By Singletrack.com Test Crew
Finding a worthy full-suspension bike at a price that doesn’t blow your head off when you look at the tag or that doesn’t entail credit card counseling after the purchase isn’t easy.
Sweet carbon rigs on the market run upwards of $5,000, and the price of an aluminum bike spec’d with the latest-and-greatest componentry drops southward only by a grand or two at best, which is still expensive. Meanwhile, experienced riders know how to work their friends in the bike business for bro’ deals, how to scour the Internet for discounts on frames and parts and then build their own bikes. Others folks don’t need to ask how much, they just buy the most expensive rig in the shop.
The individuals in the test crew, meanwhile, get their bike needs met in a variety of ways, none of which really involves walking into bike shops.
So that’s why riding the $2,299 Kona One20 Deluxe was a lesson in getting reacquainted with our early days, when our bikes were bought off the floor with an eye toward saving as much money as possible.
If we were in the market for a five-inch trail bike that didn’t cost an arm and a leg but still came stock with a decent array of components, the One20 Deluxe would be on the list. With those requirements, what we found is a bike that sticks to one intended use and does so with a fair amount of performance.
What the One20 Deluxe does well is gobble up hits. Kona’s Walking Beam 4-Bar Linkage and the Fox Float RP2 serve up a super plush ride. It is five inches of travel, but somehow feels squishier than that.
“I would say the One20 Deluxe eats big and small bumps alike,” one tester said. “It has great pickup on small chatter, and likewise the big hits disappear. It’s very plush in general. Stiffness in the bottom bracket and head tube is perfectly adequate for decent handling and tracking.”
And for a rider new to bombing down hill and over obstacles, that’s pretty much all one needs. This isn’t the most refined ride in the world, nor is it light. At 28.75lbs, our test rig was, as one tester put it, “a lot of work” going up hill. The smallest of our test riders, at 130 pounds, had a tough time on climbs.
“I felt like I couldn’t move it around much or lift it up and over things easily,” she said.
Even with the low-price point weight penalty, there are ways to make the bike work with the rider. With the shock and fork locked out it’s easy to get up over the pedals and bottom bracket to climb steep stuff, at least in the saddle.
A couple of the testers said the One20 Deluxe felt as though it needs a stiffer, longer-travel fork to be set up better.
“I think the Reba 120mm fork is outmatched by the frame,” said a tester. “But on the other hand, I love the small bump sensitivity of the Reba forks.”
The other challenge that some test riders faced involved the bike’s geometry. With a short-ish top tube, tall bottom bracket and relatively steep head and seat tube angles, it tended to feel less stable at speed than most bikes in this travel range. While the suspension sucked up bumps at speed, the nervy handling made steep drop-ins and high-speed corners a handful. On the other hand, the steeper tube angles should have added climbing agility, but whatever the attempted built-in benefit, it was overwritten by the bike’s heft.
At just more than $2,000, the One20 Deluxe is a relative bargain. As such, it’s decent for what it is: A bump-busting rig that does well going down but makes you earn your keep going up.
If you’re looking at a cost-effective bike for all-day epics, the Kona Hei Hei 100, with an inch less travel, is a better choice. Keeping the One20 Deluxe in its best area of use — going down hill — will keep the frustration level low and the fun factor high.
“This is a point-and-plow descender,” a tester said. “It eats up stuff very well if you just shoot through it.”