Kona, a Canadian legacy brand, is well-known for its line of Process pedal bikes that are big-hit-loving and powerful. They continue to apply their off-road R&D skills to their ebike line.
Kona has introduced two versions of the Remote 160 for 2021: a $7300 high-end version with the Shimano EP8 motor, and a $6300 model with the Shimano E7000 motor. Both models use a 504Wh battery. The major upgrade for 2021 is the switch from 27.5-inch wheels, to a pair 29-inch hoops.
The aluminum frame and rear triangle look jump-off-the-top-of-your-house ready. This colorway stands out from the rest and is an indigo-forest gray fade. Kona chose a 64-degree headtube angle. This is comparable to a few heavy-hitting all mountain/enduro-oriented models.
« The Shimano motor felt very intuitive and provided an instant smooth power curve once pressure was applied to it. »
Kona mentioned that a 350mm higher bottom bracket height helped reduce pedal strikes. However, this was not particularly high due to the fact they had to compensate 29er wheelset. Although the 435mm chainstays were shorter than we are used to, they still maintain their same length on all sizes.
The Remote 160 wheels are made of WTB HTZ I35 rims, laced with Formula hubs and black stainless 14-gram spokes. The wheels are covered in Maxxis Assegai 2.5-inch Maxxis Assegai rubber tires. SRAM Code R brakes are compatible with 200mm rotors, and 200mm levers. While this may seem excessive for most riders, it is possible to upgrade to 220mm brakes.
A 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle with an 11-50t cassette and a SRAM GX deailleur are paired with a SRAM NX 1 clickshifter. The 34t chainring is becoming an industry standard.
Kona’s 780mm-wide handlebars have a Kona brand name. They are bolted with a XC/BC35 35 with a 40mm stem. The medium test bike was equipped with a TranzX dropper. It has 31.6mm travel. Kona ordered a RockShox Zeb Select+ charger, RC2.1 DebonAir fork and shock with 160mm travel. The shock does not have a lock-out function and only has rebound adjustment. Last but not least, the new Shimano EP8 drive system paired with a 504Wh integrated battery.
The updated EP8 unit by Shimano was introduced late last year. It is lighter and more powerful than the e8000 predecessor. The second power mode (Trail) has a 85 N/m increase in assist. However, this only applies if your legs can power the pedal. The overall assist has been increased by 350 to 400% over the previous e8000 unit. The motor is 300g lighter and should remain cooler thanks to the new magnesium cases.
The motor is slightly quieter that the Shimano unit before it, and because it’s in an aluminum frame, it’s even quieter than a carbon frame. The new motor made no difference to our riding experience, except for when we were riding up the hill together with someone who was using a Brose- or Bosch-powered bike. Comparing the two motors side-by-side, it became clear that the torque was higher than the previous-generation E8000. We would love to see an increase in power to give the handlebar-mounted controls more dynamic range. Although it’s wonderful that you can adjust power levels via an app, not everyone will appreciate that.
« We found the medium to be more agile in maneuvering through hairpin corners, flying over rock gardens, and weaving your way through tight, twisty places. »
The head tube angle of the Remote 160 DL is a lovely, relaxed 64 degrees. It’s even more pleasant than the original Remote 160.We would like to get more assistance at a higher cadence, as we have with other motors. The motor was intuitive and gave a smooth power curve once you press the pedal. The charge port cover is a final criticism. It latches securely but can be pulled out completely. This means it takes some fiddling in order to put it back in its original hole.WHO IS IT MADE FORThis bike is truly an all-rounder electric-MTB. The Remote 160 was a great bike for all kinds of riding, including laps on the jump line and down the steepest downhill trails. The bike is a joy to ride, even for the most experienced riders. We always say that the Kona should be open to all riders. However, it did seem to respond well to our pushing it harder. It might prove difficult for someone who has range anxiety due to the larger battery bikes at this point, compared to the 504Wh.THE RIDEWe were impressed by the first impression we got of the ride. It taught us many lessons that we will remember. The first is to decide whether to use narrower tires.The 2.5 tires are narrower than the 2.8-inch and allow for faster response to rider input. They also roll faster, allowing for quicker up and down.29er wheels make a huge difference in rolling speed, and the ability of your vehicle to move through large sections. A test man with larger feet noticed his heel occasionally hitting the chainstay due to the shorter side of the wheel.If you are still undecided, the second decision is which bike size to purchase. A medium bike was sent to us as a test bike. Mediums are not usually the first choice of most test riders. It was eye-opening for medium and large riders. The medium was faster and more agile when maneuvering through hairpin corners, over rock gardens, or through tight, twisty places. The 29er wheelset was also compatible with the lower bracket height. It was low enough to feel planted, but not so low that you can’t feel the pedal strikes.Photo by Pat CarriganTHE CONCLUSIONAlthough $7300 may seem like a lot of money for any bike, the Remote 160DL is an affordable price for a solid, great-performing machine. We were impressed by the RockShox Zeb fork after giving it a good workout on some rocky downhills. It seemed to take more abuse than it did when we ran it at high speed.Some riders would like a shifter that can change between modes. It would be easier to move or lose a spoke-mounted magnet speed sensor than a rotor-mounted one.We were surprised by how quickly the battery level dropped in Boost mode. If you are concerned about battery range, be sure to use the various power modes to find out what you can get from a charge. We would love to see a better cover for the charge port. This is a small, but important detail. Last but not least, we would love to see Shimano add more power modes. This could help with battery conservation and reduce the need to use the app to make adjustments.Overall, the time spent on the Remote 160 DL proved to be very enjoyable. The waiting list for test riders who wanted to get some time on it never seemed shorter.
KONA REMOVE 160 DL
Motor: Shimano EP8
Controller: Shimano SC-EM800 display
Maximum speed: 20mph
Drive: SRAM NX-Eagle 11-50t 12-speed
Brakes SRAM Code R – calipers, levers, SRAM 200mm Rotors
Wheels WTB TCS 2.0, Formula hubs
TiresMaxxis assegai EXO+ TR3C 29×2.5″
ForkRockShox Zb Select + charger, RC 2.1 DebonAir 16mm tapered
Rear shock RockShox Select Trunnion
Seatpost:TranzX-Dropper Internal 31.6mm
Weight 54 Pounds
Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL