Since writing for Bikerumor I’ve been primarily targeted on gravity MTB using. This yr although, Kona supplied me a chance to trip their Sutra touring/gravel/commuter bike. This was my likelihood to check out gravel firsthand, and whereas it’s not tempting me to surrender on MTB, I actually loved some exploratory rides on the fairly priced, and succesful Sutra.
The primary cause I agreed to check the Sutra is as a result of British Columbia has been constructing a prolonged gravel path, known as the Sea to Sky Path. The venture has been ongoing for the final a number of years, and it at the moment ends in my little city. I used this bike to get out and discover sections of the path, which turned out to be an excellent expertise! The Sutra’s chromoly body, lean tires and road-like using place makes for a fast-rolling bike that cruises and climbs comfortably.
The Sutra’s body is constituted of butted chromoly metal, and is matched to Kona’s Mission Two Chromoly Disc Touring fork. Body sizes vary from 48-58cm, and at 5’10” I used to be using a 54cm. That is what Kona’s on-line sizing information recommended, and it undoubtedly felt like the precise match for me.
Kona gave the Sutra thru-axles on each ends, with a 100x12mm entrance and 142x12mm rear. The 700c wheels come inventory with 40c tires, which I discovered to be a great all-terrain width. A 2×10 Shimano drivetrain gives a large gear vary to spin these wheels, and TRP’s mechanically actuated hydraulic disc brakes supply ample energy to lock them up. The Sutra’s different fitments embody a 27.2mm seat submit, and a 68mm backside bracket.
For gravel using or touring, mounting factors are of key significance, and the Sutra isn’t missing on this division! There are a mess of accent mounts on the highest tube, down tube, seat tube and fork, plus fender mounts. I bolted on a pump and a body bag with a spare tube, tire levers, and a multi device… and it’s good I did, as I needed to change a flat on my second trip!
The Sutra is meant to come back with a Tubus Tara Huge Apple low-rider entrance rack, however you’ll discover my demo bike was despatched to me with out one. Since I’m simply getting launched to gravel using, I don’t personal cargo luggage and couldn’t actually check the rack in any case, so I wasn’t too fussed about it not being there. Customers will get the rack included with the bike.
Given that is my first touring/gravel bike expertise, I don’t have a lot foundation for comparability so far as geometry goes. All I can say is that the bike appeared to suit me fairly properly; standover top was bang-on, the 73.5° seat mast angle places you in an excellent place for highly effective pedalling, and I used to be snug with the attain. I felt low and aerodynamic within the drops, however transferring as much as the flats supplied a really snug upright trip place. The hoods supplied probably the most balanced trip, and I spent most of my time there.
The fork’s steerer tube is fairly lengthy so I left the stem/handlebar on the excessive aspect and loved a reasonably snug using place. Riders extra accustomed to a street stance might run the bars a lot decrease than I did. Initially, I discovered the steering a bit steep and twitchy, however that’s as a result of I’m used to a slack enduro bike with a large handlebar. The Sutra’s head tube angle of 70.5° is just a little slacked-out versus a typical street racing bike.
Chromoly was the precise alternative for this body, because the mixed-surface path I explored had some bumpy sufficient sections to rattle me. I used to be grateful the body wasn’t a stiffer aluminum construct – I’m used to full-suspension bikes so I used to be glad to have just a little compliance from the chromoly body and fork!
I used to be happy to seek out rear wheel traction on climb sections was higher than anticipated. Whether or not I used to be sitting or standing up, that skinny rear wheel had ample weight on it and regardless of my inexperience, I shot up some steep gravel/grime sections with no issues. On an early trip, I did almost crash when my entrance wheel misplaced grip round a downhill nook. Gravel tires don’t seize like 2.5” MTB treads, and I in all probability leaned again a bit an excessive amount of as I’m not used to descending with drop bars.
The Sutra’s 2×10 gear vary is superb, with the low finish proving OK for the Sea to Sky path’s steeper climbing sections. I discovered the Shimano Tiagra levers/shifters carried out properly, and I solely missed just a few shifts on account of my lack of expertise with road-style shifting. Once I did my job proper, each shifters and derailleurs labored reliably.
Getting used to MTB cockpits, I discovered the Tiagra brake levers sat fairly far out. I did regulate the attain to deliver them in just a little, and bought them to the purpose the place my fingers might seize them correctly.
TRP’s mechanically-actuated hydraulic brakes appear hilariously overcomplicated at first, however I get the reasoning behind them they usually do carry out properly. Working cables permits for straightforward mid-ride upkeep, however the hydraulic calipers (grabbing a pair of 160mm rotors) present the ability you’d count on from hydraulic brakes. They modulate similar to hydraulics too, so I used to be impressed by them.
The Sutra’s WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 wheels survived my testing simply high quality, and I did trip various rougher sections of path. One pinched tube occurred fairly early, however I didn’t get any extra flats so I’ve no complaints concerning the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tires. They’ve a pleasant tread design that’s easy on roads and grippy sufficient to dig into softer surfaces.
Kona didn’t skimp on the Sutra’s saddle, supplying a Brooks B17. This was my first expertise with a Brooks saddle, and I used to be stunned how stiff it felt initially however did discover it fairly snug because it bought labored in. With no suspension on an all-terrain bike, a high quality saddle was a sensible inclusion on the Sutra’s construct. Brooks additionally provides the bar tape, which is thick sufficient to supply some cushion in your palms.
The one part I wasn’t impressed with was the rear fender. The entrance fender carried out simply high quality, staying in place and by no means rubbing the wheel even when it was shaking down a tough path, however the rear was problematic on any bumpy terrain. In case you intend to do any off-road rides, you’ll in all probability discover the rear fender isn’t sturdy sufficient.
Not solely did the skinny plastic fender flop round and make numerous noise when using tough terrain, the adjustment nuts additionally slipped out of place greater than as soon as throughout my off-road rides. I used to be in a position to re-position the fender as soon as efficiently, however after it occurred once more I gave up and eliminated it from the bike. I’m definitely no professional with fenders, however there isn’t a lot room between the tire and the fender’s body mounts, so you need to get it arrange good to forestall rubbing… and hope it stays there.
Admittedly, the Sutra leans extra to the touring aspect of issues than gravel, so it’s not all that surprisng that the fender didn’t work completely on tough terrain. However that additionally highlights the aptitude of the Sutra – this can be a touring bike that’s snug in many alternative environments, and will function an ideal gateway bike into gravel using.
The Kona Sutra is available in Satin Midnight with Gloss Metallic Bronze decals. MSRP is $2099.