I'm starting a new thread for this question instead of tacking it onto the end of the recent review of the Kona Smoke because I might gather more comments from non-Smoke-ers.
Please help me understand the popularity of this bike. I'm trying to nudge a friend away from purchasing it as his sole bike, but something is drawing him mysteriously towards it. I first looked at one when I was shopping for a commuter a few years ago. In their buying issue Bicycling had praised it highly, so I went to a shop to look at one. They had displayed it hanging from the ceiling, the least likely bike to fly.
My commute was 14 miles of roller-coaster hills and a one-mile steady climb, on the way in to work, of course. I didn't give the Smoke a second glance. On the street it had the disadvantages of a mountain bike (heavy, low-geared) without the advantages of a mountain bike (suspension, knobby tires) off-road. For commutes under 5 miles, OK. For a ride to the corner grocery, OK. But if this is your sole bike, won't you shy away from a 30, 40, 50 mile ride, where the fun begins.
Could this be a case of fashion trumping practicality? Like wearing combat boots for dancing? It gives me a sinking feeling to know that my friend will buy it and I can't do anything about it. Help me understand why he is making a good decision. Or give me more ammunition to dissuade him. Thanks.