For me, peak Kona design is the jungle graphics and the two tone colour schemes. I also like a disc mount, so there’s a real narrow window of bike that fulfills my brief of ideal frame. I had previously only noticed the Kuku in a 16″ frame size, when this one popped up for sale in a more reasonable 18″, so I snapped it up.
Now being an owner of one, I started to investigate the history of it. Kona repurposed the Kuku name on a BMX in 2000, so there was even questions in some circle as to whether the cross country frame was a real thing. An image search does turn up a number of them, but due to the BMX confusion, and (I later found out) short sales period, information seemed scarce.
I knew a 10th season special edition Nunu had been released in mid-98, in a similar colour scheme and graphics, so originally thought this bike might have been from the same era. The serial number starts with ‘H8’, indicating it was built in the Hodaka factory, Taiwan, in 1998. The seller had also mentioned that he thought he had bought it from Leisure Lakes in 1998, however the frame design is much closer to my ’99 Manomano.
A bit of sleuthing established that this bike appeared on the secondlevelsport.com (UK Kona Distributor at the time) website, listed as an ‘Early 2000’ model, along with a couple of other hard to find models, such as the Stinky Rad and Deluxe Rads, and the 1st, mango painted, Kaboom. The bike was a more entry level full sus, and was priced at £1,099.95 in the UK.
With this information under my belt, I thought I would try the tech team at Kona HQ in Ferndale directly, and see if they could confirm. The replied really quickly and confirmed that it was from the 99/2000 cross over period.
“Hi, that’s a 1999.5 special edition. They were released worldwide but back then we shot all the bikes on physical film at once and those pictures were used to build the catalog and the web pages.
Mid-season bikes missed the shoot so they were never in the catalog or on the webpage. It was entry level so less expensive than a Manomano, MSRP in Canada was $1849.00.
There was a whole batch of special bikes that came out mid-season. A couple Hahannas, a Blast, the first Kaboom, a Roast, the Kuku and Stinky, Stinky Dee-Lux, Stinky Primo all the Stinky models were new with the Easton RAD tubing.”
I’ve since found that, although the bikes didnt make it into the catalogue, there was a fold out 4xA4 poster (shown below) with them all listed on it. I haven’t got a hi-res image of it yet, so if anyone out there has a copy, please get in touch.
Kona Kuku Original Spec
|Kona Double butted 7005 Aluminum
|Fox Vanilla (coil-over)
|RockShox Judy C 80mm
|2 bottles, rear disc mount
|Shimano STX RC
|Shimano BB-UN52 68 1.37 x 24
|Ritchey Logic Sport
|Shimano 8 spd
|Shimano Acera X
|Shimano Deore LX
|Kona DB riser
|Avid SD 10
|15g front /14g rear
|Mavic X 138 N
|Kona Wing Nut
|Two-tone, Stab Blue/Yellow
I’ve now started to build up this bike using a Shimano XT M750 groupset. The forks and rear shock are perhaps a bit modern, so the spec may change.