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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in betweenFirst Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

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.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

Priced at $3,999 as shown above, the Libre DL is available now as a complete and also as a frameset for $1,999.

First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between First Look: Kona Libre & Libre DL crush gravel, road, and everything in between

Kona Libre

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.

http://stories.konaworld.com/1111959

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.

konaworld.com

39 COMMENTS

  1. 1x drivetrain for a touring bike? Even for a gravel grinder your either not going to have climbing gears or be forced to watch everybody pedal away from you away ND etc dropped on any downhill. Ridiculous! Price is also too high for components.

    • You couldn’t be more wrong. A 1x with 10-42 cassette is more than enough range for any gravel event. Do you realize that many of the biggest gravel races are won by someone using 1x drivetrain. Overall wins using a 1x have come in age groups classes and the Pro/Eilte level with both me and women.
      How can this be if they don’t have enough gears for climbing and are also getting dropped on the downhills??

        • Huh? Did you read the comment I was responding to? It implied a gravel grinder event, so yes, it would be a racing atmosphere.

          I understand most people are not racers. My point is that if someone can win a long distance mixed terrain event on a 1x it clearly shows there is enough gear range on both the high and low side. It has little to do with actually racing. It’s more about what people think they need and giving up before they even try.

          • The gaps between gears are too large with 1x, once you have a broad enough cassette. Some don’t mind, I can’t ride it and enjoy it outside of a CX course.

            I bet it won’t be much longer before sub-compact doubles relegate 1x to CX and MTB duty.

        • Yeah 2X lover will tell you it’s not for racing, then they’ll argue that you’ll be dropped in downhill cause you can’t pedal fast enough. Talk about logic. 1X FTW.

  2. Yeah, good looking bike but the the single chainring is a poor fit for its intended use.

    Perhaps the rule should be that if a bike has braze-one for a rack or cargo you should automatically put two rings on it.

  3. I went to my local Kona dealer yesterday, and it looks like the bike is already sold out through the end of the year. Bummer… I was really excited to try out the base model. 🙁

  4. Yeah, that wide bar gives you great leverage “while riding technical trails” but the small people riding that small-sized bike will spend 99% of their riding time on paved and gravel roads.

    • hard to tell if you are commenting on
      a) how people may use their bike, purchased and used of their own free will via their own money, as it best suits their desires.
      b) small people
      c) small people riding small-sized bikes as opposed to big-sized ones or vice-versa

  5. I only wish they had a flat bar version. Drop bars are great for long distance or racing, but I would like to see something better for taking on the city – where I want to be able to see and be seen. Since I live in flat terrain, a 1x would be fine.

    • If it’s only going to do flat city commute duty, surely there are a million flat bar bikes at 1/4 the price that would do the job just as well?

      • Ha ha, I think that might be said about any bike. Many flat bar bikes are harsh aluminum with cheap components. It’d be nice to see a higher end, rigid flat bar bike – especially since drop bars are not always a great choice for urban riding.

        • Well, you’re in luck! They sell it as a frameset to be built up as pleased. I’ve done a similar build myself on a Trek Crockett frameset. It’s definitely a lot nicer to ride than your standard hybrid type bike.

  6. The geometry seems huge. Who is riding that 55cm frame?

    Looks cool, though. I’m hoping my local dealer gets one I can demo. The 2x with ~38mm Compass tires would be really versatile.

    • It’s got a huge 660mm stack – that cancels out a lot of what you’re seeing in those inflated TT numbers. 394mm reach is about normal for an XL/60cm frame (if a little short).

    • The 49cm size has the same stack and reach as my road bike with a 56cm TT. The nominal sizing might be better described as S, M, L, XL and XXL. I’d be curious to see how the bike handles with the slack HT and 50mm fork offset. I wonder if the smaller sizes in bikes like this wouldn’t benefit from being designed around 650b wheels to achieve the larger tire volume. I would guess that manufacturing cost dictates common wheel spec across sizes, though.

      • Yeah granted, but looks like the whole range has been designed around a short stem. I’d be surprised if they didn’t utilize conventional overall reach to the HB when everything’s taken into account. The upshot of designing around a short stem results in a generous front centre for toe clearance even on the smaller sizes.

  7. The text says “three pack mounts on each fork leg” but that is incorrect; three pack mounts for Salsa and King cages are evenly spaced at 64mm apart, unlike those shown. I’m sure Kona has some reason for what they’ve done, but I’ve no idea what it is.

  8. Am I assume correctly that no frame + fork only options are available? Very poor, why should I purchase all the additional stuff if already available. Otherwise, I would have considered the purchase.

      • I can not find any reference at their website for frame+fork only. Those kind of bike companies are very disappointing as it talks for itself not offering such an option. For good bike companies with high reputation it is business as usual to offer frame + fork only.

        • It’s right underneath the picture of the Libre DL on the product page. “AVAILABLE AS FRAME W/KONA CARBON LIBRE FORK & KONA AXLES” price is $1999. (although maybe this is only available on the US website)

          • It’s also right in the article: “Priced at $3,999 as shown above, the Libre DL is available now as a complete and also as a frameset for $1,999.”

  9. Why is the 650b build considered the more road-ish build, and the 700c the more off-road-ish?
    Is this because BB clearance is higher with 700c?
    Doesn’t the 650b tire have more volume therefore making it more cushioned for off-road use and slower on paved surfaces?

  10. DL and Standard Libre utilize the same frame with different build specs. 1x/700 in green or 2x/650b in oilslick, Also the Libre’s Sizing is different than most “regular sized” bikes. Ex: i would normally ride a 60cm, i demo’d a “55cm” and it fit perfectly. Look at the reach and toptube numbers, not just the “size” numbers. Also, the bb height is only different because of the wheel size.

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