A 90’s hardtail and a gravel bike got into the Hop Devil one night and 9 months later the Kona Sutra ULTD was born. Mountain bike geometry (steepish seat tube angle, slackish headtube angle, big tire clearance) with drop bars and a kinda low bottom bracket. This bike was born to rail.
Here’s what we dig about the Sutra ULTD: Long front end and short stem. This means less incidence of toe overlap at low speeds, even with mondo tires. The ULTD can clear 29 x 2.4’s with lots of mud clearance. Fenders will fit. Try the Flat 80 Honjo’s. It’s dropper compatible, if that’s your thing. If not, you are in good company, we dig a simple, light, rigid seatpost. Put a Velo Orange Setback post on, which has 32mm of setback, ideal for this frames’ steep seat tube angle.
The slack heat tube angle isn’t stupid slack, it’s 69 degrees. That means the Sutra ULTD climbs like a road bike, but better, because road bikes actually don’t climb great on loose surfaces. But 69 degrees means the bike rails downhill. High trail means it self corrects after you wack a pot hole or a rock at speed. It also means the bike handles in a neutral way with or without a load.
Kona doesn’t play the weight game. What’s this frame weigh? If you are asking, you're looking at the wrong bike. It’s beef, not light, and damnit, that’s a good thing. Frame weight is terminally overrated. The percent difference between a complete bike with rider that has a 7 pound frame and fork and one that has a 5 lbs frame and fork is minor at best. 1.11111% for a 150lbs rider. You can’t feel 1.1111% of anything. I’d rather have a frame that’s 2 lbs heavier that can take a thrashing, a crash, a bash and a smash and still be rideable, than save that 1.111111111 percent.
Stiffer frames track better in general, esp. on rough terrain. Thru axles help a bit there. They also handle better with a bike packing load. Again, better tracking. Bikes made for rough riding should NOT plane. Planing is a synonym for flexing, and the last thing you want when you are bombing a switchback strewn with rocks with 30lbs of bike packing gear is flex. You want the bike to go where you point it, and flexy bikes do not do that.
Ok, other stuff, in brief. The Sutra ULTD is made for a drop bar, a 1x system, and 29 inch wheels. Other than that, have at it. We can help make it into whatever kinda brawler or mellow vibes Grateful Dead loving burrito hauler ya want. Just don’t ask for hydro systems, electronic shifting, or associated nonsense. Drop us a line, and by that I mean email us, we’re phone-aphobes.
Last note: sizing is crazy. We should have a talk about that.