Don’t Call Them Hardcore: Hardtail Design with Kona

Whenever mountain bikers talk about ‘hardcore hardtails’ the Kona Honzo is invariably mentioned. We find out what makes these bikes appealing.
Photo: Kona

Pat White is a longtime product manager for Kona Bicycles and Doug Lafavor aka Dr. Dew has been designing bikes at Kona for decades.

In this episode we ask:

  • Which factors make a hardtail ‘hardcore’ or more aggressive compared to say an XC or entry-level hardtail?
  • What are aggressive hardtails good for in terms of riding style or trails? What are the limits?
  • How important is frame material when it comes to designing a hardtail? Is there one material that’s generally superior to the others?
  • Are there higher costs involved in building hardtails from steel than aluminum?
  • Where does the compliance in a hardtail frame come from?
  • Do you look at component selection differently for a hardtail vs. a full suspension bike? If so, what are the key areas where the builds differ?
  • Is there any lingering debate about wheel size when it comes to hardtails?
  • Are sliding dropouts an important selling point?
  • What do you think about Internal cable routing on hardtails?
  • There seems to be a focus on making seat angles steeper lately. How do you approach seat tube angles for hardtails compared to FS bikes?
  • Are there things you’re able to do with hardtail geometry that just aren’t feasible with a FS design?
  • How is the balance between chainstays and reach considered on a hardtail?
  • For a lot of riders cost can be a factor in deciding to go with a hardtail. What does the typical hardtail rider look like?
  • Do you own a hardtail mountain bike? How often do you ride it?
  • What are some tips for riders to get the most out of a hardtail mountain bike? Do we need to modify our riding style, or reconsider preferences for things like tire and fork pressure?

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