|THE FIRST TIME you're lucky enough to get your hands on one of the 2006 Kona Stinkys, check out the rear end.
It's new for 2006. After nearly a decade of tweaking the same basic design, Kona did something wild and crazy for 2006.
Yea, the bike still rides on the same "faux-bar" suspension setup it always has (click here for full Kona Stinky review), but for 2006 Kona moved the pivot point from the down tube to the top tube and reshaped the rocker arm!
Seems like a couple small things, but you can see and feel the changes immediately on your local Kona dealer's show room floor.
Most obviously, see how the blue 2006 Stinky (top right) has long, machined-out rocker arms, compared to the solid rocker arms on the gray 2005 Stinky?
OK, now see how the new 2006 Stinky rocker arm has no cross-bracing, carbon fiber or otherwise, like Ellsworth uses on its own l-o-n-g walking beam?
Finally, see how the main pivot, seat stay pivot, and shock attachment point are all pretty much in-line on the 2006 Stinky, instead of forming a shallow triangle, like on the older Stinkys and the Ellsworth? This in-line arrangement is inherently weaker to twisting forces than the slightly triangulated rocker arm design of the older Stinkys.
So just looking at the new Kona Stinky rear end, you'd think that stiffness could be an issue. How about it?
WHOAH! When GalbraithMt.com tested the lateral stiffness of the new 2006 Kona Stinky, we were stunned.
Our highly unscientific conclusion -- the 2006 Kona Stinky has one of th flexiest rear ends we're ever seen on a bike with this much travel.
But you try it. Grab the bike. Put your left hand on the saddle, and your right hand on that big honkin' rear wheel and tire.
Steady the bike with your saddle hand while you alternately push away and pull toward yourself with your other hand, the one on the rear wheel and tire. Put a little grunt into it. Now you're testin'! If the wheels are well-built, there should be no appreciable lateral (or twisting side-to-side) movement in the rear end.
What do you feel when you try this test on the 2006 Stinky? How about an older Kona Stinky or Kona Coiler or Kona Dawg / Bear?
Here's a little further comparison. When we performed the Official GalbraithMt.com Lateral Stiffness Rear Suspension Test on a 6-inch travel 2005 Ellsworth Moment we felt very little if any lateral flex.
Same with a 7-inch travel 2004 Norco Atomik. In fact, the Norco felt about as flexible as Mt. Fromme. Why? The FSR-style Horst-link four-bar design used by Norco, Specialized and others doesn't require a long rocker arm, AND it cross-braces its short rocker with the shock attachment. Clever.
SO WHAT does all this mean? Depends on how you ride.
If you're one of the few of people in the world who are using the 2006 Stinky as a trail bike, you've got nothing to worry about.
Realistically, the only time you may feel the 2006 Stinky flex is when you use the bike for the purpose Kona intended, to go big.
And even then, some people probably aren't going to notice it. And some others are going to notice, but not care. And yet others will notice, and really care a lot.
Jon Syre, the guy seen flying on the 2006 Kona Stinky (right) told GalbraithMt.com that he can feel the flex, and joked that it might have something to with him "lawn darting" off the trail a couple times, but for him it's clearly no big deal.
Of course, Jon used to air out the same stuff on the Santa Cruz Superlight he had before, so he obviously knows how to deal with whip and flex in the frame.
When GalbraithMt.com asked Kona about the flexiness of the 2006 Stinky rear end, a Kona spokesman told us that anyone who has a problem with this should talk to their local Kona dealer.
How about you? How do you feel about flex? I can hook you up with a used Bow-flex on very reasonable terms...
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