Posted by Logan Watts
As much as drop-bar bikes get celebrated in the off-road adventure category, true mountain bikes such as the Kona Unit X epitomize how bikepacking rigs came to be and how they’ve evolved. The 2020 Kona Unit X got several updates to make it all the more appealing for singletrack rides and dirt-road tours alike. And, it remains one of the more affordable, well-appointed options on the market. Read on for all the details…
- Angles: 68° Headtube, 75° Seattube
- Chainstay: 430mm
- Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
- Hub specs: 15 x 110mm (front); 12 x 148mm (rear)
- Seatpost Diameter: 31.6mm
- Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3.0″ / 29 x 2.6″ (TBD)
Aside from that blingy “Gloss Champagne” paint scheme, the most visible change from last year’s model is the switch from 27.5+ to 29 x 2.6″ tires, a move I happily stand behind. I’ve been riding almost nothing but 29 x 2.6″ tires on trail bikes and longer bikepacking trips for the last couple years and have been pretty stoked on the platform. It offers a good blend of traction and floatation without as much of a weight penalty as larger 29+ tires. They’re usually a little heavier than 27.5+ (about 500 grams per pair, on average), but the rollover benefits of 29er tires is bar none.
Another major update is the dropout standards. Kona ditched 100/135 QR in favor of BOOST-spaced thru-axles (148 x 12mm rear and 110 x 15mm front). This not only allowed them to shorten the chain stay, it also gives the bike what appears to be a little more tire clearance, both front and rear. We have a question out to Kona regarding the max clearance and will update this once we find out.
The most significant alterations to the 2020 Kona Unit X come from a shift in the bike’s geometry. Following modern trail bike trends, the 2020 Kona Unit X got a little longer and slacker. For starters, the headtube angle was slackened by a degree to 68° while the seat tube was made a degree steeper (75°). This clearly follows in the footsteps of Kona’s renowned Honzo lineup, and both are welcome changes to give the bike a more stable ride on downhills and an arguably more comfortable climbing posture as well. The bike is also significantly longer. The top tube was lengthened a hair and the wheelbase increased by about 2cm, as did the bike’s reach. The stack height also got about 2cm taller, which should give it a more upright stance and make it more comfortable during long days in the saddle.
Additional tweaks include a significantly shorter chain stay length (430mm vs 442mm, previously). Kona also dropped the bottom bracket by about 5mm, which was nullified on the complete with the larger diameter 29 x 2.6″ tires. Here’s the full geometry chart for reference (in millimeters).
2020 Kona Unit X Build Kit
The 2020 Unit X saw a few componentry upgrades as well. The 2020 Kona Unit X gets the relatively new SRAM Eagle SX drivetrain, which includes a 11-50t cassette and a 32t chainring, yielding a 454% gear range and an impressive 19 gear inches in the granny gear. The specced brakes are SRAM Level T hydraulics with a 180mm rotor in the front and 160mm in the rear. Another impressive spec are the WTB ST i30 rims coupled with tubeless-read WTB Ranger tires, a match ready for bikepacking. Here’s the full build kit for reference.
- FRAME MATERIAL Reynolds 520 Butted Cromoly
- COLOR Gloss Champagne with Black and Dark Silver Decals
- SIZES S, M, L, XL
- FORK Kona Plus Fork 110mm spacing
- CRANKARMS SRAM SX-Eagle
- CHAINRINGS 32t X-Sync Eagle
- B/B SRAM DUB 73mm
- PEDALS Kona JS2
- CHAIN SRAM SX-Eagle
- FREEWHEEL SRAM SX-Eagle 11-50t 12spd
- REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM SX-Eagle
- SHIFTERS SRAM SX-Eagle
- BRAKE CALIPERS SRAM Level T
- FRONT BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 180mm
- REAR BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 160mm
- BRAKE LEVERS SRAM Level T
- HEADSET TH ZST No.10
- HANDLEBAR Kona XC/BC Riser
- STEM Kona XC/BC
- SEATPOST Kona Thumb w/Offset 31.6mm
- SEAT CLAMP Kona Clamp
- GRIPS Kona Key Grip
- SADDLE WTB Volt Sport (Sport 250 size S)
- FRONT HUB Formula 110x15mm
- REAR HUB Formula 148x12mm
- SPOKES Stainless Black 14g
- RIMS WTB ST i30 2.0 TCS
- FRONT TIRE WTB Ranger TCS 29×2.6″
- REAR TIRE WTB Ranger TCS 29×2.6″
Another interesting feature on the 2020 Kona Unit X’s Renolds 520 chromoly frame is the rather unique, dual-slotted sliding rear dropout, which allows it to be setup as a single speed or with a Rohloff. And there are plenty of mounting options, including three bottle cage mounts on the triangle (two inside and one under the down tube), front and rear rack mounts, fender eyelets, and three-pack cargo cage mounts on each fork blade.
The 2020 Kona Unit X is available only as a complete for $1,399 USD and looks like quite an impressive value. We hope to get our hands on one for a full review. In the meantime, find out more info over at KonaWorld.com.