Kona Smoke 2-9 Review

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


  1. Rick March 17, 2008 7:22 pm 

    I talked a friend of mine into a Kona Dew a while back. It was a pretty nice bike for the price. I’m thinking my next bike might be a Kona.

  2. wannaCmore March 18, 2008 5:24 am 

    Nice review. I do have one question though: Did you have any issues with the lack of a chain ring/guard?

  3. Moe March 18, 2008 6:34 am 

    I wear shorts when I ride (love SoCal!), I only experienced the dreaded ‘shark bite’ stain once. Once I got to work, I was easily wiped off. I can see where it can be an issue for those who like to wear pants while riding to work.

  4. Quinn March 18, 2008 8:35 am 

    I really enjoy my Jake, though I don’t like the ride of aluminum, Kona is still a Quality brand.

    the Smoke 2-9 – 47Cs Are Not 29″er tires.

  5. Quinn March 18, 2008 8:36 am 

    I really enjoy my Jake, though I don’t like the ride of aluminum, Kona is still a Quality brand.

    the Smoke 2-9 – 47Cs Are Not 29″er tires.
    (sorry, IM cranky this morning)

  6. Ghost Rider March 18, 2008 9:24 am 

    Quinn, that’s a bunch of crap about the Kona’s wheels — sure they are — 29er merely refers to the diameter of the rim…which is also known as 700c. If a rim is 700c, it is also ALWAYS a 29er!!!

  7. Moe March 18, 2008 9:41 am 

    One may argue about Kona’s marketing strategy by labeling the Kona Smoke a 29er. Yes, the 29er trend in MTB is running strong, but commuters and roadies have been riding 700c bikes for quite awhile. If Kona’s marketing strategy gets more people interested in riding a bike to work, more power to them.

  8. Ragged Claws March 27, 2008 6:51 pm 

    Quick question: what kind of panniers were you using with the Kona Smoke, and are you happy with them? Also, thanks for the smart review.

  9. Moe March 27, 2008 7:40 pm 

    They are the Banjo Brothers Panniers. I absolutely love them. Use our search function to find my long term review.

  10. wannaCmore April 3, 2008 5:43 pm 

    Question-How much narrower could/would you go on tires on this model?

  11. canuck April 14, 2008 8:25 am 

    Hey Moe, are the cranks’ chainrings riveted?
    If so, that’s the only real cost cutter that bothers me (I wear out middle rings), otherwise like you said it’s a decent spec for the money.

    My LBS doesn’t have this bike in stock to look at… (they just carry the Dew which is aluminum)

  12. Moe April 14, 2008 8:41 am 

    Canuck, although I had to send the Bike back to Kona :(, I do recall the cranks being riveted. I will confirm it for you though.

    WannaCmore: Sorry I missed your comment.. I would probably go with a 35, I think anything narrower may compromise the ride quality.

  13. RL Policar April 14, 2008 9:32 am 


    I found out from Kona that these bikes are SUPER popular, so if you place an order, you’ll get one, but you may have to wait for it. Which isn’t too bad since its totally worth it.


  14. Mark April 29, 2008 8:54 am 

    A year ago, to replace my wrecked truck (no more 4 wheels now), I bought two commuter bikes: 2007 Giant Trans Send DX and 2008 Kona Smoke 2-9. My commute to work, gym, grocery and back is 6.5 mi/day.

    After two months on the Kona, it is the better ride of the two. To make it more utilitarian, I added Kenda Komfort 700 x 42 tires (better tread for snow/ice), Planet Bike lights and a ToPeak MTX Trunk Bag DXP, which features zip-up side panniers. After a year, I no longer miss my 4 wheeler, and on the worst weather days, my bus pass suffices.

    For short commutes, I would whole-heartedly endorse the Kona for $350. I feel it’s sturdier than my Giant and offers a smoother ride with the fatter tires and chrome-moly steel construction.

    Just today, an oil analyst had predicted $10/gal gas ($250/bbl oil) in two years. Maybe that’ll encourage more folks to ditch their cars and join the bike commuter lifestyle.

  15. mike May 8, 2008 8:34 am 

    I have ridden a friends kona smoke 2-9 and imo it’s too heavy and rides as stiff as most aluminum frame bikes. The 700×47 tires are too heavy/wide and kona should have used size 700×38 for easier/faster pedaling. I guess they chose the wide tire too offset one of the stiffest steel frames made in some time.

  16. Mike2 May 16, 2008 1:54 pm 

    Just one thing i really don’t like about the bike is the ch 46 bottom braket cause I got 2 kona smoke and both had a slack in the bottom bracket a few weeks after i bought it even thought I was riding smoothly…

  17. Mike2 May 29, 2008 4:44 pm 

    I just switched the actual bottom bracket ch 46 for a shimano un 54. The guy mecanic had a hard time cause the bike is not made to have sealed bearing, it seems…, anyway. I hope the problem is solved for good. cost 47 bucks… I love this bike…

    Je viens de changer mon boitier de pédalier pour un meilleur. Enfin je le souhaite, mais les filets du boitier ne semblaient assez précis pour accomoder une cartouche scellée alors ça n’a vraiment pas été évident pour le mécano qui a du utiliser un taraud pour améliorer les filets, c’est tout dire… Le travail a été fait dans le vieux Québec, en face du marché public et le gars a vraiment été consciencieux…

  18. Danthesoundman DSM Daniel Wilson June 4, 2008 3:13 am 

    I just bought it today, without riding it, on how it looked. I have been riding the smack out of my Unit 2-9, but I had all of these nice parts laying around from a fully squished 26’er bike. I have been staring at that bike (not ridden since I got the 29er fever) and wishing I had a rigid frame to put all the parts on, old school – No Disc Brakes, Gears, Derailers, V-Brakes, etc. I came home and stripped the frame. The Cranks were STRIPPED, from the shop. Brand new, and I had to Hammer off the left (drive, or chainring side) and barely managed to thread my crank puller in the right side.

    When I saw it in the store, I was instantly in love. The color. The NAME. The matte finish. WOW. oh and it said, “2-9” on it. I carefully examined the wheels and made sure it was. It looked like a Non-Suspension corrected 29er, basically. It looks like you can get some pretty fatty tyres on there as well.

    I had to have it. I loaded her up with all XTR parts from that old 26er. Had to use the Smoke’s wheels though, because of the sizing differentials. I have yet to change the seat, because it is so comfortable – as you said above.

    Also someone above said all 700c are 29ers. That’s not true. Sure, you could use any 700c hoop to build a 29er wheel, but 29er wheels, have wider hub spacing than road bikes, and track and cyclocross. 135mm hub + 700c hoops = 29er.

    Any can technically be used up front, since 100mm is universal for front hub spacing between the aforementioned categories.

    I didn’t swing a leg over it, didn’t test ride it at the store. I had faith in the name brand. So, riding it after building it up the best I could with old parts. It’s nice. It’s a comfy steel dampened ride. Nice.

    It’s still so heavy though. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was going to be so light, I don’t have a scale, it just feels really heavy.

    I love it. I can’t stop staring at it. I love the steel handlebars, for some reason. I got the eighteen incher, whilst my unit 2-9 is a nineteen inch. The handlebars and seats on these two bikes are totally the same height.

    I just thought it was interesting, because the unit has a suspension corrected fork (Black Sheep), and a slight riser bar. The Smoke (I love that name!) has such a lower fork, but makes up for that with a much more pronounced rise in the steel handlebars…

    My advice, is get it, but get ride of the cranks, bottom bracket, brake levers, brakes, shifters, derailers…

    Oh, I almost forgot! The braking surfaces on the sides of the rims, are all scoured up, I’m talking rough. It’s VERY, no – EXTREMELY loud when I brake! It’s like the rims are cheap, so the braking surfaces didn’t get machined very well, I guess.

    I guess it could wear in over time, or wear out all my brake shoes until I invest in some better wheels. Man! This FRAME and FORK are beefy and tough (and heavy), but the parts spec on this thing is BAD. I’m saying Walmart Bad.

    The V-brakes, the pin that fits in the frame, are so flimsy and loose tolerances. The bottome bracket weighs a ton. The cranks were stripped from the shop, or factory. The rims are very poorly machined.

    Oh, I kept the pedals, the Jackshits. With a name like that… Man, those things are comfortable! They are so big, while wearing flip flops, you got a lot of support! It’s really nice, and I LOVE the pedals!

    The bike just looks so cool. I had to adjust the front fender to stop it from rubbing. The front fender caused toe overlap while pedaling and turning, but not that bad for commuting, since the fenders are flexible rubbery plastic and bend with your overlaps.

    The crank set, is really cheap. The chainrings are riveted together, yes.

  19. Ghost Rider June 4, 2008 4:57 am 

    DSM, the hub over-locknut dimension (O.L.D.) has nothing to do with whether a wheel is 29er or not. Sizing classification for wheels depends solely on the international ETRTO/ISO system.

    For a “29er wheel”, the ISO rim diameter is 622mm. For a 700c wheel, the ISO rim diameter is…wait for it…wait for it…622mm. What hub a person uses to build a wheel has nothing to do with it.

  20. Mike2 July 9, 2008 7:09 am 

    Hi humm, do somebody ride the kona unit and how is it compared to the smoke, can you put somme speeds on it? Does it worth the money? Oh yah humm since I replaced the stock bottom bracket by a good one. I had no more loose in the bb. If 29 rims are the same than 700 rims why do they sells 29 inchs tires at the the shop?

  21. Bikerboy July 25, 2008 7:56 pm 

    29er refers to the overal diameter of the tire. On a 29er wheel/tire, the height of the inflated tire equals approx. 29″. Typically most 29×2.0 tires will work out to 29″ tall. It has nothing to do with rim diameter or hub dimensions. Both 29er and road wheels use a 700c rim as mentioned before. It is all about the tire. The 700x47c tire on the Smoke would work out to a little over 28″, so maybe not a true 29er, but close.

  22. Bob September 1, 2008 5:20 pm 

    Which racks works on the Kona Smoke 2-9 ? I bought my Smoke 3 months ago and would like to add some accessories…..like the rack.

  23. Moe September 1, 2008 7:19 pm 

    Bob, I installed a Zefal rear rack and that worked rather well. Another suggestion is a Transit rear rack from Performance, they are very inexpensive and very sturdy.

  24. Bob September 8, 2008 1:49 pm 

    Hey Moe…….my Kona Smoke is a 16 inch frame…kind of short. My question is, will the brackets from the Zefal and Transit rear rack fit my bike? I hear that the rear racks have problems with the brackets reach the frame.

  25. Brent September 27, 2008 10:32 pm 

    I had the old 26″ Smoke and need to replace it after being stolen. I really want another Smoke but the change to 29″ is scaring me away. I had a Trek 7500fx with 700c and hated the thing. Too tall, not sharp enough in traffic… faster though. Can anyone compare the old Smoke to the new one?

  26. Mike 2 October 1, 2008 3:06 pm 

    Yes I had both and got the old one stolen too! I was also scared about the big wheels. On the site they try to sell the new version as a faster and more capable of dealing with potholes bike or something. It’s probably true but really I have the impression to be riding my old kona smoke 2005. I dont know which year model your smoke was but they improve some stuff compared to the 2005 ( the 700mm tires are more durable, fenders more durable; no fancy crappy plastic pieces, and altus front derailleur who rust less than the tourney front derailleurversion but just be prepared to cough up a few bucks to replace the bottom bracket in no time. Do you think this bike is popular with thieves?

  27. Bob October 3, 2008 7:35 am 

    My question is about the frame bag you have attached to the stem of the bike. What brand and model is it and where can i get one? I can’t seem to find anything like it around here.

  28. Sam February 26, 2009 7:02 am 


    Please what is the size I need for a new Bottom Bracket for my smoke 2007 (26″ wheels) ?
    I tried to tighten the slack in the CH46 BB but it seems to stay, and I might damage the bearings and maybe the inside of the frame…
    Mike2, you say the smoke frame don’t accept integrated bearing BB ?? seems weirds for an mtb-like frame…
    So I know the cage size is 68mm but the BBUN I have at home is too short in overall length. (110mm) Do I need a 118mm ? (the longer I can find)


  29. Ghost Rider February 26, 2009 10:35 am 

    Sam, the BB spindle length is determined by the crankset, not the frame. You’ll need to find that information out from the company that makes your particular crank, or duplicate spindle length with the existing BB.

    I think you’re confusing “integrated” and “cartridge”. Integrated BBs, such as the new BB30 standard, require bearings to be pressed directly into the frame. The Kona Smoke has a “cartridge” BB — spindle, bearings and outer shell are one replaceable unit. There is NO way to “tighten the slack” with this type of BB (they are not adjustable in any way) — if there is side-to-side play, the bearings are fried and the entire assembly must be replaced.

  30. Sam February 26, 2009 1:53 pm 

    Mmmh well I dismounted the BB and found the bearings were separated from the axle (plus a plastic cylinder in the middle, to hold the bearings). My smoke is the old 26 model (I have it from last year and think it’s a 2007 model).
    I am pretty sure the BB I found in the frame is not cartridge. I have a cartridge BB from an mtb (shimano BB-UN72 110mm) and it’s not the same inside my bike.
    I’m quite comfortable at repairing bikes and I have been changing parts on my mtb (the several I’ve had) but when it comes to city bike “strange” parts I don’t know much…
    My friend knows better those (not so) old parts and told me this BB can be tighten. There is a ring on one external side of the BB. So the way is to untighten this ring, tune the BB tightness (with the special round key) and tighten the ring (then put the crank back).
    So what would be the size for a cartridge BB with the mounted Suntour crank ?


  31. Ghost Rider February 26, 2009 3:35 pm 

    I am surprised to hear that the BB is a cup and cone model…those CAN be adjusted for play by using a pin spanner to adjust the cup. Then, the toothed lockring holds it in place.

    The cup and cone BB can be replaced simply and easily with a cartridge BB. Just buy one that has the same spindle length as your existing bottom bracket. It’s a direct swap.

  32. Sam March 29, 2009 3:54 pm 

    I finally changed the BB for a cartridge Stronglight and it rides smooooothly :)
    Thx for the answers and help !

  33. Mike2 April 7, 2009 5:55 pm 

    Effectively the bike seams to be an ajustable cup and cone model. I’ ve spend like 40$ to go to the bikeshop 5 times to have it adjusted since I only have basic tools… But it was still slacking after a few ride or so… I still have no loose in my new bottom bracket and it is very smooth ( the new one is a sealed bearing, a shimano un 71 or something ,square tapered, it cost like 50$
    canadian, taxes and labor included)
    Maybe Kona is cutting the corners finally…
    Still love this city tank!

  34. Jon-o April 22, 2009 9:09 am 

    Just in case anyone else reads this like I did, looking for info about this bottom bracket:

    I don’t think the Chin Haur CH-46 bracket is adjustable – I went out and got a pin spanner and the tools I thought I’d need to take it out and clean it, but then got the cranks off and saw no pin holes, but splines. I finally found a picture of the bracket on a japanese yahoo auction(I moved it to my own site in case that auction expires): http://redowl.ca/files/cycle_0613-img600x450-12269921812suxqe68954.jpg

    So it doesn’t look adjustable at all, and I expect I’ll need a tool like http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442628937&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302693989&bmUID=1240414661693 to take it out. Does this sound right?

  35. sarah April 22, 2009 5:53 pm 

    “29er refers to the overal diameter of the tire. On a 29er wheel/tire, the height of the inflated tire equals approx. 29″. Typically most 29×2.0 tires will work out to 29″ tall. It has nothing to do with rim diameter or hub dimensions. Both 29er and road wheels use a 700c rim as mentioned before. It is all about the tire. The 700×47c tire on the Smoke would work out to a little over 28″, so maybe not a true 29er, but close.”

    yes! –

    “Quinn, that’s a bunch of crap about the Kona’s wheels — sure they are — 29er merely refers to the diameter of the rim…which is also known as 700c. If a rim is 700c, it is also ALWAYS a 29er!!!”

    “For a “29er wheel”, the ISO rim diameter is 622mm. For a 700c wheel, the ISO rim diameter is…wait for it…wait for it…622mm. What hub a person uses to build a wheel has nothing to do with it.”

    what’s with being so rude and condescending to your readers, GR? 😛 there some beef we don’t know about?

  36. Ghost Rider April 22, 2009 6:48 pm 

    Jon-O — that is a cartridge BB and as such it is not adjustable. When it’s spent, simply throw it away and replace the whole unit.

    Sarah — you must be new around here…Quinn is a longtime reader and commenter (and contributor, I might add). He’s a big boy…he can take it.

  37. Jon-o April 22, 2009 7:50 pm 

    Ok… finally got it all opened up, and it turns out it wasn’t that kind of bracket at all. it’s a strange half and half sort of thing: the drive side is a cartridge, but the left side has loose bearings! (in a holder, but not inside the cartridge). Very strange. I now have a new shimano cartridge though, and it seems to be working more smoothly.

    Didn’t solve the clicking problem that I was aiming for, mind you… time to attack the pedals.

  38. Ghost Rider April 22, 2009 8:25 pm 

    Jon-o — can you take photographs of your BB unit? I’d love to see that.

  39. Riker71 May 10, 2009 5:56 am 

    How much does Smoke 2-9 weigh? Around 12.5kg/28pounds?

    “It’s still so heavy though. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was going to be so light, I don’t have a scale, it just feels really heavy”

  40. Mike2 June 16, 2009 2:17 pm 

    Yes the bike is heavy, Recently, I got the wheels scrapped in a fast food restaurant, Mc Donald not to mentionned it, while I was eating. Just bought a new pair of wheels. I also realise than maybe it is well worth to put some extra bucks on a bike…

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  42. Tom_HUN October 31, 2009 6:00 am 

    My question is the fork length. I got a smoke 2-9 (’08) frame whitout frok, and if i want to get the right heights, i need the fork length in mm From axle, to the bottom of the headset. Kona earlier specs. didn’t give me this info. Thank You very much!
    A future smoke rider…

  43. Steve Dorey December 30, 2009 8:57 am 

    The smoke is an amazing bike. I bought one about five years ago and have been riding it through Central London pretty much every day since. Then this summer I rode it 3000km across Southern Africa without even a single puncture or other mechanical failure. Yes it’s a bit heavy, but other than that there’s nothing I’d change. It’s as strong as an ox and rides beautifully. Stick a good rack on the back and it will serve you for pretty much any purpose. Big thumbs up from me. Love it!

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  45. Mike2 March 7, 2010 2:04 pm 

    Yeah really, I too love this bike. Being an inconditionnal for steel, I’ve been looking around quite a while to find this kind of bike. A biKe that can do pretty much anything, not too expensive but neither cheap. Next time I will reserve a few bucks to buy a good bottom bracket and normal wheels ( the one I have actually are 700mm wheels with an altus hub in the front, an acera hub in the back and nice A119 rims made in France for 200$ for both wheels, all included. I also bought a rear cassette sram that cost 20$ For a reason I dont know, they cut the corners, often on those three components, and especially on low end bikes… But I don’t worry much since the ones originally on the bike are so cheap ( low durability and efficience). But what do you want for 400$… If I was the company, I would still sell this unexpensive bike for beginners but also sell a kind of deluxe kona with good quality and durable components ( like altus, at least, or alivio componements, or a blend of both) considering that the typical user will use it as a utility bike.

  46. I usede to have a name March 19, 2014 4:19 pm 

    I’ve owned my Kona Smoke for 12+ years.
    good commuter bike.
    i wish they would install a better derailleur
    Altus is JUNK. it broke so I replaced it with the same one
    THAT was a mistake. replace W/A MUCH BETTER DERAILLEUR !
    I only buy tires that have Kevlar. I don’t get flats anymore but
    I Don’t purposely ride over glass to see if it works either.
    I would buy another one of these … 5 stars

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