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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Kona Ute resources on Bike Carson:
More Pictures of the Kona Ute in Action