Ride on with our CX buddy Jake

Our UA Crew member Parker recently swapped up to a new set of wheels. Here’s his review of his new ride, the Kona Jake:

For a year or so I have been riding a women’s road bike (Giant OCR) that most would call too large for me. I got used to it after a while and dealt with it like i deal with my limited budget. Recently I have been able to get back into the new bike market and started thinking about what would suit my range of needs. These include: speed, weight, durability, reliability, commutability and about 10 more ‘bilities. I use the bike mainly for commuting but would like to be able to do some light road racing/longer rides.

My search started with tried and true steel road bikes–that’s what I have been used to and that’s what’s familiar. Poking around online for months I found plenty of options in my price range, mostly consisted of piecing together my own build, but was never completely sold on one setup.

About a month ago I started to look at cyclocross (CX) bikes, which are modified road bike frames running standard 700c wheels and 9-10 speed brake/shifters but with beefy tires and cantilever mountain-bike-style brakes. They are the result of a sport of happily loony people that race around circuit tracks in the mud and over large obstacles. To add to their pride in the sport and its seemingly sideways nature, their season is always in the fall/winter.

UA Crew member Niko racing CX for Boston University

I took my first ride on a CX bike a month ago on the Kona Jake. It all felt pretty familiar to me, drop bars, “skinny” tires, 10 speeds. My first ride was mixed, it felt a lot like a road bike with some knobby tires. It was smooth and comfortable (Chinatown streets are now bearable) but at the sacrifice of some speed because of the larger mud-based tires. It seemed to me a perfect rig to throw on some smaller slick tires and call it a perfect commuting/’round town rig; so I picked up a 2010 Kona Jake.

Unboxing and building up the bike was a treat; I would compare it to Christmas 1993. The bike popped out of the box with its electric blue accents providing a pleasant surprise in person. The welds on the sturdy 7005 pipes looked consistent, industrial and certainly not upsetting to the eye. Making the frame a bike, Kona added a Shimano Tiagra group-set, FSA Omega Cranks, and Kore Brakes. Torqued down, tuned and adjusted I headed out on my first ride.

It seems to accelerate very smoothly and with some added pep due to it’s lightweight components. The shifting is also clarified due to the industry standard group-set that shifts consistently and crisply. The wheelset, shod in 700×35 tires, put the power to the pavement well while also soaking up the bumps and debris in the road. It corners excellently; sharp without the slightest sign of twitchy misleadings and with the high set bottom bracket there is no chance of clipping the road with a pedal.

After riding 23c tires my entire “road career” I had mixed feelings about the fat tires shod in knobs for the mud. As days go by I enjoy more and more the security of being able to hop off curbs, hit potholes (not intentionally), and in general not have to worry about Boston road conditions. I think I will keep the tires for more dedicated off-road ventures but I will be sure to keep a larger profile tire in my stable.

In conclusion I am becoming more and more satisfied by the day with my purchase. No bike is perfect right out of the box, at least for me, but the 2010 Jake came as close as you can get. For the price you can’t get more in a bike. If you are also in the market for a fast ride around town that is capable of touring/light-racing/commuting make sure to come by the Bike Shop at Urban AdvenTours and try out one of our CX bikes. We have the Kona Jake and Masi CX Speciale in stock and are able to order any cross bike from all of our dealers: Kona, Masi, Giant, All City, and Surly.

Keep the rubber down,
Parker Musselman
UA Staff

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