First Impression: Kona Rove

By Adam Newman

Kona’s advertising describes its new adventure/commuting/touring bike, the Rove, as “For the Never-Ending Road”, which is funny, because where I’ve been going, we don’t need roads.

The Rove ($1,699) is something of a mix of various Kona models: the fit and feel of the Jake the Snake cyclocross bike, eyelets and disc brakes from the Sutra touring bike, and the monstercross sensibility of the (now discontinued) Dew Drop. The Rove is designed for someone who does a little bit of everything: commuting, touring, even cyclocross racing.

The frame itself is no nonsense, butted chromoly mated to Kona’s venerable Project 2 steel fork. Kona has a reputation for building tough bikes that are designed to last, and I have no doubt the Rove will still be rolling after the Apocolypse. I’m guessing the tubing is sourced from one of Kona’s mountain bike models because it is as stiff (and as hefty) as any steel mountain bike I’ve ridden.

Highlights on the frame include full-length brake housings (for the inevitable availability of hydraulic brakes and protection from the elements), a full compliment of fender and rack mounts—including low-rider mounts on the fork, and an inset “Campy-style” headset. There is clearance for 35c tires and fenders, though please excuse the odd front fender setup pictured here, as I couldn’t get the stays on my old fenders to play nice with the disc brake caliper and resorted to some creative mounting. Also note the saddle pictured here is not the stock item, but a Syncros piece for a future review.

Propulsion on the Rove is handled by SRAM’s Apex group, which is not an ergonomic favorite of mine, but has performed flawlessesly. The 36/46 chainrings paired with an 11-32 cassette gives plenty of range for all but the most heavily loaded tours.

Though they’re anything but revolutionary, the disc brakes are So Totally Hot Right Now, and once the pads in the Hayes CX5 calipers bedded in a little the stopping power has been adequate, but not exemplary. I know many people are scared to spec a rotor larger than 140mm on a “road” bike, but I would have appreciated the extra stopping power. The location of the caliper inside the rear triangle on the chainstay makes installing fenders and racks on the rear a breeze. 

I’m looking forward to some more big adventures this spring with the Rove and I know she’ll be up to anything I can throw at her. Look for my long-term review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times, and be sure to subscribe today to make sure you never miss an issue.



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