Kona designed the Rove as a versatile machine, mixing the practicality of its commuter and touring models with the fit and geometry of its cyclocross heritage. The result is a bike that feels responsive, but still delivers versatility that will keep you rolling all year.
It seems rim vs. disc brakes has superseded Campagnolo vs. Shimano as the debate du jour in the bicycle industry, and there’s no doubt which side I’m on. A mechanical disc brake is easy to set up, simple to maintain, performs well, and inspires far more confidence in this rider than a rim brake ever could. The Rove’s Hayes CX5 calipers did seem underpowered at first, but once the pads were bedded in they stopped just as I had hoped. I’m a little surprised to see 140mm rotors spec’d when 160mm wouldn’t seem excessive.
Built from chromoly steel, the frame includes single-eyelet fender and rack mounts. Since the rear disc caliper is mounted inboard on the chainstay, no special disc brake adapters are needed on the rear, though you’ll still need a spacer for a fender out front. The mid-mount fork eyelets on Kona’s venerable steel Project 2 fork allow a lowrider front rack, too.
Though the riding position is sporty, the Rove’s 27lb. weight is enough to keep me from choosing this as a race bike, and I’ve found it prefers a more steadfast pace. Once it’s rolling, however, it traverses big miles with comfort and confidence. The Rove frame has also been adopted to loaded touring use as Kona’s Sutra model, so you know it’s stout.
A key feature I really appreciated was the stiffness of the frame. Yes, it adds to the heft, but I’ll take the weight penalty if it means the bike is stable and predictable bombing down a hill or when carrying a load. I absolutely despise bikes with poor front-to-back or fork stiffness, but the Rove is nothing but solid.
The larger-than-average tire clearance is welcome, too. Most cyclocross or commuter bikes can swallow nothing more than a 35c tire, while the Rove opens up for 40c tires and above. The bigger tires let you go roving places that other bikes can’t. I didn’t think twice about hitting some local singletrack.
Propulsion duties are handled by SRAM’s entry-level Apex drivetrain, with a 36/46-tooth “cyclocross” crankset and a wide-range 11-32-tooth 10-speed cassette. This setup perfectly suited the Rove’s character, with the two chainrings effectively acting as a “high” and “low” gear while the big cassette gave me all the range I needed to get up and over any hill.
The Rove has been a fun companion. I know I can take it anywhere and it will take years—or decades—of abuse. After all, it comes with a lifetime warranty. I think of it as a really sporty station wagon. It can handle all the cargo you need, but it’s a lot more fun to drive.
- Price: $1,700
- Weight: 27lbs.
- Country of origin: Taiwan
- Sizes Available: 47, 49, 53, 56, 59 (Tested), 61cm