The Kona Sutra has been my general-purpose tourer of choice for the last few years, ever since I rode a 2012 model of the Kona Sutra down the Pacific Coast of America in 2012.
When I reviewed the current (2014) Sutra, it seemed to me that Kona had moved it away from long-haul road touring towards shorter and more adventurous back-road and rough-road tours.
This was probably a good move, as there are many well-established long-haul touring bikes to compete with, but not so many in the field of short-haul, mixed-terrain touring. It wasn’t perfect, however, and I noted as such in my detailed review.
This week, Kona have unveiled their 2015 bike range, which includes (of course) an updated Sutra.
Here’s the current 2014 Kona Sutra:
And here’s the upcoming 2015 Kona Sutra:
At first glance, there are some very welcome improvements here, which appear to bring the bike into clearer focus regarding what it actually wants to do.
Most obvious (besides the new paint job) is the presence of a Brooks B17 expedition touring saddle and a pair of 35C Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus tyres as stock.
These are Schwalbe’s premier all-terrain expedition tyres, cementing the Sutra’s reinvention as a mixed-terrain adventure bike with luggage-carrying capabilities. And the B17 needs no introduction as the saddle of choice for 90% of serious tourers on all kinds of rides. It’s a definite statement of intent.
It’s difficult to tell from the press release photos whether or not the mudguard clearance issue has been fixed, but at least the front derailleur clearance appears to have been addressed and the third bottle cage mount has been reinstated.
The rear rack has been changed, and while Kona’s specifications mention ‘pannier racks’, there’s no sign of a front rack in the released photos.
Aside from a couple of minor component swaps, all else appears to be very similar to the Sutra’s current incarnation.
The Kona Sutra 2015 will still probably not be the best choice as a round-the-world bike, for reasons stated in the original review, but as a developed-world adventure bike with a much broader terrain range than your standard road tourer, I’d be surprised if this won’t be an improvement over the current model.
As always, I’ll reserve further judgement until I’ve taken one for a test-ride, the experience of which says far more about a bike than photos and specifications ever could.