Just Announced – Kona’s Updated 2016 Sutra Touring Bike + New Sutra LTD

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I’ve been a fan of Kona’s bikes and their corporate ethos for donkey’s years. Today they’re announcing their new season bike line-up, which includes not just an updated 2016 Kona Sutra (their mid-range disc-equipped 700C tourer) but also a brand new variant, the 2016 Kona Sutra LTD, aimed even more squarely at short-haul adventures on mixed terrain.

Both the 2016 Kona Sutra and the Sutra LTD share an updated frameset, similar to last season’s frame (which was shared with the gravel-racing Rove), but this year with heavier-gauge tubing, acknowledging the benefits of a burlier build for luggage-carrying applications.


Other improvements to the 2016 Sutra’s frameset include better tyre clearance, a replaceable gear hanger, and more options for lowrider mounting, including the ability to mount bottle cages on the forks, which will undoubtedly please bikepackers no end.

The basic Kona Sutra 2016 specifications remain broadly the same as 2015’s model; just a couple of minor differences of little consequence. The switch from an 11–32t cassette to an 11–34t, however, will be a welcome one – as we all know, tourers can never have a low enough bottom gear.

Here’s Kona chief designer Ian Schmitt’s personal take on the updates:

“From the outset we sought to develop a new touring bike that checked all the boxes we felt necessary for touring in a variety of conditions: wider tire clearance, better handling when loaded, improved ride feel and improved carrier compatibility. The frame’s geometry uses a lower bottom bracket (72mm drop all sizes), consistent head tube angle (71° all sizes) and 50mm offset fork to improve carrying with a front load as well as improving tire clearance on smaller frame sizes.

“We based the sizing of the Sutra off of our new cyclocross geometry. The Sutra features higher stack and longer reach and is designed to pair with a slightly wider bar and slightly shorter stem compared to our cyclocross offering, which helps with stability and ride feel. The new Sutra frame also uses a specific tube set (thicker than Rove) to maintain stiffness when loaded.”


The new Sutra LTD, on the other hand, looks to have diverged considerably from your standard tourer, with hydraulic disc brakes and no racks supplied, though given that the frameset is shared with the Sutra, it wouldn’t take much to kit it out for light touring.

The drivetrain choice is the most interesting feature, doing away with a front derailleur entirely in favour of a ludicrously wide-ranged 10–42t cassette, with a single 36t chainring up front. Doing the maths reveals that you’ll get a surprisingly wide range of useful gears out of this setup.



While it won’t be much good for winning road races or lugging tons of luggage around the planet, that clearly isn’t the point of the Sutra LTD. I can certainly imagine fitting it out with some minimal frame luggage and taking it off for a long weekend of fun and fast-paced trail riding with a wild-camp or two thrown in.

Here’s Ian again on the new Kona Sutra LTD:

“The Sutra LTD represents the nexus of mountain bike and road bike drivetrains. I had personally been playing around with 1x drivetrains on my touring bike for several months before SRAM had told us they were developing a derailleur to work with their XD driver and 10–42t cassette. I had spent an appreciable amount of time toying with various gear ranges and had found that for my personal use a bike with an 11–40t cassette and a 38t chainring afforded me pretty much all of the gearing options I required. The addition of 10t and 42t cogs plus an additional gear in the middle was enough to push the concept into production.

“The LTD is aimed at a variety of riders. It is a bike that can be used for week long tours, month long tours, gravel rides, single track, commuting etc. We wanted to highlight the fun of big tires, simple gearing and hydraulic brakes and feel that this bike has done it on all fronts. I’m not joking when I say that this is the most fun drop bar bike I’ve had the pleasure of riding.”

Expect the 2016 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD to hit stores in a few weeks’ time.

Comments (skip to respond)

46 responses to “Just Announced – Kona’s Updated 2016 Sutra Touring Bike + New Sutra LTD”

  1. Walter McCandlish avatar
    Walter McCandlish

    Unstable, brakes noisy from new! worst bike I’ve had, sorry was hoping for better

  2. David B avatar

    i am thinking of buying a kona sutra for all round comuting and audax. I have a dawes galaxy ti which is great. is the kona a good choice for the steep hills of dartmoor and the tracks and can it get a wiggle on if needed.


    Dartmoor Dog

  3. The frame is stiff.

  4. Emma Williams avatar
    Emma Williams

    Wow! This is amazing! Can anyone tell me how much is this? I’m interested. Thanks!

  5. Tash Papa avatar
    Tash Papa

    Hi Tom — do you think the 2016 Sutra would accommodate wider tires than the stock 700x40c? Thinking 45c, more along the lines of the LTD, but would like to keep fenders if possible. Plan is to bike around central america and mexico…


    1. flashalan avatar

      Sutra and Sutra LTD are same frame

  6. David Downey avatar
    David Downey

    I have a Rove Ti and a Kona carbon dusc fork… havent yet put racks on it yet. For long distance touring should I go for the sutra or is the Titanium frame going to beat out the Sutra for the long ride; i.e. speaking on durability? Love my frame for the gravel riding alone!

    1. Well-made frames of either steel or titanium should last a lifetime, barring an accident. Titanium is theoretically stronger and more corrosion resistant, but the chances of that ever actually benefitting you on a tour really are marginal.

  7. Could anyone provide front rack suggestions for the 2016 Sutra that would be compatible with Ortlieb front roller panniers?

    1. Jim Williams avatar
      Jim Williams

      I’m happy with the setup I discussed above. Tubus Tara with spacers, reverse the QR.

    2. I’ve paced a Tubus Ergo on my 2015 Sutra with spacers. I did not need to Everest the QR.

  8. Could anyone provide front rack suggestions for the 2016 Sutra that would be compatible with Ortlieb back roller panniers?

  9. What a bad colour for the new Sutra , Silver with white decals ? What were they thinking ? Sutra Ltd looks well though .

    1. Jim Williams avatar
      Jim Williams

      Not sure where you’re seeing silver with white. The top photo captures the light sage green color pretty accurately. I’m pretty happy with how mine looks! Personal taste will dictate how others like it.

  10. Which is the weight of Kona Rove ST?

  11. Steve Martinez avatar
    Steve Martinez

    Does anyone have any input as far as a bolt on front rack for this bike? I just purchased one and I am having a hard time finding one that will more or less bolt on. Thanks

    1. My usual advice for front lowriders is simply ‘Tubus Tara’. The only way to know for sure, however, is to take your bike to your local bike shop and try some different models out.

      1. Jim Williams avatar
        Jim Williams

        I am currently struggling to get a Tubus Tara to work with the disc brakes on mine, and waiting for a response from Kona. It is not a natural fit, and may take more fiddling than I’d like. I’ll let you know what I learn.

        1. Yes, please let us know. Your LBS might be more help than Kona themselves – such problems are best solved with a toolbox and a workshop…

          1. Jim Williams avatar
            Jim Williams

            I found that using a spacer and a longer 5mm bolt on the front braze on of the fork gave me a good, secure attachment using what would typically be the mounting point for the fender on the Tara. I left the stock fender attached as is on the rear of the fork. My current spacer is 12mm long, and requires me to reverse the QR skewer to get it tight, and to remove it completely to get the wheel off, but a longer spacer would resolve that problem. I’ll also see what Kona has to say, but I think it will work just fine now.

    2. I use this on on my Rove https://www.bikebagshop.com/racktime-topit-front-rack-p-1614.html
      not a lowrider but those are available too.
      How do you like it? Was it in stock or you have to order one?

  12. Nice bikes both of them, although I would have also preferred a 26″ option.

    Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Kona increasing their steel frame range every year.

    Joining both of my previous points, why not Kona re-issue their 26″ Smoke?? It was the best value most attractive “do it all” bike at its time, that you could commute on, load and go on a long tour, or change tires and do mtb. There hasn’t been anything like that, specially in the 400 EUR range, since the Smoke stopped being produced!

    1. I have the 700c Smoke from 2010. Commuted on it for ages before going for a Dew Drop and then a Sutra last year. Upgraded the Smoke with handbuilt wheels and put Ergon grips and a Brooks B17 on it. Still take it out at times. Great all rounder. Bombproof frame too. Gerry

  13. atle norheim avatar
    atle norheim

    Hi Tom!
    Do you have any idea why they replaced schwalbe maraton plus tour with Clement?,( which i have never heard of) and do you know the brand name of the rack and weight limit.
    I hate to buy a brand new bike, and start to replace parts, and upgrade.

    Thanks, and good luck with your project.

    1. Hi atle, I might be able help. The tyres were not ‘Marathon’ Plus Tour but ‘Tour Plus’. A lighter tyre and slightly cheaper. Check the Schwalbe site for comparing. The rack on the 2015 is from Bor Yueh. No idea of the weight limit as I swapped mine for a Topeak to securely accomodate my rack bag. Currently sits in my shed unused, but should be fine for touring whatever the load. Hope this helps, never heard of the current tyre option either. Gerry

      1. The Clement tires are very good tires, supple and long wearing probably not as long wearing or as durable as marathons but darn close.. Not as stiff and handle much better. The 40’s are used a lot on gravel type bikes in races etc… I have a set on my Kona Rove (same frame as 2015 Sutra)and I really like the ride. Give them a try, tires are an easy swap either way. Waiting for the frame release so I can build one up.

  14. Any idea on the weight of the Sutra LTD? Looking at this or the Surly Straggler — opinions either way?

    1. As always, my advice is to test ride both and get the one you like more 🙂

      1. Lawrence Suazo avatar
        Lawrence Suazo

        I was ready to pull the trigger on the Surly Straggler before learning of the Sutra LTD. I live in MTB country and neither of these are bikes anticipated to be stocked by local dealers. I would be interested in your take of these 2 bikes. The 2016 Straggler is now spec’d with SRAM Apex. Thanks.

        1. I’m afraid I haven’t ridden either of them yet – sorry!

  15. […] Reference Tom again for the Kona Sutra 2016 review. […]

  16. I have been considering buying a Sutra. I really like the price point. How does the Sutra compare to the Trek 520 and the Surly LHT? Can it carry just as much weight as the other two?

    1. Any tourer worth its salt (including these three) should be able to carry everything you could possibly need on a tour. The weakest link is most often the rack/lowrider, so check the rated carrying capacity and upgrade if needed.

      1. Thanks for your advice Tom.

      2. One concern I have is that the top braze on seems to be lower on the fork. I have noticed that some on other bikes. It seems to be more in the middle of the fork. Wonder if this will cause problems finding a low rider that will fit?

  17. Having a 2012 Sutra that I’m extremely chuffed with my initial reaction to the 2016 model was I have to get one. Love the concept of the LTD as well and if I had unlimited funds I could easily have one in the garage as well as my day to day bike. 

    I bought my initial Sutra based on your report on it Tom and I’m glad I did. My only previous experience with roadies was with an aluminium framed bike that I found harsh on the road, the Kona sold me on steel frames. My Sutra has become my day to day bike when I’m not out touring.

    Glad to see Kona trying out new ideas! Great work guys.

    1. Hi Mark and Tom,

      I’m new to the touring game and have also recently got my hands on the 2012 Sutra. I’m planning a trip through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana and would love to do some non-paved road/off road riding if I could. I am thinking of swapping out the stock tires for a 2″? Are there any other alterations you could recommend?

      Many thanks in advance!

      1. Personally, I’d swap out the handlebars for risers (meaning new brake levers and shifter mounts too) and add a smaller granny ring. You might struggle with frame/fork clearance for 2″ tyres with the 2012 frame. You’ll certainly need to ditch the fenders.

  18. Armand avatar

    “From the outset we sought to develop a new touring bike that checked all the boxes we felt necessary for touring in a variety of conditions:”

    What about the box with the, 26″ wheel option?

    Looks like a nice bike, though.

  19. Saw the two Sutra versions yesterday online. Much prefer the colour of the 2015 which I have been on daily for 8 months. Just an aesthetic choice obviously but my bike has to look appealing to me as the ’15 model did. The Ltd Sutra has even less appeal with hydraulic brakes. The single chainring is interesting but overall I am glad I bought last years version. Would love to read a review once ridden. What is it with ‘Sand’ coloured tourers? Tom had a custom one in a very similar colour and the ’14 Sutra was similar. Sticking with my 2015, I love it! Gerry

    1. Sand coloured tourers help you stay camouflaged in deserts

  20. I am seriously considering buying this bike. I currently have Kona Rove AL which is basically the 2015 Sutra model geometry. I like the changes here for me. I have a question for you Tom or others. Do you think it will still be a somewhat snappy ride, not sluggish? My first steel frame.

    1. With the cyclocross-influenced geometry I’d be surprised if it wasn’t quite a nippy ride…

  21. The Sutra has longer chain stays and wheelbase with a larger fork offset too.

  22. Sutra Ltd — limited by the designer’s ability to distinguish between a derailleur and a hub ?

    1. How very cynical. Why not see above for what Ian himself has to say?

Something to add?