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Kona Sutra?

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Old 08-09-09, 07:34 AM
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gueuzeman
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Kona Sutra?

So I went into a store that actually had a 54 Surly LHT to try it out and finally make the decision between that and the Trek 520. I rode it and I was sold, job done, stress over. THEN, the guy asked if I had thought about the Kona Sutra (I had and had decided against for a reason I could not remember). I rode it and I must say it was nice. It comes with some racks and disc brakes as well as the same derailleurs as the Surly. It costs about $100 more but that is not enough for me to decide against it. I need either somebody to tell me that this bike is either great or awful or to tell me that disc brakes are the worst thing for touring. Also, if anyone can calm my concerns about Surly's 4 year warranty compared with Trek's lifetime that would be great. Thanks.
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Old 08-09-09, 04:42 PM
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The Kona Sutra is the best thing ever. And the worst. Disk brakes are brilliant for touring. Also, they totally suck.

Does that help? No. I have 5 friends LHTs and two friends with Sutras. All are happy. The LHT has more cult appeal. The Sutra has disk brakes. Which honestly, are pretty damn good. And the disk brakes pretty much account for the $100.

(I'm just amazed you were in a shop that stocked two different brands of touring bike - never seen that.)

Steve
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Old 08-09-09, 05:07 PM
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yea, I called ahead to make sure before I went there that they had the Surly, they already tried on the phone to tell me about the wonderful Kona. It was in NYC of all places, who knew? So you think discs are good for touring? I really don't know what I'm doing.
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Old 08-09-09, 05:40 PM
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NeilGunton
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When comparing bikes, it's important to look at the overall geometry. These are quite different bikes, in fact - the Sutra is 700C, while the 54cm LHT has 26" wheels. You didn't mention what size the Sutra was, but I'll assume the 54cm for comparison. Look at various aspects of the geometry to compare:

http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=sutra
http://www.surlybikes.com/longhaul.html

For example, the Sutra has 440mm chainstays, whereas the LHT is 460. Only 2cm, but longer chainstays are a Good Thing on a touring bike. For one, a longer bike is a bit more stable and comfortable, and also it helps to avoid heel strike on the rear panniers. The more clearance there, the better.

The top tube on the Sutra is 550mm, LHT is 549.5mm, so they are very similar in that regard - the reach is important, since you don't want to be reaching too far forward or cramped in your riding position (if the TT was shorter). Many people only look at the standover height, and ignore the top tube length, but in my opinion it's one of the most important measurements.

The seat tube on the Sutra is 490mm, LHT seems to be 540. I'm not sure how that affects the ride, but it probably means the Sutra, with its sloping top tube, will have a bit more standover clearance. The sloping top tube can also make the main triangle a bit more stiff, which is always good for a touring bike.

The seat tube angle on the Sutra is 73.5 degrees, LHT is 73. Near enough identical.

The wheelbase on the Sutra is 1031mm, LHT is 1064mm. A bit more difference there. The LHT is longer, and that is better for a touring bike, usually - meaning you have more clearance and the longer frame is more stable (you want that when riding all day long, so you don't have to be constantly making small corrections) and a long frame also tends to absorb road shocks a bit more. It won't feel as agile, but then it's a loaded touring bike, so it's ok.

The Sutra has a 135mm head tube, the LHT is 182mm. Quite a big difference there, probably because of the other big difference - the wheel size. You might like the larger 700C wheels for road touring, but the 26" wheels on the LHT are very versatile - especially if you go abroad into third world countries, where most of the time you won't find anything but 26". So if you're in the middle of South America and need to get a replacement tire or tube or rim, then you'll be stuck ordering an expensive FedEx delivery (out of network) with 700C, by all accounts. Also, the LHT has huge tire clearance, "Fatties Fit Fine" in their parlance, which means you can put nice big tires on there. That is really nice if you're going to be going on rougher roads and/or trails. And the best tours always seem to include some of that, so it's very good to have the flexibility.

You certainly shouldn't be making the big decision based on disk vs canti brakes. Both types of brake work just fine, despite all the sturm and drang that goes on regarding which is "better". They really both have their pros and cons, but they'll both work just fine. If you were wanting to have a bike that'll be easy to maintain in the back of beyond then you might go with rim brakes, simply because they are older and more likely to be available everywhere; but otherwise, both will work just fine. Definitely not the major aspect to make the decision.

If I were you, I'd ride both and see which one seems to fit better. If it's a wash, then I'd probably go with the LHT, since you're pretty lucky to fit a 54cm - they go to 700C in 56cm and up, and I really like the versatility of the 26" LHT. You can go on a road coast-to-coast using skinny slicks, or slap some bigger tires on and do some rougher trails. The LHT has the better touring geometry, in my opinion, since it has longer chainstays, longer wheelbase, and the steerer tube usually comes uncut so you can get the bars up as high as you want while dialing in your riding position. Is the steerer tube on the Kona uncut too?

Go by fit first, then geometry, then worry about components pretty much last of all. Components are consumables, they will all be replaced over the lifetime of the bike. Even seemingly fundamental choices like disk vs rim brakes isn't really all that important. Both types of brake will stop you. The Complete LHT is a very nice bike indeed, and while the Kona is too, I like the LHT a bit more just because it seems to be designed more from the ground up as a hard core workhorse, made for fully loaded touring with no frills.

Neil
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Old 08-09-09, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
Go by fit first, then geometry, then worry about components pretty much last of all. Neil
then worry about color...
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Old 08-09-09, 05:56 PM
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thanks again Neil you always seem to have answers to my issues. As far as fit they really were quite even. It's hard to tell when things are that close especially considering that my brain is so swayed because I want to get the LHT so badly but am waiting till I am sure that it is the right one. Another issue is that the 2010 Sutra has both racks plus fenders now and the price is still just $100 more. I know that I should not let such little things drive me but when they both ride so well I gotta look at something. I suppose I should see if my LBS can even get the Kona (it can get Surly and Trek). My inclination is to not trust disc brakes but then again I have no idea how to fix cantilevers either.
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Old 08-09-09, 09:26 PM
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I have a 2009 Kona Dew Drop with Avid disc brakes, and am very happy with the bike as a whole. I ride it three days a week, about 150 miles weekly. A truly great bike, very well set up, and once I got used to the brakes, I prefer them over any other style. Lots of hills in Tennessee. Hot or wet, no problem.

Another vote for the Kona.
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Old 08-09-09, 09:54 PM
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Along with everything else that has been said, it's important to note that the LHT has better gearing for touring, especially for hilly areas.

Last edited by RandyRedwoods; 08-09-09 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 08-09-09, 10:05 PM
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Thought I read comments on the Sutras about poor quality paint jobs but can't seem to relocate where.

Was that Sutra the 2010?...cuz their site has the 2010 posted...metallic brown, I like it. Might want to swap the 30 tooth for a 26. Other than that it's spec'd ok. Good thing the racks and fenders come with it because apparently the mounting of those can test one's patience, according to some Sutra owners.

FWIW, disc brakes seem like overkill unless you frequently ride in rough/wet/muddy conditions, not to mention the added weight. I like the LHT's canti's...simple, proven, and effective.
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Old 08-09-09, 10:33 PM
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That Kona is pretty cool looking. The Avid BB7's have a great reputation. I would go with the Kona just because you have something a little different than the herd.

Either will serve you well. Pick the one that looks the coolest
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Old 08-10-09, 04:46 AM
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LHT for 26 inch wheels. That is really a much bigger deal than the brakes...
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Old 08-10-09, 08:37 AM
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Actually, since it has disk brakes, you could put 26" wheels on a Sutra with no problem at all. You could swap out 700c wheels for road touring and 26"ers for expedition touring and other rough stuff.
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Old 08-10-09, 08:47 AM
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Get 26" if you want 26". Despite all the predictions of doom around here. With Disc you could run a 26" a pinch if that rare situation came up(third world) and still have brakes. Try that on a LHT with canti brakes.

What's more functional?

ps... I like both bikes. OP... Pick the one you like and go tour.
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Old 08-11-09, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by truman View Post
Actually, since it has disk brakes, you could put 26" wheels on a Sutra with no problem at all. You could swap out 700c wheels for road touring and 26"ers for expedition touring and other rough stuff.
lower bottom bracket--> potential crankstrike.

im of the opinion that the brakes don't really matter, because they both work well. The cantis are simpler and lighter. Without having to buy a second set of wheels, the LHT is ready to go with 26 inch wheels, which are nice for on road, off road, US and foreign touring.

either one is a nice bike.
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Old 08-11-09, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by positron View Post
lower bottom bracket--> potential crankstrike.
Lower bottom bracket ALSO --> lower center of gravity over rough terrain. Besides, in the scenario I mention, you'd almost certainly be putting on fatter rubber, which could make up for a lot of the difference in rim diameter. This is not to say there would be no tradeoffs, simply that it's counterproductive to overstate them. The overall difference between the two is pretty minimal.

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Old 08-11-09, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by truman View Post
Lower bottom bracket ALSO --> lower center of gravity over rough terrain. Besides, in the scenario I mention, you'd almost certainly be putting on fatter rubber, which could make up for a lot of the difference in rim diameter. This is not to say there would be no tradeoffs, simply that it's counterproductive to overstate them. The overall difference between the two is pretty minimal.
Stop making valid arguments around here... It will get you nowhere

26" or die.. You know that. Bar end shifters or die.. Don't forget the meteor that will strike as well. Might not hurt to have wheels with krytonite to fend off Superman or the Green Hornet or ??

OP.. It's a nice bike that will do well if you decide to get it.

Have fun. This is touring... Not rocket science. Some of us need to ride more and post less. That should get the peanut gallery going.

For all the world travel talk most tourists never leave the area they live in... let alone the state. For the 98% of the US population that tours, all this planning for disaster is overkill.
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Old 08-11-09, 09:35 AM
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Yeah, well, I got a pretty big state to work with- but I'm leaving it for my next tour.
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Old 08-11-09, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
Stop making valid arguments around here... It will get you nowhere

26" or die.. You know that. Bar end shifters or die.. Don't forget the meteor that will strike as well. Might not hurt to have wheels with krytonite to fend off Superman or the Green Hornet or ??

OP.. It's a nice bike that will do well if you decide to get it.

Have fun. This is touring... Not rocket science. Some of us need to ride more and post less. That should get the peanut gallery going.

For all the world travel talk most tourists never leave the area they live in... let alone the state. For the 98% of the US population that tours, all this planning for disaster is overkill.
Excuse me. I never said anything about disaster. Nor did I speak of third world parts availability, nor barend shifters... I simply made the point that given the choice between two similar 54 cm bikes, that I would rather have 26 inch wheels- because they are stronger (this is important for loaded bikes, BTW) and they are more suited to that frame size + fenders and no toe-overlap.

Mind you, as someone who HAS bought tires in Mexico and a rim and spokes in Croatia I'm glad my custom traveling bike (size 58cm) has 26 inch wheels.

To the gentleman thinking that it somehow makes less sense to buy one bike with 26's and be done with it, than to buy a more expensive bike and a second set of set of disk-equipped wheels, I might point out that 26 inch wheels are a full 63mm smaller than 700c. To make that up with 'fatter rubber' would mean dramatically larger tires, like going from 28mm tires on 700c to 60mm tires on 26's. This might be possible with the kona, but is surely less cost effective than just buying one bike with one set of wheels at the outset. buy two sets of tires if you want to spend money... I have schwalbe marathon supremes and XRs, which I highly recommend.

and lowering the bottom bracket by 31.5 mm will cause problems- ESPECIALLY on rough terrain.

so, again, my opinion is that the LHT with 26 inch wheels is a better, more versatile bike, with stronger wheels out of the box, and brakes which have proven over time to work every bit as well as disks.
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Old 08-11-09, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by skijor View Post
Thought I read comments on the Sutras about poor quality paint jobs but can't seem to relocate where. ...
See here and here for issues with earlier model Sutras. To summarize the issues I've had with my '06 Sutra.
  1. Rear rack braze-on failed. As of '09 Kona have eliminated the seat-stay braze-ons in favour of rear drop out rack mounts.
  2. IMO, Kona's customer support left much to be desired in dealing with the above issue.
  3. Poor quality paint. This continues to be something of an issue and I will probably look at getting the frame re-painted or powder coated in the next few years if I keep the bike.
  4. Poor quality spokes on the stock wheels. I was constantly replacing spokes and re-truing the rear wheel when I first got the bike. This was due to the low quality stock spokes and I believe that the wheels likely would've been machine built rather than hand built. A few months in I had both wheels re-laced with 14g stainless DT spokes and have not had a problem since. I believe Kona are now using better quality spokes in their builds.
  5. I have not had problems with heel strike on the panniers but do have occasional toe strike issues on tight turns.

As mentioned, mine is an '06 model and differs in many ways from the later models (e.g. brifters rather than bar-ends). I think the Sutra is now genuinely more touring oriented.

I've put something like 25k kms on my Sutra now and have come to really love it. It's an excellent commuter, and I would also not hesitate to use it for short/medium distance tours and rando's. I particularly love the performance of the disc brakes in the city when it's wet, but as others have commented good rim brakes can perform just as well and in many ways can be preferable for touring.
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Old 08-11-09, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by positron View Post
Excuse me. I never said anything about disaster. Nor did I speak of third world parts availability, nor barend shifters... I simply made the point that given the choice between two similar 54 cm bikes, that I would rather have 26 inch wheels- because they are stronger (this is important for loaded bikes, BTW) and they are more suited to that frame size + fenders and no toe-overlap.

Mind you, as someone who HAS bought tires in Mexico and a rim and spokes in Croatia I'm glad my custom traveling bike (size 58cm) has 26 inch wheels.

To the gentleman thinking that it somehow makes less sense to buy one bike with 26's and be done with it, than to buy a more expensive bike and a second set of set of disk-equipped wheels, I might point out that 26 inch wheels are a full 63mm smaller than 700c. To make that up with 'fatter rubber' would mean dramatically larger tires, like going from 28mm tires on 700c to 60mm tires on 26's. This might be possible with the kona, but is surely less cost effective than just buying one bike with one set of wheels at the outset. buy two sets of tires if you want to spend money... I have schwalbe marathon supremes and XRs, which I highly recommend.

and lowering the bottom bracket by 31.5 mm will cause problems- ESPECIALLY on rough terrain.

so, again, my opinion is that the LHT with 26 inch wheels is a better, more versatile bike, with stronger wheels out of the box, and brakes which have proven over time to work every bit as well as disks.
Your excused.

I don't recall the OP mentioning touring in Croatia.... So you point is just as silly.

I also don't find any mention of touring in rough terrain.... so we can either plan for the end of the world or just get on a bike and tour. The dogma gets really old.

My response had more to do with the OP's question than all the doom and gloom around here. Most people.. ok.. 99.9998 of the people on this forum will never tour Croatia. But it's great that you did and that you have a bike that you like.
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Old 08-11-09, 12:27 PM
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Oh, get the LHT, put Marathons on it for tires and a Brooks saddle and the world will be happy and you'll be accepted into the purist club

Personally I prefer the Kona. Discs rock. Lose the MegaExo BB on it is the only thing I see since they're known problematic. I'm replacing one now on my Fuji w/500 miles on it. 7900 DuraAce BB and you're good to go. Chainrings on the FSA crank are cheap and easy if you want deeper gearing.
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Old 08-11-09, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by positron View Post
...
To the gentleman thinking that it somehow makes less sense to buy one bike with 26's and be done with it, than to buy a more expensive bike and a second set of set of disk-equipped wheels, I might point out that 26 inch wheels are a full 63mm smaller than 700c. To make that up with 'fatter rubber' would mean dramatically larger tires, like going from 28mm tires on 700c to 60mm tires on 26's. ...

and lowering the bottom bracket by 31.5 mm will cause problems- ESPECIALLY on rough terrain...
a) I neither stated nor intimated that it made more sense, merely that it's possible, sensible and practical.
ii) Yes, "fatter rubber" specifically means bigger tires. The kind a person might care to use to ride over especially rough terrain.
5) The selfsame fatter, offroad-type tires can/would serve to offset much of the lowered bottom bracket problem known to strike fear into the hearts of otherwise stalwart cycloturistos
IV) If 26" - 700c is too big a leap to consider - there's always good ol' 650b's...

Kyakdiver - I'm the one who so rudely threw out the "rough terrain" factor.
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Old 08-11-09, 01:57 PM
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FWIW, I recently measured very carefully the diameter of my 26" wheel with 2" tires (662mm) and the diameter of my 700c wheel with 23mm (670mm).

So, I'm sure you could make this swap without much concern for lowering BB (8mm) and getting crankstrike (i didn't know this was a phrase, but it is useful).

I had a dramatic blowout and minor crash due to crankstrike once, pedaling hard and leaning through a curve on a bike with ~10.25" BB height and 175mm crankarms. I lifted the rear end momentarily, came down on tire sidewall, kaboom!, down. The blowout ripped a hole about 10" long in tube, abraded edge of rim from running on pavement bare (had to file/sand it down smooth.

I ride a smaller LHT (and bike frames in general) mostly on pavement and some improved dirt road/paths so my comments below apply to 26" wheeled LHTs.

You can add a front disc brake to your LHT for not much cost. Ideally you need a disc fork with an axle-to-crown of 376mm. But, nobody makes them. Nashbar's (aprebic) mtb cf disc fork is 385mm - this will work pretty good, but your front end will be 9mm (~1/3) higher, slacker headtube, seattube etc. The kona p2 touring fork is 390mm (same one they're using on the sutra btw) - this would be 14mm taller than stock.

If you run 2" tires in rear and 1.5" in front, there's ~12.5mm difference in their radius when mounted on wheels (you can measure this on an inflated tire if the geometry/math befuddles you). So, this tire combination will allow you to run the kona fork without any significant effect on geometry (2mm is well within the range of stack height variation of 1.125" threadless headsets - anywhere from 26-32mm).

If you use a mtb disc brake with long-cable-pull (lcp) requirement, you'll need LCP levers like the tektro 520s or the cane creek clone. Or, conventional levers with PS travel agent (inline version). Or, you can just buy avid bb7 short-cable-pull ROAD discs from jensonusa for ~46 bucks and use std brake levers, or even brifters (sti/ergo), which is what I've done.

I think 2" tires on rear give you a little more comfort and provide some extra shock protection for the wheel. I find 2" tires on front are simply a weight penalty, and they make steering less responsive. If i were riding dirt regularly, then I'd want 2" front tires so i wouldn't sink, but I'm not.

I think adding a front disc to a LHT is better idea than the Kona Sutra. The Sutra is essentially a tweaked mtb (like many other so-called tourers). Specs say it has 440mm chainstays (i could have sworn they stated 435 a few years ago), normal mtb cs are 425-435. The LHT gives you nearly an extra inch at 460mm. This is a precious 20mm depending on rider and luggage.

Also, sutras had a serious QC issue a few years ago - frame joint failures. Owners were breaking the rack bosses off. You could buy a sutra frameset for as little as $250 a few years ago as LBSs tried to unload these problem frames.

The LHT is not without its own problems. The brake bosses on my 2006 LHT fork were >1mm over normal diameter, making it nearly impossible to mount any brake calipers on the fork. I tried 4 different brakes, none would fit (but would fit every other frame and fork i own). I had to hand sand the boss diameter down to get a fit. Also, some of the LHTs had the bosses brazed on apparently without the aid of a boss fixture, resulting in bosses being attached at wrong position on seatstay (too high or too low), or at odd angles (not perpendicular to rim tangent).

I know my posts are too hard to read when I've typed the word tangent.
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Old 08-11-09, 02:30 PM
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you had me at 'aprebic'.
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Old 08-11-09, 03:52 PM
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aprebic is a taiwanese maker of cf bike components

they make many of the cf forks on bikes today, as well as bars and other nicknacks

in the last couple years they've moved into cf frames

the winwood (qbp brand) is identical to nashbar cf fork, both made by aprebic, but nb is about 60% of the cost

search ACC-A611N to see the nb/ww fork

http://www.evo.com.tw/
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