Kona Hei Hei Trail DL first ride review

The Hei Hei name has been around almost as long as Kona and a look at how the bikes with the Hei Hei moniker have changed over time is extremely telling as to where our sport has been, and where it’s going.

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Kona Hei Hei Trail DL highlights

  • New pivotless carbon fibre rear end
  • Full carbon fibre frame with 27.5” wheels
  • 140mm of travel from Fox Factory shocks
  • Single ring specific design

Kona Hei Hei Trail DL spec overview

  • Frame: Kona Race Light Carbon 140mm travel
  • Fork: Fox Factory 34 Float Air, 140mm tapered, 110mm spacing
  • Shock: Fox Factory Float DPS
  • Shifters: Shimano XT
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR
  • Chainset: RaceFace Aeffect, 30T
  • Cassette: Shimano XT 11-42t 11spd
  • Rims: WTB Ci31 TCS
  • Hubs: Hope Pro 4, 15×110mm/12×148mm
  • Tyres: Maxxis Tomahawk EXO TR 27.5×2.3″
  • Brakes: Shimano XT, 180mm/160mm
  • Handlebar: Kona XC/BC 35
  • Stem: Kona XC/BC 35
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Comp
  • Seatpost: KS Lev Integra

Kona Hei Hei Trail DL frame and equipment

Originally a rigid forked, titanium framed hardtail, the intervening 25 years have seen it move into a range of lightweight, carbon fibre framed machines, none of which share the same wheel size as the original. This is the Trail version of the Hei Hei, which means you get smaller 27.5” hoops and 140mm of wheel travel rather than the big 29” hoops and shorter 100mm rear travel pairing of the non-Trail line of bikes. 


While all Kona bikes have traditionally used a linkage driven single pivot ‘faux bar’ design, all the new Hei Hei bikes now use the Fuse system, which deletes the seatstay pivot and instead relies on the inherent flex of the carbon fibre back-end as the bike cycles through the travel. Thanks to tweaked main pivot placement, there’s a bit more anti-squat designed into the bike rather than when compared to the longer travel Process 153, meaning the suspension will stiffen up slightly when you pedal. While there’s a 30T ring fitted to this model, the system is designed to run with up to a 34-36T ring. 

As befits a modern trail bike, the Hei Hei gets a metric sized shock with a trunnion mount and there’s Boost 148 hub spacing at the back too. There’s some rather clean internal cable routing, with the main cable port cover at the bottom bracket junction also hiding a spare derailleur hanger inside it.

Unlike many super-swoopy carbon frames, the outline of the Hei Hei is clean, with very straight top and down tubes connected together by a broad headtube junction. That does mean the top tube isn’t dipped for extra standover clearance, but even riding a Large frame and being about 5’8 tall, I didn’t find that too much of an issue.

Kona Hei Hei Trail DL 2016 ride impression

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Ragley BigWig 29 first ride review

The 130mm travel BigWig 29 is the most expensive bike Ragley sells. It’s made of 4130 chromoly steel, which is strong but also cheaper and heavier compared with other steel framed bikes such as the Cotic Solaris version 2 and Stanton Sherpa 853 — which use 853 Reynolds tubing. The BigWig weighs 14.6kg.

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Ragley BigWig 29 spec overview

  • Frame: Custom triple butted 4130 chromoly steel
  • Forks: Rockshox Yari RC, 130mm travel
  • Chainset: Shimano M677 SLX 2x, 175mm, 36×22T
  • Shift levers: Shimano SLX M670 2x 10 Spd
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Deore M616 Down-Swing 2Spd
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XT M786 10Spd Shadow Plus
  • Rims: WTB STI23, TCS, 29”, 32 Hole
  • Front hub: Novatec D811SB-15 Disc 100mm x 15mm
  • Rear hub: Novatec D882SB-X12 Disc Rear 12×142mmm Thru-Axle
  • Front tyre: WTB Vigilante TCS 2.3 – 29”
  • Rear tyre: WTB Trail Boss TCS 2.25 – 29”
  • Front brake: Shimano SLX M675 180mm
  • Rear brake: Shimano SLX M675 160mm
  • Handlebars: Ragley Wiser Riser Bars — 760mm Wide, 10mm Rise
  • Stem: Ragley Stubbing Stem — 50mm Reach, 0 Deg Rise
  • Saddle: Ragley Tracker
  • Seatpost: Nukeproof OKLO AIR, 125mm Travel

Ragley BigWig 29 frame and equipment

Ragley has created a hardtail with numbers that rival many top enduro bikes. The super slack 65 degree head angle (65.5 degrees when sagged), slammed 70mm bottom bracket drop and snappy short 435mm chainstays should have the rippers frothing at the mouth.

The BigWig boasts a 35mm legged RockShox Yari fork connected though a 44mm headtube. The back end gets a 142×12mm bolt-thru-axle to keep it tracking true and the dropouts are exchangeable should you want to fit a wheel using a regular 9mm quick release. Bottle cage mounts are found on the downtube.


There’s a Nukeproof dropper on board and while it’s not great, we’re surprised there’s one at all for the price. If you’d like something more classy, the frame has stealth routing allowing you to upgrade later.

Ragley low-rise 760mm bars and a 50mm stem feature to facilitate quick handling, but with a brace of shifters and a dropper-post remote crowding the brake levers, the cockpit is a busy place and cables look annoyingly messy.

Ragley BigWig 29 ride impression

Ragley BigWig 29 early verdict

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Scott Scale 935 review

Whether you’re watching World Cup XC or a local race, you’re likely to see a lot of Scotts and it’s been that way for decades. Its entry-level carbon bike is feather-light and handles nicely up front, but it’s blunter than we expected out back.

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Scott’s Scale frame has been a benchmark for XC performance throughout its life (though it’s had a complete overhaul for next season). The head angle sits just shy of 70 degrees, which is slack in XC terms, and the seat tube is relatively relaxed at 72.5 degrees.

Butt-jointed construction (as opposed to Scott’s sleeved ‘IMP’ method) gives the frame its minimal weight edge. Subtle ledges and depressions are moulded into the ultra-thin tubes, to engineer their behaviour under load, and the gear cables disappear into moulded blisters. The rear brake hose runs externally, for easy servicing, and the relatively slender down tube swells just ahead of the press-fit bottom bracket.


Although the 650b-wheeled Scales use a conventional 31.6mm seatpost, the 29ers stay with Scott’s uniquely massive 34.9mm size and oversized, semi box-section seat tube. The chainstays and seatstay wishbone are pretty solid, too, though the seatstays themselves are flat and slim. The brake mount sits on the chainstay to stop it affecting the flex of the seatstays.

Smart buyers should probably wait to see what happens to the Scale range’s pricing

While this entry-level frame comes with a DT Swiss QR axle, you can upgrade to the same 142×12mm system as the more expensive models, but you’ll need to change your hub/wheel at the same time. A band-on front mech makes for a clean look if you single-ring it.

The kit

The relatively heavy, non-series Shimano crankset and Deore front mech definitely make single-ringing tempting, but the XT rear mech doesn’t have a clutch and the 10-speed cassette only sports an 11-36t spread so you’d probably also need an expander cog. The 2.1in Schwalbe tyres don’t cushion trail chatter as well as fatter rubber would, and the Shimano rear hub has noticeable engagement lag on stop/start trails.

The ride


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Calibre Gauntlet review

Calibre is the bike brand of outdoor equipment retailer Go Outdoors and they’ve produced an impressively well specced hardtail with a contemporary character at a great, affordable price. And while the official price is £699, if you spend £5 on a 12 month discount card, the cost of the bike drops to an even more attractive £600 / US$945 / AU$1,260.

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It feels good on the trail straight away thanks to a 65mm long stem and wide 760mm handlebar for a power assisted steering feel. The WTB tyres provide a good grippier front, faster rear balance, and sit on 23mm wide rims to add more support when you’re cornering hard.

Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes have much better feel and feedback than Tektro anchors too, although we’d like to see a 180mm not 160mm rotor up front for more power.


While the RockShox XC32 fork only has a QR skewer holding the wheel in place rather than the thru-axle, you can occasionally find on Suntour forks at this price it’s still stiffer than more common 30mm legged forks. The pressurised air (rather than solid) spring and basic rebound control makes it easy to tune the fork response to your weight too.

Weight is acceptable at 13.75kg/30.3lb and compared to most bikes at this price it’s very fun and capable on average trails. Don’t expect the SRAM X5 transmission to last long compared to the Shimano alternatives though.

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iSSi Trail pedals review

In the world of mountain bike clipless pedals, Shimano has a pretty tight stranglehold on the market. The iSSi brand comes from Minnesota-based and local bike shop parts distributor Quality Bicycle Parts, and is a sister company to 45NRTH, Heller, All-City, Salsa, Surly and others. With that connection, the iSSi line of pedals is primarily sold in bike shops.

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iSSi Trail pedal specs

  • Chromoly spindle, ED-coated
  • 8mm hex head for install
  • 52.5mm spindle length with +6mm and +12mm options available
  • Black chrome hardware
  • Sealed cartridge bearings and bushings
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • 4º cleat float
  • Eight colors available
  • Weight: 420g

Similar yet different

The Trail pedals from iSSi use the familiar SPD style retention and are compatible with Shimano cleats. The float is around four degrees and the release angle 14 degrees, which is a bit less than Shimano at six and 15-20 degrees respectively. The platform surrounding the pedal is very close in size and shape to Shimano’s Trail offerings. An 8mm hex wrench is used to install both iSSi and Shimano pedals.


Where iSSi differs from Shimano is in offering three spindle lengths. The stock length is 52.5mm, which is 2mm shorter than Shimano’s standard length. But fear not those with big, wide feet or fat bike riders with bulky, insulated boots. iSSi offers 6mm and 12mm extended spindles so everyone can pedal happily.

A bounty of eight colors is one thing iSSi Trail pedals have going for them. While color can seem inconsequential, for some folks it’s hugely important, just ask Chris King or Industry Nine. One thing Shimano doesn’t have is much color. The component giant is typically very business like, content with dignified, inoffensive shades of gray and black.  

Out on the trails

iSSi Trail pedals pricing 

  • 52.5mm spindles: £69.99 / US$100 / AU$105
  • 58.5mm spindles: £N/A / US$105 / AU$110
  • 64.5mm spindles: £N/A / US$105 / AU$110
  • Spindle kits: £32.99 / US$52 / AU$N/A

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