Dating Kona Frames - not in the biblical sense!

Pipmeister

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With reference to the debate that was mentioned on the Kona Una thread here, this is my opinion on dating a Kona frame; the Custom Program models in particular.

My view is that regardless of the Livery style displayed on a frame, its Catalogue year is determined by its Tubing type (and enhancements), its Cable Stop arrangement, and from ’93 into ’94 its Geometry.

Here are two Kona Ku Frames made by Altitude in 1995 & 1996. They have the 1996 Cable Stop arrangement, and 1996 Livery:

KU0153 - welded late 1995:
1996 Ku 18 KU0153.JPG

K09606058 - welded ‘96 June number 58:
1996 Ku 18 SnB K09606058_19.jpg

Here are two more Kona Ku frames made in the same month and year as Serial Number 58. Again they have 1996 Cable Routing, but are displaying 1997 Livery:


K09606064 - welded ‘96 June number 64:
1996_7 Ku 19 K09606064_15.jpg

K09606065 - welded ‘96 June number 65:
1996_7 Ku 18 K09606065.jpg

The first two would be regarded as full on 1996 frames, but what about the second two?

For reference see this last example of a 1997 Ku with full on 1997 Livery and Cable Stop arrangement:

KU9702085 - welded '97 February number 85:
1997 Ku 17 KU9702085.JPG


Onwards: Another example here brings the tubing type used into the equation for this frame.

Tom Teesdale built the Hot for Kona from 1991 – 95 exclusively from various versions of the Tange Tubing. Altitude took over the contract to build the Kona Hot in 1996, and built them exclusively from Reynolds 853 / 725 Tubing.


See the example below of a Tom Teesdale frame built from Tange Tubing (see Seat Tube Bulge at Bottom Bracket), but it is wearing full on 1996 Livery,

TET 1882
1995 Hot cw 96 Decals 14 TET 1882_1.jpg

What year do we call this frame?

Pip
 

FluffyChicken

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I don't, we're talking customer jobs here.
Custom Paint, Custom Size (&geom?) Custom Braze-ons, Custom etc...
Custom stuff is just when it was made.

Unless they also sold them as production frames?
 

Pipmeister

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Thank you for your reply F.C.

It is true to say that the 1996 Kona Catalogue lists the Hot as using Reynold 853 Tubing. Do we still call the TET 1882 frame a 1996 model, merely as a result of the Livery? I realise that the 14" frame in question is for a child, so it could be argued that it doesn't really matter much, but would someone competitive be expecting to receive a frame built form the (new at the time) Reynolds 853 tubing?

Pip
 

FluffyChicken

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No idea, I would assume if it was under the custom option, they would know what they were getting.

i.e.
What colour do you want?
- What you got?
We have bland grey.
- That'll be great!
It's a bit late, Tom was on holiday for a while with his kids. Would you like the new decals ?
- Yeah why not.
 

Pipmeister

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I have been giving this subject a lot of thought over the years, but this thread was inspired now in particular by the comments on the Kona Una Thread.

What year do we call that model. Regardless of its uniqueness, the construction is basically a 1997 Hei Hei frame with 1998 Decals. I would say that the main reason this was mentioned on that thread, is merely because of the Site's well debated "Reader's MTBs --> 1997 / Reader's Bikes 1998 -->" thing.

Getting back to those Ku frames above, we have identical frames with 1996 Cable Routing in two different years of Livery, 1996 and 1997 - presumably as a result of a few left over when the 1997 year's orders were taken as the new Livery became available. Then we have the true 1997 frames frames with the updated 1997 Cable Routing, but they have the same Livery as the 1996 Cable routed Ku frames that are displaying 1997 Decals.

When the actual tubing manufacturer changed between two years, as with the Hot from 1995 to 1996, then the dating of the frame becomes more significant.

Pip
 

al-onestare

Kona Fan
For me it boils down to the serial number and production within the timeline of each model year. This throws up oddities where frames were produced in one year but not sold to the next or even later, usually in a slightly different guise. My Team Explosif was made before the main production started for the 1998 range, but has 1998 features on a 1997 frame. With a 1997 serial number, I call it a 1997 model.

1997 A'ha's were sold into 1998 and 1999, frame only because, subject to SN's, they didn't sell. Those, to me, are still 1997 models.

To the Una, can we pin point, roughly, when in 1998 it was built? B18 means 18" right and 6 is June I guess, with 7 the frame batch/number. If that's correct - please hola if I'm wrong (highly likely) - June is right at the end of that years production, which means I should correct my comment, it's a 1997 frame. Is that fair?
 

Pipmeister

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To the Una, can we pin point, roughly, when in 1998 it was built? B18 means 18" right and 6 is June I guess, with 7 the frame batch/number. If that's correct - please hola if I'm wrong (highly likely) - June is right at the end of that years production, which means I should correct my comment, it's a 1997 frame. Is that fair?
Thank you for your reply Alasdair,

The serial number on the Hei Hei frames are not as sophisticated with regards to year and month as the Altitude built Ku and Hot frames - i.e. the "6" that you mention is not the month of production.

The Una frame with its Serial Number of B18607 is merely sequential, and it sits close to an early 1997 Hei Hei frame on the Titanium Serial Number List here:

B18609 - Early Downtube Rear Mech Routing, Yellow Decals.

Therefore all l we can determine is that the Una was produced early 1997, just two digits earlier than an early 1997 Downtube Rear Mech Routed Hei Hei frame on the List.

Pip
 
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Mortonm

Kona Fan
I think what Al has alluded to likely has some merit towards the livery inconsistancies.

Do we know if the Hots were made C as ordered? Or more likely Tom got an order for X number of each frame size for that year and they were then painted and decaled as ordered?

So some odd size frames might get left a year before painted and decaled up, or maybe some years they just didn't sell as well and there were frames still left around once the livery style had change?

Just spit balling.
 

Pipmeister

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Yes, the Hots welded by Tom were made in batches, and initially stored raw waiting for what ever colour option was chosen by the customer. If a frame was left over, possibly owing to it being an out-size, then it could end up being sold the next year with that particular Livery.

It's easier to see this with the Altitude and Enigma built frames, as the the year and month is included within the Serial Number.

Pip
 

Mortonm

Kona Fan
Yes, the Hots welded by Tom were made in batches, and initially stored raw waiting for what ever colour option was chosen by the customer. If a frame was left over, possibly owing to it being an out-size, then it could end up being sold the next year with that particular Livery.

It's easier to see this with the Altitude and Enigma built frames, as the the year and month is included within the Serial Number.

Pip

That does make sense, and I think sums it up for me, the frame material and drop outs/cable stops define the bike more so than the livery. If it was made in 97 then it is a 97 etc.

I agree it is an interesting question, especially since the geometry for these frames were so similar for the entire decade so they can look quite similar at a glance
 
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