In most areas of technology and product development, there’s a trickle-down effect. Shiny new stuff appears, but is confined to the higher end of the price spectrum, before the features gradually become more and more affordable. Occasionally this effect also applies to Dave’s bikes, which explains why I’ve now taken ownership of a sharp looking Kona Big Unit.
Dave has written about this before. Back in 2011 it was a frame bargain from Charlie the Bikemonger which tempted me greatly but I was ultimately put off by the rather dull looking black finish, despite Dave’s admirable efforts at red-anno coordination.
It just didn’t quite work for me but even then the basic qualities of the frame were shining through. This included the low weight of a stiff Scandium frame (which sports possibly alarmingly thin tube thicknesses in places), a tapered headtube, racy 29er hardtail geometry and sliding rear dropouts, giving the possibility of running the whole thing singlespeed if the fancy takes you, or altering the handling by playing with chainstay lengths. All in all a good versatile base for a bike.
I always said to Dave if he planned to move it on to let me know and earlier this year an opportunity arose which saw me acquire the rolling chassis – frame, 100mm travel Reba Team forks, Rock Shox dropper post and a Superstar hubbed, Stans Crest rimmed tubeless wheelset. To that I’ve added Easton’s lovely flat carbon bars in 685mm width and built the bike up with Shimano’s 2013 SLX groupset which includes a 10 speed Shadow Plus rear derailleur, a double crankset and disc brakes.
The 2013 SLX group is well thought of and I’ve really wanted to go 2×10 for a while, especially since the rear derailleur is designed to keep the chain in tension and avoid the bane of chainslap. Having tried some of Dave’s other bikes some of which are just 1×10 equipped I know I’ll have no issues with the gearing and the Shimano brake design is fast becoming my new favourite. I have high hopes that this bike and I will get along rather well.
In an effort at personalising the bike just a bit more I bought some lime green vinyl off eBay that’s used for vehicle wraps and have used this to add a couple of bands of lime green to the frame. It’s not perfect and I’ll be interested to see how long it lasts but it’s really cheap to do. In addition, I have my favourite ODI grips (Cross trainers – superb) in lime green and am using a 2011 Selle Italia SL saddle I picked up cheap and chosen mainly for it’s lime green stripe! The result is a black/white/lime ‘colorway’ that you won’t see on another Big Unit anywhere.
The complete bike, with pedals and Fourth light’s headunit (but not battery) fitted came in at 26.25lbs on Dave’s digital scales. I don’t often change my bikes so I’m looking forward to getting this one out on the trails. Should be fun I hope!
Check out some more pictures of the Kona Big Unit (in it’s old and new guises) on Flickr.
|Frame||2011 Scandium Kona Big Unit in matte black||Headset||Superstar Taper ZS headset|
|Forks||Reba Team 100mm||Bars||Easton Carbon EC70 flat, 685mm|
|Front mech||2013 Shimano SLX||Stem||Superstar 80mm|
|Rear mech||2013 Shimano SLX Shadow+ (Plus)||Seatpost||Rock Shox dropper|
|Shifters||2013 Shimano SLX 10-speed||Saddle||Selle Italia SL|
|Front brake||2013 Shimano SLX M675 160mm disc||Pedals||Shimano PD-M540|
|Rear brake||2013 Shimano SLX M675 160 disc||Rims||Stans Crest 29er rims|
|Chain||2013 Shimano SLX HG74||Hubs||Superstar Evo Switch|
|Cassette||2013 Shimano SLX10-speed 11-32||Rear Shock||n/a|
|Chainset||2013 Shimano SLX double 24/38T||Tyres||Bontrager MudX 29er|