Kona Process 153 AL/DL 27.5 BIKE TEST
The 2018 Process 153 AL/DL 27.5 is Kona’s latest all-day, everyday trail bike built to hold its own against the most aggressive downhill challenges and to tame the climbs it takes to get to them.
Asaying that I’d come across years ago but had long forgotten was “trust the process,” and the opportunity to test Kona’s version brought this to mind and now made complete sense to me.
At first glance, many would judge the Process 153 AL/DL 27.5 in its matte “Special-Forces”-looking olive-green paint scheme and 160mm RockShox Yari Solo Air to be a downhill dominant machine. Yet a closer look at the spec sheet and a couple of good gritty rides on the Process 153 will have you re-evaluating your “book-cover” judging ways.
First off, the relatively steep 76° seat-tube angle, 66° headtube angle and short stem combined with a vertically positioned RockShox Deluxe RT trunnion shock remove the climbing-dread factor significantly. In fact, the climbing capabilities of the Process verge on enjoyment, a quality that is generally rare when describing 27.5” trail bikes with 160mm of travel.
Much of this climbing charisma was accomplished through this year’s geometry tweaks, the SRAM GX-Eagle 10-50t 12-speed freewheel with one-ringto-rule-them-all up front in the form of a 34t X-Sync Eagle chainring, as well as the efficiency and placement of the trunnion shock. The Deluxe RT trunnion provides excellent suspension when needed, but doesn’t suck the life out of your legs when you are putting in your punchy efforts. There was absolutely no “bobbing” on the trail, and it not only dampens rough terrain, but also any desire to lock it out on the rest of your ride.
Those of us who would rather spend our bike time on our bikes rather than looking at them through the rearview mirror of a Dodge RAM or Ford Bronco truly appreciate the effort Kona has put into the climbing prowess of this year’s Process. That being said, we are not opposed to the occasional, leisurely, power-assisted lift to the summit because a) we won’t smell as much on the descent and b) well, we get much more descent! And the Process 153 AL/DL 27.5 loves to descend.
That same RockShox Deluxe RT Trunnion shock that makes the climbs so much more pleasant now shows its aggressive nature and chews through whatever terrain Mother Nature throws at it. Working in harmony with a 160mm RockShox Yari Solo Air up front, the suspension on the Process performs like noise-cancelling headphones for your butt – trail noise, not acoustic. It’s all thanks to what Kona calls “Beamer Independent Suspension,” and it helps the bike to stay higher in the travel and recover from hits more quickly by eliminating sideload. Ride it – you will get it!
Also helping you to conquer your climbs and dominate your descents are a set of solid 27.5” wheels wrapped in a pair of Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C tires – 27.5x2.5” up front and 27.5x2.3” out back. The wheels on the Process also feature tubeless-compatible WTB Asym i29 TCS rims, Formula hubs (110x15mm front/148x12mm rear) and a set of SRAM Guide R brakes with Centerline 200mm/180mm (front/rear) rotors to tame it all.
The 27.5” wheels allow for some impressive roll-over and manoeuvrability on roots, rocks and ruts, and make every effort to help eliminate the word “Endo” from the English language. Of course, if you’re still having trust issues on really aggressive vertical, Kona has your back. The seat-tube length on the Process (410mm on the Medium) is short enough to handle some of the longest dropper posts on the market. The Process comes with a RockShox Reverb dropper post (with plunger lever), so drop your saddle, drop in and trust the Process!
Along with the Process AL/DL 27.5, Kona offers eight other Process options, including carbon-frame options and 29’er wheel sizes. Which one is best for you? Well that depends on your bank account and terrain preference. Suffice it to say, Kona has an Enduro mountain-bike flavour that should satisfy most.
Kona’s versatile line of Process bikes offers eight Enduro options that should satisfy most mountain-bike palates.