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Kona Dr. Good Review

I’ve had this bike (official product page) since December 2010 so I think I have had enough time cycling it to be able to post a review.

My Beloved Kona Dr. Good, kitted out for the commute

Prior to riding this bike I’d been on a Free Radicalised,  Electra Townie which is a fantastic bike (currently sitting in the shed disassembled from the house move in February). However it seemed too heavy for the daily commute when I wasn’t using it as my primary transport any longer. I’m lucky to have a great LBS (Local Bike Shop, in case you’re wondering what that oft used TLA is) in Moycullen Bike Works who don’t push you when you go in for a chat. Garry (MBW) was initially suggesting the Norco XFR 4 (as he also rides a Norco XFR among other bikes) which appealed with the relaxed frame and front suspension. I was considering the front suspension due to my wrists being painful for several weeks after a tumble on my older Raleigh hybrid and the roads along the route from Moycullen to Dangan (Galway) being in such a shocking state of disrepair. Eric (MBW) also had a Kona 2011 catalogue and knows of my interest in internal hubs as he did the wonderful conversion on my Electra Townie. That was it, the Dr Good was perfect for me as soon as I saw it in there; internal hub, front disc brake and rear roller brake on a relaxed frame. Depending on the Sterling exchange rate you’ll pay about €700 for it (that’s the price I paid).

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  The struts fixing the rack to the frame, re-using supplied mounting clips to affix to the rack itself
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Six months on, it remains the perfect bike for me. I’ve made three modifcations to the bike; replaced the handlebar stem, added a rear pannier rack and mudguards. The rack and mudguards are obvious, it’s a commuting bike in wet and mucky West of Ireland. Fitting the rack and mudguards weren’t entirely straightforward. The rack has struts which are supposed to screw onto the frame but weren’t an exact fit. This meant a bit of fiddling to find a way to attach them but got the job done in the end. The front mudguard was difficult to fit due to the disc brake.

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  Mudguard struts affixed 'high' on the front fork.
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  Replacement Handlebar Stem
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The disc brake calliper assembly mounts on the forks where the mudguard struts would normally go. So, I had to mount the struts higher on the fork meaning taking a hacksaw to the struts.I’d recommend, on reflection, buying a mudguard that doesn’t have mounting struts but secures to the top of the fork solely. The stem replacement is less obvious and relates to my preference to sit as upright as possible on a bike. The factory stem is non-adjustable so your handlebars will always be in a fixed location, relative to where you sit, at a fixed height. I bought a replacement stem which supports a variable angle of adjustment for about €35. It took about 5-10 minutes to fit to the bike.

 

 

 

 

 

Riding the bike is a joy, it’s light and the internal hub gears are perfect for urban cycling. The wheels are 700 x 32 so there’s a nice balance between grip and lower rolling resistance. I’m perfectly happy with the stock tyres (Continental CityRIDE 700x32C) which stand up to commuting just fine. I haven’t had too many punctures (around 5 in 7 months of cycling, covering ~1300km) and anyone who knows the Galway City streets, knows they are in poor repair and frequently littered with broken glass. The handlebars supplied (Handplant Bar) are reminiscent of a cruiser and extremely comfortable. The only maintenance I’ve had to do on the bike (aside from oiling the chain and punctures) is:

  • Push the rear wheel back in the dropouts as the chain stretched out
  • Adjust the tension on the rear brake cable as it stretched
  • Adjust the gear cable again due to stretching
  • Replace the rear tube (see the next paragraph)

There is one significant issue that I did encounter though. It occurred in the past week as it happens and was when I found myself needing to do a roadside tube replacement on the rear wheel. With an internally geared hub you have a cable connected to the wheel hub. The Shimano 7 speed hub with a roller brake (it’s a drum brake) fitted you have another cable connected (on the opposite side of the hub to the gear cable) – see the images on this Inter 7 product page and you should understand what it looks like. What this means is you can’t simply lift the wheel from the dropout and slide the tubes on and off. After a lot of head scratching I figured out that you could remove the roller brake assembly from the hub and so remove the tube. I suspect a lot of people would not be comfortable with this level of disassembly. This isn’t a defect on the part of Kona’s design obviously, nor is it really Shimano’s issue. It’s a downside to the configuration which makes the bike really simple (the roller brake is very effective in all weather conditions, like the front disc brake) but you do pay a price in the ease of maintenance for this convenience. It’s not a big deal when you know about it – knowing about it is key though and it’s not going to be common knowledge.

I love cycling and this is a great commuter bike. Kona sell a wide selection of frame sizes so you can get this bike in a size that’s just right for you and that makes a huge, huge difference to comfort and safety.

 

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  <em>Disclosure: The nature of blog reviews these days is that the independence of the author is now questioned by default. So here goes; I have no relationship with Kona, Norco, Xtracycle, Electra or Shimano. In all cases, bar Norco, I&#8217;m simply a consumer who bought one of their bikes through a reseller (I haven&#8217;t bought anything from Norco I just looked at some of their bikes from the XFR and VFR ranges). I&#8217;ve spoken in glowing terms about Moycullen Bike Works here and in person to lots of people (I think the quality of Eric&#8217;s work as a mechanic is second to none and say that). I get on really well with Eric and Garry from the shop and see them around Galway a lot. When I lived in Moycullen I would often stop by and chat about cycling. I&#8217;ve had work on my bikes done by them and bought the Dr Good as well as various accessories. On pretty much every purchase from them I&#8217;ve been given some sort of discount, ranging from €2 or €3 on accessories to reduced labour costs on repairs. On the Dr Good, Eric quoted the price as around €700 when converting from Sterling and we left it at that when I paid. I&#8217;ve never asked for (directly or indirectly) a discount or any other consideration (neither asked/offered) so I can&#8217;t see anything that would suggest me &#8216;shilling&#8217; for them. I take &#8216;€20 is grand&#8217; when the register says €22 as the norm of small business dealings in Ireland. I&#8217;m happy to discuss any queries if I&#8217;ve left anything out.</em>
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