I was warned. Before even showing up to Squamish, BC, I was told that the rides this year would be a little more gnarly. And yet, here I was getting ready to roll into some of the steepest and longest rock slabs I’ve yet to attempt – at least since my shoulder injury a few years back. Realistically, the timing couldn’t have been better. Last year we were in the same place to ride the new Hei Hei Trail which meant more XC-ish trails, albeit ‘BC XC’.
This year though, we were back to ride the all new Process Carbon, a bike that apparently is immediately at home no matter what the trail has in store – a trait that I was about to experience first hand.
If there’s one thing to take away from the design of the new Process, it’s that Kona knows their audience. This bike was purpose built for the steep, unforgiving terrain that Kona calls home. Riding it around the trails of Squamish only seems to reinforce that notion.
Over the course of a few days in Squamish, we had a chance to sample some of the best trails in the area – both up and down. Kona wanted to ensure that we had plenty of experience climbing the new bike as well as descending, so there were plenty of leg and lung burning moments as we hustled the 32lb bikes (actually heavier once pedals, bottles, etc. were installed) up the trails.
No matter what the terrain, it seemed to climb better than its geometry (and weight) would imply. I did notice that climbing seemed to work slightly different muscles than normal as the 76° seat tube angle would suggest, but it the bike always seemed to keep its footing on loose technical climbs, and the change in position was very easy to get used to. Keep in mind that this is not meant to be a lighweight trail bike – it climbs simply to get you to the top so you can bomb back down. The components like the 2.5/2.35″ tires, 160/150mm suspension, and big brakes help make it known that you’re climbing a 32lb+ bike, but it still pedals surprisingly well considering what it’s capable of.
Personally, I was on a medium Kona Process CR 27.5 and while it certainly has a longer reach (450mm) than many of the bikes I’m accustomed to (I’m 5.8″, 690mm saddle to BB), it felt completely at home throughout the first rides. More than anything, on the trails we were riding, the Process CR was like liquid courage. Feeling completely planted beneath you, it will most likely help convince you to ride things you might normally avoid. Granted, Squamish is a magical place where their blue trails are harder than many black diamonds elsewhere, but there are many other locations around the world where the Process CR will shine – and make you a better rider because of it.
Overall, the ride quality and component selection of the Process CR just helps to seal the deal. The frame has that vibration absorbing quality that carbon is known for, but at the same time it feels solid. Like you can case that jump, and still ride away solid. After all, Kona says that this frame is tested to the same standards as their DH frames – and it includes a three year warranty for carbon frames, and lifetime for the alloy versions. Combine that with a no-nonsense spec that is every bit as durable as the frame and you have a bike that should hold up to years of abuse on the ‘shore, or wherever else you plan to ride.
Though my time with the Process CR in Squamish was short, it was more than enough to get a solid first impression of an impressive new bike. I would consider myself to be slightly above average when it comes to riding technical terrain, but I still felt like I was barely scratching the surface with the Process CR. This bike is happiest when hurling itself down the steepest, rockiest side of a mountain at eye watering speed, yet it’s still perfectly happy pedaling to the top. Like many Kona bikes, the Process seems to hit that perfect blend of fun and durability, something that’s not always that easy to master.
This is how the bike should be ridden.
Kona certainly has a new monster on their hands, and while it may not be for everyone – those who appreciate truly technical mountain biking should quickly fall in love with the new Process.
For more details on the new bike including pricing, geometry, weight, and spec, check out our first look, here.