Way back in 2000 I bought my Kona Blast hardtail mountain bike (OMG it’s been 20 years?!) and have been enjoying it ever since. I’ve been tweaking it little by little and now it’s a strange, goofy, hybrid franken-bike, but I still love it. The Kona Blast (they still make this model) has always been an entry-level mountain bike, and serves as an inexpensive and solid platform to upgrade components to your liking. Most people get rid of the RST forks, which are simple spring type, but I’ve held onto them and I think they are fine for the mostly road-riding I do. In fact, I had no worries taking my drill to them in order to make holes for the fender mounts.
My first upgrade to my Kona was the addition of an inexpensive rear rack and makeshift bag for the rack. I put my camera, headlight battery pack, cellphone, and bike lock in here. I also put on a generic kickstand. I couldn’t live without it.
I am now on my third seat, which I like. It’s a super-simple and thinly padded seat by Retrospec. I replaced the stock seat (which was painful) with a plushly padded gel seat from Serfas (see photo above), but that one hurt after riding for a short while as well. I then ready about how harder seats might actually be better and more comfortable for longer rides, and I have to agree! The harder Retrospec seat is really great. It’s kind of like motorcycle seats in that respect. Most motorbike stock seats are optimized for the showroom, not for long-distance comfort.
I then decided to convert my Blast into a more commuter-style bike by replacing the WTB mountain bike tires with Continental Town and Country tires. The new rubber allowed me to inflate them to a maximum of 60 psi. That pressure plus the smooth tread made for a much faster (and quieter) bike on pavement. This made a HUGE difference! With the old mountain bike tires, once you stop pedaling, you lose speed pretty quickly, but with the road tires, you just keep flying along. It’s awesome.
I also bought some soft panniers for more cargo space. The bags still work great to this day (I usually just use one side) for carrying my bike tools, picking up the mail, or as cargo bags for trips to the library.
About this time, I found that my neck got sore quickly because I was leaning over so much and had to crane my neck back to see forward. It was very uncomfortable. To help with this, I changed my handlebars from the stock bars to a butterfly/trekking bar. I love these things! I’m able to change the positions of my hands so that there’s less fatigue on them. They also look really nerdy, but I like them! (The photo above also shows the butterfly bars) They let me sit a little more upright, which helped with my neck, but not a whole lot. I therefore decided to raise the bars up even more by replacing the stock stem with an adjustable one which raised the bars quite a bit. It helped a ton and I could ride with less pain.
Next up was adding some Planet Bike fenders. I actually don’t ride in the rain very much so I don’t get to experience the benefits that fenders provide, but I’m sure it’s kept me clean when I ride thru gutters and stuff.
Finally, I added a Lerway stem extension which raises the bars another 3 inches. for an almost completely upright body position, much like a cruiser bike. It’s so comfortable and makes riding much more enjoyable. Sure, it’s looking even more bizarre, but I crossed that line a while ago.
But speaking of aesthetics, I am wondering what to do about the body graphics. I used to have it covered with random stickers, but have since removed almost all of them. I’d love to get a nice, simple, modern Kona decal again and keep it at that.
For the future, I’d love to get a handlebar bag to keep my camera, phone, and maybe my birding binoculars in. While riding around the neighborhood, I see a lot of birds so it would be nice to pull up and get a better look at them! I can put the binocs in the pannier right now, but I can’t reach around and get them without getting off the bike. Also, I used to have a cheap bike computer (speedometer/odometer) on my bike but removed it for some reason. I can’t believe I would throw it out, but cannot find it. So, that would be nice.
So, that’s it with my Kona Blast. Still in love!