A few days ago we had the chance to test the whole Kona enduro range at the Kona Press Launch in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (you can find an overview of every bike presented here). One bike especially interested us: the entry-level Precept DL trail bike attractively priced at 1500 EUR. Can you really get a useable trail bike at this price point or do the inevitable compromises spoil the fun too much? Read for yourself.
The Precept DL is according to Kona a kind of entry-level version of the well-received Process 134. With a high value build kit, a solid frame with 130mm travel and the right geometry Kona aims to offer a trail bike which allows maximum fun for beginners and if wished one that can be upgraded later with higher quality parts. In direct comparison to the Process you can see that the Precept frame has a different rocker arm connected to the top tube and not on the seat tube. This allows for a lower cost frame but keeps the plush suspension response and low stand over height of the Process. Otherwise the frames look almost identical, which a glance at the geometry table confirms: the Precept is a bit shorter but shares the low bottom bracket, short chainstays and 68° head angle from its big brother.
We were impressed that although Kona has prioritised reducing construction costs they haven’t removed everything that causes costs. The frame still has a 1 1/8″ – 1.5″ tapered head tube which will ensure long-term compatibility with current suspension forks. Sealed bearings, direct mount front mech, dropper post cable guides and an integrated headset all create a picture of a well thought out frame, which will hold its value. The frame looks well made with clean welds and has a lifetime guarantee if the owner registers their purchase within three months with Kona.
The specification sticks to the motto “as little possible, as much necessary.” All of the parts did their job well without defects or big blunders. In direct comparison to the parts found on bikes in the 3000 Euro class you do of course have to accept some compromises. The RockShox Monarch R shock and Sektor Silver 140 mm fork do respond well on small impacts, but are prone to bob and just manage to deal with harder hits. The suspension quickly reaches the end progression zone and feels somewhat uncomfortable.
The hydraulic Shimano disk brakes have good modulation and have a constant, well-defined bite point. The actual braking power didn’t quite make us happy – if you want to brake with one finger we’d recommend you upgrade to bigger rotors.
The drivetrain however was a positive surprise. The colourful mix of SLX front mech, Deore rear mech, Shimano 9 speed cassette and Altus shifters offered fast and precise shifting even after long, muddy test rides.
The handling of the Kona Precept DL on flowing trails and the lighter bike park courses in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis gave us plenty of fun. Thanks to its compact geometry and short rear end the bike can be rapidly piloted through tight corners and berms and is easy to control in the air. The suspension deals with smaller impacts very well offering plenty of comfort even when the hits come in rapid succession e.g. on rooty sections. On the more moderate trails in Serfauss-Fis-Ladis we had a lot more fun than we expected.
On rougher trails though the suspension reaches its limits, the bike quickly feels twitchy especially at higher speeds. If you want to upgrade the Precept a better fork and shock would certainly allow you to get more out of it.
On climbs the Precept is above average. The riding position is central above the cranks and the front wheel only begins to wander on the steepest gradients. Standing up and in sprints you feel the cheaper suspension parts again as quite a lot of your momentum disappears in unwanted suspension bob.
We found it difficult to make a final assessment for the Precept DL. When subconsciously comparing it to the outstanding handling of current trail bikes you notice many compromises that have been made to hit the entry-level price point. But at 1500 Euros the Precept offers a solid, upgrade worthy frame, a well functioning parts kit and handling which will allow a successful and simple start to trail riding. With the option of replacing individual components as they reach their limits we can completely recommend the Precept DL as a great purchase.
For more information, visit www.konaworld.com
Words: Tobias Döring | Pictures: Tobias Döring / AleDiLullo
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