Getting the ball rolling for the new model year is the 2020 Kona Sutra range!
Kona has always been a progressive bike company in terms of design and specification. Whether it’s playing with the steering speed, developing a progressive size range, adding small frame details or simply fitting parts that people like – Kona tend to keep tabs on the market and innovate regularly. The 2020 Kona Sutra has received a raft of changes for the new product year, and to a lesser extent, so has the 2020 Kona Sutra LTD.
Let’s take a closer look.
The 2020 Kona Sutra Touring Bike
Beyond the obvious change of colour to Desert Green (which looks brilliant IMO), the Sutra frameset finally gets some 3-boss cargo cage mounts on its fork. The Sutra forks had the regular 2-boss mounts last year, but hey, it’s never a bad thing to have more luggage options for your fork!
The 12mm thru-axles (100mm and 142mm rear) caused a bit of a stir when they were introduced to the Sutra last year, but this axle standard is becoming more and more common on road and gravel bikes. The biggest benefits are that your wheels always sit perfectly flush in the dropouts, and the axles rarely loosen themselves.
But getting a replacement hub in Africa, Central Asia or South America will likely require getting it shipped in. I personally don’t find this a problem as I find that good quality gear needs to be shipped in any way, but some might find it off-putting. It’s worth noting that the Formula hubs spec’d with the bike are quite unlikely to fail.
The barend shifters on the bike are now from Microshift. These shifters are ‘indexed’ as standard, which means that every click changes one gear at a time, but they can also be adjusted to run as ‘friction’ shifters too. In short, you can manually adjust the gears like a 1970s road bike, which is a handy feature if you haven’t mastered tuning your derailleurs.
With the new model year comes a new crankset. Shimano Deore M6000 has recently rolled out on new bikes, and the Sutra is no exception. This touring crankset has a nicer finish than previously, with a new chainguard and 48-36-26 tooth chainrings to help achieve a massive gear range of 20-119″. With a 119 gear inch top gear, you’ll be able to pedal downhill at 57kmh/36mph while still maintaining a reasonable cadence.
Along with the crankset update, the rest of the Sutra has been changed to Shimano Deore M6000 parts too. This includes the front and rear derailleurs, as well as the chain and cassette. The cassette now has a 36t ‘bailout’ gear – resulting in a super low 19.7 gear inch climbing gear. This translates to hill climbs at 5.7kmh/3.5mph with a 60RPM pedalling cadence. Perfect for most paved road climbs and many off-road climbs too!
The WTB 36-hole rims have been changed too. You’ll now be getting the same rim but with a wider internal width that is 23mm (up from 19mm). This increased width better suits fatter gravel tyres (45-55mm), but will still allow you to fit a fast 700c x 35mm slick tyre for the ultra-smooth roads. The bike comes with Schwalbe Mondial 40mm tyres as standard which are ultra puncture-resistant and long-lasting for touring.
Rounding out the build is a tan Brooks B17 leather saddle (definitely a touring favourite), a rear rack, full-length fenders and TRP Spyre cable disc brakes. The Spyre brakes have a similar braking performance to many hydraulic calipers thanks to the fact they pull both brake pads in at the same time – again, making them a great component choice by Kona.
You can find the 2020 Kona Sutra for US $1499.
The 2020 Kona Sutra LTD Bikepacking Bike
The Kona Sutra LTD uses the same steel frame as the Sutra touring bike, but it’s kitted out with more of a gravel / bikepacking build. This sheds a few kilograms off the bike to bring the weight under ~13kg (28.7lbs).
Compared to the regular touring bike, the LTD has received fewer changes for this year. The colour is now Earth Grey which looks like it’ll do a pretty good job of hiding the mud on your bike. The earthy colour, along with the mud, will also complement nicely with the tan tyre sidewalls!
The biggest changes to the Sutra LTD are found at the wheels. Kona has upped the internal rim width to 25mm on a WTB KOM Light rim (up from 23mm). This width is now perfect for tyres in the 700x45C to 29×2.0-2.2″ size range. Kona has also matched these new wider rims to some WTB Venture 29×2.0″ tyres, up from 700x45C.
It’s worth noting that this wheelset uses a lightweight rim and 32 spokes, while the regular Sutra uses a heavy-duty rim and 36 spokes. If you’re hard on your gear or want something more bombproof, the standard model is the better pick.
Like previous years, the Sutra LTD uses a 1×11 drivetrain – the SRAM Rival 1 shifter and derailleur have been matched to a wide range 10-42t mountain bike cassette. With the 36 tooth front chainring, this yields a 25 to 104″ gear range, a little high for off-road touring really, but ok on flatter terrain. Switching the front chainring out to a 30 or 32t will likely be necessary if you like big mountain roads like me.
Both the Sutra and Sutra LTD have a very generous tyre clearance of 29×2.2″ without fenders. Word on the street is that 27.5×2.6″ tyres squeeze in too. However, you will need to be careful when using tyres this wide because they have a significantly reduced ability to shed any sticky mud! I know from experience…
The LTD employs a wider and more flared handlebar (16-degrees) than the standard Sutra model to provide additional steering leverage for the off-road stuff. If you’re spending the majority of your time on rough trails, I’d suggest going even wider with a Crust Shaka or Salsa Woodchipper handlebar!
SRAM Rival hydro disc brakes pull the Sutra LTD up on a dime. These have a bit more braking power and require less maintenance than the cable disc brakes of the Sutra, but the annual brake bleed will be a bit more complicated (might be a job for a bike shop).
The price of the 2020 Kona Sutra LTD is now US $2199.
Want To Compare The Kona Sutra With Dozens of Others?
Check out the Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide which compares touring bike steering, sizing, gear ratios, specification, pricing and more. The Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide does the same thing, however, with a focus on lighter bikes and models with more off-road capability. Both of these guides are updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost!
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