Is Kona Lava Dome Worth Buying? – [Kona Lava Dome Review]

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Kona Lava Dome Review

  • MSRP: $875
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Travel: 100mm front
  • Wheels: 29×2.25″
  • Drivetrain: 1×9

What we like about it: The most reliable hardtail bike for low-budget riders.

What we don’t like about it: The geometry is a bit aggressive.

Rating (4.7/5)

Kona Lava Dome
Kona Lava Dome

If you’re looking for a reliable hardtail bike on a relatively low budget, consider the Kona Lava Dome. The latest model features a tried-and-true aluminum frame and relaxed geometry that truly combines speed, agility, and fun.

With a Microshift Advent 9-speed drivetrain, wide-ranging 11-46T freewheel, and Tektro disc brakes, it gives riders more power whether they’re hitting the trails or getting in a workout.

Plus, the reliable Suntour XCR 32 suspension fork and 29×2.25″ Maxxis Rekons tires absorb shock while supporting beginner riders exploring new routes.

Let’s analyze the riding experience, specs, and past versions of the Kona Lava Dome. If you want to learn more about bikes, be sure to follow us as we continue to provide real-world bike reviews.

Mountain Biking

Before setting off, I also booked accommodation through Skyscanner to give myself ample space to rest and prepare. The most direct way to evaluate how good a bike is is to practice. So, after assembling the bike, I couldn’t wait to head to the hills near town to test it out as well. Overall, I was very satisfied, or rather very surprised and surprised, with the Kona Lava Dome ride test.

Riding Experience

I usually prefer more comfortable and relaxed geometry on city bikes than on mountain bikes. So, when I first got on the Kona Lava Dome, it took me a while to adjust. The lower stack/reach ratio of 1.33 (LG) forced me to bend my waist a bit deeper. But that’s acceptable because most mountain bikes don’t require riders to ride upright.

However, I was surprised that this modern endurance-geometry model of the Kona Lava Dome is very suitable for mountain biking. I was not only able to easily pedal but also felt the bike was stable, and I could easily control it. Whether it was turning or the performance on rough terrain, I had confident handling.

Details Experience

Of course, in addition to this geometry that combines comfort and power, its details are also noteworthy. On the one hand, the Kona XC saddle is very comfortable, and the slender nose design evenly distributes my weight onto the seat. Even when I sit for a long time, my legs don’t feel any pressure. On the other hand, the Kona Key Grip Slip-On is perfect for mountain biking. The alternating horizontal and vertical details on the handlebar are not only beautiful but also provide a strong grip, allowing me to control the bike with sweaty palms.

Most importantly, the Kona Lava Dome is dropper-post compatible. Therefore, I upgraded to it to easily shift my weight backward and maintain balance when going downhill.

Off-Road Performance

Although the Kona Lava Dome comes equipped with 29×2.25″ Maxxis Rekons tires, I often choose to switch to my own prepared 29×2.5″ tires for more comfort and to tackle rougher terrain, and this bike supports that.

On the one hand, the Alex DP27K rims can accommodate up to 2.6″ tires. On the other hand, the equipped 100mm-travel Suntour XCR 32 suspension fork has good shock absorption. It can gently eliminate the shock from the ground on my shoulders and hands, keeping the bike stable while I roll over rough terrain with ease.

With the Samox 28t crankset, the Kona Lava Dome has extremely high drivetrain efficiency. Even when riding on rocks or dirt, I didn’t feel any difficulty pedaling.

In addition, the climbing ability of this bike is impeccable. With the sensitive Microshift Advent 9-speed shifter and wide-ranging 11-46T freewheel, I only need to find the right moment to shift gears to make climbing easier and more efficient. And the Tektro HDM275 Hydraulic disc brakes make downhill riding stress-free, allowing for very rapid and precise braking. For safety, I occasionally tap the brakes to slow down when the bike is accelerating too quickly, which is very simple and convenient.


Kona has made its mountain and asphalt bicycles popular with its tough, durable, and long-lasting alloys of 7005 and 6061 aluminum. The Kona Lava Dome is no exception. With 7005/6061 tubing and modern endurance geometry, users get a frame that combines durability, performance, and comfort.

To achieve high efficiency and performance, Kona specially equipped the Lava Dome with a precise and smooth-shifting Microshift Advent 9-speed drivetrain. It also comes with a clutch, rear derailleur, reliable Advent shifter, and practical Tektro HDM275 Hydraulic braking system. It’s worth noting that the Lava Dome also features internal cable routing to maintain a high-end look and maintain aesthetics.

In addition, the reliable SR Suntour suspension fork paired with 29-inch Maxxis Rekons tires makes mountain travel more comfortable and enjoyable. And last but not least, the Lava Dome can accommodate up to 2.6-inch tires and a dropper post, so you can be prepared for anything on the trail.

Overall, the Kona Lava Dome’s specifications offer unbeatable value for money. This model that supports more upgrades is worth it for beginners seeking high cost-effectiveness.

Previous years’ versions of the Kona Lava Dome

Previous years' versions of the Kona Lava Dome

The latest model of the Kona Lava Dome and its iterations of previous years’ versions have not changed much in terms of shape and components. Fortunately, these past models have more discounts on price.

Here we focus on the 2020 Kona Lava Dome, the best value for money, which is no different from the Kona Lava Dome in terms of detailed accessories, except that the kit and alignment are not as refined as the latter.

In terms of drivetrain choice, the 2020 Kona Lava Dome uses Shimano Alivio front and rear derailleurs as well as cranks and shifters. So the 2020 version of the bike has plenty of assurance in terms of quality. Fortunately, the Shimano Altus, 22/36t crank also means it has a higher drivetrain efficiency. So users need not worry at all about falling behind in the race. However, in terms of weight and climbing ability, the 2020 version of the Kona Lava Dome is slightly inferior.

But that doesn’t stop me from recommending it. Because the 2020 version of the bike has a price difference of almost $130 from the latest Kona Lava Dome.

So, if you have a limited budget but really like the Kona Lava Dome model, you can consider this bike.

What do we like about it?

  • Users can have a super cost-effective hardtail bike at a cheaper price.
  • The time-tested aluminum frame is very strong and durable.
  • Featuring modern enduro geometry, the stable handling gives the rider more confidence.
  • With the precise and smooth shifting Microshift Advent 9-speed drivetrain, riders can go over hills with ease.
  • The practical Tektro hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent all-weather braking power.
  • The SR Suntour shock fork with 100mm of travel and the reliable Maxxis Rekons tires complement each other and flatten the hills.
  • The tried and tested Kona Lava Dome model supports seatpost and tire upgrades and is very beginner friendly for those on a budget.

What don’t we like about it?

  • As with most mountain bikes, the geometry is on the aggressive side.


  • What are the tire sizes of the Kona Lava Dome?

The latest model of the bike features a combination of Alex DP27K wheels with 29×2.25″ tires. Fortunately, they are compatible with tires up to 2.6″, so users can upgrade as needed.

  • What is the drivetrain of the latest Kona Lava Dome?

The Microshift Advent 9-speed kit provides a larger gear ratio to help the rider achieve climbs while ensuring precise shifting.

  • How do I choose the size of this bike?

The latest version of the Kona Lava Dome is friendly to riders of all heights, with four sizes to choose from. The sizing chart below you can use as a reference. However. The best way to find the most suitable size is to test ride.

Rider Height (cm)Frame Size

Kona Lava Dome Specs


FrameKona 6061 Aluminum Butted
Colors: Gloss Dark Grey; Gloss Porcelain w/ Furnace Fade & Purple Decals
ForkSuntour XCR 32 or X1 LO-R or RST Omega Coil Spring 100mm
Rear Shockn/a
Bottom BracketFeimin 73mm
HeadsetFeimen HP-H868B
StemKona XC
HandlebarKona XC/BC Riser
SaddleKona XC
SeatpostKona Thumb 31.6mm
PedalsKona JS2
GripsKona Key Grip Slip on


Rear DerailleurMicroshift Advent w/ Clutch
Front Derailleurn/a
CrankSamox, 28t
ShiftersMicroshift Advent
CassetteMicroshift Advent 11-46t 9spd
ChainKMC X9
Chain Guiden/a
BrakesTektro HDM275 Hydraulic
Brake LeversTektro HDM275 Hydraulic


RimsAlex DP27K
SpokesStainless Black 14g
Front HubJoytech 100x9mm
Rear HubJoytech 135x10mm
TiresWTB Trail Boss or Maxxis Rekons 29×2.25″
Disk RotorsTektro TR180 180mm


Comparison Table

BicyclesClick ViewGearBrakesTires
Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2Click View1 × 12 Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc26 x 2.40″ or 27.5 x 2.35″ or 29 x 2.35″ or 29 x 2.20″
Cannondale Trail 8Click View2 × 7Tektro mechanical disc29 x 2.25″ or 27.5 x 2.25″
Giant XTC Advanced 29 3Click View1 × 12 Shimano BR-MT410, hydraulic29 x 2.25″
Scott Contessa Scale 930Click View1 × 12 Shimano MT201 Disc Brake29 × 2.4″

Kona Lava Dome vs Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2

Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2
Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2

When it comes to high-value aluminum hardtail bikes, we can’t help but mention the Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2. The all-new Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 features a high-end SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain kit and Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, providing riders with a comfortable and enjoyable climbing and descending experience.

However, the choice of the front fork on the Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 seems somewhat lacking. Although the RockShox Judy Silver fork is outstanding, riders may find it difficult to cope with complex terrain with only 80mm of travel.

In contrast, the design of the Kona Lava Dome seems more suitable for this price range. The 100mm travel front fork and 29×2.25″ tires will not leave budget-conscious beginners feeling lost in the mountains. Most importantly, the Kona Lava Dome model supports users to make more upgrades, providing riders with plenty of room for customization.

Is Trek Marlin 8 Worth Buying? [Trek Marlin 8 Review]

Kona Lava Dome vs Cannondale Trail 8

Cannondale Trail 8
Cannondale Trail 8

I’m sure for those beginners on a budget, this Cannondale Trail 8 has certainly entered the picture as well. With its tried-and-true aluminum frame and comfortable, relaxed geometry, the Cannondale Trail 8 is also a commendable performer at this price level. Indeed, it’s hard not to be impressed by a cheap price and a reliable model.

However, when considering the user’s riding experience, the Cannondale Trail 8 also has some disappointing aspects. On the one hand, the microSHIFT 7-speed drivetrain system is not only bulky but also somewhat outdated, unable to truly help riders who want to easily climb mountains. On the other hand, the Tektro mechanical disc brakes are not as precise and fast as hydraulic discs, greatly affecting the user experience.

So, we think the Kona Lava Dome is worth the $200+ price tag over it in exchange for an upgrade in performance and the feeling of the riding experience. At least Kona Lava Dome users will experience less muscle fatigue in the mountains and have more confidence in their riding and training.

Kona Lava Dome vs Giant XTC Advanced 29 3

Giant XTC Advanced 29 3
Giant XTC Advanced 29 3

It is not necessary to compare a high-end carbon fiber frame hardtail bike like the Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 with the Kona Lava Dome. However, we hope that riders can think clearly about the price difference and practicality, and position their own needs for hardtail bikes.

There is nothing to criticize about the Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 with its Shimano Deore 1×12 drivetrain and Shimano BR-MT410 hydraulic brakes, if we don’t consider the mountain terrain.

It should be noted that the Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 is very similar to the Kona Lava Dome in terms of front fork travel design, wheel width selection, and geometry. However, we believe that spending $2,200 on a carbon fiber frame like the Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 is unnecessary for beginners.

Enthusiastic riders who like to conquer mountains know that although carbon fiber frame bikes are lightweight, they are not crash-resistant. For users who are not technically mature, it is more often a “disposable” toy. Our position is that such a bike at this price point is more suitable as a choice for intermediate to advanced riders.

Is Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 Worth Buying? [Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 Review]

Kona Lava Dome vs Scott Contessa Scale 930

Scott Contessa Scale 930
Scott Contessa Scale 930

Similar to most users who have owned a Scott Contessa Scale 930, our biggest feeling about this bike is that it is not good enough for the money.

We can’t deny that it’s a relatively lightweight aluminum-framed hardtail mountain bike. But £1,599 for a Shimano SLX Deore 12-speed drivetrain and Shimano MT201 Disc Brake and RockShox Judy Silver fork is not a wise move. This is too different from the Giant XTC Advanced 29 3 mentioned above.

On the other hand, the Kona Lava Dome is not only more budget-friendly, but its component selection is also more reasonable and practical compared to other bikes in the same price range. Therefore, for riders who are looking for value for money, we don’t recommend the Scott Contessa Scale 930.

Learn more : Is The Scott Scale 940 A Great Value Hardtail Bike? [Scott Scale 940 Review]


Overall, the Kona Lava Dome surprised and satisfied us in terms of riding experience, component configuration, and comparison to other similar bikes.

This fast, agile, and fun hardtail bike may not come with high-end components, but it truly combines performance and comfort for beginners. Whether it’s for off-road riding or fitness training, it offers new riders the possibility of upgrades.

If you’re interested in bicycles and cycling, you can follow us. We will continue to update more practical reviews of bicycles and bike components. Thank you for your support!

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