Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

By Drew Rohde | Action Photos by Jesse Polay
Still Photos by Dusten Ryen

Our Kona Remote 160 ebike first hit dirt last fall here in Central Oregon. We spent several months getting to know the bike intimately before we took it to Palm Springs for our 2020 eMTB Roundup. As a top contender in our Enduro (155mm +) category, the Kona Remote is an incredibly capable all-around bike that has a slight bias towards rugged, backcountry terrain or self-shuttling your favorite downhill trails but features geometry well-suited for climbing technical terrain or all-day epics. Competing neck-and-neck with bikes retailing several thousands of dollars more, it’s hard to call the $5,999 Kona Remote a bargain ebike, but it’s certainly an impressive machine that can hang at a fraction of the cost, even if that fraction is ¾.

Built around Kona’s award-winning Process platform, the Remote 160 sports 160mm of front and rear wheel travel in a lifetime warrantied 6061 aluminum frame. A Rock Shox Lyrik Select Charger RC fork and Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select rear shock come spec’d along with Shimano cranks and a SRAM drivetrain. SRAM’s NX Eagle 12-speed shifter and derailleur handle gear changing duties while SRAM Code R brakes and 200mm rotors keep the bike under control. Kona uses a Shimano Steps E8000 drive unit and Shimano 504Wh battery that is easily removed from the downtube.

Rolling stock on the Remote 160 comes from WTB KOM Trail wheels with Formula hubs wrapped in 27.5×2.8” Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II tires. We got along well with the wheels and tires during our test period but found that the spokes needed some attention after an initial break-in period. Kona also spec’d in-house bars, stem, grips and a Trans-X dropper post, which did give us a few problems during testing, but nothing major.

Geometry on the Kona Remote can be described as capable and well-rounded. It’s not short, but it’s also not a new-school shred sled that becomes unwieldy on slower, more technical terrain. Our size large test bike has a 475mm reach, which felt a tiny bit short at first when coming off some other limos in the roundup. However, as soon as we started riding, we liked the blend of snappiness and stability that came from the 818mm front center. Kona also gave the bike 435mm chainstays, a 65-degree headtube angle and 75.7-degree seat tube angle. Wheelbase on our size large is 1,252mm with a 51mm fork offset.

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

Over the last few months the Kona has earned a sweet spot in our hearts. It’s a really capable and all-around performer. We rode this bike on everything from PNW loamers to Bend’s high desert DH trails to some truly rugged desert singletrack in Palm Springs, California. For some reason the bike was a bit of a sleeper in our group test. Perhaps it was the paint job, but it just didn’t scream for attention, yet every time a test rider handed it back over it was with a heavy nod of the head and a big thumbs up.

The bike is a touch on the heavy side, which made bunny hopping or trail jibbing a slight weak point in the bike’s otherwise outstanding performance. Luckily for us, the Remote’s lively and peppy suspension tune combated the weight disadvantage and we had plenty of fun getting this bike airborne anytime we needed to.

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

Some of our favorite places to ride the bike were on super steep trails where tight turns and awkward drops were frequently found. The shock tune was right on the money for our 165-lb riders as we regularly used full travel when we needed it, but never felt a harsh bottom. When it was time to pedal or fight for traction on off-camber bench cuts or traverses, the Remote 160 did a great job as well. It’s supple off the top yet supportive in the middle of the stroke. Kona really nailed the tune here.

Over the last few months we’ve been seeing bikes getting longer and slacker, which helps on our favorite 10% of the ride, however the downside is that the bikes are much less fun and capable getting to and from those points. Thankfully Kona didn’t do that to the Remote 160. Some may find the head tube too steep and the reach too short, but we felt it struck a great balance for the widest range of riders and terrain. It may not be the ideal shred sled for those looking for a limousine to point and shoot, however if you’ve got the skills to handle a 65-degree angled bike with 160mm of travel, it will get you down anything you need to get down. What’s great about the Remote however, is that it can get you back up to the top a lot faster thanks to the fact in can be ridden up and down mountains equally well.

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

Kona did a really good job with the Remote 160. It honestly surprised us quite a bit and had all our testers smiling. When it comes to ranking the Kona Remote, we don’t really have many critiques or areas of performance that could be improved, instead it’s more of a spec, weight and value equation. For the price there are bikes with better spec, that weigh a little bit less, although they may not ride quite as well, it’s something we know consumers will consider. We would ideally like to see this bike drop a little bit of weight, get a better spec or come down about $500 in price.

When it comes to on-trail performance, there isn’t much the Kona doesn’t do well. Suspension performance is a highlight as it’s lively, supple and sensitive off the top, offering great traction and support, yet it ramps nicely off drops or big hits. The NX drivetrain quickly wore out and regularly required attention to shift smoothly, but otherwise it climbed very well. It navigated switchbacks with ease, allowed us to pedal over obstacles with ease and was ready to turn around and tackle them going down. If you are in the market for a good all-around ebike and can maybe find one of these for a slight discount, it’s an absolutely killer bike in terms of performance.

Price: $5,999;
Weight: 53.1 lbs;
Website: konaworld.com

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

Frame: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted frame
Fork: Rock Shox Lyrik Select Charger RC DebonAir 160mm
Shock: Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select

Battery: Shimano 504Wh
Drive Unit: Shimano E8000

Brakes: SRAM Code R; 200mm
Handlebar: Kona XC/BC 35mm
Headset: FSA No.57E
Saddle: Body Geometry Phenom
Seatpost: Trans-X dropper
Shifter: SRAM NX Single Click
Stem: Kona XC/BC, 35mm

Hubs: Formula
Rims: WTB KOM Trail i35 TCS 27.5”
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF EXO+ TR DUAL 27.5×2.8″
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO+ TR DUAL 27.5×2.8″

Cassette: SRAM NX-Eagle 11-50t 12spd
Cranks: Shimano Deore, 34t
Derailleur: SRAM GX

Kona Remote 160 eMTB Review

We Dig

Playful Supple yet Progressive Suspension
Versatile Geometry
All Around Great Bike

We Don’t

NX Reliability
Value to Spec Ratio
Dropper Post

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