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Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag Review

Photo Credit: LSJ Photography

It’s long overdue but it’s time for the final review of the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag! The folks at Brenthaven and Kona teamed up and created the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag and were nice enough to send us one to test! I wrote my first impressions of the bag awhile back and gave an opinion of it. After some time, my impression has stayed pretty much the same—I like it.

Style meets function

The first thing I noticed about it is how stylish the bag is. To my hipster friends who treat bicycles as an accessory like some who purchase cars that “fit” their personality, this messenger bag is a good complement to their everyday life. Like I mentioned before, it’s got a very streamlined design—nothing looks out of place from the trapezoidal shape of the bag to the inclusion of metal buckles and emblematic light in the middle.

It’s quite a spacious bag. Even the two zipper-pockets (shown below) were quite roomy; in the larger zippered compartment I was able to put in two medium-sized shirts unfolded without a problem. In the smaller compartment, a wallet, cell phone, toothbrush and toothpaste can fit. The bag’s main compartment is kept closed by three things—Velcro, two buckles and two side magnetic flaps. Inside, the bag is separated into three compartments with the middle being a “pouch” that can be closed via Velcro.

15.4 inch Laptop, Size 10 Shoes, 34x30 Jeans, 2 Shirts + Book (not shown)

Cellphone holder + 2 Adjustable Straps

Turned around, the bag maintains its functionality. The wide adjustable strap is held together by a big metal buckle. The strap also has a pouch for a cell phone. The bag also has an additional smaller strap that buckles onto the main strap to keep the bag stable while riding.

Here are the specs (again):

  • Name: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag- Blue
  • Model #: 6102
  • Weight: 3.2 lb.
  • External Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 16″ H x 8″ D
  • Fits laptops up to 16″
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Bomber, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity, expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee and then somePatent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry

Very much a cyclist’s bag

Static/Intermittent Light

“Okay, okay, we get that it looks good and functions like any other bag but how is this a cyclist’s bag?”

When I first received the bag, the first thing that I wanted to know was how this bag was any different when compared to my current laptop-backpack. This meant: did I notice how uncomfortable I was with the bag on during my commute? Or is it such a good fit that I don’t even notice that I have it on? I did a couple tests to find out. One test was to overstuff the bag, and the other test was to only put in essentials for work.

For the first test, here’s what I put in the bag (about 30 pounds):

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • Pair of Shoes
  • 5 shirts
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Toothpaste, toothpaste
  • Bike supplies: oil, degreaser, naval jelly, chain-tool, Allen keys (I know it’s overkill)
  • Laptop + charger

And then I was off for a short ride. During the ride, I found the bag to be so heavy that I had to stop to give my shoulder a break. With each bump in the road, the pain I felt increased. I had to stop and switch shoulders three times in order to finish the ride despite the well-padded strap.

Loosely Worn

Even though the bag is durable enough to withstand over thirty pounds of load, I would only recommend a lighter load equivalent to a laptop + charger, a change of clothes and a pair of shoes. In other words, try to keep the bag’s weight under fifteen pounds.

That said, I think my opinion on how much load I would carry with the Kona Project 2 would change if the bag had two straps that distributed the weight better like a backpack.

On a side note, I used the bag much like a duffle bag while spending weekends at a friend’s and it served me well. Since it could hold more than my backpack, I found the Kona to be much more useful than my backpack.

So, in short, the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag is well-designed and quite suitable for the commuter on a bicycle. The guys at Brenthaven designed the bag with storage, visibility and style in mind and it shows. For the commuter who does not have to carry that much stuff and can afford a hundred dollar bag, this bag is worth a look.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

First Impression: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag

First Impression.

I like it.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve found the bag to be quite useful.

Regarding it’s look, it’s stylish–the main zipper streamlines a clean-looking design. The Kona logo is visible along with the 2 buckle-harnesses that keep the contents of the bag secure.

Upon opening, three separate compartments are visible. One being a “divider” where it has a velcro flap to secure the contents from the rest of the bag. The inside of the first compartment has more pockets and zippers similar to an inside of a backpack to put in smaller items.

Opened

When closing, one can see that there are magnetic flaps that secure to make sure that the sides stay closed.

On the sides are the magnetic flaps

The adjustable strap has a cell phone holder, and an accompanying buckle that couples with another strap to make sure the bag secures to the wearer.

Cell phone holder, adjustable strap and additional strap for stability.

Here are the specs from the manufacturer. It should be noted that Kona tapped the talents of Brenthaven in order to create this bag.

  • Name: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag- Blue
  • Model #: 6102
  • Weight: 3.2 lb.
  • External Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 16″ H x 8″ D
  • Fits laptops up to 16″
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Bomber, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity, expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee and then some
  • Patent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry

I’ll upload some photos of me actually using it when the review is done!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: 2009 Kona Sutra

Overview:

The first thing that pops in my mind when I’m asked about the Sutra is “heavy”, the next is “versatile”.  You can probably stop reading right there; those two words truly do sum up the Sutra.  Weighed with a set of plastic flat pedals, and a seat bag containing a spare tube, CO2 cartridge/inflator and a tire lever, the Sutra weighed in at 31.6lbs.  I primarily used the Sutra for commuting and small errands around town, both with clip-less and flat pedals.  Clip-less pedals for efficiency on my 17mi one-way commute, flats for general around town errand use.  [Note, I’m not a daily bike commuter, but am able to pull off two to three days a week.]
The Ride:
With a chromoly frame and fork, the Sutra was expected to provide a comfortable ride.  The Sutra damped road acne and took the harshness out of larger hits, but not to the level I expected.  I suspect this is due to several factors.  Though steel and equipped with touring tires at 80psi, the Sutra frame is a sturdy piece designed to carry heavy loads and last a long time.  The wheelset is likewise stiff, built with 36 spoke Mavic 317 rims.  Don’t get me wrong, the Sutra is comfortable for long rides in the saddle, but wouldn’t be my first choice for a relaxed century.

The Sutra has comfortable relaxed geometry with stable, deliberate steering. If you must ride hands-free, the Sutra won’t bite you for it.  Though named the Sutra, this bike won’t twist you into any awkward positions that require an advanced degree in Yoga.  Riding on the hoods of the Sutra results in only a slight forward lean for efficient pedaling and aggressive maneuvers.  Not that this is a bike for aggressive behavior, but if you like to bash up and down curbs, the Sutra will oblige.
The Sutra handles like a lighter bike until you head uphill.  Here the bike makes its weight known and demands fitness from the rider if you’re in a hurry.  If you’re not in a hurry though, the Sutra will spin up almost any hill with you.  The deep gearing (triple front, MTB cassette rear) lets you spin mountains into molehills, just as long as you don’t have any Contador dreams!  Downhill, the Sutra’s geometry makes one confident, however I found the brakes (Avid BB-7 mechanical disks) lacking if you’re activating them from the hoods.  Down in the bar drops however the brakes worked admirably, this tells me the problem is not in the brakes but rather a lack of leverage on the brakes from the hoods.  I consider myself to have average grip strength, but am a bit heavy at 185-190 lbs ready to ride, throw in 20 lbs on the rack and that’s turning into a lot of mass to slow down.  A great benefit of disc brakes is that they remain pretty effective in the rain, not an issue here in So-cal, but I’m aware of this issue from my mountain biking experience.
Racks:
The Sutra definitely taught me a lot about running errands with a bike!

The very nice rear rack (this is not the flimsy unit that came stock in previous years) will hold almost anything you’d want to pedal around (30kg rating), but regardless of how nice the rear rack is, it’s nearly useless without a good set of panniers and/or bungee cords.  I was halfway tempted to attach a laundry basket to the rack after being shocked at the price of a good set of pannier bags.  If you’re a dedicated bike commuter though, a good set of pannier bags are a necessity and will last quite a long time.  I admit, I never utilized the Sutra’s front rack.  Though it attached easily enough and seemed sturdy, I definitely couldn’t see myself ever utilizing it on anything other than a bike tour.  Speaking of touring, this is where the Sutra begins to blur typical bicycle category definitions.  The Sutra is overkill for commuting use but seems great for touring if you don’t mind the short head tube length (for a tourer).
Conclusion:

The Sutra is a bike you must consider if you’re looking for a touring bicycle.  If you’re looking for a commuter bike, I’d reccomend that you really assess your needs.  Do you want/need a rear rack, front rack, disk brakes or 36 spoke wheels? If you answer yes to at least two of those, I could see you staring hard at the Sutra, which is a pretty good value since all of that is included.  If you’re a larger person, the Sutra’s weight probably won’t be an issue, and you could rest easier knowing that you have a sturdy set of wheels that’d be at home on a mountain bike.  Myself and my 34mi round trip aren’t going to miss the Sutra, but I know I’ll miss her when I want to make a local errand run to the grocery or hardware store.  Check out the upcoming 2010 model here! It even includes fenders!

The Need For Speed

Hot from the KONAWORLD comes this press release announcing the 7th video in a series providing consumers some insight into the people behind the bikes at Kona.  These are actually some pretty interesting videos that are more than just commercials for Kona.  Watch out for an upcoming review on the Kona Sutra!

Take A Step Into The World Of Kona’s Product Manager Pat White In The 7th Episode Of Kona’s Dr Dew Files: Fast Pat

KONAWORLD (July 30, 2009) – There can’t be too many bike companies that have a product manager as speed addicted as Pat White, the guy in charge of making sure Kona’s bikes rip, and rip real good.

In the 7th episode of The Dr. Dew Files: Fast Pat, the good doctor catches up with Pat on his home turf, and let’s his riding do most of the talking. Produced by the talented folks at Freeride Entertainment, you check out the Fast Pat vid at Konaworld.tv, as well as HERE.

Based at the Kona USA headquarters in Ferndale, Washington, Pat rides it all, all the time. Whether it’s commuting to work on his custom 29er Unit, blazing road on his Haole, or shredding sweet Pacific Northwest trails on his CoilAir, Pat’s riding skills speak for themselves. And if you don’t believe us, go check out the guy’s trophy case – mega.

If that isn’t enough street cred for you, Pat takes it to the next level as an accomplished motocross rider (he’s raced the Baja 1000) and a track motorcycle instructor, where he teaches other speed addicts how to go 180 MPH.

It’s a personal addiction that carries big knowledge and experience into every Kona bike. Cornering, jumping, pumping and accelerating, Pat knows what’s required to make a speedy ride-across cycling’s entire spectrum.

For the complete collection of Dr. Dew Files episodes hit: www.konaworld.tv and browse all our rigs at www.konaworld.com.