Trail and Enduro Bikes

Kona Process Carbon 2018 – First Look

A full redesign and a carbon option for this much loved trail bike

The all-new Kona Process has been totally revamped and remodelled for 2018 with the addition of carbon construction and a new suspension platform. Is this a brave move from Kona after having such a successful design with the previous bike? We report back from the launch.

Words: Ieuan Williams  Images: Kona

Both the Kona Process 153 (27.5″) and 111 (29″) models have been hits in our Dirt 100 yearly selections and have become very well regarded trail bikes. With the shorter travel 111 29er disappearing for 2018 (and being replaced by a longer travel big wheeler), will the will the new version of the popular Process 153 still retain its magic? After all, in 2016 we quoted ‘The Process range of bikes are without doubt the most inspired bikes that Kona have ever produced’.

The new Process 153 will be available with either a carbon or aluminium frame. We rode the top spec carbon framed carbon DL model.

The 2018 Process frame

Looking past the carbon construction for a moment let’s take a look at what the new Process 153 design has to offer. As the name suggests, this bike has 153mm of rear travel, is designed around a 160mm fork and rolls on 27.5″/650b wheels. There’s a 66 degree head angle, -10mm bottom bracket drop with the 29” model measuring in at the same height (you do the math). An XL size has a reach of 510mm – all numbers that seem to work in my book and are a promising start. The low standover height remains too.

Kona seem to have brought the Operator feel into the trail bike range now, having the same idea of a short chainstay and longer front centres. The rear stay length of the 27.5 Process measures in at 425mm so that’s super-short but with the seat tower having a nice steep 76mm angle it doesn’t affect the climbing efficiency.

There has been some real detail and effort put into the silence and cleanliness of the new Process with neat internal hoses/cables and a great amount of chain slap protection. This is something that in my eyes should be perfect, there really is nothing worse than a bike making a racket down a trail.


The carbon frame construction is a single monocoque piece. The guys at Kona have put some real effort into this frame design and claim to have nailed the strength v stiffness. It’s very well presented too and the finish is without question comparable to the Trek Slash and Specialized Enduro – both bikes with a similar price tag to the top end Process 153.

‘The main thing I took from the launch is the fact that this bike is a whole load of fun!’ 

The long standing no-nonsense Kona approach is still here though. There are larger bearings in the rear links to improve the longevity of the Process, a quality that older Kona bikes (along with brands such as Orange) were famed for. OK, some models were a touch overbuilt but they lasted well; you still see plenty of older Konas out on the hill or strapped to the uplift trailer. They have also used aluminium for the chainstays giving a little more flex where you want it – a detail we see on the 2018 version of the Trek Slash 9.8. Also worth a mention is that Kona are doing a simple gear hanger that all the bikes within a price point will run to save complicated hanger choices. Small details can make a big difference in the long run.

First ride feel

Tignes was the location for the launch of Kona’s 2018 Process range along with the mind blowing free lift service on offer! (Now this is for anyone – rock up at Tignes and you can ride for free! Bonkers and well worth a trip). With only a medium bike available after the other media guys had pillaged all of the larger sizes it was going to be difficult to get a real idea of the new Process 153. Keep your eyes peeled for a full Dirt test in the near feature (as soon as we get our hands on the right size bike) as we’re keen to compare it to the older 2017 version as well as the current crop of enduro bikes.

First thing of note is the silence – the 2018 Process really is a quiet bike. It’s always good to be able to hear the tyres contacting with the ground on the way down the hill. The new suspension system seems to have a good feel to it but there was some set-up needed still after the first few runs.

The main thing I took from the launch is the fact that this bike is a whole load of fun! It may have been too small for me as I normally ride L/XL bikes but I did have a blast riding it and this accounts for a lot. So many bikes miss that playful fun aspect.


FRAME: Kona DH carbon, aluminium chainstay,


FORK: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm, Boost.

REAR SHOCK: RockShox Super Deluxe RCT


CRANKSET: SRAM Descendant Carbon 34T

BRAKES: SRAM Guide RSC (200mm F/R)

WHEELSET: WTB i29 TCS Rims on SRAM S900 hubs

TYRES: Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C (2.5″ F, 2.3″ R)

HANDLEBAR: Kona XC/BC – 35mm clamp

STEM: Kona XC/BC – 35mm clamp

GRIPS: ODI Elite Flow


SEATPOST: RockShox Reverb Stealth

PRICE: £6099 (Process 153 AL from £3099)



Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.