We're looking forward to spring, and some of us slightly more than others. Folks with new bikes, or bikes that have been built up as something new, are especially antsy. Wes' Kona Big Unit has him jonesing to shred, with a utilitarian build that's tough enough for a big season.
The 2016 Kona Big Unit began as a frame and built up as a singlespeed. Heading into 2018, the bike is going to be the everyday shredder, race winner, and trail crusher for Wes. Because he travels a lot for work, the bike needs to be very easy to maintain, tough as nails, and be suited for any number of trail systems.
The frame itself is a rarity these days, and hasn't been in production since 2016. It's made of 6069 scandium, which offers a springy steel ride but at a much lighter weight than even aluminum. The frame also spearheaded the now nearly universal sliding rear drop out that has swept the industry, making it easier to adjust your wheelbase to how you ride, as well as switch between singlespeed and gears. That choice is an easy one to make now, because it takes about 30 minutes to switch back and forth once you get the hang of doing it.
Another big choice was to stick with the fully rigid Whisky fork. It takes off a bit of weight, sure, but with little maintenance or adjustment, it's also a bit of a time saver for a rider who admittedly puts his bikes away wet, mud, and quickly.
That utilitarian theme extends to the drivetrain, where he's opted for 1x10 components with a tight 11-36 cassette. Putting in big miles means he'll through anywhere from four to six chains this summer, and 10 speed components add up to a lot of savings. He's gone with a SRAM GX groupset, paired with a 34t Wolf Tooth Oval chainring up front. There appears to be just a bit more room for a bigger ring, which may prove useful later in the season and in any potential gravel races.
After a few years on ESI grips, he's back on ODI grips, a Prologo Novo saddle, Shimano SPD pedals, and RaceFace seatpost and bar. He's switching to an Easton 90mm -17 degree stem to lower the front end.
The wheels are Stan's Crest with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in a 2.25 front and rear.
This bike weighs in at 23.1 pounds, not the lightest the world, but there's some weight to be shed from the crank when the need arises.
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