A little over a week ago, we bought a pair of Kona Ute cargo bikes; yesterday, we returned them. Some who may know of my original enthusiasm — and how long we’ve waited* — may wonder why.
- The brakes on C’s bike just didn’t work all that well. Also, his bike was missing the bell. The rear derailleur on mine was a little sketchy/jumpy, although I think that could’ve been adjusted.
- They only came with one bag each, which was a serious WTF when we picked them up. The webpage says “panniers,” which I assumed meant two, and it’s impossible to tell from the photo that they only come with one. Plus it doesn’t many any sense to only have one bag if you’re going to be loading it down. So that would’ve been an extra $80-100 each.
- The bags themselves were disappointing. Floppy, awkward cinching. The material screamed “waterproof,” but the zippers weren’t seam-sealed, and there was a huge gap at the front & back of the bag that surely would’ve collected a lovely puddle.
- It’s impossible to use any other bags. The deck and loops were obviously designed specifically for the bike and its bag, and holding up both my buckets and my commute panniers, I could see there wasn’t any way to use anything else.
- The info that came with them, and the info on the website, doesn’t say how much weight they can carry. Which seems like a small thing, but when the plan was to use them in place of a car, it matters.
- And we didn’t really have anyplace to put them. They spent most of the week in the living room, being used as sideboards and coat racks. Not a long-term solution.
So yesterday they went back. The Bike Stand was very accomodating, the staff were great and the return was really easy.
I’m disappointed. Not just because I wanted to have that cargo-carrying bike, but because the actual ride, the position on the bike: that was fantastic. Maybe the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced, as much as the Townie and maybe even more so.
Perhaps Kona will get the cargo aspects right in a future model, or maybe we’ll just convert the Townie to an Xtracycle. (For half the price, and with a lively community!) For now, I’ll keep riding my Smoke for commuting, and we’ll share the Townie for small grocery runs.
* I test rode a 2008 Ute in July or August, and almost bought it right there. We pre-ordered the ’09s, and orginally they were supposed to show up in September.