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Thanks to the newly released Rove NRB DL 650b adventure rig, Kona had some cover to go back to its cyclocross roots with the Jake line-up. Both the Major Jake and top-of-the-line Super Jake are all-new frames aimed squarely at the ’cross racer, while admitting they need to be able to function as gravel bikes as well.
The new carbon frame is—like any new carbon frame—lighter, stiffer and more comfortable, obviously. At 1,550 grams for the frame and fork, it’s not the lightest ’cross bike out there, but certainly more than respectable. Kona paid great attention to cable routing, ensuring it can handle just about any setup. It’s all internal, with three ports at the head tube and four at the bottom bracket. Want to run a dropper post with your 1× set? The Kona Super Jake can accommodate that. We love the attention Kona paid to these ports. They keep all the cables routed quietly with tight tolerances and leave the bike’s lines very clean.
The Super Jake’s build is ’cross focused, with SRAM Force 1×, a Kona alloy cockpit, WTB SL8 saddle and Clément Ushuaia wheels set up with Clément MXP 33mm tires. It’s a setup that leaves room for that dropper-post cable if you decide to upgrade. The bike makes its major nod to gravel with tire clearance. A 40mm tire can be squeezed into the frame, but don’t expect much mud clearance at that size. The Super Jake’s Kona Race Light Carbon frame does hide rack mounts, if you decide to draft it into bikepacking duty. The bike’s geometry is lower and steeper than its gravel counterparts; the bottom bracket, while not Belgian high, is significantly higher than most low-slung gravel bikes and even road bikes.
In the saddle, the bike’s ’cross DNA comes though loud and clear. It has a tight and responsive feel that many longer and taller gravel bikes lack with their endurance-inspired fit. The tight front end and taller bottom bracket make the bike ideal for quick changes of direction and tight switchbacks, moving crisply with your bodyweight a bit higher in the saddle. But unlike a traditional Belgian ’cross bike with a 64mm BB drop, the 67.5mm BB drop of the Major Jake makes mounting and dismounting less of a high-wire act. The Super Jake comes in six sizes, from 48cm to 58cm.