Kona Jake the Snake Review
- MSRP: $1,899
- Frame: Aluminum
- Wheels: 700×37c
- Drivetrain: 1 × 11
What we like about it: A classic racing-driven geometry model that is tried and true and highly attractive.
What we don’t like about it: The exposed alignment.
As Kona’s oldest model, Kona Jake the Snake has been created since 2010 and has gone through more than 10 versions and iterations. This is enough to show that Kona Jake the Snake is good enough and very competitive.
Although it has been with people commuting or working out and other outdoor activities for 13 years, the latest version of Kona Jake the Snake still carries the memories of a generation and continues to shine on the road.
This legendary cyclocross bike, with its proven aluminum frame and carbon fiber fork, as well as a race-driven geometry, fascinates more young riders. With an excellent SRAM Apex, FSA 1×11-speed drivetrain, and reliable WTB Riddler TCS DUAL tires, Kona Jake the Snake is undoubtedly the perfect XC cyclocross bike.
Let’s analyze the riding experience, specifications, and other versions of Kona Jake the Snake for off-road gravel riding. If you want to learn more about bicycles, please remember to follow us, and we will continue to update the real bike reviews.
Gravel Riding Experience
I chose to buy the latest version of Kona Jake the Snake because of my memories. I always remember when I first went to college in 2013, I used to ride the old version of Kona Jake the Snake to shuttle through every corner of the campus, which was convenient and fast. During my leisure time, I also like to ride it with my friends to compete on the small town country roads near the school, and those days were very happy.
However, after many years, when I rode Kona Jake the Snake again and galloped on the dirt roads of the small town, that young and lively feeling once again touched me. Compared with the old version of the bike, the latest version of Kona Jake the Snake has become more rugged, and its arrogance and activity have been inherited in its genes and never changed.
When I rode the latest version of Kona Jake the Snake, the first impression besides familiarity was comfort and ease. With a stack/reach ratio of nearly 1.5, my shoulders and waist can stay as straight as possible, which makes me feel comfortable. This posture not only allows me to breathe smoothly but also has a wider range of vision to observe the road conditions.
When my hands operated on the Kona Cork Tape handlebars, I felt that my youth had come back. But now the more scientific Kona Road handlebars are more ergonomic than the old version. I can adjust the position to keep my hands energetic.
Of course, we cannot ignore the function of the WTB Volt saddle with a narrow nose and the Kona Thumb seat post. The soft fabric not only properly positions my hips but also provides more power to my legs when pedaling.
I have to say that the FSA Gossamer Compact 1x MegaExo, 40t crank has higher drivetrain efficiency. As I leisurely pedaled, the wheels quickly rolled under the drive of the chain.
As the wheels approached the uphill gravel road, I became even more excited. The SRAM Apex Shifters felt livelier than the original Shimano 105 Shifters. The sound of the gears changing made me feel like I was on a battlefield, and I became more vigorous in pedaling. Although the SRAM Apex 1×11-speed drivetrain, with its wide gear range of SRAM PG1130 11-42t, means easier pedaling, the sound of the gears changing made me even more excited.
The downhill section also made my blood boil. In my memory, the old version of the Kona Jake the Snake had rim brakes, and when it encountered rainy weather or when the wheels rolled through mud and water, braking became even more difficult. I had to grip the handlebars tightly at all times to ensure safety. But now, with the TRP hydraulic disc brakes, not only is the braking faster and more accurate, but I no longer have to worry about riding in rainy weather. After finishing our bike ride, I easily booked accommodation on Skyscanner. I can finally relax and rest well.
However, what impressed me the most was the Kona Jake the Snake’s improved conquering ability on gravel roads. In the past, when the old version of the Kona Jake the Snake encountered winding or uneven terrain with large gaps between rocks, the bike was always unstable. I had to slow down or touch the ground with my feet to pass. Perhaps due to the more scientific WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 hubs, but I believe the main credit goes to the wider 700x37c WTB Riddler TCS DUAL tires. The clear raised pattern on the tires not only increases grip but also effectively reduces the vibrations from the ground.
As the most reliable travel tool for veteran off-roaders and commuter riders, the Kona Jake the Snake inherits an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber fork, setting a light, comfortable and durable tone for the bike.
With a comfortable but not overpowering race-driven geometry, riders will maintain a confident, relaxed stance on gravel roads at all times.
The WTB Riddler TCS DUAL tires, which excel in mountain climbing, can keep flying at all times with the FSA Gossamer Compact 1x MegaExo crankset.
The proven SRAM Apex 11spd drivetrain and TRP HY/RD brakes are a perfect match to ensure that riders are relaxed and safe on and off hills.
Unfortunately, the latest version of Jake the Snake is still not improved on the alignment design. The exposed cables make the body lose a certain aesthetic appeal.
Overall, the latest version of Kona Jake the Snake once again uses quality and design to answer the question of why this model has endured.
Previous years’ versions of Kona Jake the Snake
After more than 10 iterations, the Kona Jake the Snake has undergone minor adjustments in size, geometry, and component makeup. However, the majority of versions have maintained the formula of an aluminum frame and carbon fiber fork. As a result, there is little difference in quality and riding experience between different versions.
Of course, with the release of updated versions, most previous models have seen greater discounts, except for those that have been discontinued for a long time. Among them, we believe that the 2020 version of Kona Jake the Snake offers the best value.
On the one hand, the 2020 Kona Jake the Snake has the same geometry as the latest version, but it is $400 cheaper. This provides riders who love the Kona Jake the Snake model with a more affordable option.
On the other hand, the 2020 version is consistent with the latest version in terms of important components such as the drivetrain and braking systems. Therefore, in terms of handling, the 2020 version is no less capable than the latest version.
Of course, in terms of comfort and design details, the 2020 Kona Jake the Snake is a bit inferior to the latest version with new technology. But for $400 less, having an equally outstanding cyclocross bike is a very cost-effective option.
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What do we like about it?
- The tried and true Kona Jake the Snake model is the first choice for most off-road racers as well as commuter users.
- The rugged Kona Race Light 6061 aluminum frame is paired with the vibration-damping Kona Full Carbon Flat Mount CX Race Disc fork to ensure rider comfort.
- The extremely popular race-driven geometry is not only extremely comfortable but also ideal for off-road pedaling.
- The superior SRAM Apex 11spd drivetrain with reliable TRP hydraulic brakes makes for a smoother ride.
- The upgraded width WTB Riddler TCS DUAL tires have improved both passing and vibration damping.
What don’t we like about it?
- The alignment is not very aesthetically pleasing.
- What is the wheelset of this bike?
The latest version of Jake the Snake features a WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 wheelset and is equipped with 700 x 37c WTB Riddler TCS DUAL tires.
- What is the drivetrain of the bike?
The drivetrain of the bike is mainly the SRAM Apex 11spd shifting system, which is very reliable.
- How to choose the right size?
The latest version of the Jake the Snake is now available in 7 versions, (you can refer to the size chart below) more in line with contemporary user requirements for fit. Of course, the table only has a reference role, how to buy you can communicate with the dealer in detail or go to the local authorized dealer store test ride.
|Rider Height (cm)||Frame Size|
|147cm – 160cm||48|
|152cm – 171cm||50|
|157cm – 183cm||52|
|167cm – 188cm||54|
|175cm – 196cm||56|
|180cm – 196cm||58|
2022 Kona Jake the Snake Specs
|Frame||Kona Race Light 6061 Aluminum ButtedColor: Gloss Metallic Green w/ Matte Black-Forest & Indicator Decals|
|Fork||Kona Carbon Cross|
|Bottom Bracket||FSA 6200 68mm|
|Seatpost||Kona Thumb w/ Offset 31.6mm|
|Grips||Kona Cork Tape|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM Apex|
|Crank||FSA Gossamer Compact 1x MegaExo, 40t|
|Cassette||SRAM PG1130 11-42t 11spd|
|Brakes||TRP HY/RD C|
|Brake Levers||SRAM Apex|
|Rims||WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0|
|Spokes||Stainless Black 14g|
|Front Hub||Formula 100x12mm|
|Rear Hub||Formula 142x12mm|
|Tires||WTB Riddler TCS DUAL 700x37c|
|Disk Rotors||TRP 160mm|
|2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2||Click view||1 × 11||Shimano GRX RX-600 hydraulic||700×33c|
|2023 Canyon Inflite CF SL 7||Click view||2 × 11||Shimano GRX RX810 Hydraulic Disc||650b / 700c×23c|
|Cannondale CAADX Tiagra||Click view||2 × 10||Tektro cable actuated disc||700× 35c|
|2023 CUBE CROSS RACE PRO||Click view||2 × 11||Shimano 105 BR-R7070, Hydr. Disc Brake||700× 35c|
Kona Jake the Snake vs 2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2
When it comes to classic cyclocross bike models, we have to mention the 2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2. The Giant TCX model is not as old as the Kona Jake the Snake. However, it is a very similar and outstanding, reliable bike.
Both have similar geometry, 11-speed drivetrains, and hydraulic disc brakes. Of course, the nearly $1100 price difference allows the 2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2 to upgrade its carbon fiber frame and fork with more funds.
Therefore, the 2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2 is more like the high-end version of the Kona Jake the Snake. In this sense, the Jake the Snake has a better value proposition. It is worth considering for riders who want to reduce their budget.
Kona Jake the Snake vs 2023 Canyon Inflite CF SL 7
Similar to the 2023 Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2, the 2023 Canyon Inflite CF SL 7 also features a full carbon frame and fork design to enhance user comfort.
In terms of configuration, I believe that the Canyon Inflite CF SL 7 is more cost-effective than the former. This is because its Shimano GRX 800 Ultegra 2×11-speed drivetrain and Shimano GRX RX810 2-speed hydraulic disc brakes are mid-to-high-end configurations that offer excellent value.
However, if we consider comfort, we prefer the Kona Jake the Snake. On the one hand, the geometry of the Canyon Inflite CF SL 7 is more aggressive, with a stack/reach ratio of 1.46, which means users will sacrifice comfort for speed. On the other hand, in terms of wheel selection, the Kona Jake the Snake, which uses 700x37c tires, will have better traction and stronger shock absorption.
Kona Jake the Snake vs Cannondale CAADX Tiagra
Compared to a combination with a carbon fiber frame, the Kona Jake the Snake has more advantages over aluminum frame cyclocross bikes at the same price level.
Take the Cannondale CAADX Tiagra for example, the former justifies its price. In terms of geometry, there is not much difference between the Kona Jake the Snake and the Cannondale CAADX Tiagra. However, both the Shimano Tiagra 2×10-speed drivetrain and the Tektro cable-actuated disc brakes on the latter mean that the Kona Jake the Snake has better performance and handling, giving it a better value proposition.
Therefore, for riders who seek handling and speed, the Kona Jake the Snake will not disappoint.
Kona Jake the Snake vs 2023 CUBE CROSS RACE PRO
I have to say that personally, the 2023 CUBE CROSS RACE PRO is more attractive on the outside than the Kona Jake the Snake. Both the red, gray, and black color scheme and the cleaner and neater internal alignment fit my aesthetic standards very well.
However, this is without considering the actual riding experience, because my real-world riding experience tells me that the Kona Jake the Snake is more to my liking. Although the geometry of the 2023 CUBE CROSS RACE PRO is also very relaxed and won’t trouble my waist and shoulders, things like the saddle, grips, and stem related to the bike’s handling all seem more scientifically designed on the Kona Jake the Snake. Not only does it allow me to maintain vitality, but it also allows me to operate more easily and freely.
Therefore, as a pragmatist, the real feeling of the Kona Jake the Snake is more important to me than the external beauty of the 2023 CUBE CROSS RACE PRO.
If you are looking for a bike that can satisfy both daily commuting and fitness needs, why not consider the latest Kona Jake the Snake as a fresh start? After all, a model that can inherit for more than a decade and still be the focus of attention is enough to show its charm.
Of course, aside from that, buying an 11-speed hydraulic disc cyclocross bike for under $2000 is already a great deal in itself.
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