When it comes to trailbikes, they come in many flavors and sport a myriad of suspension designs. But, during all this time of suspension upheaval, one company has remained true to their roots and stayed the course. That bike company is Kona. Their 4-bar suspension design has carried them through as long as I can remember and while they have incrementally improved the design over the years, the core suspension system has remained the same.
With that solid suspension design, you get a reliable and predictable Kona-signature ride in all conditions–especially on the down. This bike has been a ton of fun over the past several months and is a prime example of just what makes Kona’s well… Kona’s.
About the Kona Dawg Supreme
Built as a do-it-all trailbike, the Dawg Supreme sports 6-inches of squish in the rear and just under 6-inches up front (delivered via Fox Float RLC 15qr). Part of the “Backcountry Dual Suspension” lineup, the Dawg has evolved over the years and is now one of the best trail slayers on the market. The Supreme is the coup de gras in the lineup with top-shelf components and pricetag. But, with all that goodness, you get a durable and capable bike.
Features of the Kona Dawg Supreme
- Scandium alloy tubing
- Kona 4-bar Suspension
- Travel: 140mm (front) and 150mm (rear)
- D.O.P.E floating brake option
- Fox Float 32 RLC fork with 15QR Axle
- Fox Float RP23 rear shock
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT with XTR rear derailleur
- Brakes: Shimano XT (excellent stoppers)
- Wheels: Mavic Crossmax ST
- Tires: Maxxis Ignitor 2.35
- Cockpit: Kona XC/BC bar, stem and seatpost (very solid)
- Color: Light Green Metallic
- Weight: 28 lbs.
- MSRP: $4599
Kona Dawg Supreme Review
I love it when I’m able to hang onto a bike for thorough flogging. Such has been the case with the Dawg Supreme as I’ve had it in the stable now for three months. While the weather hasn’t been as cooperative as I’d wished, I’ve still pedaled my way up and down plenty of trails as I’ve discovered what made the Dawg tick.
The overall parts spec of this top-shelf model leaves little to be desired, but the $4599 price-point should include a handful of carbon bits and an adjustable-travel fork. Those shortcomings aside, the bike is really dialed-in with XT/XTR drivetrain, Mavic Crossride ST wheels and great-looking house-brand bars, stem and seatpost.
The squish is handled adeptly by the Fox Float 32 RLC with 15QR axle and the Fox Float RP23 rear shock. You can’t go wrong with a Fox on both ends of your bike and these have performed flawlessly. For my tastes, I’ve set the fork at 70 psi and the shock at 170 psi (5’11” – 175 lbs).
There remains plenty of debate on the whole 15mm vs. 20mm axle and why we now have both “standards”. In my tests, I can’t tell the difference between the 15 and 20mm axles in lateral stiffness and tracking–I’m just stoked to have multiple options that don’t include the spindly 9mm standard QR axle (which should be abolished from mountain bikes, IMO). The 15QR is perfect for the Dawg.
The overall geometry on the Dawg isn’t entirely “slack” on paper, but it feels slack on the trails–which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for those familiar with Kona’s heritage. The 68.8-degree head-angle does provide for slightly floppy handling during parking lot tests. When on the trails, the front-end does exhibit some wandering, but a little body english goes a long way toward keeping things under control. Under all but the steepest climbs, I felt like I could keep things tracking straight with the front wheel planted in the dirt. Some finagling with seat height and location (forward) has reduced it even further.
I’m confident that if the Dawg Supreme had the Fox TALAS 32 fork, this wanderlust would disappear completely. This is the “Supreme” model, right? It really should have an adjustable travel fork as that would make this capable climber even more adept. That said, the quality of travel delivered by the Fox Float 32 is smooth and predictable.
I was also very impressed with the ride quality delivered by the Mavic Crossmax ST wheels. While these aren’t the top-of-the-line wheels from Mavic, they are well-suited to the Dawg. With excellent lateral stiffness and a smooth roll, the Crossmax ST is a solid wheelset.
Where Kona’s shine is on the downhill. I keep telling people that Kona has the 4-bar thing down to a science and all it takes is a few seconds of gravity-induced goodness and you’ll instantly fall in love with the way the Dawg simply devours the downhill. There’s no denying that this bike is one of the most comfortable downhillers in the 6″ trailbike category.
What makes it descend so well, you ask? The overbuilt chainstays mean business and the single-piece rocker arm adds to the lateral stiffness strategy going on back there. Kona just has the 4-bar suspension system dialed-in for all-day, all-mountain fun.
Good Dawg Supreme
- Amazing downhill capabilities
- Responds well to hard cornering
- Rear-triangle is stout
- Solid parts spec (as it should be)
- Kona-brand parts are superior-looking to most house-brands
- Full XT/XTR drivetrain is superb
- XT brakes are excellent stoppers utilizing mineral oil (DOT3 is nasty stuff)
- Excellent weight-to-fun ratio (28 lbs!)
Bad Dawg Supreme
- A tad bit of front-end wander when things are steep and technical
- At this price, it should have the Fox TALAS 32 fork (for adjustable travel)
- Slower climber than other bikes in this range (or maybe I’m the slow one)
The Bottom Line: 2009 Kona Dawg Supreme
The Dawg Supreme has been a stellar steed this Spring. I’ve enjoyed it on short rides as well as longer rides with 2000 vertical feet of climbing. An adjustable-travel front fork would make this rig unbeatable, but out-of-the-box, the Dawg Supreme is supremely good!
Buy Now: Find Your Local Kona Retailer