The 2018 Kona Sutra LTD isn’t completely new; the model has been around for a couple years now. But the 3rd iteration of this bike has a few nice changes worthy of attention…

Posted by Logan Watts

  • Highlights
  • Frame/fork: Kona Cromoly Butted
  • Angles (58cm): 71° Headtube, 72° Seattube
  • Bottom Bracket: BSA Threaded
  • Hub specs: 12x142mm / 100x12mm Thru-axle
  • Seatpost: 27.2mm
  • Max tire size: 29×2.3″ (w/ options for 27.5+)
  • Price: $2099 (complete)

Given its genealogy, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD is a particularly interesting drop-bar “adventure” bike. In 2015 the LTD cracked the mold of the longstanding Kona Sutra range, a line of bikes fairly well known in the bicycle touring world. While the original Sutra remains as a great choice for long-distance road touring, the Sutra LTD became a frameset purposefully built for dirt-touring, bikepacking, and general drop-bar rowdyness. It certainly leans more toward the ‘dirt-drop’ mountain bike end of the spectrum than many other bikes in the “adventure bike” category. In Kona’s words, “The Sutra LTD is what happens when a mountain biker imagines a touring bike.” Since its inception, the Sutra LTD has seen a few minor tweaks improving the platform… and the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD has a couple additional tricks, as well as a solid and modern build kit.

2018 Kona Sutra LTD, Steel Adventure Bikes

  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD
  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD

What’s changed on the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD?

Each of the past Sutra LTD iterations have had a generous array of bottle and rack mounts. The 2018 model gets a couple more, adding up to my favorite change. There is now a third boss at the base of each fork leg. Each doubles as a rack mount, or even better, a third boss for a three-pack cage, such as King Cage ManyThing or Salsa’s Anything Cage. This year’s Sutra LTD also gets thru-axles. 12x142mm in the rear and 100x12mm on the front, each with allen bolt-in axles, which might appeal to some folks for security purposes. A couple other changes include flat brake mounts on both the front and rear, as well as an ultra-clean rear dropout, complete with rack mounts.

2018 Kona Sutra LTD

  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD
  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD

Tire Clearance?

It’s worth noting a bit of history from a tire-clearance perspective. The original 2016 powder blue Sutra LTD cleared 29×2.0 tires. For the 2017 model — the orange version — when Kona’s engineers switched to a 73mm bottom bracket shell, they were able to carve out much more tire clearance. As a result, both the 2017 and 2018 models fit a 29×2.2″ tire without issue, and folks will likely find they can fit an even bigger tire in practice.

2018 Kona Sutra LTD Build Kit

Priced at $2,099, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD isn’t as budget-friendly as the Jamis Renegade Expat or the Marin Four Corners, the two other steel drop-bar adventure bikes in this little series. But it has quite a nice, modern build kit, which adds value. First off it’s specced with an up-to-date SRAM Rival wide-range 1x drivetrain and Rival hydraulic discs, which, similar to the Force hydros as mentioned in the Cutthroat review, are solid and generally unnoticeable, which is a good characteristic for brakes. In addition, the WTB i23 tubeless-ready rims and 50mm Clement X’plor tires make for a meatier platform. The full-pinned XG-1150 11-42 cassette and Race Face Aeffect crank also adds to the build quality. Here’s the full spec:

  • FRAME MATERIAL Kona Cromoly Butted
  • SIZES 46, 48.5, 52, 54, 56, 58
  • FORK Kona Project Two Cromoly Disc Touring fork
  • CRANKARMS RaceFace Aeffect
  • CHAINRINGS 36t Narrow/Wide
  • B/B RaceFace 73mm
  • PEDALS n/a
  • CHAIN SRAM PC1110
  • FREEWHEEL SRAM XG1150 10-42t 11spd
  • R/D SRAM Rival 1
  • SHIFTERS SRAM Rival 1
  • BRAKE CALIPERS SRAM Rival 1 Flat mount
  • FRONT BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 160mm
  • REAR BRAKE ROTOR SRAM Centerline 160mm
  • BRAKE LEVERS SRAM Rival 1 HRD
  • HEADSET FSA TH848
  • HANDLEBAR Kona Road
  • STEM Kona Road Deluxe
  • SEATPOST Kona Deluxe Thumb w/Offset 27.2mm
  • SEAT CLAMP Kona Clamp
  • GRIPS Kona Cork Tape
  • SADDLE WTB SL8 Pro
  • FRONT HUB Formula 100x12mm
  • REAR HUB Formula 142x12mm
  • SPOKES Stainless Black 14g
  • RIMS WTB Asym i23 TCS
  • FRONT TIRE Clement MSO 50 TCS 700x50c
  • REAR TIRE Clement MSO 50 TCS 700x50c
  • PAINT COLOR Matt Metallic Olive w/ Charcoal & Khaki Decals
  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD
  • 2018 Kona Sutra LTD

All in all, as a drop-bar bike, the 2018 Kona Sutra LTD is almost unmatched in the mainstream bike market for its mountain-bike like character. I would draw a comparison to the Salsa Cutthroat for its generous tire clearance and focus on beefier MTB specs. From a geometry perspective, its similar in some respects, but with slightly longer top tube and more reach. Some folks have mentioned sizing down as a result. It does look like an relatively flawless and fun bike though; we hope to try one for a thorough review in the near future. For now, get more info at KonaWorld.com.

  • WhatsMyName

    Loving this 4-part series!! Can anyone comment on generic steel (Kona Chromoly) vs 520 vs 631 vs 853. The higher end Reynolds steels command a serious premium. Are people drawn to those steels for pure weight savings or is there some additional ride quality difference?

  • Thanks! 853 definitely commands a premium — according to Reynolds, “the strength to weight ratio of 853 is close to that of quality titanium” — http://www.bikepacking.com/bikes/niner-rlt-9-steel-review/ … It would be interesting to do a semi-scientific comparison and test on those and others… hmm.

  • David Childers

    Any bikepacking frames made from 853 these days?

  • Oilcan Racer

    The tire clearance alone makes this a winner. The price per parts list, not so much. Better to get this as a frame/fork only and build it up the right way.

  • WhatsMyName

    29×2.2 is huge. Must be nice to have that extra mud clearance even when running smaller tires. However, where is the tipping point where a hardtail 29er is a better tool for the terrain?

  • Rob Grey

    as an owner of the original kona rove, i really like where they went with this line of bikes. the rove is nearly perfect as my “not a roadie” road bike/commuter/fast n light multi-surface touring rig; it just needs a little more tire clearance (for fenders with 40-45mm tires), and a third bottle mount, which this one takes care of. luckily they offer this as a frame and fork and i may just make the switch.

  • Mike

    I can say that hands down, riding the Sutra LTD is the most fun I’ve had on a bike. I’ve taken it on road, gravel, local single track and urban ventures around my town. It’s a blast to ride!!! It’s totally changed the way I look at cruising around. Love it.

  • I fell in love with the Sutra LTD 2016 since the first time I saw it. I think I spent at least 30 minutes every day just browsing looking at this bike. When the 2017 version came out and the price of the 2016 dropped, together with the drop of the pound over euro, I got it.
    Being always a road rider, light carbon bike, etc…, my friends laugh at me when they see me with a steel bike. But when I show them the pictures of the places I have been with this bike they are amazed. I always say that if this bike could talk I’d be in jail :D https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/970ed0cdafd861629b2db84141eebb8eecb85c72a9d8a46f373f4754f5fd6807.jpg

  • Excellent.

  • The third bottle mount is key. I am not sure why every bike doesn’t have it…

  • Rob Grey

    it’s totally lame that i have to use valuable frame bag space for water when there could be another bottle *easily* mounted on the frame.

  • Well, there’s always electrical tape. I had a bottle cage taped to my gen 1 Krampus for years…

  • It should be also “compulsory” to design the bottle cages threads position so that they stay as low as possible for more comfort when pulling and placing the bottle and also to leave more clearance for a frame bag.

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