Kevin LaRoe’s Kona Major One

LogoKona Major One
Its color is root beer. It makes you thirsty just to look at it. It has one speed. The complication of deciding what gear to spin off in is already made before you even throw your leg over the saddle. It has the easy mindset of lying back on a Hawaiian beach with the breeze in your face, not a care in the world, only with this you can also get the blood pumping and keep your muscles happily tuned as you spin along a quiet back road. Washtenaw dirt road ~ Kailua…there’s a connection.

Komplete Kona
Komplete Kona

Kevin’s Major One is a 2009 model. It was only produced for two years. The 2010 is black. I like the root beer. Kona has fun with its bike models. They have wacky names, usually related to Hawaii in one form or another. Not sure where Major comes from, but the bike is a spin-off of the Major Jake cyclocross model (Jake is named after Jacob Heilbron, one of the owners of Kona and Canadian national cyclocross champion in 1978). The Major Jake is geared and a bit more high end than the Major One in terms of components.

headstockKona uses a scandium alloy in many of its frames including the Major One. It’s one of the Kona trademarks. Scandium fuses well with aluminum and creates a stronger, lighter alloy. Kona claims it’s “light as titanium, more durable than carbon, half the weight of steel, [and] five times stronger than aluminum.”…more powerful than a locomotive, can leap tall buildings at a single bound… I can’t verify this, but according to Ivantheviking on the everything2 website, “Scandium tubing is useful as a frame material because of its light weight, resistance to corrosion, and unique grain properties, which allow it to be stiff in some places and pliant in others, making for a more comfortable bike.” I don’t know Ivan, don’t know if he’s trustworthy, but that’s what he says. If you have a different take, post it here.

Scandium was used first by the Russians in the 70’s in their rocket fins, and has since been taken up by the aerospace industry worldwide. Materials seem to develop their cojones in aerospace and evolve ever higher until they become standards of the bike industry. Think carbon. Think titanium.

Kevin’s Major One is basically a stock bike with a slightly smaller front chainring, 38tooth rather than 42tooth. Kevin uses this bike as a spring dirt road wanderer before it’s time to hit the trails with his mountain bike. He is, by the way, the guy who runs the Wheels in Motion Local-Loop rides on Tuesday evenings, so trails and dirt roads are his terrain.


18 Tooth Freewheel and Single-Speed drop-outs. Adjusting chain tension is merely a slide back or forth. All that's missing is a can opener like those found on Paragon drop-outs.

He likes the standard set-up on the Major One, except for the Kore cantilever brakes (but…these have a K in the name, too, Kevin!) and their poorly gripping gray pads. He’d prefer Avid canti brakes. The tires are Continental Speed King that are beginning to look like Ritchey Speed Max due to the wear on the center part of the tread.




Paragon dropouts with integrated bottle opener...Brilliant! But you won't find them on the Major One, sorry.

Lift the bike and its light weight is apparent. Replacement of the stock wheels, and other components, with lighter ones and this would be quite a featherweight.  Currently, it’s about 20lbs. without pedals. Derailleurs, cassettes, extra chainrings, and shifters do add heft to a bike. One more plus for going single.





Kevin is so skilled a Single-speeder that he often goes without pedals. When he does use them he prefers Look Quartz. Note the 38T Chainring. Spin fever!

Frame tubing  Kona Race Light Scandium Butted
Fork                Kona Carbon Cross
Headset          Threadless 1-1/8
Crankarms      FSA Gossamer
Chainring        38T (Stock = 42T)
Pedals            Look Quartz (Kevin’s preferred)
Freewheel      Shimano 18T
Handlebar      Kona Road
Stem              Kona Road
Brakes           Kore Sport
Brake Levers Tektro R200A
Front hub       Formula
Rear hub        Formula
Spokes          Sandvik Stainless 14g
Tires              Continental SpeedKing Cross 700x35C
Rims              Alex R390
Saddle           WTB Rocket V Comp OE (Kevin prefers Fi’zi:k)
Seatpost        Kona Road
Color             Root Beer

Plug for Cyclocross Magazine
There’s a nice review of the 2009 Major One on the website.

Dream Bike
Kevin likes Konas. Maybe he’s partial to a bike company with a K in its name, but he has a lot of Konas in his stable. He sells them as well at Wheels in Motion. He thinks Kona is a good company that listens to its customers and treats them well. His dream dirt road bike is a variation of one he already owns, a Kona Explosif. This is a 29er with straight handlebars. He’d change those over to drop bars. Then, the waters would part and the sun would forever shine.

The Kona company was founded in 1988 by the aforementioned Jacob Heilbron along with Dan Gerhard. They’re out of Ferndale, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. (They could have called their company Can-Am, but maybe that was a bit too obvious. A Hawaiian name makes much more sense!) What’s most interesting is that they’ve thought it important to help others in the world by also founding AfricaBikes, along with Bicycling Magazine and Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose mission is “to help provide transport, shelter, food and water to those with difficulty in attaining them…Kona Basic Needs primary initiative is to donate Kona AfricaBikes to organizations and individuals who can directly benefit from the transportation virtues of the bicycle.” (Wikipedia) Nice to see a company with a broad world view.

Not Sarsaparilla…
The sparkling brown frame glimmers nicely in the sunlight. Take a sip out of your water bottle. You did fill it with root beer, right?

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