIMANO HG-30 (11-32, 8spd)
F/D: Shimano Altus
R/D: Shimano Altus
Shifters: SRAM MRX
Handlebar: Kona Riser
Stem: Kona Control
Grips: Kona Mooseknuckle
Front Brake: Tektro 855AC
Brake Levers: Tektro RS-384A
Front hub: Formula
Rear hub: Formula
Spokes: Stainless 14g
Tires: Continental City Contact 700 x 47c
Rims: Rigida Cyber 10
Saddle: Velo Comfort
Seatpost: Kona Thumb
Seat clamp: Kona Clamp
Color: Smoke Grey
MSRP: $369

Weight with rear rack, top tube bag, mirror and light: 34lbs

Highlights: Obviously, the price of this bike is a huge selling point. For the price of about 6 gasoline fill ups you get a bicycle that is very well-equipped and ready to take you to work right out of the box. The combination of the steel frame, 700X47c tires and the Velo Comfort saddle made this bicycle very comfortable and a pleasure to ride on a 21 mile commute.


Velo PLUSH saddle, plush indeed.

I’m a stickler when it comes to saddles, but just like the saddle from my old Kona (I still have it), it is very plush and what I would call ‘beginner commuter’ friendly.


Kona Jackshit pedals.

Most entry-level bikes feature cheap pedals. Not the Smoke 2-9; you will be riding on Kona Jackshit pedals that are very sturdy and those little studs really grip the soles of your shoes.


Sram Gripshift Max 8 speed shifters

SR Suntour Triple Crank/Altus front derailleur

Altus rear Derailleur

Since most of my commute was flat, I found myself riding the big ring most of the time with occasional downshifts . The Gripshift/Altus combination worked rather well; the shifting is not the smoothest or fastest, but it was definitely reliable. If your commute is rather hilly, I have no doubt that the gearing of this bike will conquer most of the ugliest hills.


Loaded Smoke

Lowlights:I don’t really have anything bad to say about the Smoke 2-9 — the only thing that annoyed me was the occasional noise and vibration that came from the fenders. If you buy this bike from a shop, make sure that your mechanic really tightens up the screws and adjusts the fenders so they won’t rub against the tires. I wished that a rear rack would come standard with the bike; there are a few other bikes that come with one as a standard feature.

Final thoughts: I still believe that the Kona Smoke 2-9 is an awesome commuter bike for the money. It is comfortable, reliable and well spec’d. Did the 29″ inch wheels improve the bike? Oh yeah, the bike is faster and the geometry was not radically affected. So if you are looking for a bike that will not break your bank or your back, the Kona Smoke 2-9 is it.

For more information, go to www.konaworld.com