The 2017 model year was a bit of a transitional year for Kona in terms of cyclocross offerings. While the company offered the bright green Shimano 105-equipped carbon Jake the Snake CR, its sponsored racers, including Helen Wyman and Kerry Werner were riding 2016 Major Jakes (which are still available in one size). Even though the carbon frames used by sponsored racers last season were actually the same as the one used in the value-oriented carbon $2399 Jake the Snake CR, partly due to the different names and colors, there was a perception that the sole consumer carbon model wasn't up to snuff for the pros.
To make things even more confusing, for 2016, Kona also launched the all-new aluminum Private Jake, a cyclocross bike that featured tight, 42cm chainstays, slider dropouts that allowed singlespeed use, and was the platform of choice (with a MRP suspension fork) for Barry Wicks for the Lost and Found gravel race. The Private Jake added to Kona's Jake the Snake and Jake aluminum cyclocross line, but seemed to sit above even the carbon model due it its name.
For 2018, the more familiar cyclocross names and models make their return, with an all-new Super Jake and Major Jake that share the same redesigned carbon frame, and a new aluminum Jake the Snake model coming soon. At Sea Otter 2017, we got a first look at the new carbon 2018 Major Jake cyclocross bike, and it looks like Kona did its homework with this new frame.
The bike is eye-catching with a bright turquoise paint job with bronze highlights. The Major Jake comes with Shimano 105 22-speed drivetrain and RS505 hydraulic disc brakes and STI levers as pictured, but not with the Easton AX wheels or cockpit shown below.
The top-shelf Super Jake will come with SRAM Force 1, Clement Ushuaia tubeless wheels and a Kona cockpit. Both bikes will come equipped with Clement MXP tubeless tires.
The redesigned frames incorporate the features you'd expect from a new carbon cyclocross frame, with thru axles, internal cable/wire/hose routing, and flat-mount disc brakes. There's even internal routing for a dropper post if you're running a 1X setup.
Kona also tweaked the carbon layup, stating that the frame got 10% lighter, 10% stiffer and yet 10% more compliant. Tire clearance looks to have been increased, fitting a 40mm tire up front and out back. There's also fender mounts out back—but the company warns against using them for a rack.
While changing the layup, the company also made some geometry tweaks. Although we haven't seen a full geo chart, the bike seems to align with major trends beyond adopting this season's hottest color, as the frame shifts away from its past semi-Euro geometry and gets lower and longer. The moderately high bottom bracket from the previous incarnation now drops from a 62mm bottom bracket drop to as low as 72mm on smaller frame sizes. Head angles have also gotten about a half a degree slacker, something we've seen with the Cannondale Super X.
Kona says it will never win a weight weenie title—that's not its goal as it strives to build durable frames—but the new Major Jake and Super Jake are still relatively light. A 56cm frame (closer to a 58cm size in other brands) weighs around 1080g, with a 460g full carbon fork (300mm uncut steerer).
Final pricing is yet to be determined, but we expect the Major Jake to be around $3000, while the Super Jake will be around $4500. Stay tuned as we anxious await a test model this summer. Delivery is expected by August.
See full details of the redesigned Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike in the gallery below.
See our ever-growing stream of new cyclocross and gravel-oriented bikes, wheels, tires, components and cycling gear from 2017 Sea Otter here.