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  1. #1
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Saw the Kona Ute

    Lucked out yesterday and saw a Kona Ute in the flesh (in the aluminum?) at my LBS. They'd just built one up. I thought I'd share my initial opinion.

    I like the bike. I almost bought it then and there. The cargo bags on the back look much better in real-life than on Kona's website. They're sized perfectly to hold paper grocery sacks. I actually like the hook system that the bags use to attach to the frame. (I could wish for a plastic hook at the bottom though, rather than metal, to avoid the risk of scratching the paint).

    There's little doubt in my mind that if I buy the bike, that I'd also buy two more bags. Kona should spec that bike with four bags rather than two. I'd pay an extra $50 or so for that.

    The 700c tires are thicker and beefier than I had expected. I would probably run them as-is. There also appears to be clearance in the frame to mount full-on, 29er mountain-bike tires (which I might want because of some of the roads I traverse).

    IMHO, Kona made the right choice in tire size. I do not want a 26-inch tire (e.g.: Surly's Big Dummy).

    I'm also happy with the aluminum frame. I do not anticipate hauling anything so heavy that I'd really need or want steel.

    Handlebars are just plain weird. I didn't feel I had good leverage with them. I'd swap 'em out for a more traditional bar. I've a spare, Easton low-rise bar that'd probably do the trick nicely. Frankly, I don't know what Kona was thinking when they spec'd the bar that they did. It looks like a choice they made for pure looks.

    Front wheel felt a bit "light". Swapping in a new handlebar would probably solve that problem.

    Overall, Kona's done a nice job here. I can see myself riding a Ute.

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    When I checked out a Ute at my LBS I didn't love the bars either, but as you note that isn't hard to change. The bigger issue in my mind is did I want access to all the ready to rock cargo hauling potential of the Xtracycle [Freeloaders, wide loaders, long loaders, etc...] or did I want to be starting some DIY projects to get a cargo bike rolling the way I want? Personally I'm not particularly handy so I wanted to stick with a product that was proven and had lots of options off the shelf.

    If you are satisfied with the bags & accessories available for the Ute or you are cool with building the yourself you can't argue with the MSRP. I hope they get a bunch of these bikes on the road so we can start to hear now they work and people can get inspired on the DIY side of things.
    safe riding - Vik
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    The bigger issue in my mind is did I want access to all the ready to rock cargo hauling potential of the Xtracycle [Freeloaders, wide loaders, long loaders, etc...]
    I've thought a fair bit about the issue of Xtracycle compatibility. I'm not usually (ever?) hauling long items. The ability to haul grocery bags on the side, and perhaps a bag of dog food on the long rack is plenty good enough for me. And, honestly, I do not find most of the Xtracycle accessories to be all that compelling. When you come down to it, you have big bags, and you have a long-loader. But this is an area that varies widely by person. All our priorities will be somewhat different.

  4. #4
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    I've thought a fair bit about the issue of Xtracycle compatibility. I'm not usually (ever?) hauling long items. The ability to haul grocery bags on the side, and perhaps a bag of dog food on the long rack is plenty good enough for me. And, honestly, I do not find most of the Xtracycle accessories to be all that compelling. When you come down to it, you have big bags, and you have a long-loader. But this is an area that varies widely by person. All our priorities will be somewhat different.
    Your last two sentences sums it up nicely. If you don't have an interest in the Xtracycle accessories the Ute is a nice bike at a great price point. It's cool there are more and more off the shelf options for cargo bikes. One size doesn't fit all.

    Do you think you'll be buying a Ute? We need some reviews and reports on this rig so you'll be doing us all a favour...*nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*
    safe riding - Vik
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  5. #5
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    Do you think you'll be buying a Ute? We need some reviews and reports on this rig so you'll be doing us all a favour...*nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*
    LOL! Am sorely tempted. I honestly am thinking quite seriously about the Ute. But I also want to pick up a new mountain-bike this year. I may not be able to do both.

    Whatever I decide, I'll spend the rest of the summer wishing I had done it the other way 'round .

    But as long as it pedals and goes on two wheels, it's all good, right?

  6. #6
    Bike Nerd Mr. Jim's Avatar
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    Ok now you have me thinking about a Ute instead of a Xtra build. I am concerned about only having one size for the ute however.
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  7. #7
    Clyde that Rides Aeneas's Avatar
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    I agree with Mr Jim, the frame sizing concerns me... especially being 6'2". Looks like a nice product, although I await reviews. The price point fits better than a Big Dummy and you're not tied into the Xtra cycle accessories. I want to add something similar to a BD/ Ute for the around town stuff, but I dislike buying into anything that ties me to a certain set of products, thus the attraction to the UTE. I am glad to see manufacturers exploring this area more and feel that in the next couple years, we'll see more of these type bikes being produced (or so I hope!)

  8. #8
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Jim View Post
    Ok now you have me thinking about a Ute instead of a Xtra build. I am concerned about only having one size for the ute however.
    I'm lucky in that the size happens to be right for me. I usually ride "medium" mountain-bike frames, and my 29er bike is an 18-inch frame. The Ute is also 18-inch, and it felt fine for me. But yeah, if you need a small or large frame, then I think you should look elsewhere. There's no such thing as "one size fits all".

    My guess is that Kona introduced the Ute as an experiment. They are putting the bike out there to see what happens. My further guess is that medium bikes are the largest size segment, and that's why Kona's put the bike out in only that one size. They are ignoring small and large riders until they see whether there's really a market for the bike. I have to give respect to Surly for building the Big Dummy in multiple sizes.

  9. #9
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aeneas View Post
    I agree with Mr Jim, the frame sizing concerns me... especially being 6'2". Looks like a nice product, although I await reviews. The price point fits better than a Big Dummy and you're not tied into the Xtra cycle accessories. I want to add something similar to a BD/ Ute for the around town stuff, but I dislike buying into anything that ties me to a certain set of products, thus the attraction to the UTE. I am glad to see manufacturers exploring this area more and feel that in the next couple years, we'll see more of these type bikes being produced (or so I hope!)
    Your post confuses me a bit. How would a Big Dummy/ Xtracycle Free Radical force you into any products? I mean if you are willing to buy a Ute and go the DIY route for accessories why couldn't you do the same on a Big Dummy/Free Radical??? Quite a few people on this forum have posted pics of their DIY customized BDs and Free Radicals.
    safe riding - Vik
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  10. #10
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    How would a Big Dummy/ Xtracycle Free Radical force you into any products?
    I'm not the guy you are directing this question to, but I do have a thought here. When I look at the Ute, I see a rack that looks like it could hold any off-the-shelf pannier or bag on the market today. Anything that will mount to a traditional, rear rack should mount easily to the Ute. But I don't see that when I look at the Big Dummy. The Dummy has that curved rear-end designed specifically for the Xtracycle bits. I don't believe I could take a standard pannier and just slap it onto the Dummy frame. I'd need to buy some Xtracycle bits or jury-rig something.

    I wouldn't use the term "force", but clearly the reason to buy a Big Dummy is to go with Xtracycle. You're buying into the Xtracycle platform at that point. Either that, or you're in for a lot of jury-rigging. Of course, to buy the Ute is to simply make the opposite choice. To buy the Ute is to buy into the "typical off-the-shelf accessories" platform. I do not want to argue that either is "better" than the other. One simply needs to decide which path to go down.

    I doubt that either the Dummy or the Ute is the last word in long bikes. If the long bike concept takes off, it wouldn't surprise me to see some third platform come out of nowhere to eventually dominate.

  11. #11
    Peace, Love, Bikes
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    I don't think any one will dominate. Xtracycle has the edge, at moment, along with the Big Dummy. Hopefully the market will bear out the need and demand for long bikes and utility bikes, providing more options to tailor to a particular situation.

    How does the ute work with passengers? The Big Dummy/Xtracycle has the footsies and the yuba mundo has the side boards/runners...
    Andrew

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Old_Fart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    I'm not the guy you are directing this question to, but I do have a thought here. When I look at the Ute, I see a rack that looks like it could hold any off-the-shelf pannier or bag on the market today. Anything that will mount to a traditional, rear rack should mount easily to the Ute.
    I looked at the Ute the other day. My REI panniers won't work on it. I was actually wondering if the Kona bags were proprietary to it.

    One thing I really, really like about my Big Dummy with the Xtracycle stuff on it is its ability to easily carry big and long items without even having to resort to extra bungies or straps. Stuff that I carry on just about every shopping trip ; A six-pack of paper towels, 12-pack of TP, 20lb box (or two) of kitty litter, 12-pack of beer, a couple of folding chairs for the park, etc. will not fit in grocery bag sized panniers.

    I think the Ute is a good product and could be a great product with the right accessories and/or aftermarket goodies. I like Kona as a company and applaud their effort in the market but I wonder if they were too quick to release it before fully developing the concept. Or perhaps this is intentional and they are looking for just this kind of feedback.

  13. #13
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old_Fart View Post
    I looked at the Ute the other day. My REI panniers won't work on it. I was actually wondering if the Kona bags were proprietary to it.
    I only spent 10mins checking out a Ute at my LBS, but my impression was the bags were proprietary. I'll be very interested to see how Kona chooses to support the Ute in the long run. Although I am quite partial to the Big Dummy/Xtracycle more choices for the consumer are always a good thing.
    safe riding - Vik
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  14. #14
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    I think Kona made a big mistake on this one. It's called the Ute, but it's built for the road, not the trail. I would've designed it around 26" MTB tires and made it more stable.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

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