Posted by Logan Watts
- Frame/fork: Kona Cromoly Butted
- Angles (58cm): 71° Headtube, 72° Seattube
- Bottom Bracket: BSA Threaded
- Hub specs: 12x142mm / 100x12mm Thru-axle
- Seatpost: 27.2mm
- Max tire size: 29×2.3″ (w/ options for 27.5+)
- Price: $2099 (complete)
Given its genealogy, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD is a particularly interesting drop-bar “adventure” bike. In 2015 the LTD cracked the mold of the longstanding Kona Sutra range, a line of bikes fairly well known in the bicycle touring world. While the original Sutra remains as a great choice for long-distance road touring, the Sutra LTD became a frameset purposefully built for dirt-touring, bikepacking, and general drop-bar rowdyness. It certainly leans more toward the ‘dirt-drop’ mountain bike end of the spectrum than many other bikes in the “adventure bike” category. In Kona’s words, “The Sutra LTD is what happens when a mountain biker imagines a touring bike.” Since its inception, the Sutra LTD has seen a few minor tweaks improving the platform… and the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD has a couple additional tricks, as well as a solid and modern build kit.
What’s changed on the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD?
Each of the past Sutra LTD iterations have had a generous array of bottle and rack mounts. The 2018 model gets a couple more, adding up to my favorite change. There is now a rack mount at the base of each fork leg, in addition to the double cage mounts.
Each doubles as a rack mount, or even better, a third boss for a three-pack cage, such as King Cage ManyThing or Salsa’s Anything Cage. UPDATE: since we started testing the bike, we learned that this information we were told is indeed false; the rack mount does NOT double as a triple cage mount… the spacing is too low. However, it would be possible to modify a cage to do so. This year’s Sutra LTD also gets thru-axles. 12x142mm in the rear and 100x12mm on the front, each with allen bolt-in axles, which might appeal to some folks for security purposes. A couple other changes include flat brake mounts on both the front and rear, as well as an ultra-clean rear dropout, complete with rack mounts.
It’s worth noting a bit of history from a tire-clearance perspective. The original 2016 powder blue Sutra LTD cleared 29×2.0 tires. For the 2017 model — the orange version — when Kona’s engineers switched to a 73mm bottom bracket shell, they were able to carve out much more tire clearance. As a result, both the 2017 and 2018 models fit a 29×2.2″ tire without issue, and folks will likely find they can fit an even bigger tire in practice.
2018 Kona Sutra LTD Build Kit
Priced at $2,099, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD isn’t as budget-friendly as the Jamis Renegade Expat or the Marin Four Corners, the two other steel drop-bar adventure bikes in this little series. But it has quite a nice, modern build kit, which adds value. First off it’s specced with an up-to-date SRAM Rival wide-range 1x drivetrain and Rival hydraulic discs, which, similar to the Force hydros as mentioned in the Cutthroat review, are solid and generally unnoticeable, which is a good characteristic for brakes. In addition, the WTB i23 tubeless-ready rims and 50mm Clement X’plor tires make for a meatier platform. The full-pinned XG-1150 11-42 cassette and Race Face Aeffect crank also adds to the build quality. Here’s the full spec:
- FRAME MATERIAL Kona Cromoly Butted
- SIZES 46, 48.5, 52, 54, 56, 58
- FORK Kona Project Two Cromoly Disc Touring fork
- CRANKARMS RaceFace Aeffect
- CHAINRINGS 36t Narrow/Wide
- B/B RaceFace 73mm
- PEDALS n/a
- CHAIN SRAM PC1110
- FREEWHEEL SRAM XG1150 10-42t 11spd
- R/D SRAM Rival 1
- SHIFTERS SRAM Rival 1
- BRAKE CALIPERS SRAM Rival 1 Flat mount
- FRONT BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 160mm
- REAR BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 160mm
- BRAKE LEVERS SRAM Rival 1 HRD
- HEADSET FSA TH848
- HANDLEBAR Kona Road
- STEM Kona Road Deluxe
- SEATPOST Kona Deluxe Thumb w/Offset 27.2mm
- SEAT CLAMP Kona Clamp
- GRIPS Kona Cork Tape
- SADDLE WTB SL8 Pro
- FRONT HUB Formula 100x12mm
- REAR HUB Formula 142x12mm
- SPOKES Stainless Black 14g
- RIMS WTB Asym i23 TCS
- FRONT TIRE Clement MSO 50 TCS 700x50c
- REAR TIRE Clement MSO 50 TCS 700x50c
- PAINT COLOR Matt Metallic Olive w/ Charcoal & Khaki Decals
All in all, as a drop-bar bike, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD is almost unmatched in the mainstream bike market for its mountain-bike like character. I would draw a comparison to the Salsa Cutthroat for its generous tire clearance and focus on beefier MTB specs. From a geometry perspective, its similar in some respects, but with slightly longer top tube and more reach. Some folks have mentioned sizing down as a result. It does look like an relatively flawless and fun bike though; we hope to try one for a thorough review in the near future. For now, get more info at KonaWorld.com.