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Kona Satori 2019 Review

The Kona Satori has an interesting geometry that lends itself well to technical climbing and moderately aggressive riding.
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Price:  $2,399 List
Pros:  Steep seat tube angle, good climbing abilities, fun at moderate speeds
Cons:  Feels sluggish, steeper head tube angle, unimpressive component specification
Manufacturer:   Kona
By Jeremy Benson, Kyle Smaine  ⋅  Apr 16, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 8
  • Fun Factor - 30% 6
  • Downhill - 35% 7
  • Climbing - 35% 7

Our Verdict

The Kona Satori is an interesting mid-travel trail bike that has a unique geometry that defines its on-trail performance. It's a generally well-rounded ride but it certainly has a mellow attitude and prefers moderate speeds. Uphill performance is solid, the extra steep seat tube and moderately steep head tube angle puts you very directly above the cranks and keeps the weight forward to help you scramble over technical obstacles with responsive handling to navigate tight switchbacks. It's capable on the descents and can tackle just about any type of trail or terrain, but it has a speed limit that those who ride a little less aggressively will appreciate the most. The component specification is adequate and ready for action right out of the gate. Aggressive trail riders are probably better off looking elsewhere, but this is a good option for the mellower XC trail rider on a budget.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Kona Satori 2019
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $2,399 List$2,299 List$2,499 List$2,000 List$2,399 List
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Pros Steep seat tube angle, good climbing abilities, fun at moderate speedsVersatile, solid all-around performance, excellent component spec for the price,Nice component spec, well rounded performance, versatileMaestro suspension, Beefy tire spec, Stable at speed, AffordableBalanced suspension feel, good front tire spec, playful XC attitude
Cons Feels sluggish, steeper head tube angle, unimpressive component specificationModerately heavyCame with wrong size dropper post, moderately heavyFeels heavy, 1x10 drivetrain, Suntour fork is tricky to tuneLong stem, Steeper head tube angle, Recon fork
Bottom Line The Kona Satori has an interesting geometry that lends itself well to technical climbing and moderately aggressive riding.The YT Jeffsy AL Base is a comfortable, capable, and versatile trail bike and the winner of our Editor's Choice Award.The Polygon Siskiu T8 is a solid all-around trail bike and one of our highest rated budget-friendly models.The affordable Giant Trance 3 is a capable trail bike and the winner of our Best Buy Award.Kona's Hei Hei Trail is a playful and balanced trial bike and the winner of our Top Pick for XC Trail Riding Award.
Rating Categories Kona Satori YT Jeffsy AL Base Polygon Siskiu T8 Giant Trance 3 Kona Hei Hei Trail
Fun Factor (30%)
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8
Downhill (35%)
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7
Climbing (35%)
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Specs Kona Satori YT Jeffsy AL Base Polygon Siskiu T8 Giant Trance 3 Kona Hei Hei Trail
Wheelsize 29 29 29 27.5 27.5
Frame Material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Frame Size L L L L L
Available Sizes S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL S(27.5), M(27.5 or 29), L(29), XL(29) S, M, L, XL XS, S, M, L, XL
Fork RockShox Recon Gold RL Solo Air 140mm Fox 34 Float Rhythm 140mm RockShox Revelation RC Solo Air, 140mm SR Suntour Aion RC DS 150mm RockShox Recon Gold RL 140mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir Fox Float DPS Performance RockShox Deluxe RT3 DebonAir RockShox Deluxe R RockShox Deluxe RL
Wheelset Shimano Deore hubs, WTB STP i29 TCS rims DT Swiss M1900 Spline Entity XL2 Disc Giant AM 27,5, 30mm ID w. Giant Tracker Hubs WTB STP i29 TCS
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF TR Dual 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.4" Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35" Maxxis High Roller II 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3"
Rear Tire Maxxis Tomahawk TR Dual 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.4" Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35" Maxxis High Roller II 2.4" Maxxis Tomahawk TR 2.3"
Shifters Shimano Deore 10-speed SRAM NX Eagle Shimano SLX 11-speed Chiman Deore 10-speed Shimano Deore 10-speed
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore 10-speed SRAM NX Eagle Shimano XT 11-speed Shimano Deore 10-speed Shimano Deore 10-speed
Cranks Race Face Aeffect SRAM NX Eagle Prowheel Charm Praxis Cadet Race Face Aeffect
Chainring 28T 34T 32T 30T 30T
Bottom Bracket Shimano PF 92 SRAM DUB Pressfit BA Threaded Praxis Press Fit Shimano Press Fit
Cassette Shimano Deore 10-speed 11-42T SRAM PG-1230 Eagle 10-50T SunRace CSMX8 11-speed 11-46T Shimano Deore 10-speed 11x42T Shimano Deore 10-speed 11-42
Saddle WTB Volt Sport SE SDG Fly Mtn Entity Assault Giant Contact Neutral WTB Volt Sport
Seatpost Tranz-X Dropper Internal 150mm SDG Tellis Drive Si 150mm Giant Contact Switch 150mm Trans-X Dropper Internal 150mm
Handlebar Kona XC/BC 35 780mm Race Face Aeffect R 35 Entity Expert 780mm Giant Connect Kona XC/BC 35 780mm
Stem Kona XC/BC 35 Race Face Aeffect R 35 Entity Expert 45mm Giant Connect Kona XC/BC 35
Brakes Shimano MT500 SRAM Guide T Shimano BR-MT500 Shimano BR-MT400 Shimano MT-500
Warranty Lifetime limited warranty on frame 5 Years 5 Years Lifetime limited warranty on frame Lifetime limited warranty on frame

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you tend to keep the speed limit down on the descents the Satori may be a good option for you.
If you tend to keep the speed limit down on the descents the Satori may be a good option for you.

Should I Buy this Bike?


The Satori is an interesting bike that stands apart from the competition due to its relatively unique geometry. When you look at this bike's numbers on paper it seems almost a little confusing with a really steep seat tube, long wheelbase, short chainstays, and relatively steep head tube. It's half progressive modern geometry and half old school, we had a hard time predicting how this bike would ride. When the rubber meets the dirt and you throw a leg over it, however, it makes more sense but it still manages to fall into a category of its own. It performs well on the climbs and crawls over technical sections and around tight uphill switchbacks with ease. It's more mild-mannered on the descents with a smooth and mellow feel that hugs the ground and prefers low to moderate speeds. If a bike that climbs like a goat and is calm and laid back on the descents sounds like your cup of tea, then perhaps the Satori is the bike for you.

While we certainly enjoyed our time testing the Satori, most of our testers preferred the more well-rounded performance of our Editor's Choice, the YT Jeffsy AL Base. Not only is the YT less expensive than the Satori, but it has a significantly more shred ready build and impressed us with its exceptional all-around performance. The Jeffsy is one of a select few bikes in this price range that our testers truly felt comfortable pushing their limits on.

If you like a more playful ride we suggest checking out the Kona Hei Hei Trail. The Hei Hei Trail is similar in many ways to the Satori but sets itself apart with more playful trail manners that will have you constantly searching for side hits and places to manual. The bikes share an almost identical component specification and price, but they have markedly different trail manners.

The Satori is a good option for the rider who likes an upright seated pedaling position and doesn't push the limits of downhill speed.
The Satori is a good option for the rider who likes an upright seated pedaling position and doesn't push the limits of downhill speed.

Fun Factor


It goes without saying that riding bikes is fun, and our testers definitely had a great time while riding the Satori. It has more of a mild-mannered and mellow feel to it and prefers moderate speeds. One of our tested referred to this bike as feeling "planted with a speed limit". If that sounds like your riding style then this bike is really a blast to ride. If you're looking for something playful or lively or that can charge with confidence at speed, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

The Satori has a unique geometry that will likely appeal to some riders more than others.
The Satori has a unique geometry that will likely appeal to some riders more than others.

Downhill Performance


The Satori is undoubtedly a fun bike to ride downhill, although it performs best at moderate speeds. It doesn't feel especially lively or poppy like some other competitors, instead it feels more planted but with a speed limit. At higher speeds, the steeper head tube angle becomes more apparent and it can occasionally have a slightly twitchy feel. We experimented with the stack height below the stem and found that stability increased the lower we dropped the stem.

Finding the speed limit while testing the Satori.
Finding the speed limit while testing the Satori.

When ridden at its preferred moderate speeds it can handle just about whatever comes down the trail. It's not zippy or super quick, it has a more mellow demeanor that's quite agreeable in most situations. There's nothing especially exciting about it, but it performs well enough. When the going gets steep you can start to feel the steeper head tube angle and the downhill limitations of the Satori's geometry. You can tackle just about any steepness of trail on it, you'll just want to dial back the speed and aggression in the really steep or super rough stuff.

It's not quite as playful as the competition  but the Satori is plenty of fun if you ride within its limits.
It's not quite as playful as the competition, but the Satori is plenty of fun if you ride within its limits.

Despite being quite budget, the suspension feels good on the Satori. The fork is supple and the rear suspension is supportive at the beginning of the stroke with a pretty linear feel on larger hits. The wide bars are great for handling and steering input and the dropper seat post is indispensable on the descents. We also love the Maxxis Minion DHF front tire that has an aggressive tread that offers predictable cornering traction.

Uphill Performance


The Satori is particularly adept at climbing thanks primarily to its unique geometry. This bike scrambles up and over technical obstacles with ease and feels comfortable in tight quarters and uphill switchbacks.

It feels a little sluggish at times  but the steeper angles of the Satori give it great climbing abilities.
It feels a little sluggish at times, but the steeper angles of the Satori give it great climbing abilities.

At a measured angle of 78.1 degrees, the Satori has the steepest seat tube angle of any bike we've ever tested. This puts the rider right up above the cranks for solid power transfer and a more forward position that enables this bike to claw its way over tricky obstacles in the trail. It has a somewhat long 1205mm wheelbase, but the steep seat tube helps to make the reach of the bike feel shorter than the measured 477mm and it has a relatively upright seated pedaling position. While the wheelbase may be on the long side, the steeper head tube angle and forward rider position still allow for quick handling and a short turning radius for tackling tight uphill switchbacks.

While the Satori felt like a capable climber in most situations the bike had an oddly draggy feeling to it. We could never quite put our finger on it, but it felt like we were expending more energy climbing on this bike compared to other models in the test. This was especially evident when riding bikes back to back and side by side with other testers.

Build


The model we tested is the lower priced of two Satori models in Kona's lineup. It comes with a functional but budget oriented build that is nearly identical to that of the Kona Hei Hei Trail. Like so many bikes in this price range, the component specification isn't fancy but gets the job done. Compared to some of the other models in this review, like the consumer direct YT Jeffsy AL Base, the build on the Satori is less impressive and costs more at retail.

We aren't the biggest fans of RockShox Recon forks  but the Gold version on the Satori works pretty well and felt pretty balanced with the RockShox Deluxe rear shock.
We aren't the biggest fans of RockShox Recon forks, but the Gold version on the Satori works pretty well and felt pretty balanced with the RockShox Deluxe rear shock.

Kona has spec'd a RockShox Recon Gold fork to handle the 140mm of front wheel travel. Recon forks aren't our favorite, but the Gold versions feel significantly better than the Silver versions that come on some bikes in this price range. It feels plush and has a reasonable level of tune-ability, plus it also has boost spacing and a 15mm thru-axle that helps to add a little stiffness to this otherwise somewhat flexy fork. The RockShox Deluxe RL shock controls the Satori's 130mm of rear wheel travel. The rear suspension design works well and the rear end of this bike feels plush enough.

The Maxxis Tomahawk is a very average tire that doesn't provide as much traction or cornering bite as we'd like.
The Maxxis Minion DHF is a great front tire  we prefer the EXO casing for more sidewall support and puncture resistance  but this one still works well enough.

The Satori rolls on a set of WTB STP i29 TCS rims laced to Shimano Deore hubs. The rims are tubeless compatible and have a nice 29mm internal width that pairs well with today's wider profile tires. For rubber, Kona has spec'd a combination of Maxxis tires including a 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHF up front. The DHF is an excellent tire that helps give this bike confidence inspiring traction when cornering in a large variety of conditions. The Maxxis Tomahawk rear tire rolls fast, but the low profile center tread doesn't provide much in the way of climbing or braking traction.

Wide bars  short stem  a dropper post  and a comfortable seat. Our only complaint about the cockpit is vertically oriented paddle-shaped dropper lever.
Wide bars, short stem, a dropper post, and a comfortable seat. Our only complaint about the cockpit is vertically oriented paddle-shaped dropper lever.

In typical Kona fashion, they've spec'd a nice wide 780mm handlebar with a short stout stem with a 35mm clamp size. This combo is nice and roomy and provides responsive handling with Kona Key Grip lock-on grips. A comfortable WTB Volt Sport SE saddle sits atop a Tranz-X dropper post. We love the inclusion of a dropper post, although we'd prefer an under-mount 1x style remote lever instead of the vertically oriented paddle style lever they included. We've generally had good success with Tranz-X droppers in the past but our test model developed a little stickiness in its travel by the end of our test period.

The Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain works reliably but we prefer 11 and 12-speed drivetrains these days.
The Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain works reliably but we prefer 11 and 12-speed drivetrains these days.

Kona chose a 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain for the Satori. We can't really complain about the reliability or function of Deore components, although we prefer the larger gear ranges offered by 11 and 12-speed setups. A set of Shimano MT500 brakes are employed to slow and stop the Satori and while they aren't anything fancy they do provide adequate braking power. The rear brake developed a terrible squeal over time, likely the result of the pads getting glazed or contaminated.

Best Applications


Testers found the Satori's unique geometry to be well suited to technical climbing and moderate speeds on the descents. The steep seat tube angle and steeper head tube angle help this bike scramble up tight and technical sections of trail with quick and responsive handling. This bike prefers moderate speeds on the descents and has an active, ground-hugging suspension feel. Due to the steeper head tube angle, the Satori is a little less confidence inspiring at high speeds and in steeper sections of trail.

The Satori we tested felt like it rolled a little slow  but it's a comfortable climber that can scramble over just about anything.
The Satori we tested felt like it rolled a little slow, but it's a comfortable climber that can scramble over just about anything.

Value


At a retail price of $2,399 we feel the Satori is an okay value. We aren't especially impressed with the build at this price, but it does get the job done and there isn't really anything you have to change to get out and ride. This bike's unique geometry and trail performance is likely to only appeal to a certain subset of riders, so we feel that it may represent a better value depending on your riding style. Overall, we are far more impressed with the value of the Editor's Choice award-winning YT Jeffsy AL Base for its well-rounded performance and more impressive component specification.

It's a relatively affordable bike  but we don't find the component specification to be all that impressive for the price.
It's a relatively affordable bike, but we don't find the component specification to be all that impressive for the price.

Conclusion


The Satori is a mild-mannered mid travel trail bike with a unique geometry. Its performance falls in a category of its own, with impressive climbing abilities and a capable all-around performance that prefers moderate speeds and a mellow rider. It's far from the hardest charging bike in this review, but it can handle just about anything as long as you stay within its speed limits. If you don't push the envelope on descents but you're looking for a versatile ride bike for XC style trail riding the Satori may be a good option for you.

The Satori is a unique bike due to its interesting geometry. It works well  especially on technical climbs and at moderate speeds on the descents.
The Satori is a unique bike due to its interesting geometry. It works well, especially on technical climbs and at moderate speeds on the descents.

Other Versions


The Satori we tested is the less expensive of 2 models and is available in sizes S-XL.

-The Satori DL, $3,499, shares the same frame and geometry as the model we tested but comes equipped with a RockShox Revelation RC fork, RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir rear shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, and a RockShox Reverb dropper seat post.


Jeremy Benson, Kyle Smaine