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2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29 Bike

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29
2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29 Bike 2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29 Bike 2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29 Bike
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Vital Review - Kona Process 153 DL 29

All metal, all good, all the fun.

Rating: Vital Review
Vital Review - Kona Process 153 DL 29

Pedal up. Party down. Repeat. The 2022 Kona Process 153 DL 29 is still the gravity shredding animal with playful attributes that we grew to love in previous iterations. With some updates to the geometry, it is now even more capable on the steep stuff. At a very reasonable price point, this year’s Process 153 DL 29 may appeal to many riders who are ready to take their all-mountain/enduro game several levels up. The Process 153 DL is incredibly fun to ride on all sorts of trails; from all-day epics to shuttle laps on some steep gnar, to lunch loops, and whatever else you ride. In any situation, the Process 153 DL had us grinning.

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Strengths

  • Updated geometry
  • Confidence-inspiring on descents
  • Pedals efficiently
  • Snappy through turns
  • Great price point

Weaknesses

  • Single-ply tires
  • Not the strongest wheelset
  • Rear brake felt underpowered


Highlights

  • 6061 Aluminum frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 153mm (6.02-inches) of rear-wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) fork travel
  • Single Pivot suspension design
  • Tapered headtube
  • External and Internal cable routing
  • Yup, there's a 27.5 model too
  • Available in sizes Medium through X-Large
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • Press fit (PF92) bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts
  • 148mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured weight (size Large, no pedals): 34.8 lbs (15.8kg)
  • MSRP $4,399 USD

Kona has a reputation for designing aggressive and durable frames that will withstand years of abuse, or what we call good times. Initial examination of the 6061 aluminum frame yielded no surprises - well-built and bomber. The low-slung top tube and arced downtube give the Process a pedigree-matching aggressive appearance. This year’s slacker headtube angle and steeper seat tube angle are evident, giving it a slightly rowdier attitude than its predecessor.

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The previous generation of Process 153 had a 66-degree head tube angle coupled with a 51mm offset fork and a 42mm stem. Kona made the right move slackening the headtube angle 1.5-degrees, going with the 42mm offset fork, and shortening the stem to 35mm. The result is a bike that descends like a monster, changes direction responsively, and feels even more glued in the turns.

This year's DL build spec is offered in one highly visible color; gloss metallic yellow with charcoal decals. The Process sports Kona’s Beamer single-pivot suspension design. We are fans of this effective and straightforward platform, but we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of this design later.

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Kona’s alloy frame has the rear brake, rear derailleur, and dropper post housing routed externally. Two brackets hold the housing in place atop the downtube via the bottle cage bosses followed by a series of zip ties. Throughout our long-term test, the cables stayed quiet and did as they were told. While this cable management system is functional, secure, and easy to maintain, we prefer the clean aesthetic of internal cable routing. The chainstay protector is very basic but managed to keep things quiet as well. It is possible to mount a bottle cage on top of the housing brackets on the top tube, but it is a very tight fit with a small water bottle.

Geometry

Kona updated the geometry for 2022, making it slacker and longer than the previous generation. Having spent so many hours aboard our own 2020 Kona Process 153, it was impossible not to compare the geometry to our 2022 Test bike. In many ways, this scenario was ideal because the geometry updates were easy to discern. With a 64.5-degree headtube angle, this year's Process is 1.5-degrees slacker than the previous version. This was a great decision on Kona’s part because it took an already capable trail bike and gave it extra stability at speed and on steep descents. The reach on a size large is 480 mm compared to 475 mm on the previous iteration and the 76.7-degree seat tube angle on this year’s model is almost a degree steeper than last year’s. The Process is now perfectly comfortable on the kind of advanced terrain it used to approach with a bit more hesitation.

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Setup

We have spent many hours aboard different steeds in Kona’s Process range and one of the standout features of all of them is that they fit effortlessly and feel natural right out of the box. The 2022 Process 153 follows suit. Simply add pedals, and after some basic setup, it is ready to rip.

To get things started we set both the rebound and compression settings on the RockShox Lyrik Select to the middle, 3 clicks from open for compression, and 12 clicks from open for rebound damping. For the rear, we set the RockShox Super Deluxe Select compression switch to party mode and set the rebound to the middle, 4 clicks from open. Honestly, it felt pretty good with everything set to the middle, but we tinkered with settings to bring out different ride qualities. We feel like 30% sag in the rear and the recommended pressure in the front are a good baseline. Our 160lb test rider achieved those sag settings with 159psi in the rear and 64psi in the fork.

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On The Trail

With all the clickers set to the middle, we headed to Auburn, CA to sample a little bit of everything in this section of the American River Canyon. As the moniker implies, the Process touts 153mm of rear travel rear and 160mm in front. This is more than enough travel for the terrain in this area but it never actually felt like too much. On the smooth climbs and road sections, the Process just puts in the work. Switching the compression lever on the rear shock to the climb mode helps minimize power lost in pedal bob. The Process kept up just fine on an uninterrupted four-mile climb. We were equally as happy to ride climbs with the switch flipped open, especially on technical trails. The Beamer suspension stays high in the travel and we had more traction when punching it up steps and rooty sections. The geometry updates were evident to us on the first big descent while blasting rock gardens and the steepest sections. The slacker headtube angle and the longer cockpit were confidence boosters. While in Auburn on our first ride, we managed to put a sizeable dent in the sidewall of the rear rim.

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Next, it was off to Downieville, CA to party on some beautifully crafted single track carved into the loamy soil and granite of the Lost Sierra. The Process proved itself worthy on fast and technical trails like Third Divide and First Divide. There were some sections when we wished our brakes hit stronger.

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DH/Technical Performance/Fun Factor

Kona's Process 153 shines in the rough stuff. The fork is a bit soft in the midstroke when the trail has you pounding through successive hits. Still, we found the ride predictable through even the most puckery technical stuff. The Process’s 29-inch wheels and copious travel make it easy to travel through minefields of softball-sized chunk. On the flowy stuff, the Process has a magic carpet-like feel that might muffle trail feedback on smoother or more moderate trails. Kona makes a Process 134 that would likely feel more lively on mellower rides.

Rear Suspension Performance

The RockShox Super Deluxe Select has all you need and nothing you don’t. Rebound can be adjusted via a large adjuster knob on top of the shock and an easy-to-flip switch lets you choose between super firm for climbing and wide open for party time.

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The beamer rear suspension on the Process handles business. There is great small bump sensitivity in the upper stroke while still maintaining a firm platform to push against. We love the way that the rear pops and responds to rider input, especially with the rebound set on the faster side. We only came close to bottoming out the rear shock when a tailwind sent us way deep onto a flat landing. One critique we have about the feel and performance of the rear suspension pertains to the midstroke. While it does not bottom out easily, it does blow through the mid-travel easily when hucked off of larger drops upon landing from big sends. Cascade Components make an aftermarket link for the Process 153 that addresses this issue by increasing the progression. We tested this link on a different Kona Process and are huge fans of what it did for a 2020 Kona Process 153 29.

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Perceived Weight

Our size large test bike weighed 34.8 lbs without pedals. We’d love to tell you that it doesn’t feel that heavy, but it feels exactly that heavy. Lifting it in and out of the shuttle rig, starting and stopping, and climbing steep stuff reminded us that we were riding a hefty trail weapon. The weight is not a deal-breaker, though. At speed, the suspension does a great job floating the rider over all the chunk and it’s always poised to preload and go airborne. We never found it too heavy to get up steep climbs or when pushing up the hiking sections. Will you get tired sooner pushing and pulling this beast all day? Possibly, but we think you’ll be having too much fun to care.

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Sprinting

The Process moves when you put the power down, but it’s not an XC weapon. For more on this topic, re-read the prior section.

Climbing

Don’t let the beefy stature of the Kona Process 153 29 fool you, it climbs really well. With the climb switch on, this thing goes uphill and eats up the rolling terrain like Ricky Bobby. We opened the tap and poured some hurt on our friends on more than one occasion.

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Build Kit

The Process 153 DL build is economically outfitted with a blend of workhorse and entry-level components. Notably, SRAM drivetrain and brakes, a TransX dropper, and Kona bar, stem, and grips. The 12-speed drivetrain consists of a GX rear derailleur, NX 12 speed Cassette: 11T-50T, NX shifter, NX Cranks with 32T chainring, and an SX chain. During our three-month test, there were not any mechanical issues with this drivetrain. It may be modest, but it works well and keeps that price point closer to Earth.

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For brakes, the Process is equipped with the SRAM G2 RS, a 200mm front rotor, and a 180mm rear rotor. On more than one occasion when our brakes were being greatly tested, we felt under-braked in the rear, having to squeeze a little harder to make a hairpin. Upsizing to a 200mm rear rotor could be a quick way to address this, or even the list of upgrades to dream about as your riding progresses aboard the Process 153.

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The Trans-X + RAD dropper post gives the user the ability to adjust 170mm of travel in 5 mm increments all the way down to 140mm. We wouldn’t compare it to things that are really slippery, like butter. The Trans-X dropper lever doesn’t feel super precise through its range of motion. While the Trans-X dropper did not disappoint us, we missed the crisper action of higher-end dropper posts.

Kona has the cockpit dialed with their company-branded Kona XC 35 bar and stem combo finished with Kona Key grips. The alloy handlebar is stout and also does a good job damping some chatter.

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Fork Performance

The RockShox Lyrik Select 160mm with 42mm offset suits this bike perfectly and makes sense at this price point. The Debonair air spring is as buttery smooth and plush as it is on the higher-end Lyrik Ultimate. After some tuning, we found it totally adequate on just about everything we rode. Our initial setup with air pressure and the low compression adjustment to 3 out of 5 clicks from open, it was a little too easy to blow through all of the travel. Closing the Charger RC compression damper all the way helped. For some riders, the stock configuration might be totally fine, but we decided that adding more volume spacers was the way to go. We went from one spacer to 3 spacers in the air chamber and that greatly improved the midstroke support. It is definitely worth mentioning that we had a loud clicking noise develop start on the Charger RC damper side of the fork. RockShox was super responsive, serviced the fork, and we were off the bike for less than a week. The serviced fork felt and sounded good as new.

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Tire Performance

It would be hard to argue with Kona’s choice of tires, and we won’t. Maxxis Assegai 2.5 EXO 3C up front and Minion DHR II 2.4 EXO 3C on the rear. This is a time-tested combo and choice of widths. There are many riders that may need the extra sidewall protection that the Maxxis EXO+ and Double Down casings offer. Keep that in mind for when the stock tires wear out.

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Wheel Performance

The wheels are comprised of WTB KOM Trail i30 alloy rims laced to Formula hubs with black stainless spokes. They performed well in all aspects of riding. How long they will last will correlate to how hard you are going to ride them. They served us valiantly as we cheerfully tested their limits over a few months of riding. We managed to dent the sidewall on the rear rim, but it still holds air and has lots of miles of shredding left. We think that upgrading the wheelset to a lighter set with more engagement in the freewheel would be a killer first upgrade.

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Long-Term Durability

The Kona Process fits well with the legacy of Kona’s bomb-proof frames. With easy-to-service pivots and the mix of SRAM mid-level and lower-level drivetrain components, the Process 153 DL will stand up to a lot of hard riding. In our opinion, the wheelset will be the first to necessitate an upgrade. After all, wheels are the part that we purposely smash against rocks. We think the SRAM G2 RS brakes might warrant regular bleeds in order to stay firm and bite hard, and as we mentioned already, a larger rear rotor would add power.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Process 153 29 negotiates chunky rock gardens and loose gnar with a positive attitude and pedals very efficiently too. This is not a whip that you have to hesitantly acclimate yourself to, it feels natural. For those reasons, the Process 153 DL is well suited for riders of all skill levels, whether you are pushing it hard to the limit or progressing on some flow at the bike park. It is a worthy platform for upgrades and at $4,399 you can dream about investing in a fancy wheelset and more powerful brakes. That being said, the process is an outstanding choice for the rider who is upgrading from an entry-level bike as well as the more experienced rider on a budget.

Learn more at Konaworld.com


About the Tester

John Armbruster - Age: 43 // Years Riding MTB: 20 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 157-pounds (71.2kg)

John has spent enough time mountain biking to witness the technical evolution of our sport and its bikes. Fads have come and gone but the fun never dies. He won't say no to a new trail or another lap, and when the bikes are clapped, John has the mechanical experience to revive his rigs from the ground up. Once resuscitated, he's back on the trail, clocking the miles, vert, and shenanigans.

Specifications

Product Kona Process 153 DL 29 Bike
Model Year 2022
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
MD, LG, XL View Geometry
Size MD LG XL
Top Tube Length 599mm 628mm 667mm
Head Tube Angle 64.5° 64.5° 64.5°
Head Tube Length 97mm 108mm 119mm
Seat Tube Angle 76.9° 76.7° 76.6°
Seat Tube Length 410mm 450mm 485mm
Bottom Bracket Height 345mm (30mm drop) 345mm (30mm drop) 345mm (30mm drop)
Chainstay Length 435mm 435mm 435mm
Wheelbase 1215mm 1244mm 1284mm
Standover 700mm 710mm 720mm
Reach 455mm 480mm 515mm
Stack 615mm 625mm 635mm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details Butted 6061 aluminum, molded chainstay protection
Rear Travel 153mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, trunnion mount
Fork RockShox Lyrik Select RC, Charger damper, DebonAir spring, 42mm offset
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Headset FSA Orbit 1.5 E ZS
Handlebar Kona XC/BC 35, 35mm clamp diameter
Stem Kona XC/BC 35, 35mm bar clamp
Grips Kona Key Grip
Brakes SRAM G2 RS, 4-piston, SRAM CenterLine rotors (200mm front, 180mm rear)
Brake Levers SRAM G2 RS
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
Front Derailleur None
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide None
Cranks SRAM NX Eagle DUB
Chainrings SRAM NX Eagle, X-SYNC, 32 tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB, PF92 PressFit
Pedals None
Chain SRAM SX Eagle, 12-speed
Cassette SRAM NX Eagle PG-1230, 12-speed, 11-50 tooth
Rims WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS, 30mm inner width, tubeless compatible
Hubs Formula, 110x15mm Boost front, 148x12mm Boost rear with HG driver
Spokes Stainless steel, 14g
Tires Front: Maxxis Assegai, 3C, EXO, TR, 29" x 2.5" WT
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 3C, EXO, TR, 29" x 2.4" WT
Saddle WTB Volt
Seatpost TransX +RAD dropper
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp Kona, single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 148x12mm Boost
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts One inside front triangle
Colors Gloss Metallic Yellow with Charcoal decals
Warranty Lifetime frame
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous • Beamer Independent Suspension design
• External cable routing with internal dropper seatpost routing
Price $4,399
More Info

konaworld.com

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