Kona Hei Hei Mountain Bike Review

March 19th, 2013

After over 150 miles and about 14 hours of riding, all single track trails, the 2012 Kona Hei Hei gets a thumbs up!   LOVING this bike.   It’s fast, comfortable and handles great.    A beautiful bike, white with blue and black trim.  This is my third Kona, I think they are a cool brand, and I like that they aren’t so common that every other rider is on one.   Other bikes I was considering were the Giant Anthem and Salsa Spearfish, but the Kona Hei Hei has something that stirs me to want to go ride it.

Longest ride so far has been 40 miles, all single track.  Not a single issue or problem with the bike.   It is GREAT on fast, curvy, flowing single track and I’m getting around on the super tight trail sections at least as quickly as the 26 inch wheeled GT it replaces.    I do plan to take both bikes out one day and ride the same trails, same day on both and see what Strava tells me about them!


I started with a 19 inch framed 2012 Kona Hei Hei 29r at closeout pricing, then made a few upgrades shown below…


2012 Kona Hei Hei  Upgrades…

  • RockShox Reba RLT fork, tapered steering tube
  • Stans Crest Wheelset
  • 11×32 Sram 1050 cassette
  • Alligator Windcutter Rotors
  • Carbon Seatpost (take off from previous bike)
  • Stem and Flat 23 inch Carbon Bar (take off from previous bike)
  • Bar Ends
  • Bar Taped Grips
  • Xpedo Pedals
  • Tires running tubeless Maxxis Advent front / Maxxis Ignitor Rear on the Stans Wheels with homebrew sealant
  • 2nd set of wheels with the Kenda Komfort 700×40 tires / 11×36 cassette / Alligator Windcutter Rotors


Weight – 25.1 lbs.  ready to ride, including pedals, bar ends, water bottle cage


Some issues and challenges I ran into during some of the upgrades, I’ve NOT kept up with the changing standards in the MTB world and had to re-order a couple things to get everything in order.

  • Front Fork, the original fork was 9mm quick release, the new Reba RLT fork is 15mm thru axle.  Stock front hub could not be converted.  Ended up getting a separate set of wheels to replace the stock wheels for the Kenda Komfort road tires.
  • Frame has a tapered headtube, but the original fork had a straight 1 1/8 steering tube .  When I ordered the RLT fork, I got a tapered steering tube, ended up having to order a separate crown race to fit it.  Didn’t realize this until I was ready to assemble.
  • Original wheels had rotors riveted to hub, I did not see any easy way to remove them, so had to order another set of brake rotors for the new set of wheels.
  • Stans Crest rear wheel/hub did not come setup with 142×12 axle setup which the Kona has.   Had to buy a separate conversion for the rear hub to make it work.

None of the above is anyone’s fault but my own as I worked through the new ‘standards’ that have come about since my last MTB purchase.    I’m up to speed now!


I originally was leaning toward an 18 inch frame, just because I normally have to decide between Medium or Large, or 18 / 20 inch size, and I’ve found I do better on the smaller size rather than larger. But Kona offers 18, 19 and 20 inch frame sizes (and others), so the 19 really sits right between the Medium and Large that I would usually have to decide between, AND  since my only option at the closeout price I was paying was a 19 inch, that’s what I got.  Any worries that it would be too big were completely unfounded.   I have never given it a thought while riding, all of those miles single track and some rather technical terrain.   Size is perfect and I’m glad I couldn’t get the 18.


Only one set of water bottle bosses, on the downtube, which seems to be almost a standard for many MTB bikes now.  I hate that, I prefer two water bottles at least, SOMEWHERE.   I hate using a Camelbak unless I just have to, and even then, I like being able to have additional fluids or calories available in bottles.  Florida is HOT in summer.


I have already done a temporary 2nd mount UNDER the downtube, and carried two 28oz bottles  on my last ride of 40 miles and 3:30 hours, much of that rocky/rooty single track.  Worked great and I’ll probably keep that 2nd mount there, really wish it was on proper water bottle bosses though.

After getting the tires sorted out, the 29 inch wheels are awesome and the bike just eats up flowing single track trails.   I’m getting more comfortable and faster on each ride.


I moved the carbon handlebars from my old bike, 23 inch flat bars, with short barends.    Can’t see any reason to change them, they are MUCH narrower than the current trend to wide, riser bars like the Hei Hei came with, but I like them, maybe from a lifetime of road riding that width just feels right.

When setting up the levers/ grips/barends on the bars, before cutting the rubber grips or making any permanent modifications ,  I decided to wrap the grip section with some leftover padded tape from my road bike, just until I was sure how I wanted everything to be laid out.  I’ve not given it a thought while riding, and I’ll likely keep this setup for now.    It weights nothing, is easy to replace and I’ve been comfortable on it.



The bike came with Maxxis Ignitor tires front and rear, after my first ride I ordered a replacement front, going with a Maxxis Advent.   The Ignitor in front was washing out too easily for me, but I did have a little too much pressure in them.  The Advent feels more planted, though I’ve found I have to lean it over pretty good to get those side knobs to hook up in sand/leave/pine needles, but do that and it rails around nicely, with some slide in the rear with the Ignitor not hooking up quiet as well.  ( At least that is my experience with the the surfaces I’m riding on.)   I’m comfortable on them now and will keep this setup.


It took a few hours to get the Front Fork and Rear Shock dialed in, both seemed stiff initially, but now have loosened up and are working great.   I’m very happy with the Reba RLT, but with so many adjustments its taking time to get it sorted like I want.  The rear shock, which I seriously considered upgrading right off the bat, is actually working fine.   If it breaks, I’ll put a better shock on, but for the riding I’m doing it is doing its job just fine.  It did take 4 or 5 hours of riding and before it seemed to really start working for me.



The 2012 Kona Hei Hei comes with an Sram X5 3×10(22/33/44) crank, which I prefer over the  2×10 crank that the 2013’s come with.   I am always in the middle ring when off-road and usually close to the middle of the 11×32 cassette, and never need to move the front derailleur.   Honestly, I ride the bike as if it was a 1×10, and would consider converting  to 1×10 if there was a reliable way to do so without having to add a chain retention device.  The large chainring will be used a good bit on the road.

I’ve never had disk brakes on a bicycle, and in Florida I can’t say I need them.   But these certainly work well enough, and after riding them, I do like them better than rim brakes.


At this point, no additional changes needed or planned for the Kona, just spending more time riding it and preparing for some race events.   Next on the agenda is the Hammerhead 100 mile in Ocala.

It’s a great bike for the cross country type riding I’m doing and I couldn’t be happier with it.


2012-2013 Race Schedule

November 2nd, 2012

My current schedule for the coming months.   My current biggest ‘worry’ is the 12 Hours of Santos Mountain Bike.  That’s a long time to be riding trails!

Wild Horse Trail Run   —  Nov 4  (Half-Marathon Trails)

X-Country Marathon   —  Nov 18 (Half-Marathon Trails)

Dirthead Off-Road Duathlon  — Dec 9  (10 Mile Mt. Bike/11 Mile Run/22 Mile Mt. Bike –Croom Trails)

The Florida Half Marathon – Dec 15 (Half-Marathon Trails)

Ocala Marathon – Jan 20 (Marathon)

12 Hours of Santos – Feb 16 (  12 hours of Mountain Biking – Santos Trails)

Trout Creek Trail Runs – Mar 24 ( 15 Kilometers Trails)

Hammerhead 100 – Apr 21 ( 100 miles Mountain Bike – Santo Trails)

The Claw – Apr 28 ( 10 Miles Trails)

Great Floridian Triathlon – Oct 2013 ( 2.4 swim/112 Bike/26.2 Run)

Top100 Orlando Sentinel 2011 Corporate Champion – Tupperware Brands Corporation

May 25th, 2012

Pretty cool, Tupperware  Brands won first place in the Orlando Sentinel’s 2011 Top 100 Companies for Working Families.     I’m not sure how I ended up all over the video, but I’m at 0:14, 1:04, 1:38, 2:06 ( doing pushups), and 2:46 (running).     Cool!

Top 100 Working Families




Cheaha 50k trail run

February 24th, 2012


On my way to cheaha 50k trail run. 200 miles down, the rain is starting. Glad I have good gear! Supposed to be low 30’s when we start running tomorrow!

Tough Mudder Tampa Report

February 7th, 2012

I put this together right after finishing the Tampa Tough Mudder to email to some co-workers, but never posted it here.  It was great event, a lot of fun, about a 2 and a half hour effort of running, mud, obstacles, mud, waiting, mud, climbing, mud, crawling through tunnels, and more mud. A playground for huge numbers of like-minded nuts out get sweaty, dirty and work together to conquer some of the military type obstacles that lay in our path.

Before the start, and after the finish… yes,  those are the same white shirts.








I’m not in any of the other pictures below,  but all were taken on Sunday at our event, a picture or two of most of the obstacles that we dealt with through the Tough Mudder.   We actually crossed through countless mudholes, ditches, creeks and swamps, basically every ditch or water hole they could run us through.   Most of them had deep holes, dropping from knee deep to waist/chest high, then back out.,

There was also a pond we had to go in, and swim under rolls of barrels, several sets of those and there was one more series of 4 walls I think it was, we had to go over but I don’t have a picture of those, but they were just like you see in the military obstacle course.

Jacuzzi = Pink ice water, that board on the right was a barrier, you had to JUMP in, go 5-6 feet to the barrier,  go under it , and another 5-6 feet to climb out.  Those guys had just resurfaced.

Unbelievably cold, complete shock to the system.   Could not breath, nor feel much of anything until we got to the next obstacle.







Steeplechase – I think 8 of these, just little waist high walls to hurdle, till you went over the first one and realized they had a big ditch cut on the other side. JUMP!  Got the heartrate up.







Underwater Tunnels

No-picture, but we crossed a pond, bobbing underneath several rows of barrels floating parallel in the water.


Kiss of Mud – crawling through the mud under  barbed wire.  Not terribly difficult, but slippery and a nice introduction to the dirt to come.






Spiders Web.  Up and over a cargo net.  Easy, fun, just like you see on TV!










Underground tunnels, zig-zagging along, complete dark, easy to run right into the wall when the tunnel made a 90 degree turn.







Lay on your back, with feet wrapped around the rope and pull yourself across a muddy pond.










Make your way through some swinging tires.  Kind of boring for a ‘Mystery Obstacle’.







Devils Beard – Crawling under a cargo net along a very long mud flat, with some holes, thrown in for good measure. Falling in the deep holes, having to hold the net up so you don’t get tangled in it.  Yea, we’re dirty now!










We went through countless mud holes, ditches, mud flats, submerged roads.  Every place they could run us through some nasty, muddy, wet area, that’s where the course went.

Then we had to climb up and over 3 or 4 sets of big round hay bales.






How’s your balance?  How’s your balance on a wet muddy 2×6?   How’s your balance on a wet muddy 2×6 that’s being shaken by other people also trying to keep their balance on the same 2×6?

Yea, thought so.  I ALMOST made is all the way across, only a FEW feet left,  before plunging to the water below.








Down the tunnel, very easy slide down, into  the muddy water at the bottom,  back up the SLICK tunnel with nothing to hold onto inside.  It was tough.







Walls, walls, walls.   Two separate sets of walls, one was 4 walls, probably 10 feet.  Could jump, grab the top, and get over these.  then later on the course, a set of two walls, taller, that most people had to get a hand from above to help get them to the top.










More water, more mud, more deep holes to fall in.










Hope you’re not afraid of heights!






Jump from hay bale to hay bale, spaced FAR apart, or climb up, jump down, climb up, jump down, about 8 of those to cross.








Then we had to run a  series of steep man-made ups and downs in the dirt.  Reminded me of running a gnarly motocross track.

Tough little exercise here, that board for the feet was very thin and muddy.  Mostly using hand strength to hand on and move along the wall.  At least no water to fall in here.








Run through fire, wouldn’t have been bad, but the breeze was blowing the smoke right along our running path, so we got to breath smoke for a while.








Up a ramp, across a cargo net, down a ramp










Grab a big log, carry it through a pond, don’t freak out when you see the floating alligator head. That was a nice touch :)







Climb the mountain of hay bales.













Funky Monkey – Cross the monkey bars, never done monkey bars going UP.  Up then down, don’t fall!  I trained like crazy to prepare for these, a little worried that I’d not be able hang on and do the up and down angle, but I CRUISED across them with no problem. Nice!








Sprint fast, get as high as you can, and lunge for the lip of the ramp.  Hopefully a little help from above and you’re up and over.  It’s dang hard to run up a BMX ramp!  Got it first try though.



















Shock treatment – we expected lots of little zaps of electricity as we ran through these hanging wires.  No, it was like getting hit with a baseball bat in the chest, a full body blow.

I got in 6  feet or so with no shocks, and just as I thought it was going to be non-event , just at the hay bale crossing, the first jolt hit me and put me on the ground.  Next thought was ‘Oh Damn, I have a LONG way to go!’  I got one more shock like that, glad it wasn’t more.


Oh Man!  Good Times!












The End!   A fun way to spend a Sunday morning, that’s for sure!

Tough Mudder Sunday!

December 1st, 2011

This Sunday is going to be fun!

Death Waiver has been signed and we’re ready to go!

Tough Mudder Trailer


Tough Mudder Tampa!

October 3rd, 2011

My first ‘event’ in quite a while, the TOUGH MUDDER in December.  Myself and a few guys from work are teaming up to experience what is “probably the toughest event on the planet“.

That is their advertising slogan anyway :)

Hey, I’m sure it sells entries, but 12 miles, 21 obstacles, average time 2 and a half hours?  I don’t care if it’s designed by British Special Forces or the Devil himself, I have a very hard time believing this is going to be anything more than a very fun diversion, playing in the mud, climbing on monkey bars,  running through fire, what a cool way to spend a couple hours!


Below are a few details of the upcoming fun.  A map of the course and a description of the 21 obstacles ( well, 20 of them anyway).  Click the picture for fullsize.

December 4th in Tampa!  Bring on the mud, ice, fire, ropes, logs, walls, water cannons, WHATEVER!

Dr. Spetzler is supposed to be the best there is…

August 3rd, 2011

Dr. Robert Spetzler of Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ  is considered a pioneer in his field and one of the best neurological surgeons in the world.   He has authored hundreds of articles and developed tools and techniques that have changed and improved the neurosurgical techniques being used today.    He’s not good at what he does, he’s the BEST at what he does and is breaking new ground for those following him.    Have you ever joked at work “This isn’t brain surgery”?  He can’t say that, and I seriously doubt they bother with the “It’s not Rocket Science” thing at BNI.  His patients are referred from all over the world, often to handle the difficult cases that other surgeons may not be comfortable attempting.

Tamara flew out of Orlando this morning to Phoenix.  This Friday, Dr. Spetzler will be removing a Cavernous Malformation from the medulla oblongata area of her brain, the lower part of the brain stem.



As serious as this is, and it is extremely serious or she would not be there, she knows she has the best of the best taking care of her, as do I.

We expect to be home late next week.  Of course, we’re saying prayers, and thinking positive thoughts, but it sure is good to know a physician with this man’s credentials is on this case.  He KNOWS what he is doing.  We have no doubt of that.

Try as I might with all my athletic endeavers to impress her, I just can’t get the upper hand.  “Yea, you’ve done 3 Badwaters and whatever else… big deal, have 3 babies and brain surgery, then come talk to me about tough, Mr.”  I’m not going to argue that for a second.

I love you honey, all is going to be fine.