Some thoughts I've had this week on my new ride - the 2016 Kona Process 134 DL. I got it last week after trying it on in a shop and doing a bit of research. I immediately liked its straight lines, the radical profile. It looks remarkably clean and simple - in a sort of understated way. The low standover makes it look deceptively small. Previously I'd been trying to get more out of my old Avanti hardtail and I'd stopped progressing. Trying to get the bike to manual was such a huge effort that control was kind of non-existent - looking into the long stem length I was riding with it soon became clear why. Also my local trail (Arch Hill) - the ride was more about trying to get my weight over the back of the bike - I was just always too far forward.
So, I bit the bullet and went for something that's not a cruiser, but definitely something you want to throw around and chuck at berms, banks and stumps. The equivalent in windsurfing would be going for a full on wave board over something that straddles multiple conditions. In saying that, it is not a full on downhill bike. I'm still interested in the ride to the top.
So on the rides I've had this week, so many new and delightful things I've experienced on this bike. First up, the bars are so much wider. It opens up the front of the body and makes your arms feel like you are going yay to the world. The adjustable dropper post is a dream come true. On my local trail I'd set the seat low, but the few uphill sections would mean standing (on the verge of spinning the back wheel and losing traction), or pumping the knees and grinding to the top - but the sections are too short to want to stop to raise the seat. I'm till getting used to this adjustability. The top setting (perfect for the street ride home) is too high for a climb with a stalled uphill hairpin to negotiate. So I've got to learn to find those ideal seat heights on the go with a bit more practice.
Going downhill is amazing. It feels like there is a lot of front wheel in front of me (27.5) and with the short stem and slacker head angle than I'm used to, that is the case. It gives confidence.
And as a windsurfer who likes to jump, this next bit is important - manuals and bunny hops. Still working on them, but today casually tried to get the front up on the flat and nearly looped out. I was so surprised, I forgot to hit the brake. So - if getting the front up is this easy, then I'm going to have a lot time and energy let to work on my balance and timing for bringing the back wheel up to kiss the sky.