Kona Caldera Serial Number List - update June 01/07/22

al-onestare

BoTM Winner
Kona Fan
Update June-22

Pip is currently enjoying the great universal single-track. He had a great send-off which you can read about here: https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/phillip-pipmeister-mock-kona-guru-and-legend.443234/

His friendship is the greatest legacy he leaves us with but we must not forget the incredible resources and knowledge that he documented locally and shared here on retrobike, not least the Kona serial numbers and related information.

From today, I will administer the work he started. My current plan is to spend an hour a week updating the lists with any new entries or confirmed related data / information. The same criteria applies as before, so if you'd like to have your Kona Caldera added to the list, please follow these steps before PMing with your details or questions:

1. Must be an Altitude built Kona Caldera, 1997 model not the later mass-produced models
2. Have an eligible serial number, found on the bottom of the bottom bracket
3. Provide photographic evidence, preferably as the current owner
4. Check the bike and serial number isn't already on the current list (note if the record was unconfirmed previously, new details are welcome)


Big thanks to John for helping configure this and as ever - a huge thank you - to all current and past Kona-heads including Pip. Without our collective knowledge, none of this would be possible 🥰

To make finding the lists and associated data a little easier, this first post will contain the master data.

Don't forget the other registers!

Kona Titanium frames & bikes: https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/kona-titanium-serial-number-list-update-june-22.446735/
Kona Hot: https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/kona-hot-serial-number-list-update-june-22.446740/
Kona Ku: https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/kona-ku-serial-number-list-update-june-2022.446754/

So without further ado..

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Red - confirmed with picture, Blue - good source, but TBC, Black - only quoting from forum post or advert.

1997 Caldera Frame Serial Numbers:

Hand made in USA by Altitude Cycle Technologies.
Featured in the 1997 catalogue, but some say never sold to the public, although I think this is a bit of poetic licence. Kona says approximately 50 were built in (Poopsy) Blue and 50 in (Molotov) Red.
Made from Heat Treated "Altitude" Cromoly steel tubeset. Left over Tange from Mountain Goat perhaps?
The weight was quoted at 4.0lbs, the same as the Explosif, and the frame listed at £549.95, £50 more. The Caldera was however part the Kona Custom Frame Program, and a full £250 less than the Hot and the Ku. Kona were apparently responding to the public’s desire for an affordable Custom Frame.

H0 9607032 Different blue, 19", (mrdryskull)
CA 960901# Unknown Blue 19", (Vanlsle)
CA 9609012 Poopsy Blue 16” (Bigttown)
CA 9609021 Molotov Red 16” 1,999gr, (elmadu)
CA 9609046 Poopsy Blue, 20". (al-onestare)
CA 9609144 Molotov Red, 18", (knickering)
CA 9609158 Poopsy Blue, 18" (Mike Kizer)
K0 9610031 Poopsy Blue, 18", (formerly H1v9a8c8 now Konaman1)
Not CA9609021, E-Bay listing Molotov Red 16”

I believe this is from Dan Capek at Kona:

Quote, "I was running our custom program in Canada at the time so pretty plugged into the facts.
I'm about 6 computers/OS past those days though so some of this I need to pull from memory. In Canada we had 50 red and 50 blue frames and 100 kits for them. You could get a frame, a frame and fork, or a frame fork and kit. The US would have had a similar number. All the custom frames were routed through the US warehouse to Canada and Europe but I can't say how many they got; it could have been the same number or none at all."


Re: Re: Tange? Columbus? Something off the back of a lorry? Whatever it is, it's got a lovely ping to it (!), is slim and dainty and I reckon if we put one next to a Hot of the same era, we'd struggle to tell the difference. Other than getting calipers out and some scales plus an exact...

Wow that's some X-files level stuff there. OK let me fill in some of the blanks.

The Caldera in it's custom form only lasted for one year because people didn't want a budget custom bike. We had a whole run of options on the custom program and the buyers were people who'd progressed through riding and wanted a "best" bike. There were also unlimited colour choices on the Hot and Ku while the Caldera was red or blue.

The riders with that budget would look at the U'hu, and the Kula and Explosif and go that route.

So I suspect the rarity in the UK is because no one wanted one and not many came over there.

The tubes were picked out by Altitude. Altitude was Jeff Lynskey's expansion past Mountain Goat; stuff like the dropouts were used because they're a super nice investment cast item and they fit smaller tubes vs. our bigger dropouts. It's definitely not an 853 frame. We'd build tons of custom frames and hold them raw ready for paint, then when we'd get low on stock we'd see who had the time and space to produce another run. That's where you'd see the changes in builders for the steel and alloy hardtails.

It's one of those bikes that we built because riders would tell us they dreamed about having a custom bike but couldn't afford it. So we built an affordable custom. Turns out that's not what they wanted; they wanted XTR and all the bells and whistles. Same reason as that huge surge of Chinese and Russian Ti frames died off so abruptly. People really didn't want them.

So if you do find a Caldera it's neat handmade bike to have for sure. That was just at the point of a huge change in riding. Before that you'd start on a hardtail and progress to nicer and nicer hardtails till you plateaued with a Ti frame. Then suddenly suspension came along and started fracturing the process. Then full suspension started to move out of the curiosity category into the must have bike, and then disc brakes came along and people really pulled back from custom frames and paint and poured all their spending money into functioning upgrades vs. good looks."

To be continued Pip...
 
Last edited:

Pipmeister

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1997 Caldera Frame Serial Numbers:

Hand made in USA by Altitude Cycle Technologies.
Featured in the 1997 catalogue, but some say never sold to the public, although I think this is a bit of poetic licence. Kona says approximately 50 were built in (Poopsy) Blue and 50 in (Molotov) Red.
Made from Heat Treated "Altitude" Cromoly steel tubeset. Left over Tange from Mountain Goat perhaps?
The weight was quoted at 4.0lbs, the same as the Explosif, and the frame listed at £549.95, £50 more. The Caldera was however part the Kona Custom Frame Program, and a full £250 less than the Hot and the Ku. Kona were apparently responding to the public’s desire for an affordable Custom Frame.


• mrdryskull: H0 9607032, Different blue, 19"
• VanIsle: CA 960901#, Unknown Blue 19"
• Bigttown: CA 9609012, Poopsy Blue 16”
• elmadu: CA9609021, Molotov Red 16” 1,999gr
• al-onestare: CA 9609046 , Poopsy Blue, 20"
• knickering: CA 9609144, Molotov Red, 18"
• konaman1: K0 9610031, Poopsy Blue, 18" – Formerly H1v9a8c8
• E-Bay listing Molotov Red 16” – no confirmed serial number (not CA9609021)


I believe this is from Dan Capek at Kona:
Quote, "I was running our custom program in Canada at the time so pretty plugged into the facts.
I'm about 6 computers/OS past those days though so some of this I need to pull from memory. In Canada we had 50 red and 50 blue frames and 100 kits for them. You could get a frame, a frame and fork, or a frame fork and kit. The US would have had a similar number. All the custom frames were routed through the US warehouse to Canada and Europe but I can't say how many they got; it could have been the same number or none at all."



Wow that's some X-files level stuff there. OK let me fill in some of the blanks.

The Caldera in it's custom form only lasted for one year because people didn't want a budget custom bike. We had a whole run of options on the custom program and the buyers were people who'd progressed through riding and wanted a "best" bike. There were also unlimited colour choices on the Hot and Ku while the Caldera was red or blue.

The riders with that budget would look at the U'hu, and the Kula and Explosif and go that route.

So I suspect the rarity in the UK is because no one wanted one and not many came over there.

The tubes were picked out by Altitude. Altitude was Jeff Lynskey's expansion past Mountain Goat; stuff like the dropouts were used because they're a super nice investment cast item and they fit smaller tubes vs. our bigger dropouts. It's definitely not an 853 frame. We'd build tons of custom frames and hold them raw ready for paint, then when we'd get low on stock we'd see who had the time and space to produce another run. That's where you'd see the changes in builders for the steel and alloy hardtails.

It's one of those bikes that we built because riders would tell us they dreamed about having a custom bike but couldn't afford it. So we built an affordable custom. Turns out that's not what they wanted; they wanted XTR and all the bells and whistles. Same reason as that huge surge of Chinese and Russian Ti frames died off so abruptly. People really didn't want them.

So if you do find a Caldera it's neat handmade bike to have for sure. That was just at the point of a huge change in riding. Before that you'd start on a hardtail and progress to nicer and nicer hardtails till you plateaued with a Ti frame. Then suddenly suspension came along and started fracturing the process. Then full suspension started to move out of the curiosity category into the must have bike, and then disc brakes came along and people really pulled back from custom frames and paint and poured all their spending money into functioning upgrades vs. good looks."


To be continued:

Pip
 
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al-onestare

BoTM Winner
Kona Fan
Thank you Pip. It fascinates me that less than 10 years we'd never seen one on the web beyond the catalogue picture. That's the power of this site and social media.

Let's be clear from the outset that this thread is only recording 1997 range Caldera's, not the mass produced 1998+ versions 😉
 

Pipmeister

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Rightyho. I have slightly tweaked the 1st post, to help it resemble the other Hot, Ku & Titanium Frame Lists.

A point of interest, would be to discuss the three different prefixes for these frames: H0, CA & K0

mrdryskull's, with H0 9607032 is in keeping with the the 1997 Hot frames. I believe this frame was a Trade Show pre-production display model. I wonder if the Tubing is different from the other Calderas.

It certainly has a different paler, more Matt Blue than Alasdair's, Bigttown's or konaman1's "Poopsy Blue". We were informed by Kona that the Poopsy Blue is a Powder Coated finish, which surely is very early in cycling history?

Pip
 
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al-onestare

BoTM Winner
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Yep, I'll bet it's a Hot painted as a Caldera. The catalogue colour is much closer to MDS' than reality.
 

Pipmeister

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Yes the Blue colour of MDS is a good representation of the picture (Artist's Impression / not a photograph) of the 1997 Catalogue Blue.

mrdryskull: H0 9607032:

1997 Caldera MDS_5.JPG

97Page09.jpg

Just to confuse matters, the Catalogue documents Poopsy Blue & Molotov Red on the Spec Listing page :rolleyes:.

Any road up..... I'll put something together with regards to the tubing likely to be used for the "various" versions of the 1997 Calderas that we have seen so far.
 
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Pipmeister

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Yep, I'll bet it's a Hot painted as a Caldera. The catalogue colour is much closer to MDS' than reality.
With regards to the tubing used for the 1997 Caldera, we have it documented in the Catalogue that "Altitude" Heat Treated Cromoly tubing was used.

MDS's has the a Serial number of a 1997 Hot built in July 1996: H0 9607032, Different blue, 19". This would indicate that it is Reynolds 853 Butted Main Tubes.

Moving on; has anyone noticed the variance in the Seat Tube Bulge of the Tange Tubing at the Bottom Bracket junction?

The Ultimate Ultrastrong Tubing seems to be more elongated up the length of the Tube, and slightly wider, when compared to the Prestige Concept. These two version in turn look different from the Seat Tube Bulge seen on some (but not all) of the Caldera Tubing, i.e.
Konaman1 K0 9610031, Poopsy Blue, 18" - well by my tired old eyes they do anyway.

See examples below.

Tange Ultimate Ultrastrong:

1994 Hot 17 TET1682_5.jpg


Tange Prestige Concept:

1992 Explosif 20_3.jpg


Aledgedly "Altitude" Heat Treated Cromoly:

1997 Caldera Brian_2.jpg

Then there are the Poopsy Blue, and Molotov Red versions with no Seat Tube Bulge at the Bottom Bracket Junction, which have alowed a Low Clamp Front Mech to be fitted:

al-onestare: CA 9609046, Poopsy Blue, 20"

1997 Caldera Al_4.jpg


elmadu: CA9609021, Molotov Red, 16”

1997 Caldera 16 CA9609021_4.jpg


Finally here is a snippet from the 1992 Tange Catalogue that explains the tubing Butting and Seat Tube Bulge - albeit a little difficult to understand 🧐:

1997 Tange Cat 21 22.jpg

1997 Tange Cat Ultimate_1.jpg

1997 Tange Cat Prestige_1.jpg


Phew..... that'll do for now 🤪 .

Pip
 
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mk one

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Great thread Pip, and a good addition to the other custom Kona threads :cool:

About the tubesets, are the Caldera's full Prestige tubing? I have noticed the difference in the external bulge on various years of Kona, experimenting with different weights and flex maybe, or maybe some are not Concept, as in lower end Kona's with bulged Tange seat tubes? Also the Ultrastrong frames, i thought the seat tubes were Prestige Concept with the down tube being Ultrastrong. And as far as i am aware, and your Prestige tube sheets seem to confirm that, tubes without the seat tube bulge are not Concept.
 

Pipmeister

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I’ve been trying to compose something here for a few days now, and I am struggling for a couple of reasons. Namely, I’m obviously a bit under the weather and on some fairly heavy gear to help with that. I'm finding it somewhat complicated trying to figure out these different types of tubing from the pictures and documentation that I have…... anyway;

Tange seem to have one of the most comprehensive ranges of different tubing, based on quality over cost and function, all of which is making identifying the tubing used a bit tricky. I will say though in answer to your question.......

About the tubesets, are the Caldera's full Prestige tubing? I have noticed the difference in the external bulge on various years of Kona, experimenting with different weights and flex maybe, or maybe some are not Concept, as in lower end Kona's with bulged Tange seat tubes? Also the Ultrastrong frames, i thought the seat tubes were Prestige Concept with the down tube being Ultrastrong. And as far as i am aware, and your Prestige tube sheets seem to confirm that, tubes without the seat tube bulge are not Concept.

I am currently unable to find it documented that the Caldera used Tange Prestige MTB Concept Tubing, or indeed any of the Tange range.

From the 1997 Catalogue, and Pricelist:

“Altitude Heat-treated Cromoly tubing” Page 9 of the 1997 Catalogue.

“Altitude Cromoly Heat-treated” Page 30 of the 1997 Catalogue.

“Altitude Heat-treated Cromoly” Page 3 of the Kona Pricelist 1997.

So hopefully without appearing to cop out on the research here, I think the best move now is to compare the various pictures that I have of the seven confirmed Caldera frames, (and the various Hot frames using Tange tubing), along with the Tange Catalogue, then bat the answers back to some questions as people come up with them.

Each of my pictures that I post on here have been given a descriptive file name, so if you just hover over the picture or right click, then you should be able to find a reference. I've also added a name (and Serial Number) of the frame where possible, so please do ask for any pictures that you think I may have, and we can do some research; phew, that'll do for now😣.

Pip
 
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