I’ve been in the market for a decent single speed 29er since the start of the year, and having looked at every option out there more than once, I’ve narrowed my search down to two bikes: the Kona Unit and the Charge Cooker SS (2015 models).
If you’re reading this then I assume you’re facing a similar decision, in which case I hope the following information helps you decide which bike to go for. It’s taken hours of forum research and a several emails with manufacturers, but finally, I think I’m nearing a decision.
Why a SS 29er?
I’ve been riding single speed for so long now that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to ride geared, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I should add that it’s relatively flat where I live, so even when I did ride with gears I seldom felt the need to use them.
Riding SS for me is about the simplicity; I love being able to focus on what’s up ahead without having to think about switching gears, or worrying about how much energy I could be conserving if I were to switch up or down. With SS the only options you have are pedal hard or pedal harder, and I love that.
I currently ride a Charge Plug, which has been a reliable commuting machine for around two years now. Prior to that I had a Trek District (until it was stolen). I now want something that ticks the commuter box, but will also handle muddy trails at the weekends, hence my decision to go with a 29er.
Kona Unit vs Charge Cooker
Price wise, the Kona is more expensive at RRP, but you do get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of the components. If I were to purchase the Charge, I think there would have to some upgrades almost immediately, which would hike the price up to around that of the Kona anyway.
Also, the Kona’s sliding dropouts are a big plus for me. The Charge’s eccentric bottom bracket could cause issues further down the line, though I’ve seen no actual evidence of this.
With the exception of a mandatory pedal upgrade, I like the idea of being able to ride the Kona straight out of the shop and onto the trail.
There’s no denying both of these bikes are very good looking, but personally I think the Cooker edges it slightly in the aesthetics department. Also, being a Charge owner already I have only positive experiences to draw upon. Kona on the other hand represents uncharted territory for me, despite being a more widely recognised brand.
All considered, I’m leaning towards the Kona Unit. While its more expensive, I think it represents better value for money than the Charge Cooker. The 2015 model is currently on sale too, which makes it even more appealing.
Reviews of the Kona are generally great, whereas information about the Charge is much harder to come by. I appreciate that this is probably due to the fact Kona is a bigger brand and therefore has wider ownership, but even so it’s hard to find anything but positive reviews of this bike.
If and when I do finally bite the bullet I’ll be sure to follow this post up with a review of my own.
For further reading I’d recommend checking out these threads:
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