TECH AREA
Tech Doctor
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The Kona Way
When it comes to designing and building bikes, there are a ton of materials available to us here
at Kona. And over the years, we’ve pretty much tried them all: steel, titanium, carbon fiber,
aluminum, you name it.

But when it comes to building our values into the performance virtues of our bikes—innovation,
function, durability and big fun—we’ve found that one material in particular does the job
exceptionally well.

Scandium is the eighth most abundant rare element on
earth. A silvery white metal extracted from the earth’s
crust, Scandium is a potent grain refiner that, when added
to aluminum alloys, elevates the strength and durability of
the material by 50%. It does this by “straightening” out the
grains of the alloy, making the metal less susceptible to
failure.

First used by those crafty
Russians during the Cold
War, guiding fins built of
Scandium alloys on missiles
could withstand incredible
forces, sustaining no damage
even when fired through the
polar icecap. Scandium alloys
went on to become a highly advantageous addition to Soviet
built aircraft giving them incredible weight, maneuverability and range advantages.



lightweight

It’s this strength and durability that makes Scandium alloys so
attractive a material when it comes to manufacturing bicycles.
Strength is so much higher (Scandium alloy is twice as strong
as 6061 or 7005 aluminum) that we’re able to use much less
material to achieve riding characteristics similar to steel. And
we like the sexy, compliant feel of steel. With Scandium we’re
able to shave weight from our aluminum frames by 10-to-15%.

If you look at the history of the materials we’ve used in our bicycles,
originally we were a steel bike company. We were late to switch into
aluminum frames because we felt that the ride characteristics of
aluminum in mountain bikes weren’t good on pre-suspension frame
designs. Suspension technology allowed us to take the harshness out
of the aluminum ride and it became the material of choice at Kona—
like it did for most of the cycling industry.


It’s quite apparent that when it comes to high performance, lightweight materials, most of the cycling
industry is crazy for carbon fiber. One of the struggles of designing bikes is the conflict between consumer-
driven design and purposeful function. The consumer is pushing for more carbon products, but the mountain
bike platform demands something more durable. We feel that to make a carbon frame durable enough for
the rigors of mountain biking would make it heavier than the same frame made of Scandium. In fact, our
new Scandium cyclo-cross bikes weigh less than our carbon fiber models did.
Major Jake Major Jake
This coupled with the shock absorbing characteristics of Scandium alloys, as well as its long-term durability,
are the main reasons why it’s the material of choice for most of our high-end bikes.

Ryan Trebon

 

Since we began using Scandium alloys
in 2001, we’ve continually added more of
it into our line. This year we have 15
Scandium bikes in our line. Next year
we’ll have more. It’s light, tough, and
incredibly durable, with premium,
“compliant” ride characteristics that
absorb shock and vibrations, yet remains
stiff in critical areas. A real beauty.

 

First Model

 

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