Bike Test: Kona Sutra Ltd.

Best known for their bulletproof mountain bikes that can handle everything from the UCI World Cup DH and cross-country races as well as being long-time cyclocross contenders, the Canadian brand Kona has a wealth of experience in all realms of cycling.

From the outset, Kona has always been a bike brand that savors the backcountry experience and makes bikes that help get people there. That’s exactly what the Sutra is all about. This is an adventure road bike that’s built to take the road less traveled.

THE BIKE

The Sutra is built with butted chromoly steel tubes throughout. While not as lightweight as most of the carbon superbikes we regularly test, gram-counting was not the design intent with this bike. The frame takes advantage of the supple ride characteristics of steel to offer awesome damping and durability.

THE PARTS
The Kona uses a 1x SRAM Rival 11-speed drivetrain matched with a Race Face Aeffect crank. It also comes with big 45mm WTB tires and mounts for any rack or pannier you can think of. Our size-56cm test bike felt slightly larger than we expected and only fit our tallest test riders. Be sure to throw a leg over one at a Kona dealer before pulling the trigger on your proper frame size.

Kona-2
No flat-mount disc brakes, but when the largest cog is as big as the brake rotor, you know you have gears for climbing.

THE RIDE
This is not a traditional road bike, as it comes with big tires and a big appetite for adventure. It may not be the quickest bike in the stable, but that’s not what Kona intended when they built the Sutra. This bike is buttery smooth and comfortable for long days in the saddle. The steel frame absorbs the high-frequency vibrations, although there aren’t many of them thanks to those high-volume tires. The Sutra has a muted handling feel that’s a bit more like a sedan than a Formula One car, but that’s a perfect fit for those long rides this bike is meant to be taken on.

This bike took us on roads we didn’t even know existed, and that’s exactly the point. The Sutra begs you to keep pedaling up and down, because it’s comfortable, reliable and surprisingly quick. It’s a bit like a childhood friend who wants to stay out “for just a few minutes” past curfew. The bike loves long adventures, whether on road or dirt, and will likely last nearly a lifetime thanks to the solid steel construction and dialed component spec.

THE VERDICT
The Sutra is a perfect example of an adventure bike. It’s one that can comfortably handle the rigors of off-road gravel riding but doesn’t throw handling out the window to achieve it. This bike is built with a forgiving steel frame that will go anywhere, yet still has a lightweight feel, snappy handling, and drivetrain and brakes that could hang with other bikes that are much lighter. While it’s cliché to say “steel is real,” the Sutra certainly had us thinking that the whole time we were using it to explore.

PUNCH LINES

  • Buttery smooth on rough roads and gravel
  • Excellent drivetrain and brake performance for the price
  • Frame sizes on the large side

STATS

Price: $1999

Weight: 24.8 pounds

Sizes: 46, 48.5, 52, 54, 56 (tested), 58cm

www.konaworld.com

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