Advice needed: '96 Kona Koa -- should I repaint?


Kona Fan
I'm in a quandary about this '96 Koa I bought here in Australia. 90s Konas are rare beasts here at the best of times and at the height of lockdown I despaired of finding a steel one so jumped on this as it's a larger size which is even more rare. But it was in Perth WA while I'm in NSW, so no inspection was possible. I took the leap and initially wasn't too concerned when it arrived: the main concern was that awful stem and the poor condition of the forks. There was a lot to be pleased about: lightly-used STX-RC, good wheels, new tyres.

It's taken a while to pull it apart, mainly because the stem was solidly seized inside the steerer (and as things go, a decent '98 Explosif came up which served as a birthday present and took up a lot of attention). After liberal doses of penetrating oil, vinegar and even Coke, I finally had to saw through the stem to get the forks off and the headset out. And while I'd noted the damage to the paint, the full extent really becomes clear when the frame's fully stripped down.

The strange thing is, while there is some significant damage to the finish, overall the bike appears not to have been used much. The surviving paint and decals are unfaded and rather nice. But there are random dings and bashes everywhere, and the two gashes on the head tube are deep -- it's baffling as to what the previous owner(s) did to it to mess it up this much.

So -- the logical thing to do would be to strip off the paint, polish everything up, and respray. But I doubt I could manage such a nice, deep metalflake red and am not sure that replacement decals for this model are available (not on eBay anyway). My general approach would be a kind of restomod -- I'd re-use the BB, crankset, cantis and wheels, and find good replacement for the shifters, stem, bars, and derailleurs. Overall, I'd want the end result to be what I would have if the bike had been mine from new -- functional, quality upgrades when needed, keeping the bike in use and fun to ride.

But that paint . . . I suppose the options are: full respray; extensive touch-up with the risk that the colours won't match; or thorough clean and re-seal, given that rust isn't an issue on an alu frame.

What thoughts? Is a Koa special enough to attempt the respray? I do want it to be a rider, but also want to do it justice.


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Kona Fan
Here are some close-ups of the wounds in the head tube.


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Paul R

Senior Retro Guru
Tough one i think its too bad for a touch in job sadly. I would respray it myself providing I could get decals accurate enough. if not just enjoy it as is.

mk one

Retrobike Rider
BoTM Winner
Gold Trader
Kona Fan
If you like the paint then just touch it up and ride it, if you decide to strip the paint then a nice bare polished frame would look good. Gil at retrodecals will be able to sort you a new set of decals for it.


Dirt Disciple
I'm new here and was unaware of Gil at retrodecals. If he can help, then yeah, repaint! I learn something good every time I'm on here.


BoTM Winner
Fat Chance Fan
Think I would just accept it and ride it as it is. No need to baby it or be precious when you ride.

If you want something mint would probably start with a higher end frame and work on that.


Kona Fan
Thanks everyone. BlackCat -- you put your finger on something when you mention working on a higher-end frame: I haven't really arrived at a good idea of how desirable this frame is. On the one hand, the components are kind of lower to mid-range (STX RC mainly), but on the other, this model was only built for a couple of years. The fact that Pipmeister had a '97 model may have influenced my idea that it is quite rare. And there's the Aussie factor -- we have very few pre-2000 Konas here (as far as I can tell).

But I think what I'll try to do is look for a decent paint match and try some careful touching-up before building it up. It may be a challenge to find but I can check out automotive supply companies and online. Spray.Bike has one called Keirin Flake Hikaru Red which might work. And I found this (below) in a model shop over the weekend. Let's see what's possible . . .


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mk one

Retrobike Rider
BoTM Winner
Gold Trader
Kona Fan
I think whatever you use will show up when close, so cheapest options would be my choice, and you should not need a lot either. Model paint like you have is a good option, some use nail varnish too.


Fat Chance Fan
I'm usually fairly split on my opinions concerning repainting. Some I will, others I defiantly wouldn't. I would feel really good about repainting that one if it were mine.
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Retro Guru
For me the repainting decision is on whether it's for riding or looking at. I have two repainted bikes, they look so good I don't ride them, which is fine, for those. I then have a number of bikes I haven't repainted, which I ride. For me it's not so much about originality unless they are really special, it's about usability. If it's so bad you won't ride it anyway, then definitely paint it. If painting it means you won't ride it, don't paint it, unless you want wall art, which is fine too.
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