the big (Ute) reveal

After all the hints an silliness, I've just posted the pics of my new surprise, a 2009 Kona Ute I picked up this past week from OnYourLeftCycle. I've only been on it for one day for one 27m ride, but I'm already impressed and excited about the possibilities. Lithodale stated that he could easily imagine me on this bike, which I take as a compliment. As a regular commute- though not of recent with NBPTS- I take it that the Ute is another step in using the bicycle as a transportation choice and not just a recreational one. I wasn't looking for another bike, at least since discussing a used A.H.H. with Pondero in TX. That deal smartly fell through, but this one came up suddenly. Drew at OYLC mentioned that the '09 Utes were going for a *very* fair price since the '10s had just rolled out. And they had a customer's in the shop for a test ride. My interested was piqued. The only thing the '10s had over the '09s was a rear disc brake and a rear fender; the brake I didn't worry about, the fender could be engineered b/c it already had room for hardware.

Shawnee Pk afternoon commute

Looking at the Ute, what I realized was that I could create a machine that allowed some judicious packing to make a tennis coach commuter, the TCC. It comes with the ginormous wet orange pannier for one side. That could be used for rackets, a med kit, and some other small accoutrement's. The right side has the space to mount a one of my lightweight tennis ball hopper. I can bungee one on to the frame and still have room for a 1/2 bag, which I bought as well. The 1/2 bag will be the school bag. On top I have room to bungee another empty hopper or other materials. The point of all this is that I don't have to stop riding during tennis season! Lost, barren Springs devoid of bike riding have always been an issue during tennis, but the Ute will provide an opportunity to continue doing my thing, at least until matches start when other considerations come into play.

Kona Ute. Some complain about those straps hanging. At this stop I did find two sets of buckles, one on the outside I presume for big gear, another on the inside to cinch the bag smaller. I used the outside before find the inside. Stuff does get jumbled in there, but bags plastic bags could solve this easily

As for the Ute itself, it's a 18", one of only 2 sizes. I test rode a 20" and I could actually ride it with the seat way down. The position is unlike any other bike I own. It's straight-up, hybrid style, with a clear view of the surroundings. I'll eventually put the sprung Brooks on it, but the factory saddle wasn't terrible, at least for 27m. The wheels are both the strong point and weak point for the Ute. Having 700c's, they roll quite well, contributing to a very positive ride quality, as evidence that I put on those 27m on its maiden voyage without a single tweak or adjustment. For ride quality, the 700s are great. I guess they're the weak point as well in that for serious hauling 26" wheels would be better, but every source says the Ute is more SUV than pick-up truck. The added frame length means cornering is a consideration and it's a bit slow leaving from a stop, but once you get going, it rides quite nicely. The 2x8 gearing is all low end, but the biggest gear available is plenty for city riding, and plenty for me. Another benefit is the double-leg kickstand. I like it, but it does contribute to the one quality that needs adjustment, which is weight distribution. If the bike is on the kickstand with too much weight on one side, it can tip over. As I understand, with ride quality the same rule applies. The best result will come from weight distribution on both sides, something that will be helped by the 1/2 bag when it's in.

I think, in the long run, I'm going to see the Ute as a bike that all active families should own. I've not worked through the quality issues or the bag usage yet, so this is not a long-term review, but this is a bike that rides well, comfortably, and comes ready with a honking-ass bag to haul groceries, hardware store goods, laundry, school materials and the such. I'm very excited about extended my riding into tennis season- as the ultimate phred tennis coach- and to use it year round as a really nice neighborhood bike. I think it behaves well enough that I could get my wife on it, although not now in the snow. More to come on this, but I've added yet another good one to the stable. You probably don't want to know the count now. It's absurd and as my previous post stated, it might be time to thin down. We'll see.


Pondero said…
Very cool. I'm all about finding ways to overcome obstacles to riding. If this delivers during tennis season, it's a big winner. However, it seems quite useful anyway. Congrats on the new addition!
David Crowell said…
Nice. I want to see pictures of it loaded with tennis gear this spring!
Doug said…
Welcome to the world of long tail bicycles. That'd be incredible if you could use it during the tennis season. I know that's always been frustrating for you.

If you use it for household errands, eventually you'll start to wonder how you got along without a utility bicycle like this. One of my greatest joys last summer was my Saturday morning errand runs on my Xtracycle.
Apertome said…
I could've sworn I commented here, but it's been a hell of a weekend, so I may just be confused.

Anyway, what a cool bike! I've read a little about these, but never seen one in person. I had been trying to figure out what you might have gotten, but I wouldn't have guessed this. Then again, I hadn't really come up with any real idea of what it might be.

I'm looking forward to seeing how you use it. In a way, I have to curse it because I felt I might be able to keep up with you, mileage-wise, this year, but if you are going to be ridding a whole extra season than usual, I'm not sure. I s'pose I have a little bit of a head start, currently, but I suspect it won't last long.

Congrats on the new bike, it truly is fantastic!
Anonymous said…
Nice looking bike! I really like that orange wet bag. Wonder if it'd fit on an Xtracycle?
I've dumped my long-tail over on it's kickstand more than I can remember. It only has a single kickstand, but I may pick up a double sided one in the future.
Look forward to reports from you in the future!
lithodale said…
I'm thinkin' you should call this one "No Excuses"...
Tex69 said…

I've heard the Ute bag does *not* work with Xtracycle gear and visaversa (sp?).

While a bummer, I decided the price for the full bike was a can't-miss. For sure I'll be posting cargo uses asap.

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