My personal review of the Kona Jake 2014
So, now that I've officially announced my new bicycle, which I've been riding for almost a year now, it is time already to give a more detailed review of it.
I'm not an expert, in fact I'm pretty clueless about techie stuff regarding bicycles, so take your time going through them and getting your own conclusions.
My Jake's size is 53cm. I can't tell you exactly the measures/distances of the seat post, reach, etc (I didn't measure them, I just tried until I got to something that fits me and feels comfortable). What I can do is show you a pic of what the bike looks like now:
The size fits me perfectly (I'm around 1.75 meters tall). I had to set up the bike myself, as I ordered it online and bikester sent the bike partially disassembled. I had to put things like the handlebar and seat in place. I knew some basic details on how to do such a setup and bikester included a nice instructions manual in the package, just in case I could have any questions.
Changing gears is really smooth, even if you miss lowering down gears before going on a steep uphill. In one year I only had to adjust gears once, because I found that lowering down from one of the highest gears was skipping on one cog. After reading a bit about it and watching some videos on youtube I was able to adjust them myself.
I'm not a very trained cyclist and I was a bit wary of the gears ratio (34/50 chainrings and 11-30 on the back), specially because the Argento has a 48/38/28 (triple!) and 14-34 (nice granny gear) ratio. I thought that I was going to miss those lower gears from the Argento, but I did not. The Jake is much much lighter than the Giant, and so even going up (so far) I did not need such lower gears. In fact, after some time riding the Jake, I've found that I usually don't go to lowest gears when doing some climbing (well, that's how it is supposed to be, right? your body gets used to it).
Starting on 2014, the Jake comes with a 2x10 crank, instead of a triple, but the front derailleur still has three positions. The shifter lets you set it to those three positions. One puts the chain on the bigger chainring, another one puts the chain on the smaller chainring and the third one puts the derailleur in a position that fits better the smaller gears. If you don't use that third, lower, position you would hear some sounds caused by some friction on the chain (against the derailleur).
The breaks are ok. Mechanical disc brakes that were really really noisy during the first few rides. And when I say noisy I mean it, pulling the breaks while going down fast caused some annoying, ghost-like, screaming. They are good anyway and they do not *block* the wheel as quick as rim breaks, so they feel a bit more safer (preventing slips and falls).
One detail about those breaks is that they have to be adjusted quite often. It happens that the pads stay too close to the disc a lot of times, making noises and adding some friction while riding. Such adjustments can be done by yourself, but they are a PITA, quite often you have to get the bike to an LBS or some professional hands to take care of it (it happened to me just yesterday).
The break levers and the gear shifters are located in the same place, which is a different setup than the one you can find in touring bikes (my first choice for the new bike in the beginning) where bar-end shifters are used. I've never tried those bar-end shifters, but the tiagra shifters from the jake work really well.
The tires are strong and durable. If you look for reviews about them on the Internet, you will find they are classified as do-it-all Hybrid/Touring/Commuter tires almost everywhere. I've ridden on asphalt/tarmac, dirt/muddy paths, gravel roads, stony trails and even on sand by the sea. They performed nicely on every surface and I had no punctures at all (so far).
With gravel, I've found that some times the smaller, really tiny, stones get stuck in the tread pattern and then I had to remove them by hand.
I've added some addons to the bike during the past few months. First a couple of lights, a small led red light on the back (attached to the seat post) and one of the smaller lights from cateye on the front (handlebar). I hadn't ride at night (yet), but I did ride at first hours in the morning, a bit before sunrise, and the cateye light was more than enough to light the road in front of me.
Next, I added some fenders. I got black SKS chromoplastics, the P45 to provide enough clearance for the 32mm tires I've right now. Adding the fenders was fun, but it took me some time to find a way to fit the stays near the front wheel break.
I also added a saddle bag and, ocasionally, a small frame bag. The frame bag has been useful in winter, on longer rides, as the rain jacket fits perfectly in one pocket and I can bring some extra food in the other pocket. Also, it has a special plastic pocket for the phone, which is nice (as I don't have any cycling computer yet). You can see them both in the gallery, here:
The bike, as it came from Bikester, didn't have any pedals. I bought some regular, cheap, pedals at first. Then I bought Shimano SPD pedals and Shimano shoes (MTB-style ones, more like boots than racing shoes, as with those you can still walk for a while if needed). The SPD pedals made a huge difference. At first it can seem a bit scary to have your feet attached to the bike, but attach (clip) and detach (unclip) is really easy, after a couple of rides it is totally natural, and the difference when pedaling is amazing (no more slippery pedals!!).
If you want to read a more technical, detailed review of the Jake (2013 model, but most of it fits the 2014 model too, I do agree with most of the comments there) you can take a look here:
Another short review (2015 model this time) here:
As a summary, the bike has been great on every aspect so far. Reliable, sturdy but light and fast. After all this time I've got so used to it that when I've to ride a different bike (like the Argento or the old MTB) I'm not really confortable on them. I'm not sure if it is due to the bike's geometry, the dropdown handlebar or the overall position on the bike, but even for commuting or family rides, I do prefer to ride the Jake.