Kona Ute Review – 1st Ride on the Kona Ute

Wednesday was the first real ride on the Ute. Before work, I got the seat height dialed in, and got the 28×1.75 tires aired up to 55 psi. I loaded my commuter pack into the cargo bag, and was pleased that the 2,000 cubic inch commuter pack fit so easily. Finally, I kicked up the center stand, and headed off to work.

Cargo Envy
Utility

Compared to my other bikes, the Ute accelerates like a moving van. Once up to speed though, it really cruises. I was effortlessly pedaling along at around 15 mph, somewhere between my mountain bike and road bike. There are are only 16 speeds on the Ute, but the range is more than adequate. There are 2 chain rings up front, a 36 and a 26. In the rear there is an 11-32 eight speed cassette. I didn’t need the granny gear yesterday, and never needed the top gear going through town.

1st Ride on the Ute
Telegraph Square

The combination of the big wheels, wide slick tires, and long frame made for one smooth ride. Riding position is very upright, and I was surprised at the difference in vision I have on the Ute. Peripheral vision is more in tune with traffic compared to a mountain or road bike. Even though the wheelbase is long, bike handling is still quick. It feels like a regular bike. I had a lot of weight on one side of the bike, but it wasn’t noticeable while riding. The only time I noticed is when I tried to put the bike on the center stand, and it wouldn’t stay upright. I’m looking forward to getting the second bag to balance out the bike both physically and visually.

Long Bike, Long Load
Hauling extra-long garden poles

The only real problem I ran into was getting the Ute down to my basement office. I have a steep staircase with a 90 degree turn at the bottom, leading to a locked door. I was able to carry the bike down the stairs and rest the front wheel on the bottom landing. With the rest of the bike still up the stairs, I held the front brake down with my right hand, and unlocked the door with my left. From there it was a careful negotiation to get the bike around the corner. My backup plan was the freight elevator near the main entrance.

Movie Night at Bicycle Authority
Hauling folding chairs to bicycle movie night

Bottom line: The Kona Ute is a blast to ride, and makes a great urban bike. I’m looking forward to putting the Ute through many utility tests in the near future, and am pleased that it will enable me to drive less.

Wide Load
Hauling 40lbs of Newspaper

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16 thoughts on “Kona Ute Review – 1st Ride on the Kona Ute

  1. Do they still only come in a single frame size? I rode one at a shop in reno and it was way too small for me.

    But at the pricepoint they are hitting it’s a smart product. When i went to the handmade bike show longtails and cargo bikes were huge and hugely expensive. Sycip had one for over $5000.

    So it has 28 inch tires?

    -M

  2. It comes in an 18″ and a 20″…our is an 18″. The sloped seat tube helps extend your reach, and swapping out the stem is an option too. The 18″ is perfect for us, since Kristy and I can both use it. Need to put on a QR seat post clamp though.

    Yes, retailing at $899, the whole bike is close to the same price as the Surly Big Dummy frame alone. The XtraCycle kits are cheaper, but you also need to have a bike to put them on.

    Tires are also listed as 700x47C, the metric conversion. There is enough clearance to run some light 29er mountain tires for winter months if you needed to.

  3. I’ve used the freight elevator at work to move my Xtracycle. II have to put the rear tire in one corner and tip the front end up high to fit. I like riding it, but it seems so much slower than my regular commuter bike. Maybe I’ll have to ride it to work next week under the premise that I need to pick up lots more coffee grounds…

  4. Long, hauler bikes are the shizzle. I experienced some minor knee pain when I first got my Big Dummy. I attribute it to wanting to accelerate like I’m use to and not using the gears like I should. It’s a bit of a different riding mind set, but long bikes are great. Glad you’re enjoying yours.

  5. Does that thing come with a trailer hitch?
    I bet you could pull a small Airstream with that.
    It will definitely come in handy this summer when you and your family go camping!
    The bike is very cool. Excellent urban sled for the money.
    I can see where it might be a bit of a handful to bring into the office.
    It would not serve me well with such a long commute and steep hills to climb.
    Enjoy!

  6. I’m looking forward to your reports on riding Goldenrod this summer.

    I’d love an Xtracycle myself for errands (Kona don’t sell the Ute in NZ) but I have another bike-project I need to finish first.

  7. I’m looking forward to the reports myself! It’s going to come in very handy as we get into spring and summer. Can’t wait to get to the farmers market on it.

  8. There is enough room, but you’d want to hook up something to make it safe. I’ve seen pictures of a kid seat mounted to the deck, and you could mount a tandem stoker stem to the seat post. The big safety issue would be to make sure little legs don’t get sucked into the rear wheel!

  9. I’m interested in how the Ute compares to an Xtracycle-equipped bike – does it appreciably flex with 20 to 50 lb loads? And are there any cargo-carrying after-market parts that are intended for the Ute?

  10. I haven’t ridden an Xtracycle equipped bike loaded to make a comparison; however, I did notice the Ute a bit wiggly when loaded up with 40 lbs of newspaper. Typical loads behave pretty well though.

    I haven’t heard of any aftermarket parts for the Ute. I only know of the bags that come from Kona.

  11. Hi Jeff – Any other thoughts on the Ute after a few more months of use? Where did you get the second pannier, and what was the cost? And how tall are you, and which size are you riding?

    thanks!
    Frank

  12. I got the Ute in March of 09, and have used it a lot since then. It’s not only fun to ride, but it has really opened up new possibilities, and eliminated some excuses for not riding. I’ve been camping with it, commuted on it, and hauled a variety of large and awkward cargo. The Ute is also a conversation starter where ever I go!

    I haven’t tried any similar bikes like the Big Dummy, but I’m happy with the Ute and would purchase it again.

    Ordered the pannier from the local bike shop, but you can order directly from Kona too. They have the full bag for $100, half bag for $70, and a 2008 half bag (black) for $50.

    https://shop.konaworld.com/categories.php?category=Components

    I’m 5’10” and ride the 18. Works good because my wife and I can both use it. My buddy rode it, who’s taller than me, and he thought the 18 would be good for him too (so he could share with his wife). Certainly go try one out though if you’re really tall.

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