Kona calls the new Hei Hei a cross country bike, but this completely redesigned model is capable of pleasing more than just the spandex set.
The latest platform features an entirely redesigned geometry and fit, and deviates from previous models by introducing a new suspension platform as well.
Drop past the break for more images, tech, and our first ride impressions…
The Hei Hei is available in two different flavors – Race and Trail. The two share the same frame and shock tune, but differ slightly in component spec.
The Race version, which is more Euro oriented, is spec’d with a 100mm fork and more XC oriented tires and wheels. The Trail model receives a 120mm fork with 34mm stanchions, wider rims, and more aggressive tires (Ardent 2.25″/Ikon 2.2″).
While designed to be more cross country oriented the slacker than typical XC rig is more than capable of doing light trail duty. To enhance that versatility, the product team added multiple cable routing options for an array of derailleur combinations and dropper options.
There is also a removable front derailleur direct mount plate.
Out back, the Hei Hei utilizes a new flex style suspension platform dubbed Fuse Independent Suspension. This system eliminates the pivot at the seatstay/chainstay junction, which makes for a lighter simpler package.
Kona is not the first to experiment with the concept and there are a number of competitors who use similar ideas.
In this type of system, rather than relying on a rearward pivot, the seatstays are designed to flex.
Traditionally the concern with flex style suspension frames is that flexing stresses the material, but in this implementation, flex is minimal at only 1.5 degrees. According to Kona Product Manger Paddy White, “you’ll often get that much flex from cornering, accelerating, etc..”
And for anyone wondering, no, the frame does not utilize the new Boost 148 standard. It can however ccommodate up to a 2.3″ tire.
Weight for our test bike was 28 lb /12.7 kg. For those who worry about every gram, Spencer Paxson’s prototype XC World Cup Hei Hei weighed a mere 24.9 lb/11.3 kg (with XTR DI2, Fox IRD, and pedals!).
During a short loop that was reminiscent of your typical Canadian XC ride, the Hei Hei managed to impress via its incredibly efficient pedaling platform. Even with the shock and fork fully open, the bike pedaled with the efficiency of a hardtail. The bike also felt composed during out of the saddle bursts on several gut busting technical climbs.
Poppy may not the right word to describe how it felt to pull up on the bars, but the front end was surprisingly easy to pop up over roots or down drops – regardless of speed or gearing. For those wondering, it also wheelies better than a 29er ought to, which is likely due to the short 430mm (16.9”) chainstays.
My biggest complaint about this Trail oriented version of the Hei Hei comes down to the lack of a dropper. This is an incredibly efficient platform that is capable of conquering KOMS, yet is more than capable of holding its own as a light weight trail bike. Adding a dropper would help differentiate the frame from its “Race” sibling and complement the 34mm fork platform, but it would raise the price. Obviously, this allows you to add your dropper of choice after the fact and provides a back up post when your dropper has to go in for service.
As reviewed, the Hei Hei retails for a surprisingly affordable $3,299. A few concessions were made in product spec to help keep costs down, such as using non-kashima suspension and the lack of carbon, but unless you’re a die hard weight weenie – there’s nothing you need to swap out to have fun.
For more info, visit KonaWorld.com