Kona Process X Review


Words by Travis Reill | Photos by Sourpatch

Kona’s Process X isn’t necessarily a new bike to their lineup. Kona riders have been familiar with the Process range for quite a few years now, with the spectrum of travel starting at 134 and topping out at 162, where the Process X sits. I spent some time on this new Process X, pedaling up and descending the chunky, steep trails that make up our winter riding here in Central Oregon.


• 162mm linkage-driven single pivot suspension
• Full 29” wheels, flip-chip for MX option
• HTA 63.5
• STA 77.9 (effective)
• REACH 465 (medium)

Frame: 6061 Aluminum Butted | 162mm Travel
Fork: Marzocchi Bomber Z1 | Grip Damper | 170mm
Shock: Fox DHX Performance Trunnion | 205×62.5mm

Brakes: Shimano Deore, 203F/R Centerlock rotors
Handlebar: Kona XC/BC 35
Stem: Kona XC/BC 35
Headset: FSA Orbit 1.5 EP ZS
Seatpost: TranzX Dropper +RAD Internal w/ Shimano Lever
Saddle: WTB Volt

Hubs: Shimano
Rims: WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS
Front tire: Maxxis Assegai EXO+ | 29×2.5″ WT
Rear tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO+ | 29×2.4″ WT (27.5×2.4″ WT size S)

Bottom Bracket: Race Face PF92
Cassette: Shimano Deore | 10-51t | 12spd
Cranks: Race Face Aeffect R | 175mm
Shifter: Shimano XT | 12spd
Derailleur: Shimano SLX | 12spd


  • Fast, stable, and confident descending

  • Supple yet supportive suspension platform

  • Big rotors

  • Great tire spec


  • Sluggish climbing

  • Weight

  • Build spec, long cranks

  • Price


Kona’s previous Process X bikes were exclusively carbon, indicated with a “CR” in the bike’s title, and not necessarily budget-friendly. Enter the new Process X, where a switch to an alloy frame and more budget-minded components has dropped the price.

Kona Process X Review

FRAME AND FEATURES | Kona stepped away from their carbon fiber offerings in the Process X and went with a 6061 aluminum frame. Kona stays on par for their alloy Process line with external cable routing on the Process X. Despite not being internally routed, Kona did a good job securing the cables nicely and neatly on top of the down tube. The frame stays with the 162mm of travel we are familiar with across the Process X lineup. This 162mm is paired with a 170mm fork, which could be bumped up to 180mm of travel.

While the Process X comes standard as a full 29er in sizes M-XL, a flip-chip allows the bike to be ridden as a mixed-wheel setup. Size Small bikes come with the smaller 27.5” rear wheel as standard, affording shorter riders greater clearance. Pivot points on the frame were easy to access, although some bolt sizes were too small, with one stripping out during a bolt check.

Lastly, the seat tube has a generous insertion depth for those who like to run longer seatposts, ensuring that the seat is entirely out of the way for the descents. The frame easily housed the 170mm seatpost that came on the medium frame. If you have ever broken a derailleur hanger and spent far too long finding a replacement, you’ll be happy to know the frame is UDH compatible and has a threaded bottom bracket.

Kona Process X Review

SUSPENSION | Kona continues to use its Beamer Independent Suspension for this linkage-driven single-pivot bike. The anti-squat sits at around 90% while climbing, gradually dipping in the middle of the cassette as the rider puts power into the cranks. While the Process X wasn’t the best technical climber, the platform was supportive enough for grinding up a forest road. A 205mm eye-to-eye trunnion-mount coil shock delivers 162mm of travel with a 62.5mm stroke.

GEOMETRY | The Process X certainly fits into the “low, long and slack” trend that mountain bikes have adopted over the last several years. Reach ranges from 440mm on a small to 525mm on an X-large, with our medium test bike sitting at 465mm. The wheelbase ranges from 1221mm up to a lengthy 1316mm on the largest frame—chainstays are a constant 440mm across sizes.

Stack height grows from 632mm to 641mm, with both small and medium sharing a 632mm stack and 345mm separating the bottom bracket from the ground. BB drop is consistent across sizes at 30mm except for size small, which sees a reduction of 10mm to accompany the smaller rear wheel.

Combined with a relatively high stack height, a steep 77.9° seat tube angle provides a comfortable pedaling position on the climbs. Pointing the Process X downhill and the bike’s length working with a slack 63.5° head tube angle allows for confident descending.

Kona Process X Review

BUILD SPECS | Options are limited regarding the alloy version of the Process X—in fact, there is only one option. The frame paint is “Satin Metallic Gose Blue” (dark blue) with mint-blue and silver decals. A Marzocchi Bomber Z1 with the Grip damper sports the same mint-blue Marzocchi decals. This air fork is paired with a trunnion-mounted Fox DHX Performance coil shock.

The drivetrain consists of a Shimano and Raceface mash-up. A 30-tooth Raceface chainring is coupled to long 175mm Raceface Aeffect R cranks. The rest of the drivetrain is a Shimano mix-match—an XT shifter, SLX derailleur, and a Deore cassette. Shimano also handles the stopping, with big 203mm rotors and a Deore 4-piston brake setup.

Shimano hubs are laced to WTB KOM i30 trail wheels, which were plenty stiff. Maxxis took care of the rubber with an Assegai/DHR combo. The cockpit consists of in-house Kona components and a WTB Volt sits on top of a TranzX +RAD adjustable dropper post, although the adjustments only shorten the drop.

Kona Process X Review


Other than a few park laps Drew put in at the end of the 2023 season, the Process X has spent most of its time on our winter trails here in Bend. This means steep, chunky, and loose terrain up and down. And, as you may have guessed, the Process X excelled in one of those categories.

SET UP | Setting up the Process X was relatively straightforward. While some may not like the lack of suspension adjustability, it does make the overall suspension setup easy. Being familiar with the Marzocchi Z1, I set the fork to its recommended settings, making minor tweaks and adjustments. The same was true for the Fox DHX coil shock—easy setup and quick rebound adjustment while riding to get it dialed in.

These suspension options are great for that “set it and forget it” type of rider, which I tend to lean toward. Despite fewer adjustment options, the Z1 and DHX still deliver quality performance.

Kona Process X Review

CLIMBING | Let’s get this out of the way—Kona’s Process X isn’t a light bike. My measurements showed that the bike weighed 38.8 pounds without pedals, which translates to an even 40 pounds once they were added. As you can imagine, a 40-pound, fairly lengthy bike with a slack head tube angle will be a bit of a grind when climbing.

Now, on a service road, the climbing isn’t that bad. Yes, you feel the weight, and perhaps the longer cranks, as the bike feels a bit sluggish overall, but it is manageable. When you get to technical single-track climbing, the Process X sees the majority of its climbing difficulties. Again, the bike’s weight is an issue, as you need to lift the front wheel over every rock and root you encounter.

But it is the plush, dare I say, soft suspension that got me caught on many climbs. The first 30-40mm of travel is very plush, which caused me to sink too much into the top part of the travel on the climbs. Since I had to lift the front wheel so much, it was difficult to pop over a rock, sink into the suspension, and recover to pop over the next rock. The hubs also didn’t help. The OEM Shimano hub that came spec’d has relatively low engagement and feels sloppy.

With all that said, the Process X is a bike built with descending in mind. While I played around with the suspension a bit to counteract that issue, I didn’t want to compromise how phenomenal the suspension felt on the downs. So, in the end, I put the suspension back to how I liked it, knowing I would just have to suffer a little more climbing up.

Kona Process X Review

DESCENDING | The Kona Process X shined on the downs. Its long wheelbase and slack head tube angle allowed for fast and confident descending on some of the steeper trails around Central Oregon. My initial thoughts of the 63.5° head tube angle gave me some steering concerns, but I found no issues with sloppy control and found the overall handling to be quite responsive for the big bike that it is.

While the overall length initially caused some issues on tighter and techy corners, I quickly adjusted to it within a few rides. Again, it is important to remember what this bike is built for. It performs best at high speeds down chunky terrain—it just isn’t the bike I’d be reaching for on super-technical switchback descents.

Fast and chunky is where the suspension came alive. That plush, off-the-top feeling that perhaps had me struggling on the climbs absolutely ate up any chunk the trail threw at it. After passing through the top of the suspension, the mid-stroke firmed notably, providing a supportive platform. End stroke ramp up was sufficient to prevent most bottom outs with the stock coil shock, but as always, there is a limit. The plush top end of the suspension also didn’t wallow when compressed through fast corners or in the trough of jumps.

While the suspension platform performed excellently, the brakes weren’t the most confidence-inspiring. I appreciated the bike being spec’d with 203mm rotors, which helped with the stopping power. However, the Shimano Deore brakes were only adequate. While they are a brake that I would run on an XC or trail bike, there was a noticeable loss of power during long descents. For $4,500, I would hope for a set of SLX or even XT brakes.

FINISH AND VALUE | The value of the Kona Process X is where the company has seen the most criticism on the bike. In many ways, I have to agree with some of the comments I’ve noticed. $4,500 is quite a bit for an aluminum, externally cable-routed frame with a lower-end component spec. While I am okay with an alloy frame and don’t care too much about internal cable routing, these are a must-have for many and an expectation at that price. However, the components seem to be where Kona missed the mark, especially with comparable bikes with much higher component specs.

COMPONENT REPORT | Again, the components seem to be where Kona is lacking on the Process X. Perhaps some more adjustability on the suspension could have helped with climbing, but this is a bike for shuttle laps or days at the bike park. The suspension worked great on the downs, which is all I expected. Regarding the drivetrain, the Shimano XT/SLX/Deore mix-match worked fine, and I would not make any changes. However, I would change the cranks. No size medium bike should come with 175mm crankarms.

At the price point, I would have loved a set of XT brakes—even SLX—but I did appreciate the big rotors. And while I would have loved a higher engagement hub, that issue is less noticeable while descending. Other than that, the bike performed as it should. Regular, simple maintenance between rides kept everything squishing and rolling nicely during the test period.

Ultimately, this is a challenging bike to compare because the comparison is pretty simple—when put up against other bikes, the Process X won’t pedal and climb as well but will descend just as well, if not better. This is a park-rat bike. It is meant for shuttle laps and big chunky downhill, where you take a chair lift back up. So, with comparisons in mind, is $4,500 worth it for an alloy frame with entry-level components? If we compare, a Canyon Torque has very similar geometry, a much better build spec, and a carbon frame for a few hundred less, with a weight savings of 5 pounds. Dealer support isn’t something to ignore as part of the equation though.

The Wolf’s Last Word

Kona’s Process X did exactly what I thought it would—absolutely rip on the downs. Despite Kona being able to offer the Process X at a lower price point due to a switch to aluminum, $4,500 seems too high for the bike you are getting. I would have loved to have seen a better-spec’d bike, or the price dropped.

Price: $4,499
Weight: 38.8 lbs
Website: konaworld.com


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