Kona Bicycle Company
Kona Bikes is a bicycle company based in the Pacific of Canada. Founded in 1988 and still owned by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron in Vancouver, it has its US Headquarters in Ferndale, Washington with a European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and Canadian headquarters in Vancouver, BC.
Gerhard and Heilbron worked initially with Mountain Bike Hall of Fame rider Joe Murray to create a range of custom steel hardtails. Kona was the first brand to produce a complete range of sloping top tube design mountain bike frames. The Canadian headquarters are located near the famous North Shore mountains of Vancouver, leading Kona to develop a range of Freeride mountain bikes in 1998 known for durability as well as for their ability to handle extremely technical downhill terrain.
Kona has gone on to develop a complete range of road, commuter, cyclo-cross in addition to a complete range of mountain bikes. Using a range of materials including Carbon Fiber, Titanium, Aluminum and Steel, Kona's bikes are sold in over 60 countries worldwide.
The company's website is located at www.konaworld.com.
• Kona is founded by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron, with offices opening in Vancouver, BC and Blaine, Washington. First bicycles are introduced as Cascade, but changed later in the year to Kona. Joe Murray is the first bike designer/product manager.
• First race team consists of Joe Murray and Dave Turner. Joe is inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
• Kona introduces the first set of front/rear MTB tires: Maximum/Reaction designed by Joe Murray.
• Grassroots racing program introduced in October. More than 4,000 riders have raced for Kona since the inception of the program.
• Project Two, the first straight leg MTB production fork is introduced. Throughout the Kona range today, there are more than 10 versions of this fork produced for 26”, 29” and 700c wheel mountain and asphalt bikes.
• World Champion DH rider Cindy Devine joins the Kona Factory Team. She takes the Bronze medal at the World Championships in September 1991 and a World Cup DH victory at Mount Snow, VT in June 1992. She is inducted into the MTB Hall of Fame in 2003.
• The Future Shock fork is introduced, a leading-link design by Joe Murray. In a very amicable agreement with Specialized, the name is changed to Z-Link. The fork is a total flop, is never safe to ride, and all stock is dumped into the Straight of San Juan de Fuca.
• Kona Hahanna and Fire Mountain are the first Kona Asphalt models, designated as, "Mountain Cross" hybrid bicycles with 26 x 1.50 slick tires.
• Kona Kilauea wins 1993 "Bike of the Year" from Mountain Biking magazine.
• Sex One and Sex Too are introduced in September, the first Kona dual-suspension bicycles.
• Humuhumu-Nukunuku-Apu'A wins out as the name for the Kona single speed cruiser over Unit. It’s the longest name used for a bicycle model and the first named after a state fish.
• Kona introduces the Buck-A-Bike program on February 14. A total of $80,000 is raised between 1995–1998 by the program which supported cycling advocacy organizations like IMBA, Rails to Trails and NORBA.
• Kona Design Group creates first original dual suspension design—a unified, linear-rate design named Sex (for suspension experience) One, Too and Three.
• A two acre parcel is purchased and a 15,000 square foot office/warehouse is built in Ferndale, Washington, expanded to 30,000 square feet in 1998.
• Dave Wiens, 1993 US National champion, joins the Kona Factory Team. Inducted into the MTB Hall of Fame in 2000.
• Kona Factory rider Tomi Misser wins two World Cup DH races, the European DH championship and finishes 3rd overall in the World Cup during 1996 on the Kona Misser DH bike with 5 inches of travel. Limited production Kona DH Misser replica bikes are produced. The Stab Production DH bike is introduced in July 1997.
• Roland Green of Victoria, BC signs with the Factory Racing team and has an outstanding year: he wins the Canada Cup, Canadian MTB Championships, is 5th at the Norba Finals in Mammoth Lakes, and is 4th Espoir at the World Championships in Australia. Roland goes on to win the 2001 and 2002 World XC Championships.
• Jake the Snake cyclocross bike is introduced. Peter Wedge of the Kona Factory team wins Canadian CX championship, the first of seven.
• The first production Freeride bike, Stinky Dee-Lux is introduced, a 5-inch front and rear wheel travel “Out-of-Bounds” machine.
• The first IMBA-Kona Funraiser is held at the Interbike show in Anaheim. In the ten year lifespan of this even, the annual bowling event has raised over $100,000 for IMBA as well as $10,000 towards the purchase of the “Vietnam” trail network by NEMBA.
• Stab Dee-Lux is named “Downhill Bike of the Year” for 1999 by Mountain Bike Action.
• Chute “Out-of-Bounds” hardtail bike for dirt jumping/dual slalom is introduced. Mountain Biking magazine calls it “The Future of Mountain Biking”.
• Greg Minaar races DH in South Africa on a Kona Stab.
• The Hula, a 24-inch wheel aluminum kid’s mountain bike with shock fork is the first Kona kid’s production bike.
• Jake the Snake is inducted into the MTB Hall of Fame.
• The Whistler MTB Park opens, featuring a fleet of 135 Kona Garbanzo special edition high-performance downhill machines. By the end of the season, each bike will have been ridden more than a million vertical feet without a single frame failure.
• A is the shortest model name in the bike biz, a dual suspension bike with more shocks than it’s singlespeed gear.
• Kona is named Industry Advocate of the Year by BRAIN, awarded in recognition of many advocacy activities including Buck a Bike, Freeride Grants, Bear Bell Program, IMBA Bro Deals, Collegiate Scholarship and IMBA “Above and Beyond” supporter for 7 years.
• Fabien Barel wins the World Championships in Les Gets, France on a Stab Dee-Lux, and repeats in 2005.
• The Kona Global 24 Hour series is launched, with Kona sponsored days of pain in the UK, Australia and Colorado. It continues to expand to Finland and Switzerland, and moves to the Arizona desert in 2007.
• Dan Gerhard and Dr. Dew are inducted into the MTB Hall of Fame.
• Ryan Trebon wins the US National MTB XC race, with Barry in 2nd place. Barry wins the Short Track Nationals, Ryan takes 3rd.
• The Kona Africabike and Bicycling's Biketown Africa heads to Gaborone and Bobonong, Botswana in November. The Africabike is specifically designed for the needs of the mostly female healthcare workers where HIV and AIDS patients are currently serviced by walking. Built around a sturdy steel step-through frame, featuring heavy-duty tires and tubes from Continental and singlespeed coaster brake hubs from Shimano, this pilot project is likely to become the most important bike we've ever made. 3,500 Africabikes have been sent since the beginning of the program.
• The Kona Groove Approved Bike Park program adds Verbier (Switzerland), Livigno (Italy), Levi (Finland) and Killington (Vermont). There are now 20 parks on 4 continents featuring custom-built Kona Garbanzo park bikes in their rental fleets.
• Ryan Trebon wins the US Short Track MTB Nats and nabs silver at the MTB Marathon, as well as the overall USGP series of CX.
• Kona Bike One Million, a 17-inch CinderCone is produced and sold at Bow Cycles in Calgary, Alberta.
• The first electric-assist Kona bikes are finally a reality with the Electric Ute, Token & Ticket.
• Karim Amour takes the 1st big Enduro win for Kona on his 2010 Abracadabra at the Finale Ligure Superenduro.
• Barbara Trenary and Sandy Wallace work with the Kona Africabike 2 for 1 program and deliver 225 Africabikes to Gambian schoolchildren.
2011 • After 14 years of Stabs and Stinkys, the all-new Kona Operator downhill machine with 200mm of front and rear wheel travel is introduced by newcomer Joe Smith’s excellent 6th place finish at the Kona Canadian downhill during Crankworx. The subsequent video with a British Operator guiding Joe and his Shimano Saint equipped Supreme Operator down the slopes of Whistler remains the most popular Kona screening of all time with over 250,000 views.
• Kona Facebook hits 40,000 fans, 400 Kona dealers receive a Kona Fart Machine as Christmas presents and Lake Baikal (Russia) is circumnavigated by 4 Kona Units in December. There is nothing to be noted with regards to 4,000 or 40 of anything Kona.
Kona Factory Team
Kona has a long-standing tradition in the support of bicycle racing, beginning with their first product designer Joe Murray who was also a two-time US National mountain bike champion. Many elite riders have been part of the Kona Team including 2012 Giro D'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), World Downhill Champions Steve Peat (UK) and Greg Minnaar (RSA), 2004/2005 World Downhill Champion Fabien Barel (FR), World Cup Downhill Champion Tracy Moseley (UK), and US National Mountain Bike and Cyclo-Cross champions Ryan Trebon and Anne Knapp. Over 200 National and World Champions have been won by Kona riders.
The current Kona Factory team completes in National and International events and includes riders from the US, Canada, UK, Australia and France. Information on the current team is located at http://www.konaworld.com/team.cfm.
Kona is involved in cycling advocacy.
International Mountain Biking Association Kona has been an IMBA corporate supporter since 1994, and has developed fundraising projects including the Kona Buck-A-Bike program, the Kona Bro Deal program, the Interbike bowling tourney and Kona/IMBA Freeriding grants.
The Kona/IMBA bowling party, held at Interbike from 1998 until 2007, raised money for NEMBA, a New England IMBA-related advocacy group. Its purpose was to help purchase a large area for mountain biking by funding the KONA/IMBA freeride grants. The Kona/IMBA Freeride grants helped clubs throughout the US and Canada including:Rapid City, South Dakota; Grand Junction, Colorado; Hood River, Oregon; Coquitlam, British Columbia; St. Charles, Missouri; Surrey, British Columbia; Anderson, Indiana, and East Burke, Vermont. The grants helped build freeride features on trails, as well as building dirt jump parks in parks.
For 2008, Kona sponsored the IMBA Epic Rides program, helping fund four new rides throughout the United States and Canada. The trails set aside as Epic rides for 2008 were the Mid Mountain Epic in Park City, Utah; Comfortably Numb in Whistler, British Columbia; the trails sponsored by PAMBA outside of Peoria, Illinois, and the Loon Lake Epic in Tamarack, Idaho.
In 2006, Kona began its largest advocacy effort to date - BikeTown Africa. The Kona Africabike was a bike built in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Bicycling Magazine. The Kona Africabike was designed specifically to assist health care workers treating HIV and AIDS patients with the delivery of home health aids and other services in African Cities, starting with Bobonong, Botswana and Gaborone, Botswana. More recent projects have included Delft and Stellenbosch.
For 2008, Kona pledged to donate 1,000 Africabikes for the project and due to the overwhelming customer support of this project, Kona set up a non-profit/humanitarian organization from their European HQ in Geneva, Switzerland called Kona Basic Needs http://www.konabasicneeds.org. This organisations aim is to continue to raise more funds and awareness of the Kona Africabike program and to continue the donation of these bikes..
- Konaworld Official Website
- Kona's Vimeo page
- About Jacob Heilbron Founder
- Klassic Kona, a collection of past Kona bikes online