Kona Satori: Final Review- by Banks
Hello everyone – you may remember I have done my intro on the KONA Satori a while ago (here) and while I meant to do a mid term – all show coverage got in the way and so here comes my compiled impressions and verdict of the bike. I have been riding the KONA Satori solely (and verrry much) for over 1 ½ months now and so it is safe to say I know it … so let´s step right into it:
In brief my evaluation is rather easy: THIS BIKE IS A BLAST!!
But since this probably won´t satisfy your desire for a real review – here the longer version: It is really hard time giving it back now that the test draws to an end. I am thoroughly enjoying how Kona has woven together a big travel bike, a playful feel, and ride efficiency in a simple and good looking package. I find the frame’s aggressive and sporty looking clean lines to be very catchy to the eye.
I am one of those guys who simply is hard on gear or in other words have the uncanny ability to break stuff that shouldn’t really break. Whichever way you want to look at it, nothing about this bike is fragile or gave way under my use. I is not super light, though it is still respectable for its toughness at, 13.65 kg (about 30.1 lbs), which for a long travel wagon wheeler in this price range is more than decent.
For me, coming from a road background and then entering the MTB scene in the XC realm I was at first more or less changing surfaces to ride on, but as time and my conversion progressed I began to get bored and started riding harder stuff that lead into trail riding and getting hooked on the trails and then the process starts again… All this to say, this bike for me is a great confidence inspiring when riding aggressive trails. It rolls and rolls … and rolls. Basically as long as you have the guts to point the bike somewhere, odds are you are going to make it through. This bike will just run over (almost) everything.
At first the Satori felt really big. I didn’t feel stretched, the bike under me was just big, despite the IN the bike feel. At first I was wondering if this thing was just simply gonna be a tank of a bike, thankfully it was only tankish when tankish would be desired.
Once I swung a leg over and got to get out, I found the suspension well balanced. I really liked how adjustable the ROCK SHOX Revelation was. I found that wide open is super plush but found that the suspension would tend to get eaten up when ridden aggressively. On slower technical sections it would feel like the front end was diving more than I wanted. I would generally run the compression one quarter closed and that was a happy medium for me in the tight stuff and under most general pedaling.
Pedaling was, for me, pretty good. The Pro Pedal platform damping on the Fox Float RP2 shock does wonders for the bike. A lot of riding can be done without, but when cranking hard and when climbing, there is some noticeable bobbing, which gets perfectly calm when the Pro Pedal is switched ON. Like many good platform damping systems it still smooths out a lot of shocks and feels rather active, only without any pedal induce bob. With ProPedal engaged climbing is nicely stable.
I have only ridden a hand full of long legged twentyniners and so I was very curious as to how the climbing on the Satori was going go. The bikes weight combined with the too high a ratio on the dual cranks (26/39) made things unpleasant on long climbs, but as the climbs go on, it is only a matter of enduring.
The KONA Satori´s geometry is good but not ultra efficient, but then I am used to short chain stayed bikes. So that was not all that surprising for me. Overall the bike climbed reasonably well for the type of bike it is. Only on really steep inclines did I need some weight shifting to keep the front from wandering.
One of my favorite things about this bike is the handling on rough trails and on the downhills. It’s big, but it’s playful. It feels like your extremely well mounted and stable in the saddle but with a super playful and really nimble ride feeling. With a lower bottom bracket height than I am accustomed to and the sag in the suspension, I occasionally had some “ground contact”, but a bit adjusting from my side and not pedaling through every section did solve the issue. My favorite term of describing descending on the Satori would be “Trail Surfing”. Also it is remarkable how the Satori rides well with different rider styles – I could lean back, dig in and turn, carry speed, or just go straight and get carried over what’s in front of you if I had too. c_g (with his much more refined riding style) also spent a few hours on the Satori and confirmed how the Satori simply is a fun handling full suspension 29″er with few peculiarities.
Kona says the bike is best suited for flowy descents and I would agree, but give it good grades on other terrain as well. We have ridden it in our tight woody trails, on the rocky boulder infested trails of Lago die Garda Italy and the bike did well in either. Slow speed technical riding on board the Satori is not so care free, but its still confident – the more you are able to carry some speed into whatever it is that’s puckering you up, the better the Satori does. At low speeds the bike gets harder to ride but that is one of the only drawbacks I have. All is all I have found that so far this is a super fun bike that will bring you lots of confidence, toned legs, and leave you wanting to get back out as soon as you can.
VERDICT: Over all the bikes I have ridden the KONA Satori has been one of my favorite trail bikes. We all have our personal tastes and this bike fit mine. Basically, the blend of maneuverability and downhill prowess being main ingredients. This mixed in with capable ascending traits and good pedaling qualities inside a durable and fairly affordable package. That’s a winning combo in my book and my hat is off to the cats at Kona. They have done a great job on the Satori and got what matters right. The kit the bike was spec’ed with is good and I have no real complaints though I did end up switching to a saddle that fit me better.
Oh, and the fact that the seat clamp didn’t have a quick release. This would cause me to have to grab a tool and lower the seat before dropping into something interesting and was a huge fun killer. However; this is easily helped by either getting a quick release binder, or better yet, mounting a dropper seat post, which I feel would be an awesome upgrade to this already great package.
So, bottom line, this bike is tons of fun and a fully capable trail bike to pedal up and down all day long.