Cyclocross season is just around the corner, so it’s not a big surprise that the first bikes to drop from Kona’s 2018 range are the new Jakes. Gravel bikes like the new Rove that we saw at Sea Otter mean that brands like Kona are no longer trying to make their CX bikes a ‘Jake’ of all trades. That has freed up their designers to refocus on cyclocross racing first and foremost with a ground up overhaul of the complete line up. Given that the #cxiscoming hashtags are already taking over social media, it seems like the new Jakes will land just in time…
Broken down into three models, the top two Jakes will receive a redesigned carbon frame. Along with refined geometry, Kona’s engineers envisioned a lighter, stiffer, and better handling frame in either frame material. The carbon frame then delivers with a stiffer head tube/down tube junction and a 10% stiffer frame overall. In spite of the increased stiffness, the frame is also 10% more compliant and 10% lighter with a 56cm frame claiming a weight of 1050g with paint and hardware. Add to that a 450g full carbon fork for all of the models and you have a respectably light frameset.
But in a typically Kona way, the frame has some hidden secrets. All cable routing is internal with three entry points on the head tube, with each cap putting a bit of pressure on the housing to keep things from rattling. The lower door on the PF86 bottom bracket shell opens to reveal 4 grooves for a bike that will typically only have two or three cables. Why? If dropper posts for CX catch on, and if you’re running 1x, you can route the dropper hose in the 4th groove for stealth routing. The dropper compatibility only works with 1x since there are only three openings at the front of the frame, but you could probably figure out both if you really wanted to.
Flat mount brakes don’t seem to be going anywhere, and we’re seeing them pop up on almost every new high end road, CX, or gravel bike. Naturally, the Jakes including the Super Jake shown above run the new standard with 160mm rotors front and rear (though it can run 140mm). You’ll also notice the Jakes include mounts for fenders and two bottle cages inside the front triangle to make those hard training days a little more bearable. The bikes also all move to thru axles front and rear with 100 x 12mm up front and 142 x 12mm out back. In this case, Kona employs their own ratcheting thru axles that function similar to DT Swiss RWS axles. The dropouts also include a new derailleur hanger design which is now the same for every thru axle drop bar bike.
As mentioned, the carbon frame runs a PF86 bottom bracket with a removable front derailleur braze on mount which makes an appearance for the stock Major Jake. Tire clearance is said to be 700c x 40mm, or 700c x 35mm with fenders.
Ready to race right out of the box, the Super Jake will sell for $3,999 with a SRAM Force 1x drivetrain featuring a 40t chainring and 11-32 cassette. The Clement Ushuaia wheels are tubeless ready and will set up with the addition of sealant. A frameset is also available with the Kona Carbon CX fork and axles for $1,899.
Getting the same frame but a very different build, the Major Jake will sell for $2,999. The 2×11 drivetrain features Shimano 105 components with hydraulic RT64 brakes, and WTB i19 Asym rims that are ready to go tubeless right out of the box along with the tubeless ready Clement MXP tires.
The only bike available for weigh in at the demo, this 50cm Major Jake came in at 19.97lbs with a bottle cage, tubes, and no pedals.
Finally, the only aluminum bike in the Jake line up is now the Jake the Snake. Also featuring a new frame, Jake the Snake adds a lot of little refinements that you’ll see across the Kona drop bar range for 2018 like the internal cable routing (external brake)…
…and new thru axle dropouts. Part of the redesign was to allow the use of both rear racks and fenders at the same time without interference between the struts. To do so, the mounts are offset and are built into the casting that includes the new derailleur hanger and the flat mount disc brake perch. Also running a front derailleur, the round seat tube allows for a clamp on front derailleur with the cable popping out of a tunnel from the DT/BB junction to meet the derailleur. Like the carbon bikes, the aluminum Jake runs 100 x 12mm/142 x 12mm thru axles. Unlike the carbon bikes, the aluminum frame sticks with a threaded bottom bracket shell.
The Kona Road (Road Light for carbon bikes) drop bars have a noticeable flare to the drops which should be welcome on more technical courses.
Fitted with a Shimano Tiagra 2×10 drivetrain with hydraulic brakes, even Jake the Snake features WTB STP i19 rims that can be set up tubeless, though the tires included in the stock build are not listed as tubeless compatible. Retail price for Jake the Snake is set at $1,799.