The demand for the types of bicycles we need has shifted. More and more people are using bicycles for everyday tasks, and not just for weekend recreation. Due to the high cost of automobile ownership and increasing traffic congestion, we’ve begun to rediscover that the car is not always the best way to handle shorter trips. The bicycle industry has responded to these changing demands, and now there is a wide variety of models available for those who are looking for comfortable, practical bicycles for commuting and utility purposes.
Kona Bicycles has a lot of new and exciting models lined up for 2010 that will appeal to the urban cyclist. The Kona Dew line is designed with the urban commuter in mind, and is offered in a wide range of models to suit just about anyone’s needs. You can now get a basic Kona Dew for just over $400, an exotic scandium/carbon Dew for $2,500, and something just about anywhere in between these two extremes. According to the Kona website, “We started making Dews because we wanted a commuter bike that shredded street like our mountain bikes do trail.”
Courtesy of Kona Bikes, Bike Carson received a 2010 Kona Dew FS for test and review back in November. During the test period, I’ve had ample opportunities to get the bike out around town for commuting, errands, and even a little higher speed recreational riding to see what the bike is all about.
The Dew FS model is for the rider that is looking for additional comfort without sacrificing too much efficiency and performance. The FS designation is for “Front Suspension”, and the FS is the only Dew of the line to include a suspension fork. And thanks to an all new frame design for 2010, the FS also has the most upright riding position of the Dew line. Further smoothing out the ride on the FS is a suspension seatpost.
- Frame: Kona 7005 Aluminum Butted, Curved Top Tube, Rack and Fender Mounts.
- Internal Headset: Headset bearings located inside the head tube, rather than external cups pressed into the top and bottom
- Fork: Suntour SF10-NCX-D LO Lite with 63mm (2.5″) of suspension travel and an adjustable compression/lockout lever.
- Brakes: Shimano 486 Hydraulic Disc with 6″ rotors. Compact rear design.
- Handlebar: Kona XC/BC Riser (Oversized 31.8mm clamp area, 620mm (24.5″) wide, minimal sweep)
- Wheels and Tires: 700C wheels with 70psi Continental CountryRide 700x37C tires
- Colors Available: Metallic Dark Red or Matte Black
- Frame Sizes Available: 45cm, 49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm (tested in this review), 58cm, 60cm, 62cm.
- Price: $799 USD
More specs can be found on the Kona site.
The most visible aspect of the Dew FS geometry is the curved top tube. The FS’s frame has been redesigned for 2010 with a curved top tube that allows for a tall front end, while at the same time providing a lot of stand over clearance. It’s easy to swing a leg over the top tube while wearing your regular street or work pants.
While the Dew FS looks and feels like it may have a short wheelbase, it’s really just the geometry that brings the controls closer to the rider. The wheelbase is pretty much the same length as the other Dew models, and is slightly longer than that of my Trek road bike. Where the Dew FS deviates the most from the rest of the Dew line is the more laid back seat tube angle at 72.5 degrees, and the tall, relaxed head tube with a 70.5 degree angle. These angles put the rider more upright, and bring the seat further behind the pedals. The slacker head tube angle also slightly slows down the steering for a less twitchy front end.
Although the Dew FS is not a lightweight racer at 30 pounds, it does move along smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. Friends and co-workers that I let ride the bike were surprised at how effortlessly the bike moved along. The suspension fork and seat post combined with the wide urban tires do a great job of eliminating jolts from cracks in the road, pot holes, and sidewalk curbs.
The wide 70psi 700x37C tires are very stable over variable urban terrain. Where a skinny 23C road tire keeps you constantly scanning the road for pebbles and cracks, the Dew’s wider tires let you relax and focus your attention elsewhere. There is also enough tread on the tires for confidence on changing road conditions, easily handling neglected pavement, packed dirt roads, and the sanded streets of winter.
The upright riding position is comfortable on your back and neck, and you have great visibility of traffic and other things that are going on around you. It really makes you realize how much of your peripheral vision is lost when riding a leaned over road or mountain bike.
The Dew is equipped with a Suntour front suspension fork with 63mm (2.5″) of suspension travel. For adjustability and tuning, there is a spring pre-load dial on the left fork leg, and an adjustable compression rate/lockout lever on the right fork leg. The pre-load dial is used to set the amount of suspension sag for your body weight, and the lockout lever is used to tune the fork’s performance.
I thought that locking out the fork might bring more pedaling efficiency, but this was not the case. Since the rider’s weight is farther back on the Dew FS due to the upright riding position, pedaling bob in the front suspension was not an issue. I like to lockout the front fork of my mountain bike when riding through town, but I thought the Dew FS actually felt better with the front suspension active. The only time I felt the lockout helped was during standing sprints and climbs. The lockout lever is not merely an on/off switch either. You can tune the compression rate (how quickly the fork compresses when hitting a bump) from wide open to a much stiffer feel as you get closer to full lockout. Additionally, the lockout lever is easy to get to quickly while riding or at a standing stop.
It is important for a commuter bike to have the option of accepting full fenders. The Suntour suspension fork comes with fender mounts, and aftermarket companies like Planet Bike have fenders available that mount to this style of fork that don’t interfere with suspension or disc brake action.
Further suspension is provided by the telescopic seatpost. I never did fine tune the seatpost suspension for my body weight, but I did adjust it to see how it worked. To adjust the pre-load on the seatpost suspension spring, you must loosen the seatpost clamp, and pull the seatpost out of the frame. On the underside of the seatpost is an adjuster that screws into the seatpost by means of an Allen wrench. Simply turn the adjuster in to get more pre-load. The seatpost clamp is a bolt on design, lessening the chance that your seat and post will be swiped while locked to the rack.
PARTS AND OTHER DETAILS
The Kona Dew FS is fitted with a mid-grade selection of parts. There are no high-end boutique parts on the FS, but there isn’t any low end junk either. It’s a good mix of parts that does the job well and reliably. Since urban bikes aren’t subjected to the higher stresses and conditions of mountain and road biking, you can get away with less. I have a similar parts spec on my Kona Ute, and they’ve worked great for the intended use with no hassles. Another benefit of the modest parts spec on the Dew FS is that nothing will scream, “STEAL ME!” when parked at the bike rack. Bonus: The Dew FS comes with a bell! Bells are great for getting the attention of friends while you’re out riding, and for politely alerting pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence.
Brakes – I love disc brakes for all weather riding, and the hydraulic Shimanos on the Dew FS work great. They’re powerful but smooth, and stop you instantly in surprise traffic situations. New for 2010, the rear disc is mounted inside the rear triangle, clearing the way for easy rack and fender mounting. As is the case with many innovations though, a plus in one area may lead to a negative in another. The rear brake hose goes right over the bottom bracket. While I never had problems during the test period, I think it would be a good idea to keep an eye on this area. The brake hose might wander down onto a sharp edge of the bottom bracket or rub against a rotating crank arm. It didn’t look dangerous, but friction could lead to premature hose wear if left unchecked. A small zip-tie near the bottom bracket might be all that it takes to prevent the brake hose from wandering.
Wheels and Tires – The big 700C wheels roll well and keep their momentum, and the wide 700x37C tires further contribute to the smooth ride. The Continental CountryRide tires have a decent amount of traction for multi-surface riding. The tires wouldn’t be fantastic for loose dirt and sand, but would handle packed dirt roads easily. The wide, 70 psi tires don’t deflect off street debris easily, allowing the rider to concentrate on other aspects of the ride. There is also a lot of clearance on the frame and fork should you want to experiment with larger tires.
Gearing – Front chain rings with sizes 48/36/26, and a 9 speed cassette with cogs ranging from 11-32 teeth give the rider a wide range of gears to choose from whether ascending a steep climb, or bombing a fast downhill.
Handlebars and Stem – The Dew FS is equipped with 620mm (24.5″) wide handlebars, with an oversized 31.8mm clamp area and stem to reduce bar flex. The bars have very little sweep, and when combined with the tall front end, it almost feels like you’re riding a scooter. The steering tube is cut long and comes with plenty of spacers, allowing for plenty of options for handlebar height. Personally, the handlebars are too straight for my taste, and I would prefer a bar with more sweep. Swept back bars are more comfortable on the wrists in my opinion, and since the Dew FS is designed for comfort, the straight bars may not be the best choice. Switching bars is easy though, but keep in mind that you may be looking at a stem replacement too, as the 31.8mm stem may limit your choices of commuter bars. I also found that my old headlight clamp doesn’t work with the newer oversized handlebar. This shouldn’t be an issue if you have a newer light though.
Many co-workers that walked by my office cubicle stopped to remark on the Dew FS. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the metallic dark red paint looks great, and I believe this is what got their initial attention. Adding to the nice paint job though are a handsome Kona head badge, over-sized curved aluminum frame tubing, and color complimenting black componentry. It’s a bike that looks sharp with your office clothes, and will look good in your office cubicle as well as parked out in front of the coffee shop.
The 2010 Kona Dew FS is an exceptional blend of efficiency, utility, style, and comfort. The FS’s design and parts selection allows for swift, efficient, and reliable transportation. With the addition of a rear rack and panniers you can add a lot of utility for errands and commuting. Attractive frame tubing, paint, and other details give the bike high style points, and compliment your work or street clothes well. The suspension, upright riding position, and wide tires of the FS make for a comfortable and safe ride. For sportier riding or longer endurance rides, I would probably pick a lighter model from the Kona Dew line. But for comfortable commuting and errands around town, the Dew FS is hard to beat. Kona did a good job with the Dew FS and it rounds out the Dew line nicely.
Special Thanks: BikeCarson.com would like to thank Carson City’s local Kona dealer Bike Habitat for bicycle delivery and assembly, Keith Cozzens at Verde PR & Consulting for arranging the test, and Kona Bicycles for making great bikes!
Disclaimer: This product was loaned to BikeCarson.com at no charge for test and review. We were not paid or bribed to do this review, and have provided our honest and personal views throughout the entire process.