- Longmont CO
So after much riding and testing, I bought the Kona El Kahuna SUV. It was being sold by a nearby LBS that has a large and solid presence in the community. The primary deciding factors were that it was among the ‘lightest’ bikes and the LBS had a good relationship with Kona. Now with 350 miles on the bike, I am riding more often, faster, and further than I used to. Where I thought the ‘electric’ would just be for the last miles or steeper hills, I find it VERY easy to get into the first assist mode to make it easier to pedal. Bike to the pickleball courts and still have some energy left. On average I am now using the power assist about half the time and will frequently use the bike instead of our Bolt EUV.
The overweighing feature that had me choose this model was the Shimano E6100 motor and the Deore 11-46 10 speed cassette. The compromises were:
- Weight Less than 50 lbs
I had this fantasy of finding a 49# bike, remove the 7# battery, and transporting it on my trusty Saris Bones. The Kona I test rode weight 50#, I ordered the version with fenders, bought a 4.5# Kryptonite lock to add to the old 2.5# chain lock. The fine folks at Kona upgraded the battery from the test rides 5# (504Wh) to 7# (630Wh). So I end up with a 50# bike with 14# of removable stuff. (Shimono does not want the battery removed during transport, but there is a 3-D printable hack to protect the connectors.)
- Tire size 1.95-2.35
- Quiet motor
The Shimano E6100 was my 2nd choice based on noise after the Yamaha. It performs well, and you hear nothing unless it is getting really loaded. It seems to be efficient and there is no drag when the power is off.
- Deore cassette
This 11-46 10 speed feels smoother than the Alivio and Altus cassettes I tried on other less expensive models, but is not the Deore of the 1998 Deore CS on the old Trek. I guess that was to be expected. In spite of a couple of adjustments, there is not that quiet smooth shifting of the older version.
- Torque Sensing, mid mount motor 50-65Nm
The E6100 is a 250W motor with 60Nm of torque. It has 3 adjustable assist levels and a walk mode. I have not climbed the highest mountains, but rarely need to get into the ‘Normal’ assist level. When assist is turned on (50% of the time) the lowest level ‘ECO’ has been more than enough. Walk mode is nice to have.
- A removable, integrated battery
- Fairly large display
- Up to $4k
The bike was ordered in July with a $3800 list price. While ordering, the LBS found that there were 2022 models for sale as well as 2023. They were discounted 20%. The only difference seemed to be the color! No brainer. After ordering and delivery issues, I have a 2023 color for a 2022 price.
So you can’t buy a new bike without making changes.
At the time of purchase, I ordered a dropper post. The cable from the handlebar to the post runs along the top post and up the seat tube. The mirror and bell were ordered, never came, but got picked up at REI instead. A cell phone holder was put on at delivery.
Since purchasing the bike, I bought a Kryptonite New York lock and added its 5 year insurance plan. I had installed a car hitch and bought a Yakima OnRamp bike rack (there went the budget). Even without the battery, I far exceeded the 40ish lbs I could put on the Saris. I replaced the grips with Ergon GP1 grips and the pedals with my old toe clips. The seat was replaced with the cushier one from my old bike. I also bought an Ortlieb pannier for groceries- the bike is an all-in-one.
- The bike has increased my average speed a few miles per hour with the lowest assist level being used about 50% of the time. Instead of 10-20 mile rides, I can join friends on 30-40 mile rides and almost keep up on the flats, and lead up the hills.
- My average cadence has increased above 60rpm, and it is easier to stay close to 70. I’m learning about maintaining a higher cadence and down shifting. The Shimano bike app is making me aware of all this stuff, kinda cool.
- The last bike adjustment told me about the extra chain wear on ebikes due to riding higher gears with assist.
- Riding more led me to get a professional fitting. Seat got raised even more, the stem got replaced to lift the handlebar up and forward, and the handlebars got shortened a half inch on each side. The bike is more comfortable, tho I’m still looking for a comfortable saddle position/angle. It seems I am either sliding forward or crunching important body parts.
- The only change yet to make is to replace the small Shimano E7000 display. Perhaps using their older, but larger E6100 display is a good compatible solution. Or perhaps one of the Garmin models.
My next ebike (don’t tell my wife) will be lighter. It will have less power and a smaller battery. The Shimano’s highest assist level has never been used except for play time. I’ve charged this 630Wh battery twice and still have about 40% charge. There is no need for all those electrons.It will also come with a dropper post installed internally- the cable does get in the way. It will have a readable display, and not require using my cell phone. It may have a geometry that won’t require sitting so high. I don’t know which transmission it will have, but something smoother than what the Deore now is.