Kona Fire Mountain
Not too small. Not too big. Kona’s Fire Mountain hardtails are just right.
Built around 27.5″ wheels, these bikes are just the right combination of fast and capable. The in-between wheel size is incredibly versatile in the varied conditions that you’ll find on local trails. These Konas will roll over mossy roots with ease (just like bigger 29″ wheeled bikes), but you’ll have more fun on tight and twisty trails as these bikes accelerate and change direction much more quickly than bigger wheeled bikes.
Speaking of things that happen to be just right, the equipment level and price also seem to hit sweet spots for a lot of riders. These Konas are not beginner-only bikes intended for the street or an occasional run on the Burke-Gilman trail. At the same time, they’re inexpensive and versatile enough to be employed by new mountain bikers who aren’t sure where, how, or how often they’ll hit the dirt.
Take the suspension fork for example: the Suntour XCR version on this bike is still a coil-spring activated fork like on most “entry level” bikes, but it has 32mm aluminum sliders instead of smaller-diameter chromed steel ones, saving a full pound of weight and avoiding some of the corrosion issues common to chromed forks. The fork also has a tapered steerer tube, a light and rigid design common to more expensive bikes. These are good upgrades, ones that usually get skipped over on the way to bikes in the $1000 price range.
What else? You get a 9-cog cassette on the rear wheel instead of eight, a Sram crankset with replaceable chainrings, aluminum pedals instead of plastic ones and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. All on a bike priced around $700.