By Colin Dennis
Canadian Bike Company, Kona, have always been renowned for their devil-may-care attitude and cult-like following off-road, but the fiery looking Kona Zing CR has no hang-ups whatsoever about being from the tarmac-only stable.
And with plenty of Italian blood flowing through its carbon veins, thanks to its Dedacciai frameset, the Zing CR is a thorough-bred in its own right and deserves a strong following of its own. It’s easy on the eye and easy on the road, but stand up as you hit the hills and simply pump the pedals to feel the Zing CR spring into life like a Gelding unleashed.
The Zing feels tight and compact and very business-like. Almost like it knows that it’s a race bike and doesn’t want to be reined in. Some road bikes just feel lifeless like an old hack unwilling to leave the stables behind.
But Kona are clever, they’ve gone to a renowned Italian frame manufacturer and have thoughtfully dressed it up with their own unique style of Kona purple and orange trade mark branding. Ok, the colour scheme may not be for some die hard roadies out there, but the Zing CR looks great in my view and more importantly performs faultlessly. Someone at Kona knows what they’re doing.
The Zing CR is thoughtfully specced too. Just look at what you’re getting for your money: Full Shimano Ultegra groupset, yes full! Kona haven’t gone penny pinching here on the Zing CR, even the rear cassette is Ultegra, they haven’t dumbed-down to any hidden-away 105 components like some brands do just to save a few quid.
There’s something much more together about a bike that comes fitted with a full groupset, unlike bikes that come mix-and-matched, full groupset bikes tend to not resemble fruit bowls when it comes to finishing off the bike.
Having dressed the Zing CR with a compact 50/34 chainset matched to an 11-28 cassette, we are firmly in the sportive arena, and it’s either that or the designer lives at the bottom of Mont Ventoux.
An interesting feature of the frame is how Kona have steered away from noodle-thin seat stays. The rear section flows smoothly into the rear triangle but there’s no sign of thin tubes to soften the ride.
The ride quality of the Deda Race carbon is very forgiving as it is, so the answer must lie in the layering of the carbon as there is no harshness to the Zing CR. You’re not going to get beaten up over a five hour ride. That in its self is a fine achievement from the frame manufacturers.
Having said that about whole groupsets, the wheels are a great upgrade from Ultegra hoops. Mavic Ksyrium Elite’s look and ride fantastic on any bike, but here on the Kona Zing CR they have a platform that complements their lightness and build quality and helps to really set the Zing on fire on the climbs.
On the descents, the Ksyrium’s provide a great breaking surface for the Shimano Ultegra callipers. Braking in the wet is always a challenge, but a good braking surface and interface generally allows for any misgivings in a riders skill in the wet to be dealt without the rider getting into a flap. Here the Mavic/Shimano combination worked well in the continued wet weather.
Again, matching Mavic’s Yksion Griplink Pro tyres to the Ksyrium’s not only looks great, but families that ride together, stay together. Over the two hundred or so miles that we rode on the Zing CR not once did we puncture or feel insecure as far as road grip went. Even going as low as 80 PSI, the Yksion tyres stayed true on the tarmac, and remained protective over the wheel rims.
Another big feature on the Kona Zing CR is the Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting mechanism. Love it! You ride along, you think about changing gear, and then it’s done before you know it. I also love how the gears whisper to you as they shift … Pssst, go the gears. You have to grin.
The shifting has yet to miss a beat, but then again I try and shift early, regardless whether your shifters are mechanical or electronic, it’s never wise to put the chain under too much undue stress.
The frame geometry doesn’t hold any surprises, it’s a compromise between head-down racer and weekend sportive rider looking for something a little different. 72 degrees at the headtube isn’t overtly sharp, it’s probably responsive enough for the majority of riders looking for the perfect balance of performance and comfort. This in part is helped by the shortish 994mm wheelbase found on the 56cm test bike.
I found the top tube length to be near-perfect for me. Standing at 5’ 11” in my cycling socks, the 55cm top tube was never going to pull my back out of joint, but lowering the stem to the fully slammed set up still gave me plenty of aero positioning without the need for a visit to the physio afterwards.
Easton finishing kit of bars, stem and seatpost are all from the EA70 stable and help enhance the look of the Kona Zing CR without detracting from the Zing’s colourful appearance.
In summary: The Kona Zing CR is an extremely well balanced and attractive looking road bike. It is light, it’s fast and yet still remains extremely comfortable on long training or sportive rides. I can’t fault the build quality or the component selection, and the Mavic wheel/tyre combo are a really nice touch
Watch the Zing CR YouTube video here: Kona Zing CR Review