Kona vs. Specialized, Which One is Commuter Ready?

Commuter riding is a common practice in today’s cities. This Kona vs. Specialized review takes a look at models from the two companies to help you decide which one suits you.
I live in a city and I like to cycle to and from work. Along my route there are some gravel paths as well as smooth paved city streets. I need a city-friendly bike which I can use to get around all year round.
What are the differences between Kona and Specialized? How do they compare?

Kona Dew
Specialized S-Works Epic 29
Seat Post
Kona Commuter 27.2mm
Specialized S-Works FACT carbon, 10mm setback, 30.9mm
Shimano Acera
Shimano XTR, 11-Speed
Stainless 15g fr /14g r
DT Swiss Revolution

Kona vs. Specialized – A Detailed Comparison
Specialized’s bike frame is made from FACT 11r carbon. FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) is Specialized’s company specific way around carbon blends. It consists of an engineering process which directs development of frames and other bike components all the way from market research, sketches, manufacture to the finished product. This carbon fibre gives a rare combination of stiffness, strength and reduced total weight. This allows for greater efficiency and speed.
The Kona’s frame is built using company made 6061 butted Aluminum. Butting refers to tube wall thickness. Tubes with only one dimension along them are referred to as butted. This technology is used to reduce weight of the tube and overall weight of the bike.
Brake System
The Specialized bike has SRAM Level Ultimate, hydraulic disc brakes. The Kona one has Tektro linear-pull brakes. The main difference is in the efficiency of the two types of brakes. Hydraulic brakes are more efficient because it requires less force on the brake lever to cause a complete halt.
Specialized’s model comes with Roval Control SL carbon wheels. These have a strong, hook- less bead rim construction. Their 25mm internal width gives good grip and rolling resistance, making them a good option for cross country riding.
Rolling with these wheels are Specialized Fast Trak, GRIPTON, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″ tires on the front and Specialized Fast Trak, GRIPTON 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.1″ in the rear. These are the company’s custom made tires made with the speed of cross country racing in mind.
The Kona’s wheels are made from double wall alloy metal. Double walling makes the wheel stronger. This alloy metal is generally lighter than most metals therefore reducing weight of the wheels. Light wheels allow for faster acceleration and quick stopping. It also translates to less strain on suspension components when riding on gravel or bumps.
The specialized bike has a company made Phenom Pro saddle. It is a rounded saddle with a flat base for the sit bones. It has extra smooth edges to prevent catching on your shorts. You will notice distinct curves across the width of the saddle after the point of sit bone contact. These are designed to ensure smooth continuous pedaling without much friction. This part is lined with low friction material for the same reason.
The Kona has a company made Kona Comfort saddle. It is long and narrow. This makes it a good option for you if you have narrow sit bones and like to change sitting positions. It also has a nylon dual density base and water resistant cover to keep it from getting soaked when you ride in the rain.
Kona Review

The Kona Dew has aluminum riser handlebars. This metal helps to keep the weight of the bike at a minimum. It also allows for easy maneuvering. The straight handlebar keeps you in an upright position. This position will allow you view traffic at a distance which is ideal for commuter riders. Added to the handlebars are a pair of key grips. These are 30mm in diameter and 136mm long with a rubbery edge. These allow you to maintain a comfortable grip and eliminate the chance of a slippery surface when your hands get sweaty.
The bike stem is crucial for bike control and maneuvering. It is especially key for commuters who have to ride through city traffic. This model is fitted with a company specific stem (Kona control stem.) It is a light and durable stem which allows for easy and light handling.

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Comfortable seat
  • Very responsive


  • Paint chips easily


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Specialized Review

This is a cross country mountain bike designed for amateur and professional cross country racing. It has a RockShox RS-1 Brain fork which is a reputable fork in cross country racing. Unlike other forks, it is inverted to create a carbon fiber upper. This gives extra stiffness as well as better bump control.
The Roval Control SL 29 carbon fiber wheels are designed for race day. They are light enough for efficient climbing and stiff enough to allow high speed sprints. They score well in terms of ease of handling and durability.
Drivetrain functions are performed through a Shimano XTR Di2 11-speed group set. This comes with 36/26T gearing in the front and 11-40t in the rear. Although electronic mountain group sets are new to the market they are reliable because they offer good shift precision and accuracy.

  • Quick Acceleration
  • Stable at high speed


  • Heavy seat post and saddle


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Final Word
The two bikes under review are distinctly different, both with their individual strengths. The Specialized bike is a fast, relatively heavy, hardy cross country race bike. Its carbon frame gives it ability to take rough bumpy trails with ease. It is ideal for amateur and professional cross country racing. The Kona Dew takes the crown because it meets the exact need of the commuter rider market. It is a light weight bike which is happy along city streets, paved paths and light gravel. The specialized model would be too heavy for the commuter who simply needs to zip across town every day.
What is XC?
XC is an abbreviation used to mean Cross – Country. It is a cycling discipline of mountain biking. XC was first included as a sport in the Olympics in 1996. It remains the only mountain biking in the Olympics.
Is specialized an American company?
Yes. Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc., commonly referred to as Specialized, has its headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, USA. It has been 49% owned by Taiwan-based Merida bikes since 2001.
Where are specialized bikes made?
All Specialized bikes are made in Asia, though the company’s headquarters are in California. Asian companies such as Merida, Ideal and Giant are among its top suppliers.
Where are Kona bikes made?
Kona bikes are assembled in Taiwan using parts brought in from the U.S. China, France, Canada, Japan, Italy and Malaysia. Kona Bicycle Company has its headquarters in Ferndale, Washington.
What should a good mountain bike weigh?
Mountain bikes generally weigh between 21 and 29 pounds) (9 – 10 kgs.) The bulk of a bike’s weight comes from the wheels, fork and frame.
How long can an aluminum bike frame last?
Aluminum bike frames typically last 5-10 years. Steel, which is a less common material for bike frames is more durable but requires more maintenance than aluminum.