We’re kicking off our fourth year of weekly Reader’s Rig posts with a two-for-one special featuring a pair of Kona Unit X builds from Carlie Smith and Jason Cagampan in British Columbia. Learn more about the duo and their bikes in our 156th installment of Reader’s Rig here…

Words by Carlie Smith and Jason Cagampan

Hi, we’re Carlie Smith and Jason Cagampan, and we’re currently a North Vancouver BC, Canada-based couple who respectively acknowledge that we live, work, and play on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations.

Kona Unit X

We met over a decade ago during a trail run on the local rugged coastal mountains that grace the area. Since then, we have been exploring the mountains and other unique landscapes together through our shared love of being outdoors and pursuing human-powered endurance activities, whether it be running, climbing, backpacking, XC-skiing, or biking. Jacks of all trades and masters of none, or simply put, dabblers, we’re inspired by natural places and love moving within landscapes that connect us to nature in the simplest form possible.

Whether moving in vertical or horizontal landscapes, exploration–especially in wild places–for us is both discovery of the landscapes and of our limits from a mental and physical perspective. For both of us, bikepacking has been another extension of this notion through the use of a different tool, which allows us to move a little bit further, faster, and more efficiently off the beaten path. While bikepacking brings a different element of overall planning and most definitely a different gear Tetris aspect to it, we’re drawn to the overall simplicity of riding a bike and seeing where it can take us.

  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X

While not the fanciest bikes out there in an industry full of great options, sourcing anything during a worldwide pandemic definitely made life simpler due to supply constraints. Our main requirement was to have a primary bikepacking rig that was fully rigid and steel with the ability to handle 2” plus tires and could straddle gravel roads and trails efficiently without being tailored specifically to one end of the spectrum. So, it came to be that Goldie and Rusty rode into our lives–our affectionately named Kona Unit Xs, reflective of their paint jobs—and we couldn’t be happier.

  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X
  • Frame/Fork 2020 and 2021 Kona Unit Xs
  • Rims WTB ST i30 2.0 TCS
  • Hubs Formula
  • Tires WTB Ranger TCS 29 × 2.6″
  • Handlebars Kona XC/BC Riser (recently upgrade oneto a Tumbleweed Persuader
  • Headset TH ZST No.10
  • Crankset SRAM SX Eagle
  • Pedals Shimano XTR M9000 and Shimano PD EH500
  • Cassette SRAM SX Eagle 11-50t 12-speed
  • Derailleur SRAM SX Eagle
  • Brakes SRAM Level T with SRAM Centerline 180mm and 160mm rotors
  • Shifter(s) SRAM SX Eagle
  • Saddle WTB Volt Sport
  • Seatpost Kona Thumb w/Offset 31.6mm
  • Stem Kona XC/BC
  • Front bags Porcelain Rocket MCA, Rockgiest Meanwhile, Ron’s Bikes Waxed Fanny
  • Frame bags Custom from Rockgeist
  • Rear bags Porcelain Rocket Vera 13L with Rockgeist Argonaut Dyneema Dry Bag
  • Accessory bags Makeshifter Canvas Work Snackhole stem bags for bottles, Thief Lunch Break top tube bag
  • Other accessories Rawland Demiporteur V2, Wald 139 half basket, Tumbleweed T Racks
  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X

The Unit Xs have performed beautifully on singletrack and gravel/doubletrack riding–the terrain and routes we wanted them for–on top of providing the forgiveness of a steel frame with a balanced geometry. They have been a real treat to ride, especially while loaded on modern-day technical singletrack. While we plan to upgrade some base components over time, the value of the full build at the price was definitely a selling point for a ready-to-go rig. Set up with a combination of retro Porcelain Rocket, custom Rockgeist, Thief bikepacking, and Makeshifter Canvas Work for longer routes and trips, and a Ron’s Bikes fanny and Rockgeist basketpack for everyday riding and urban adventures, the Unit X easily does the job in either setting making it a go-to-bike for anything and everything in between.

  • Kona Unit X
  • Kona Unit X

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