The time is finally here. It’s the official launch of the Kona Libre and Libre DL. First unveiled to the world at the Sea Otter Classic, Kona has been slowly working up to the full release of both models into the wild.
Sort of a blend between the Rove and the Sutra, the Libre will come in two different models with two different wheel sizes.
Both bikes include a new Kona Race Light carbon frame with the new Kona Verson carbon touring fork which offer a massive amount of braze ons. Even on my 49cm test bike, there are three bottle cage mounts inside the front triangle with a fourth on the bottom of the downtube. Additionally, you’ll find bosses on the top tube for bolt on top tube bags, three pack mounts on each fork leg, and rack mounts front and rear.
The frame and fork offer pretty much all the tire clearance you could want with plenty of room for the stock 700c x 45mm tires which actually measure 46mm wide when set up tubeless on the Easton rims. Both bikes are capable of running either wheel size should you want to switch later on.
Geometry (Libre DL left, Libre right)
Since the frames and forks are the same though, the geometry does change slightly depending on the wheels. Since the 700c wheels and tires are taller than the 650b wheels and tires of the Libre, the Libre DL has a higher BB height of 285mm compared to 267mm, and the standover height changes equally as well. This is one of the reasons Kona considers the Libre DL to be a bit more off road friendly thanks to increased crank clearance while the lower BB of the Libre should help out on the road.
Also note that these bikes fit big. I’m on the 49cm which fits at least like a full size up, though they are meant to be run with wide bars and short stems.
Regardless of build, both models use internal cable routing and the Libre DL is left with two empty ports – one for the lack of a front derailleur, and one to allow for the use of a dropper post even with a front derailleur. Brake housing is internal as well with flat mount disc brakes used front and rear along with 12mm tooled thru axles.
A SRAM GXP pressfit bottom bracket is used on the Libre DL, while the Libre uses the same standard but with a Shimano PF BB.
Actual weight (tubed vs. tubeless)
The 1x Libre DL comes equipped with tubeless WTB Riddler tires in 700c x 45mm casings mounted to Easton EA70AX aluminum gravel wheels. As mentioned, these actually measure 46mm when set up tubeless – though the bikes ship with tubes in the tires. To go tubeless, you simply need to remove the tubes, add the tubeless valves to the pre-taped rims, and add your favorite sealant. My 49mm test bike came in at 8.5kg (18.74lbs) with tubes, and going tubeless dropped it to 8.37kg (18.45lbs) even with a full 2oz of sealant in each tire.
Equipped with Kona branded cockpit parts, the Libre DL has a super wide, flared handlebar that measures almost 46cm on my 49cm bike! That wide bar is combined with a stubby 70mm stem for a more modern gravel geometry that certainly skews to the more agressive side of offroad riding. At first it feels crazy wide, but you get used to it very quickly and the additional leverage is welcomed while riding technical trails.
Priced at $3,999 as shown above, the Libre DL is available now as a complete and also as a frameset for $1,999.
The Libre on the other hand, comes with a Shimano 2×11 drivetrain and WTB Byway 650b x 47mm tires and WTB KOM i25 TCS wheels. The Libre definitely skews towards the road side of things, but it’s also less money at $2,999. Otherwise, the two bikes are very similar, both available now.
Finally, to celebrate the launch of the Libre, Kona sent Bike Magazine photo editor Anthony Smith to follow 24hr World Solo MTB Champ Cory Wallace as he attempted his first Dirty Kanza 200 on the new Libre. A rash of flats kept him from challenging for the win, but he came in a very respectable 14th considering the circumstances.