The cycling world first caught a glimpse of the updated Kona Major Jake at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic. There we heard the frame gained 10 percent better compliance and stiffness, while shedding 10 percent of its weight. What we didn’t know at the time were the exact geometry changes and how the Major Jake rides out on the dirt. We also didn’t get to see Kona’s other 2018 cyclocross models. 

In late July, Cyclocross Magazine’s Andrew Yee headed to Squamish, British Columbia to test out the new carbon Major Jake and inspect Kona’s other two 2018 cyclocross models: the top-shelf carbon Super Jake and affordable alloy Jake the Snake.

Kona Cyclocross Goes Lower, Stands Taller and Adds Room for Shouldering

In 2018, Kona is keeping it simple by using the same geometry for all three of its cyclocross models. One of the biggest changes is a lower bottom bracket drop. Earlier model years had a relatively high 62mm BB drop that has been lowered about 8mm, depending on the frame size.

First ride: 2018 Kona Major Jake carbon cyclocross bikes was our weapon of choice for the rooty Squammish mountain bike trails. © Cyclocross Magazine

The 2018 Kona cyclocross bikes—shown here is the carbon Major Jake—have a lower bottom bracket drop than previous year’s models. © Cyclocross Magazine

While the bottom bracket drop, and therefore the rider’s center of gravity, have been lowered on the new Kona cyclocross line, short-legged riders can’t rejoice as the changes don’t mean there’s more standover height. In fact, similar-reach frames have less standover for 2018. Instead, Kona has prioritized shouldering room by creating roomy main triangles that should make flipping the bike onto your shoulder a snap. Kerry Werner certainly noticed this change when riding the new frame to shoot the promotional video below.

2018 Kona Cyclocross Geometry Chart

SIZE48cm50cm52cm54cm56cm58cm
ST LENGTH480500520540560580
TT LENGTH516531546562580596
REACH375380385390393400
STACK525545560580610620
STANDOVER760780800818845860
HT ANGLE70°70°70.5°70.5°71°71°
HT LENGTH103.5124.7140.8161.9194.2204.8
ST ANGLE75°74.5°74°73.5°73°72.5°
CS LENGTH425425425425425425
BB DROP7272707067.567.5
BB HEIGHT288288290290292.5292.5
WHEELBASE100710191026103810471057
FRONT CENTER592604610622631641
FORK LENGTH395395395395395395
FORK OFFSET454545454545

2017 Kona Cyclocross Geometry Chart

SIZE49cm53cm56cm59cm61cm63cm
ST LENGTH490530560590610630
TT LENGTH535550565580605615
REACH385393397401418421
STACK525552571590601615
STANDOVER740795800820835865
HT ANGLE71.272.272.272.272.572.5
HT LENGTH110135155175185200
ST ANGLE74.274.273.773.272.772.5
CS LENGTH425425425425425425
BB DROP626262626262
BB HEIGHT288288288288288288
WHEELBASE101210201030104110571065
FRONT CENTER595603613623640648
FORK LENGTH391391391391391391
FORK OFFSET474747474747

The 2017 Jake the Snake CR and the 2016 Major Jake featured quick release axles and post-mount brake mounts. These “features” are gone for 2018, and in their place are 12mm thru axles and flat mount brakes.

Clement Ushuaia wheels come tubeless ready, with tubeless tires but with free inner tubes. 2018 Kona Jake cyclocross bikes. © Cyclocross Magazine

Quick releases on all three cyclocross models have been replaced with front and rear 12mm thru axles. 2018 Kona Jake cyclocross bikes. © Cyclocross Magazine

Chainstays stayed the same length at 42.5cm but now the effective chainstay length should be a tad shorter due to the increased bottom bracket drop. Behind the bottom bracket more tire clearance has been added, and the company states 40mm tires should fit easily, with some employees reporting success with even bigger tires.

The head tubes are longer to add shouldering room and better fit the those of us who don’t ride aggressive positions, but the change also increased the stand over height.

Kerry Werner tests out the 2018 Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike, and found it to be more responsive with more shouldering room than his old Super Jake. © Cyclocross Magazine

Kerry Werner tested out the 2018 Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike and found it to be more responsive with more shouldering room than his old Super Jake. © Cyclocross Magazine

Up front, the entire cyclocross line—as well as the versatile 650b Rove NRB DL we also rode; stay tuned for more on the Rove line—share a tapered steerer 450g full carbon fork with flat mount brake mounts and generous tire clearance. The fork rake is 45mm, shortened a tad from the 47mm of the 2017 Jake the Snake CR.

It is also worth noting that the sizing options have changed. The two largest frame sizes, 61 and 63cm, are no longer available and the biggest frame is 58cm. However, due to the taller stack and stand over height, most riders will need to size down anyway. As a result, the 6’4” Barry Wicks rode a 58cm frame, the largest frame offered, and although I typically ride a 56cm, opted for a 54cm, even though the reach of the 56cm may have been more what I’m used to. As with most bikes, riders may be able to adapt to different size options using stems with different lengths and rises.

Pricing and Specifications

Kona is offering three cyclocross models in 2018—the Super Jake, Major Jake and Jake the Snake. What happened to the entry-level alloy Jake? Kona found that most buyers of the Jake were using it for commuting and riding dirt roads and paths, and are now steering that crowd to the Rove and Sutra lines.

All three 2018 models come with hydraulic flat mount disc brakes and front and rear thru axles, and they feature tubeless ready rims and Clement MXP tires.

Flat mount hydraulic brakes adorn the whole Jake cyclocross line. 2018 Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

Flat mount hydraulic brakes adorn the whole Jake cyclocross line. 2018 Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

The carbon Super Jake retails for $3,999. It features a SRAM Force 1 drivetrain,  a 1x 40t front chainring and 11-speed 11-32 cassette and Clement Ushuaia rims.

The 2018 Kona Super Jake cyclocross bike features SRAM Force 1 components and the same color scheme as will be raced by Kerry Werner and Helen Wyman. © Cyclocross Magazine

The 2018 Kona Super Jake cyclocross bike features SRAM Force 1 components and the same color scheme as will be raced by Kerry Werner and Helen Wyman. © Cyclocross Magazine

The carbon $2,999 Major Jake has a Shimano 105 drivetrain, 46/36 front chainring and 11-speed 11-32 cassette and tubeless ready WTB i19 Asym rims.

The carbon Major Jake has the same geometry as the Super Jake, but has a Shimano 105 drivetrain and a 46/36 front chain ring and an 11-speed 11-32 cassette. photo: courtesy.

The aluminum alloy Jake the Snake has an MSRP of $1,799, Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, 46/34 front chainring and 10-speed 11-34 cassette and tubeless compatible WTB STP i19 rims.

2018 Kona Jake the Snake offers an affordable, alloy version of the carbon cyclocross bikes, with the same geometry, but with rack and fender mounts and Shimano Tiagra 10-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. © Cyclocross Magazine

The 2018 Kona Jake the Snake offers an affordable, alloy version with the same geometry as the carbon cyclocross bikes, but with rack and fender mounts and Shimano Tiagra 10-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. © Cyclocross Magazine

First Ride Impressions

At the Kona Launch in Squamish, I had two rides: a short, self-guided exploration, and a long gravel adventure. The gravel ride was on the new 650b Roves, so it only made sense to grab a new stock Major Jake for my self-guided ride on the mountain bike trails near our base.

Journalists and the Kona Endurance Team gather to ride new 2018 cyclocross bikes. 2018 Kona Jake cyclocross bikes. © Cyclocross Magazine

Journalists and the Kona Endurance Team gather to ride new 2018 cyclocross bikes. 2018 Kona Jake cyclocross bikes. © Cyclocross Magazine

My test ride looked something similar to Werner’s first ride:

On second thought, my ride through the rocky, rooty singletrack of Squamish looked nothing like Werner’s ride, mostly due to the major difference in environment and to a lesser extent, rider skill.

The stock Major Jake, despite rolling on inner tubes at high pressure, was a joy to climb up the roots and steeps of Squamish. The climbing traction was great, and it responded well to wheel unweighting and quick line changes, which are traits that should come in handy on the cyclocross course.

2018 Kona Jake cyclocross bikes all share the same 450g full carbon fork - even the alloy Jake the Snake model. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Clement MXP tires provided good traction and the 450g full carbon fork provided stability while riding the off-road trails in British Columbia. © Cyclocross Magazine

On the technical descents, the traction was helpful and the bike’s responsiveness was aided by the new lower bottom bracket and relatively low center of gravity. On long, fast descents, I would want to be more stretched out than the 54cm frame allowed and would probably go longer on the stem.

The build, complete with the 105 STI hydraulic brakes and shift levers, performed admirably. The bulbous levers look funky, but performed similarly to the higher-end R685 levers, as did the Shimano hydraulic flat mount brakes. The dual chainrings add versatility for different riding styles, but 1x fans can always jump up to the higher spec’d Super Jake for its SRAM Force 1 drivetrain.

The Shimano 105 STI hydraulic levers on the 2018 Kona Major cyclocross bike looks bulbous and clunky, but function as well as higher-end items. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Shimano 105 STI hydraulic levers on the 2018 Kona Major cyclocross bike looks bulbous and clunky, but function as well as higher-end items. © Cyclocross Magazine

Of course, one single ride on foreign terrain is not enough to offer a definitive conclusion on a bike’s handling, and I am looking forward to dialing in the fit and spending more time on one of these models soon.

Stay tuned for a long-term test.

Final Impressions from Squamish

Kona has taken major steps to modernize its cyclocross line with a lower bottom bracket drop and front and rear thru axles. It has also added versatility with bigger tire clearance, two carbon models and an upgraded alloy model that shares the high-end fork and geometry while still offering versatility with rack and fender mounts.

Kona has kept the Jake line simple. There are no front or rear suspension devices, just an elegant, race-worthy three-bike line-up that is a worthy successor in the company’s long history of cyclocross bikes. Look for Kerry Werner, Helen Wyman and the Rad Racing team to put Kona’s race-ready cyclocross bikes to the test across the U.S. and Europe this season.

Specifications: Super Jake, Major Jake and Jake the Snake

Super Jake

MSRP: $3,999
Frame: Kona Race Light Carbon
Color: Gloss black with magenta and cyan decals
Fork: Kona full carbon flat mount CX race disc
Chainring: 40t
Hubs: Clement Ushuaia, 12mm front thru axle, 142x12mm rear TA
Freehub: SRAM PG1130 11-32, 11-speed
Wheels: Clement Ushuaia with 700x33c Tubeless Ready Clement MXP
Brake Levers and Shifters: SRAM Force 1
Brake Calipers: SRAM Force 1 flat mount
Brake Rotors: 160mm SRAM Centerline

Major Jake

MSRP: $2,999
Frame: Kona Race Light Carbon
Color: Gloss aqua with copper decals
Fork: Kona full carbon flat mount CX race disc
Chainrings: 46/36t
Hubs: Formula 12mm front TA, 142x12mm rear TA, both centerlock
Freehub: Shimano 105 11-32t, 11-speed
Wheels: WTB i19 Asym, Tubeless Ready Clement MXP 700x33c tires
Brake Levers and Shifters: Shimano 105
Brake Calipers: Shimano hydraulic flat mount
Brake Rotors: Shimano RT64 160mm centerlock

Jake the Snake

MSRP: $1,799
Frame: Kona Race Light 6061 Aluminum Butted
Color: Gloss yellow with charcoal and blue decals
Fork: Kona Carbon Cross
Chainrings: 46/34t
Hubs: Formula 12mm front TA, 142x12mm rear TA, both centerlock
Freehub: Shimano Tiagra 11-34t 10-speed
Wheels: WTB STP i19, Clement MXP 700x33c tires
Brake Levers and Shifters: Shimano Tiagra
Brake Calipers: Shimano hydraulic flat mount
Brake Rotors: Shimano 160mm centerlock

More information: konaworld.com

Photo Gallery: Super Jake, Major Jake and Jake the Snake

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The 2018 Kona Super Jake cyclocross bike features SRAM Force 1 components and the same color scheme as will be raced by Kerry Werner and Helen Wyman. © Cyclocross Magazine

The 2018 Kona Super Jake cyclocross bike features SRAM Force 1 components and the same color scheme as will be raced by Kerry Werner and Helen Wyman. © Cyclocross Magazine

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