Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Kona Big Unit

Posted by Matt | August 19, 2013 | 16 comments so far

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.

2011 Scandium Kona Big Unit specification
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

Filed under Bikes in August 2013


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 16 comments on ‘Kona Big Unit’

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  1. Elliot says:

    Looks fast! Can’t believe how good the SLX stuff is now, even some of the M610 Deore parts seem high quality these days.

    I foresee more green parts creeping on in times to come!

  2. KevS says:

    Is that mud I see on the top part of the front tyre? Tut tut!

    Oh and the cranks should be aligned horizontally! πŸ˜‰

    Otherwise it looks Schweeeeet.

  3. MuddyJohn says:

    That just needs finishing off with a co-ordinated pair of shorts:
    Or for Dandy:


    • Matt says:

      Funny you should say that John, Intrepid have a new short out called the Recon which looks pretty good too.

      I admit this bike was built with my crash helmet and Intrepid Campaign shorts in mind. Oh and the Moles shirt as well. I just have to be careful not to wear it all at once!

  4. Markymark says:

    Very tasty Matt. You’ll love the 2×10. The new rear mechs are great too, incl the SRAM versions with the ‘clutch’ keeping it nice and stiff. Shimano stuff is just getting better again and the SLX groupo’s are such good quality. Enjoy and see you out in the dust soon.

  5. Tony says:

    Matt. Get a hose on that grass! Seriously looks like a very nice “cast off”. The green tape definitely gives it something else visually.

    • Matt says:

      Tony, see that tree in the picture? It’s an oak, and gets first claim on any water available! No point trying to water the lawn in those circumstances.

      I don’t know how long the stickers will last but at Β£2 a sheet it’s not a major worry – makes it easy to change the colour scheme as well.

  6. Dandy says:

    Black and green colour scheme, with a white saddle? Why didn’t I think of that πŸ˜‰

    Nice looking bike, hoping to see it tonight. Though I think you need maybe some green disc rotor spiders, too. Or black spiders and green hubs? Green hubs and spiders would be too much, even for me !

  7. Big Al says:

    Looks good Matt , it will be interesting to see how much use your 5 gets now you’ve got a 29er ? Also your love the dropper seat post .

  8. paul901 says:

    Just needs the green stuff wrapped round the white forks then…

    Kev road etiquette is to have the cranks either horizontal or diagonal from the seatpost down to the pedal axle, and the valves at 6 o’ clock, and the tyres fitted so the logos are co-ordinated too. But presumably off-road etiquette is deliberately rebellious, I’m surprised the bike is even standing for the picture πŸ™‚

  9. Andrew AKAK says:

    If you look on slikgraphics you could get the Rockshox decals in green.

    How do you find the reverb remote position? You have a bit of trouble positioning it because you are 2×10.

    • Matt says:

      That’s a great tip on slikgraphics Andrew. Really like the idea about getting me some suitable fork and wheel graphics as the final bits of green accenting.

      Not sure about the Reverb at this stage, it’s awkwardly placed but then you don’t use it that often.

      It’s a nice to have for me that I remain unconvinced by, especially since I inherited the post and I can’t tell if the knock/slightly twisting movement is supposed to be there or not!

  10. Related: Ride report: Wednesday 21 August – Bikes and beer | Muddymoles

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