The Kona Hei Hei 2-9 is an amazing bike.
I’ve been riding this bike both in and around Knoxville and on some more technical rides in the Pisgah forest. Doing the old Laurel Mtn., Pilot Rock, Squirrel gap loop is a joy. For those unfamiliar with this loop, it starts with a technical, 9 mile climb followed by a truly gnarly descent that some folks like enough to shuttle. Squirrel gap could be one of the best sections of single track anywhere with wonderful rhododendron and mountain laurel tunnels that are narrow and technical and simply a joy to fly through. These trails highlight how well this bike handles off camber root and rock jumbles. In these rocky and rooty situations the Hei Hei 2-9′s suspension adds traction in heaps and is pleasantly active without feeling wallowy during hard pedaling.
I personally have a 2011 with open axles both front and rear. The 2012 Hei Hei 2-9, which I’ve also ridden, is equipped with a 142 thru bolt rear and 15mm thru bolt rear axle and I have to say I wish I had those options. The thru-axles make the ride even stiffer and inspire even more confidence across the rough, off camber stuff. I’ve had more ear to ear grins per mile on this bike than any other.
Recently we took a trip up the Old Toll Road and then down Heartbreak Ridge. This climb really highlighted how easily the bike can be sprinted up and over rocky messes. I really enjoyed powering the bike over the more difficult lines on the way up.
The Hei Hei 2-9 has tons of traction and the suspension is pleasantly active during hard pedaling allowing the rider to sprint over trails features that would have other bikes off the line. The activeness of the suspension gives the bike a great feeling of acceleration. Overall, Kona has put together a bike is super stiff, light and has a geometry that allows for aggressive and fun riding.