The Good: Price, SLX/XT Spec, Party Geometry, Tubeless Ready Wheels
The Bad: Rear Tire Clearance, Deore Shifters
As soon as this bike was released, I knew I needed one. Having wanted a steel hardtail for the last couple seasons to complement my quiver, a quick review of the numbers on the Explosif confirmed my initial impulses. Missing the mid-season release of the 2013, I promptly ordered a 2014 for Spring delivery.
The important components are spot on with a complete SLX build and a XT rear changer. The only miss on the mechanical components in my opinion are the Deore shifters, which do not allow for inboard adjustment when married to the brake levers. Regarding the cockpit spec, the stock Kona parts will work for a majority of riders, however I quickly went full Canadian and threw a 50mm Atlas stem and an uncut Fubar on to increase the party factor. The Ardent tires were a good spec as well, but I strapped on some Hans Damfs and removed the tubes for extra plow-ability.
Regarding the frame itself, the geometry is on point for loose, rowdy hardtail rallying. Paragon sliding drops make for easy attitude adjustments and the rear thru-axel is confidence inspiring. The only issue I have with the frame is the rear tire clearance, which is tight with the high volume Hans Damfs. If I lived somewhere where it actually rained, this lack of clearance would be an issue.
Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with my purchase. Never having ridden a wheel size other than 26, I did not notice the larger wheels at first, but am starting to notice the subtle benefits of the 27.5 with increased roll on the buff and better plow through rocks. From slickrock to singletrack, flow trails to chunder, this bike has exceeded my expectations on every adventure I've taken it on in the last four months. In my 20 years of riding singletrack, I've never had more fun on a bike- hardtail or full suspension. I'd recommend this bike to anyone who is on a budget and looking for maximum fun-factor. The Explosif is a mountain biker's mountain bike.