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Kona Process 153 CR 27.5 Review

The Process 153 CR 27.5 is a playful long-travel trail bike that prefers high speeds and aggressive descents.
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Price:  $4,999 List
Pros:  Confident and stable descender, modern progressive geometry, comes to life at speed, sporty rear end
Cons:  A little heavy, sluggish low-speed handling, less well-rounded than competition
Manufacturer:   Kona
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 14, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 23
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 9
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 6
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Kona Process 153 CR 27.5 is a long-travel trail slayer with a clear preference for high speeds and aggressive terrain. This bike is long and slack and sports 153mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 160mm fork. It comes to life at speed and when pointed down the fall-line and is capable of tackling seriously burly descents. Kona has managed to keep the chainstays of the Process quite short, keeping the rear-end sporty and playful despite the bike's overall length. That said, low-speed handling feels a bit sluggish and this bike would rather charge over a rock garden than pick its way through it. Climbing abilities are respectable considering the bike's length and weight; it wouldn't be our first choice for huge days of climbing but it will certainly get the job done. If you're the type of rider who puts more emphasis on the descents and you're looking or a bike that can charge downhill and pop off everything in sight, the Process 153 could be for you. Hot tip: it also comes with 29-inch wheels.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award 
Price $4,999 List$5,099 List$7,299.00 at Competitive Cyclist$4,999.00 at Competitive Cyclist$5,399 List
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Pros Confident and stable descender, modern progressive geometry, comes to life at speed, sporty rear endExcellent climber, aggressive geometry, rim/tire combinationExcellent climbing abilities, impressive downhill performance, high fun factor, tremendous build kitWell-rounded, modern geometry, fun on a wide range of terrain, more capable than previous modelLightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specification
Cons A little heavy, sluggish low-speed handling, less well-rounded than competitionExpensive, big impacts are less supportive, handlebars have too much backsweepExpensive, pivots came loose a few times during testingA little heavy for carbon, chattery over high frequency chopNot a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmed
Bottom Line The Process 153 CR 27.5 is a playful long-travel trail bike that prefers high speeds and aggressive descents.An aggressive 29er with geometry to get rad while retaining a sporty and nimble feelA fantastic trail bike that blends superb climbing abilities with fun and well-rounded downhill performance.The Santa Cruz Tallboy is a highly capable, versatile, and hard-charging short travel trail bike.We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better.
Rating Categories Kona Process 153 CR 27.5 Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon C S Ibis Ripley GX Eagle
Fun Factor (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Downhill Performance (35%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Climbing Performance (35%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Ease Of Maintenance (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Kona Process 153... Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Santa Cruz Tallboy... Ibis Ripley GX Eagle
Wheel size 27.5" 29" 29" 29" 29"
Suspension & Travel Beamer - 153mm DW-Link - 145mm Switch Infinity - 130mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) - 120mm DW-Link - 120mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 31 lbs 8 oz (Large) 29 lbs 7 oz (Large) 29 lbs 9 oz (Large) 30 lbs 10 oz (Large) 28 lbs 14 oz (Large)
Fork RockShox Lyrik RC Charger 2 DebonAir 160mm Fox 36 Performance - 160mm, 36mm stanchions Fox 36 Factory - 150mm 36mm stanchions Fox 34 Float Performance 130mm Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RCT Fox DPX2 Performance Elite Fox DPX2 Factory Fox Float Performance DPS Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL
Frame Material Kona DH Carbon w/ 6061 aluminum chainstays Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "TURQ" Carbon Fiber "C" Carbon Fiber
Frame Size Large Large Large Large Large
Frame Settings N/A N/A N/A Flip Chip N/A
Available Sizes S-XL S-XL S-XL XS-XXL S-XL
Wheelset WTB KOM Trail i29 TCS rims with Formula hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs DT Swiss M1700, 30mm ID w/ DT Swiss 350 hub Race Face AR Offset 27 with DT 370 hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 2.5" WT Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO TR 2.3" Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6"
Rear Tire Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 2.3" Maxxis Aggressor WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor 29 x 2.3 Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO TR 2.3" Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6"
Shifters SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM XO Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed SRAM X0 Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Crankset SRAM NX Eagle 34T SRAM Descendant 30t SRAM X0 Eagle Carbon 30T SRAM Style 7K DUB 175mm (size Large) 32T SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T
Saddle WTB Volt Pro WTB Silverado WTB Volt WTB Siverado Pro WTB Silverado 142mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb KS LEV-SI-150mm Fox Transfer 150mm RockShox Reverb Stealth Bike Yoke Revive 160mm
Handlebar Kona XC/BC 35 Ibis Aluminum Bar - 780mm Yeti Carbon - 780mm Race Face Ride 760mm Ibis 780mm Alloy
Stem Kona XC/BC 35 Ibis 3D Forged Stem 50mm w/ 31.8mm Clamp RaceFace Aeffect R 35 Race Face Aeffect R 50mm Ibis 31.8mm 50mm
Brakes SRAM Guide R Shimano Deore XT Shimano XT M8000 SRAM Guide R Shimano Deore 2 Piston
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 633 628 628 620 625
Measured Reach (mm) 478 473 477 470 475
Measured Head Tube Angle 65.6-degrees 65.8-degrees 65.1-degrees 65.7-degrees H / 65.5-degrees L 66.5-degrees
Measured Seat Tube Angle 75.6-degrees 76.1-degrees 76.8-degrees 76.4-degrees H / 76.2-degrees L 76.2-degrees
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 344 343 335 337 H / 334 L 338
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1220 1220 1231 1214 1210
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 428 436 438 432 short / 442 long 434
Warranty Lifetime Seven Years Lifetime Lifetime Seven Years

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Process 153 CR 27.5 likes to ride downhill  fast  and can handle aggressive terrain.
The Process 153 CR 27.5 likes to ride downhill, fast, and can handle aggressive terrain.

Should I Buy This Bike?


The Process 153 CR 27.5 is a long-travel trail bike that is a good option for the trail rider who prioritizes downhill performance and is willing to pay a slight weight and low-speed handling penalty. This bike charges downhill and comes to life at speed, and is very capable of tackling super aggressive terrain. The modern long and slack geometry help to give this bike it's unflinching stability and thirst for speed, while its short chainstays keep the rear end of the bike feeling sporty and more playful than you might expect. This bike begs to be manualed, pumped through whoops, and pressed hard into berms. Handling is quite responsive, but quick isn't a term we'd use to describe its performance in tight or low-speed sections of trail. The Process is a reasonably efficient climber, especially given its portly 31 lb 8 oz weight. It's not exactly zesty feeling on the uphills, but it's quite comfortable with a steep seat tube and longer reach. It's not ideal, but you can take it for all days rides, and it won't give you any trouble pedaling back up for more laps. If you crave high speeds, aggressive descents, or you might enter the occasional enduro race, the Process 153 is a solid option to consider.

It's long and slack  but the short chainstays make the rear end feel sporty and it's easy to get the front wheel off the ground. This bike is pretty playful.
It's long and slack, but the short chainstays make the rear end feel sporty and it's easy to get the front wheel off the ground. This bike is pretty playful.

The Santa Cruz Bronson is an intriguing comparison to the Process. It also sports 27.5" wheels and has 150mm of rear and 160mm of front wheel travel. It boasts a similarly aggressive geometry although it has a slightly slacker head tube angle and marginally shorter reach measurement. The Bronson is capable of getting as aggressive as you want on the descents, though it feels a bit more nimble in tight terrain and at lower speeds. It doesn't have quite the same playful vide of the Process, though it scoots uphill a little more easily than the Kona thanks to the supportive VPP suspension platform and the fact that it weighs nearly a full pound less. The Carbon S model we tested comes with an impressive and shred-ready build at $5,199.

The Editor's Choice Award-winning Ibis Ripmo is hands down our favorite long-travel trail bike. The 29-inch wheeled Ripmo has 145mm of rear and 160mm of front wheel travel and very similar geometry numbers to the Process. It has a much more well-rounded performance, however, and a very automatic feel that is impressively comfortable in all situations. It charges downhill just as hard and feels notably more energetic, lively, and maneuverable. At 29 lbs and 7 oz, the Ripmo is over 2 lbs lighter and it climbs better than any long travel bike we've tested. If you're looking for a long-travel trail bike that can do it all well, we don't think it gets much better than the Ibis Ripmo.

The sleek black carbon frame has nice lines and very low stand-over height.
The sleek black carbon frame has nice lines and very low stand-over height.

Frame Design


The CR in the Process 153 CR refers to the carbon fiber frame. In this case, the front triangle and seat stays are made of Kona DH Carbon and the chainstays are crafted from 6061 aluminum. The 153 is a reference to the bike's 153mm of rear-wheel travel that has been paired with a 160mm travel fork. The frame design has a very clean look and aesthetic with a slightly swooping top tube and a very low standover height. Kona has employed their Beamer suspension platform which is a linkage driven single pivot design. The main pivot is attached at the base of the seat tube directly above the bottom bracket, there are two pivots at the bottom of the seat stays just above and forward of the rear axle, and the beefy rocker link is attached to a trunnion-mounted shock mid-way up and slightly in front of the seat tube. The frame features internal cable routing, integrated down tube protection, and space for a water bottle within the front triangle.

We measured our size large test model and found that it has a lengthy 633mm effective top tube length and a 478mm reach. The head tube angle was 65.6 degrees with a 75.6-degree seat tube angle. The bottom bracket sits 344mm off the ground with a long 1220mm wheelbase and short 428mm chainstays. It weighed in at 31 lbs and 8 oz.

The Process in its element.
The Process in its element.

Design Highlights

  • Carbon fiber front triangle with 6061 aluminum chainstays
  • Available in carbon fiber (tested) or aluminum frame
  • Offered with 27.5-inch (tested) or 29-inch wheels
  • 153mm of rear suspension
  • Beamer suspension design
  • Designed around 160mm travel fork
  • Complete builds ranging from $2,999 to $5,999

It's tons of fun to ride the Process downhill  especially once it's up to speed.
It's tons of fun to ride the Process downhill, especially once it's up to speed.

Downhill Performance


The Process 153 CR is definitely a downhill oriented machine. This bike has a preference for being pointed down the hill and it comes to life as gravity takes hold and speeds increase. Its long and slack geometry along with generous amounts of travel make it especially adept at smashing through rowdy sections of trail and carrying speed. We feel that its downhill performance is a bit one-dimensional, though its short chainstays and 27.5-inch wheels help keep it playful, poppy, and on rails through berms.

The Process hugs the ground and the 27.5-inch wheels with grippy Maxxis Minions like to rail big turns.
The Process hugs the ground and the 27.5-inch wheels with grippy Maxxis Minions like to rail big turns.

The Process 153 really shines when it's brought up to speed and our testers generally found it to be happiest in the fall-line and traveling in a mostly straight line. The long 1220mm wheelbase and 478mm reach measurements are instrumental in giving it excellent confidence-inspiring stability, though it's also responsible for making it feel a bit sluggish and vague at lower speeds. That said, it never felt twitchy and there was no amount of chunk or steepness of trail that it couldn't handle competently thanks to the slack front end and burly suspension package. Despite the overall length of the Process, they managed to give it short 428mm chainstays that make getting the front end off the ground for airs and manuals a breeze. This bike is not reluctant to jib off trailside features, but again speed is your friend.

The Process is happy to pop off just about anything in the trail  point and shoot...
The Process is happy to pop off just about anything in the trail, point and shoot...

Low-speed handling is a different story. This bike is pretty long and the front end is pretty slack at 65.6 degrees. This makes it feel pretty sluggish at lower speeds and especially in tight, technical terrain. That said, the 27.5-inch wheels help to keep it reasonably maneuverable, and paired with the short rear-end of the bike it rips around bermed corners quite effectively. The Beamer suspension platform is a relatively simple linkage driven single-pivot design. Paired with the RockShox Super Deluxe RCT rear shock this suspension platform offers good small bump compliance and solid deep stroke support. We found it to stutter a bit over high-frequency chop, but we can't complain about the uncompromising stiffness of the rear-end and solid tracking otherwise.

The component grouping is largely excellent on the descents. The RockShox Lyrik fork is sturdy and easily handles the front suspension duties while the Super Deluxe RCT provides the squish in the rear end. The 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF is the gold standard of front tires and is excellent on the front of this bike. We aren't as big of fans of the DHF as a rear tire, although it corners quite well and is better than plenty of other options out there. The cockpit is comfortable with a stout Kona branded 35mm handlebar and stem combo, comfortable grips and saddle, plus a RockShox Reverb dropper seat post with a 1x style remote lever. The SRAM Guide R brakes work well enough, but given the speeds this bike craves it would be nice to have some more powerful stoppers.

This bike is made for the descents  but it still climbs pretty well.
This bike is made for the descents, but it still climbs pretty well.

Climbing Performance


The Process 153 isn't the most impressive climber, but its uphill capabilities are quite respectable nonetheless. This doesn't come as a huge surprise given the downhill smashing intentions of this bike, and our testers found it to be comfortable and relatively efficient on any length of climb. It wouldn't be our first choice for those big backcountry epic days, but it'll get the job done if you don't mind pushing around a bit of extra weight.

The Beamer suspension platform remains relatively calm during seated pedaling efforts though there is noticeable pedal bob during out of the saddle efforts. Thankfully the rear shock has a climb switch that we'd recommend using for those long fire road ascents. The seated pedaling position is comfortable although the reach is definitely a bit on the long side. It holds a line quite well and powers up and over obstacles in the trail with a bit of momentum. You definitely notice the long-wheelbase in tight technical terrain or switchbacks and maneuverability suffers a bit a result. The short chainstays are noticeable when the going gets steep as the front end tends to wander and loop out more than some. It's also worth noting that while the effective seat tube angle measures at 75.6-degrees the slacker actual seat tube angle can result in your weight being further out over the rear wheel the higher your saddle gets.

Its weight and length make it slower and less maneuverable than some bikes on the ascents  but if you're not racing anyone up the hill it's comfortable and relatively efficient.
Its weight and length make it slower and less maneuverable than some bikes on the ascents, but if you're not racing anyone up the hill it's comfortable and relatively efficient.

The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain gave us nothing to complain about. This setup provides crisp shifting, reliable performance, and plenty of range for even the steepest of climbs. The Minion DHF rear tire has large and aggressive tread knobs and provides ample traction on all surfaces from solid granite to loose DG soils. The WTB Volt Pro saddle is a common OEM spec on complete mountain bikes and it is a comfortable place to rest your haunches as you grind away the vertical.

Photo Tour


The Lyrik up front and the Super Deluxe in the rear feels great on the Process.
The beefy rocker link and stout rear triangle help create the stiff rear end on the Process.
A nice roomy cockpit with comfortable touches all the way around.
The NX/GX drivetrain is a sensible and reliable spec.
A 2.3" Minion DHF in the rear.
A 2.5" Minion DHF in the front.

Value


At a retail price of $4,999, we feel the Process 153 CR 27.5 is a relatively average value. Obviously, this bike will be more appealing to the rider who puts a premium on high-speed stability and getting a bit rowdy while maintaining a poppy and somewhat playful attitude. For those riders, this bike comes pretty dialed with a nice carbon frame and a generally stellar component specification. Kona also makes two aluminum-framed versions at more approachable price points.

If you like riding downhill fast and hitting the playful line  the Process 153 is worth a look.
If you like riding downhill fast and hitting the playful line, the Process 153 is worth a look.

Conclusion


The Process 153 CR 27.5 is a downhill oriented long-travel trail bike with a distinctly playful attitude. If you're the type of rider who likes high speeds, aggressive descents and likes to pull manuals and pop off every obstacle in the trail, the Process has you covered. Add to that respectable climbing abilities and this is a solid all-around trail bike for descent focused riders or even the enduro crowd.

Other Versions


The Process 153 is available with either 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheels. It is offered in four different builds, 2 carbon and 2 aluminum, in each wheel size. The 153 CR build we tested is the less expensive of the two carbon-framed models.
The 153 CR/DL is the top of the line model that retails for $5,999. It features the same carbon frame with notable component upgrades including slightly fancier suspension, a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain, carbon cranks, and SRAM Code RSC brakes.
The aluminum-framed Process 153 DL is offered at $3,699. It comes clad with a RockShox Yari Charger fork, RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 shock, a SRAM NX/GX Eagle drivetrain, and SRAM Guide T brakes.

The base model Process 153 is available for $2,999. It has a serviceable build kit that includes a RockShox Yari fork and Deluxe RT rear shock, and SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain, SRAM Guide brakes, and a Trans-X dropper post.


Jeremy Benson