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Momentum Mag reviews the Kona MinUte.
Price $899.00 USD/ CAD
Find it at konaworld.com
In US and Canadian stores
This short-haul cargo bike has a 300-pound (136-kilogram) carrying capacity. It comes with front and rear mechanical disc brakes, a Shimano eight-speed drivetrain, swept-back handlebars, fenders, Kona bell, Acacia-wood deck and two Kona UTE bags. It is XtraCycle PeaPod and Yepp-compatable.
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The ease of the ride while I had groceries, flowers, a sack of books and my laptop crammed into the spacious panniers made a huge impression – big difference from other bikes I’ve ridden. The bike doesn’t sacrifice any sleekness for its immense cargo capacity. I got a lot of attention on this bike and although I’d like to think it was for me, I’m pretty sure the craning necks were looking at the wooden deck.
I get why this bike needs a kickstand, but the one it has didn’t work that well for me. I had to spend some time readjusting my loads so the bike wouldn’t topple over. When asked by Kona to comment, they noted that a new, wider kickstand that is has a 300mm base comes with all new models of the MinUte. We’ll see if that makes a difference.
This bike best suits someone with a lot of cargo to haul around on a regular basis and who lives on the ground floor or has a garage. This bike is ideal for a commuter, a parent or anyone who has a lot of gear. I tried to borrow a couple of kids to stuff in the panniers but their parents, oddly, were not really into that idea.
The MinUte delivers a smooth ride only slightly hampered when it has a full load. I was surprised by how carrying a lot of gear would barely effect the handling and effort to ride.
It turns out this bike wasn’t really suitable to my living situation as I had to carry it up two flights of stairs for safekeeping at night. If you have to carry it up a flight of stairs you should know the bike is shorter than the Kona Ute, its full-on utility predecessor, but I still found it too long to comfortably sling it up staircases and around corners. It’s a tradeoff for the carrying capacity and I still don’t know if I’d choose this as my primary ride. This would be an amazing second bike. The thing is a tank and it’s good-looking.
The gear system was a pleasure to use, smooth and intuitive. Riding it home for the first time, the pannier buckle got caught in the gears and I could see what a pain trying to fix this thing on the fly would be. Luckily I got it out after covering myself with grease and attracting a lot of bored stares from passersby.
I was happy riding the MinUte to the store and around town but felt a bit silly on longer rides. I like to take three hours or so to boot around the Seawall when my schedule permits and I have to admit, I missed my other bike when I was churning through English Bay. It’s not that the MinUte wasn’t up to the task of longer rides – it just felt like the bike wasn’t meant to be flying through traffic.
I also found that after dragging it up the stairs, the panniers caught on everything in my apartment as I wheeled it outside. Pro tip: take everything upstairs or inside first and then take the bike up or in. If my neighbourhood was worse I would have worried more, but I just shrugged and took my junk inside and then came back for the bike.
One thing that really struck me was how solid the construction seemed. This bike is no delicate flower, it’s tough and looks and feels really durable. I generally like Kona bikes anyway but I could see this bike lasting forever.
Commuting in Vancouver is always a crap shoot. If you take the chance and wear work clothes it rains and if you wear your regular duds you hit every light and don’t break a sweat. I work up enough of a sweat riding that I would feel too rumply to walk straight into a meeting after riding. This bike would pair well with an enlightened work place that has well fitted out changerooms. It has enough storage space that you could bring a laptop and change of clothes and have room for steel-toed boots and a hardhat (I don’t know what kind of job you have!).
The Kona MinUte is super durable and carries a ton – you may find yourself designated the official “Hauler of Gear” by your family and friends.
This bike was generously put together by Kona in Vancouver, BC.
Sarah Beuhler was actually born in Vancouver but spent years in the Rocky Mountains and traveling around the world. She’s looking for a bike that will corner ruthlessly, hop curbs, fly down mountains and whiz by cars while full of books. If you find it you can tweet at her: @sarahbeuhler