"So is it a road bike or an off road bike? Is it a commuter? A touring bike? It is all of them; rolled into one."
This was how I summed up the Kona Rove ST (2016), when I first rode it, and rated it; and I still stand by that statement. Yet, I wanted to take it to the next level, and really show how capable the Rove is when you get it off-road.
So what would be a good challenge to test the Rove's off-road abilities? Maybe I could ride it up and down the highest mountain in Wales? Yeah, that ought to do it!
I have done some pretty tough off-road rides on the Rove already, but with 3000 feet of climbing, and then 3000 feet of descending - in the space of just 9 miles, over rocky and loose terrain, this was easily going to be the hardest yet!
Never having climbed Snowdon before, I wasn't even sure how much of the path would be ridable; but we were determined to do as little walking as possible, and actually, when we got going, the Rove turned out to be really well suited to the terrain.
With the wide bars and short stem it is pretty easy to manoeuvre, and riding fully rigid allowed us to hop up steps and over rocky sections that would have been hard work on most mountain bikes.
We managed to ride about 75 percent of the path on the way up; but there were a couple of sections that were just too steep or too technical - so we had to carry the bikes on our backs. Again, I found myself thankful that I wasn't riding a bike with full suspension.
After about two hours we reached the summit; with clear skies and an incredible view making the effort all the more worthwhile. We stopped for some photos and a quick snack, but then headed back down while we were still warm.
On the first part of the decent, I really felt like I'd brought a knife to a gun fight. Hanging over the back of the saddle, trying desperately to modulate the brakes from the hoods, my arms were burning from the strain; but, as the path levelled out a bit, I was able to move to the drops, ease off the brakes, and start to enjoy the ride.
Sure we had to go kind of slow - but that didn't take any of the fun out of it. If anything I think we had more fun than the guys that blasted past us on their full suspension Enduro bikes. With no suspension to smooth out the trail, we had to pick our lines carefully, and really use all our bike handling skills to get us down in one piece. It actually brought back fond memories of riding my first mountain bike back in the 90s.
No matter what I do on this bike, be it big miles on the road or tough technical off-road riding, the result always seems to come out the same. In terms of pure performance, it can't match bikes that are designed specifically for a certain task; but, if you want a bike that will take you literally anywhere, on virtually any terrain, with a big smile on your face, then the Rove is really hard to beat.
View the Kona Rove ST (2016) at Wiggle