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.

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Paul Newitt

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.

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