Is Kona Rove Worth Buying? – [Kona Rove Review]

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Kona Rove Review

  • MSRP: $1,599
  • Frame: Steel
  • Wheels: 650b×47c
  • Drivetrain: 2×9

What we like about it: A quality steel frame bike for a more comfortable and reliable gravel riding ride.

What we don’t like about it: The external alignment is not very aesthetically pleasing.

Rating (4.75/5)

Kona Rove
Kona Rove

The Kona Rove, as one of Kona’s representative steel-frame bikes, meets the needs of those who love to wander on gravel roads at a relatively affordable price.

Featuring a bomb-proof chromoly steel frame that combines shock absorption, durability, and suppleness, as well as a comfort-oriented progressive geometry, the Kona Rove redefines toughness and comfort.

With its relatively large 650x47c Maxxis Rambler EXO tires, it can meet the needs of most riders for commuting, fitness, and off-road adventures.

In addition, the bike’s high drivetrain efficiency Shimano Sora 2×9-speed drivetrain combined with the durable and reliable Tektro MDC550 Mechanical braking system, allows the bike to follow those carefree riders and tackle steeper slopes.

Below, we will analyze the riding experience, specifications, features, and other versions of the Kona Rove. If you want to learn more about bikes, please follow us, as we will continue to provide practical reviews of bikes.

Gravel Riding

To be honest, I decided to buy the Kona Rove after test-riding my friend Mike’s bike during a bike riding party. Another thing that needs to be prepared in advance is booking accommodation. This time, I still booked accommodation on Skyscanner, hoping for a good rest.

At the time, we agreed to go riding on the gravel, mountain trails outside of town. When I first saw Mike’s “fat tire” gravel bike, I thought it was funny. When I found out that my gravel bike with narrow tires was always behind in stability, passing, and speed, I couldn’t help but communicate with Mike that I wanted to try your Kona Rove.

Now, when I participate in bike riding events with my own Kona Rove, other friends also cannot resist the temptation to switch bikes with me.

Riding Experience

Kona Rove

I believe that every rider who has truly ridden this bike can easily understand why Kona Rove users are more confident in tackling winding gravel roads than ordinary riders.

When I first sat on this bike, I couldn’t help but marvel at its scientific and comfortable geometry. Kona Rove wants riders to adopt a more upright posture, see the scenery on both sides of the road, and enjoy every journey. The stack/reach ratio of up to 1.52 once made me doubt if I was riding a comfortable road bike. The steel model is more elastic and less prone to fatigue accumulation than the aluminum frame I am familiar with, providing more comfort.

Of course, the comfortable feeling the bike provides also comes from the accessories that have direct contact with the rider. On the one hand, the WTB Volt narrow saddle with Kona Thumb’s seatpost not only has a fashionable and clean appearance but also light and soft comfort. The narrow nose evenly distributes pressure on the inner side of the legs.

When climbing, my buttocks can easily slide to the rear of the saddle, and then I can get more power by pedaling. On the other hand, the Kona Road drop bar with Kona Cork Tape wrapping not only has a comfortable grip but is also spacious enough. Therefore, I can have more grip positions during long rides, relieving fatigue.

Overall, the off-road riding experience provided by Kona Rove is comfortable and easy. I can control and pedal comfortably, and I am very satisfied with it.

Riding Performance

Thanks to its wide Maxxis Rambler EXO 650x47c tires, the Kona Rove performs exceptionally well on gravel or mountainous terrain. Although it may appear bulky as a mountain bike-specific tire, the Maxxis Rambler is no slouch. Its blocky surface design effectively absorbs shock and provides good traction, ensuring that riders maintain a safe and balanced stance. Moreover, its rolling efficiency is also impressive when pedaling. Overall, I have no complaints about it.

It’s hard to find any flaws with the Minion DHF tire, which balances rolling speed with braking and cornering grip. That’s why it’s one of the most imitated tires in mountain biking.

Although the Shimano Sora 2×9-speed drivetrain isn’t high-end at this price point, it certainly knows how to improve power transfer efficiency. I found the Shimano Sora 34/50t crankset to have very high power transfer efficiency while riding. As I pedaled easily, the bike could easily pass over small rocks and hills. The Shimano HG400 11-34t 9spd cassette is also very reliable, quickly found the largest gear as I shifted.

Of course, if the Kona Rove were to upgrade its Tektro MDC550 Mechanical brakes in the next version, I think it would be more attractive. Perhaps because I’m used to hydraulic brakes, mechanical discs always feel a bit heavy to me. For this reason, I need to expend more effort to bring the bike to a stop. Luckily, they’re still very reliable. As long as I control the timing of my finger pressure, the bike can be accurately positioned in any weather.


Perhaps most users are a bit resistant to spending $1,599 on a steel frame. However, as a traditional material for building bikes that have not been eliminated, steel tubing cannot be separated from its elasticity, sturdiness, and durability. It’s more comfortable than an aluminum frame and more durable than a carbon fiber frame, making it better suited for mountain biking and therefore receiving a lot of attention.

Of course, the comfort of the Kona Rove also comes from its wide and progressive geometry. Its more comfortable, upright geometry allows those used to rough terrain in the mountains to feel comforted.

The wide 650x47c Maxxis Rambler EXO tires give users irresistible reasons for both comfort and passability. It, along with the Shimano Sora 2×9-speed drivetrain, can ensure that riders achieve faster and safer travel on winding roads or over mountains.

Therefore, even in the era dominated by aluminum and carbon fiber frames, the Kona Rove not only will not be eliminated but will also receive more attention. For those who pursue a beautiful appearance, the Kona Rove’s exposed cable routing design may be disappointing. Fortunately, the Kona Rove firmly secures its cables under the down tube, ensuring there are no safety hazards while riding.

Other versions of Kona Rove

Other versions of Kona Rove

Considering those riders who are not willing to spend more time and effort on bike maintenance, as well as users with a more limited budget, Kona has also launched the Kona Rove AL – an aluminum frame bike.

Although the Kona Rove AL has a price advantage and requires less maintenance, it cannot compete with the Kona Rove in terms of comfort and performance.

On the one hand, the aluminum frame of the Kona Rove AL does not have the same elasticity as the steel frame of the Kona Rove. Therefore, it is more prone to accumulate fatigue. On the other hand, the narrower 700×37c WTB Riddler Comp tires on the Kona Rove AL are not as good as the 650×47c Maxxis Rambler EXO tires in terms of traction and shock absorption.

In addition, for those riders who like the steel frame model of the Kona Rove but are not satisfied with the Shimano Sora 9-speed drivetrain system, Kona has also launched the Kona Rove DL, which has a higher-level SRAM Rival, Apex 1×11 drivetrain kit. It upgrades the components while retaining the frame, tires, and other accessories, achieving a smoother and faster shift, higher and bigger gear ratios, and a more comfortable, easy, and faster riding and climbing journey.

To learn more, be sure to follow us.

What do we like about it?

  • Excellent steel frame gravel bike that combines shock absorption, durability, and softness features to give riders more comfort.
  • The comfortable and loose geometry keeps the rider active at all times.
  • Carefully designed detailing is configured to further enhance comfort.
  • The reliable Maxxis Rambler EXO tires give riders comfort and more confidence to take on complex gravel surfaces.
  • The durable and practical Shimano Sora 2×9 speed drivetrain allows the rider to easily handle uphill and downhill.

What don’t we like about it?

  • The external alignment design is a bit of an aesthetic impact.
  • The mechanical disc is a bit stiff.


  • What kind of people is Kona Rove suitable for?

This bike is for all those who love gravel culture. Especially for riders who have more pursuit of comfort, it is suitable to get it. Whether as a commuting tool or fitness or training equipment, this bike is enough to conquer users with its comfortable riding experience.

  • What is the tire size of Kona Rove?

Compared to a typical gravel bike, this bike uses “wide” 650×47c tires to give the rider more comfort and passability.

  • How do I choose my size for Kona Rove?

To allow riders to find the most suitable for their respective bikes, Kona specially designed 7 sizes for this bike. Regarding the size selection sizing issue, you can refer to the size chart below, but we still recommend that you better go for a test ride.

Rider Height (cm)Rider Height (in)Frame Size
157-170cm5’2″-5’7″Small, Medium
175-183cm5’9″-6’0″Medium, Large
180-188cm5’11”-6’2″Large, XL

2022 Kona Rove Specs


FrameKona Butted CromolyColor: Matte Bloodstone w/ Nimbus & Charcoal Decals
ForkKona Project Two Cromoly Disc
Rear Shockn/a
Bottom BracketShimano ES300 or Prowheel BB68+
HeadsetFSA No.1/No.10
StemKona Road
HandlebarKona Road
SaddleWTB Volt
SeatpostKona Thumb w/ Offset 27.2mm
GripsKona Cork Tape


Rear DerailleurShimano Sora or Microshift
Front DerailleurShimano Sora or Microshift
CrankShimano Sora or Prowheel, 34/50t or 40t
ShiftersShimano Sora
CassetteShimano HG400 11-34t 9spd or Microshift Advent X 11-48t
ChainKMC X9 or KMC X10
Chain Guiden/a
BrakesTektro MDC550 Mechanical
Brake LeversShimano Sora or Microshift


RimsWTB ST i23 TCS 2.0
SpokesStainless Black 14g
Front HubShimano or Formula 100x12mm (centerlock)
Rear HubShimano or Formula 142x12mm (centerlock)
TiresMaxxis Rambler EXO 650x47c
Disk RotorsTektro TR160mm (centerlock)


Comparison Table

BicyclesClick viewGearBrakesTires
2023 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 DriftlessClick view1 × 11Shimano RX810 hydraulic disc700×40c
Specialized Diverge Elite E5Click view2 × 10 Shimano GRX RX400, Hydraulic disc700×38c
2023 Canyon Grizl 6Click view2 × 10 Shimano GRX RX400 Hydraulic Disc650b or 700c x 45c
2023 Cannondale Topstone 2Click view2 × 10 Shimano GRX 400 hydraulic disc700×37c

Kona Rove vs 2023 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless

Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless
Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless

It must be admitted that comparing Kona Rove to the $2,899 2023 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless is a bit unfair. However, this highlights the performance, configuration, and value of the bike.

The Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless is also a traditional aluminum frame gravel bike. With 300 Series Alpha Aluminum, this bike is designed to be more lightweight. Although the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless uses the Shimano RX810 hydraulic disc braking system, the Shimano GRX 1×11-speed transmission system does not have a high price-to-performance ratio. At least, compared to the Kona Rove DL’s SRAM Rival, Apex 1×11-speed transmission system mentioned above, it does not have an absolute advantage. It’s worth noting that there is a $900 price difference between the two bikes.

Therefore, for budget-conscious riders, choosing the Kona Rove DL will be more cost-effective.

Learn More: Is Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 A Good Bike? [2023 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Review]

Kona Rove vs Specialized Diverge Elite E5

Specialized Diverge Elite E5
Specialized Diverge Elite E5

When it comes to gravel bikes at the $2,000 price point, the 2022 Specialized Diverge Elite E5 was also a highly regarded option for its exceptional value. With an aluminum frame and carbon fork, the Specialized Diverge Elite E5 offers users the opportunity to reduce maintenance needs without compromising on comfort. The Shimano GRX 2×10-speed drivetrain paired with Shimano GRX RX400 hydraulic disc hardware is also well-suited for this price range.

Although the Kona Rove’s steel frame and fork ensure comparable comfort to the Specialized Diverge Elite E5, its Shimano Sora 2×9-speed drivetrain leaves it lacking in competitiveness. However, we must also respect the fact that they differ in price by $400.

Learn More: Is Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Worth Buying? [2022 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Review]

Kona Rove vs 2023 Canyon Grizl 6

Canyon Grizl 6
Canyon Grizl 6

The Kona Rove might not be as high as this 2023 Canyon Grizl 6 if you just consider the price/performance ratio. The $1,299 aluminum gravel bike with Shimano GRX 2×10 speed drivetrain and Shimano GRX RX400 Hydraulic Disc brakes is really attractive.

But if comfort is a concern, the Canyon Grizl 6 may not be for everyone. 1.44 stack/reach ratio means that the Canyon is sacrificing comfort for speed. But in a real-world speed chase, the Canyon Grizl 6 is not only less efficient than the Kona Rove, but the rider will get tired very easily. Especially for riders with a bad back, this feeling will be more obvious.

Learn More: Is Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by Worth Buying? [2023 Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by Review]

Kona Rove vs 2023 Cannondale Topstone 2

Cannondale Topstone 2
Cannondale Topstone 2

The 2023 Cannondale Topstone 2, known for its aluminum frame, is similar in some ways to the aforementioned 2022 Specialized Diverge Elite E5. Not only are they the same price, but they both choose to use an aluminum frame with a carbon fork and Shimano GRX 2×10-speed shifting system.

However, many users’ real experience, including our test results, tells us that the Cannondale Topstone 2’s performance on the road is not as impressive as the Specialized Diverge Elite E5 and Kona Rove. Because some of its components feel a bit stiff and always seem to have problems when running.

Learn More: Is Cannondale Topstone 1 Worth Buying? [2022 Cannondale Topstone 1 Review]


If you are looking for a gravel bike that is comfort-oriented, the Kona Rove is undoubtedly the best choice. Its steel frame, relaxed geometry, and large tires are all designed to allow riders to enjoy travel while having fun on gravel roads. The comprehensive size design also makes it easy for most riders to find the bike with the best fit. Therefore, the Kona Rove truly lives up to the promise of being suitable for everyone.

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