WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
This Kona is designed with durability in mind, and it shows in
the details. The pivots are all oversized to increase stiffness and
usable life. When you finally do need to service them, every pivot
uses the same bearing, and the bearing’s size details are etched into
the pivot bolts, making finding the correct replacement a cinch.
The RockShox Boxxer Race is a welcome spec on the
Operator, sporting a fully adjustable air spring and a rarely-seen-at-this-price low-speed compression adjustment. The
two adjustments allow the rider to perfectly tune the fork to
feel supple over high-speed chatter and still resist diving
from rider weight shifts and hard braking.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The Operator sports a natural geometry
that’s right at home on nearly any downhill track. The
geometry places the rider in a very balanced position. The
head angle feels slack and stable, yet not so raked as to feel
unnatural on a flatter course.
Descending: The Walking Beam rear suspension gives
the Operator an incredibly predictable feel. Over rocky ter-
rain and high-speed chatter, the suspension
delivers smooth, usable travel. The top
end of the stroke is buttery smooth
over small bumps. For larger hits,
the Operator suspension feels
naturally progressive and
resists harsh bottoming.
Braking: While the
Operator chassis is not com-
pletely free of input from
braking, the design mini-
mizes the effect it has on ride
quality. The fork resists brake
dive as well, which keeps the
geometry consistent when
braking, even on steep descents.
Cornering: The low center of
gravity delivers on high-speed, laid-
over corners and is coupled with a bal-
anced suspension feel, which forces the wheels to track the
trail confidently. This is a stable bike that listens to the
rider’s input. Beginners and experts alike will feel inspired
to rail the Operator through berms.
The Maxxis tire spec shows incredible attention to
detail. The High Roller rear is fast-rolling with an aggressive side knob. The Minion DHF front is one of the best
front downhill tires we’ve ever ridden. Nice job, Kona.
Pedaling: The Operator is designed to have gravity feed
its habit. Still, the Fox Van RC shock and RockShox
Boxxer Race fork provide a solid platform when well
adjusted, which improves pedaling efficiency. The bike still
needs to go on a diet, though, to improve its sprinting ability.
Getting air: While some gravity bikes can be a handful
in the air, the Operator sails easily. The relatively short
chainstays keep the front end lively and allow the rear
wheel to pop off lips without manhandling the bike. On
jump trails, like Livewire at Northstar or A-Line at
Whistler, the Operator will be right at home.
May 2012 / MOUN TAIN BIKE AC TION 79
A Downhill Sled On A Budget
The Kona Operator
Kona has been at the forefront of progressive mountain biking since its inception, and the Operator is their latest offering. The Operator takes cues from both the
Stinky and Stab platforms of the past, but this bike brings
new-school geometry and suspension design to the table. It
draws on Kona’s slopestyle heritage and input from riders like
Graham Aggasiz to get the job done. Kona is also well known
for their premier park bikes. They have been the house brand
at many bike parks since mountains first began using chairlifts for mountain bikes. Their bikes can be ridden hard day
in, day out without batting an eye.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Operator is designed for hard riding in the bike park
all week. It can also be raced downhill on Sunday. It’s
affordable and easy to work on—perfect for the enthusiast
on a budget. It shares the same frame as the Supreme
Operator, which is a World Cup downhill-ready race bike.
The Operator is designed to be ridden hard and upgraded as
the entry-level parts wear out.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Operator is made from aluminum. It uses Kona’s
Walking Beam rear suspension, which is a modified single-pivot design. The frame is held together with oversized bearings at the pivots and is designed with a modern, low-slung,
aggressive, race-inspired geometry.
The frame sports a 12x150-millimeter axle, tapered head
tube, 83-millimeter bottom bracket and ISCG-05 mounts to
mount the chainguide.