I’m a traditionalist when it comes to forks. We’re going to look at a few attempts to improve upon the traditional “telescopic” fork design, but none of them hold any interest to me as a thing I’d actually want to ride. Fun to look it, but I’ll stick with a Judy or a Bomber thank you.
This is what was so great about mountain bikes in the late 80’s though – everyone came to the party. They brought some good ideas, and some very bad ideas, but ultimately none of them were able to overcome the telescopic fork that 99% of us ride today.
Let’s have a look at these weird forks.
There’s only one scenario where getting a new bike is a bad thing, and that’s when you’ve had a bike stolen from you. Especially if it’s a bike you’ve built from the ground up. But, even considering that – new bike!
Of course I’ve had several “new” bikes in recent years, but they’re always been vintage bikes. Getting a brand new bike from a shop i haven’t done since I worked at Redbike about ten years ago.
Before I even started looking, I new there wouldn’t be that many for me to choose from. For starters, I wasn’t going to spend a lot on it – $2000 was my target. And I just don’t have any interest in a lot of the bikes out there now.
I’m sure trail bikes like the Rocky Thunderbolt and Kona Process/Precept are awesome, but I don’t ride enough to warrant a bike like that. I wanted a hard tail with a long fork and 27.5″ wheels. And it pretty much had to be steel. Aluminium is fine, but steel is just a better fit.
That really left me with only two choices.
Time for another installment in my painstakingly researched overviews of bike companies, this time we’re talking about Kona. They may or may not be Canadian. They may or may not be a company that exists thanks to copying someone else’s work. But you can’t argue that they are a quintessential Vintage Retro Classic staple, and they made some very nice bikes in their time.
Also, you can’t argue that they weren’t at the forefront of the DH and freeride movement that – I think anyway – was instrumental to today’s modern trail bikes. They still exist, with a very wide-ranging lineup, but today, let’s look at how they started;
1989 Kona Fire Mountain
Kona was a little late to the game, compared to the other vintage companies I’ve talked about, starting up in 1988. By 1990 they had a full lineup of bikes with some Hawaiian themed names that they’ve maintained right though today.
The Specialized Hardrock.
Now, I just found this bike on kijiji, so if you happen to be selling it, please know that I’m not saying that your Hardrock is the ugliest bike ever. It looks like your bike is rather smartly set up to roll around town, and that’s fine.
In fact, it’s not even really the Hardrock that’s the ugliest bike ever, it’s this style of bike that’s ugly.
Actually, it’s not even this style, it’s the thinking behind it.