If you read my review of the Kona Rove TI, you might be wondering why I’m now reviewing the steel version of Kona’s do all platform.
Let me start by saying that I love the Rove TI. However, Most of my bikes are 59cm and I ordered the frame in a 59 without checking the length of the seat tube or the stand over. As much as I enjoyed the plush ride, it was simply too big for me. So, I parted ways with my beloved steed and ordered the steel Rove in a 57cm.
After about 550 miles through all kinds of weather and road conditions, I have to say that the steel Rove is everything you’d want in a gravel/monstercross/all road bike. At $1,499.99, you would think it comes poorly spec’d, when in fact, the Rove sports a very nice package. First, the frame is Kona’s cromoly butted steel, paired with a Kona Project Two cromoly disc fork. SRAM Rival shifters and derailers, a SRAM 11-42 cassette with a SRAM S350 40t crankset, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clemente Xplore 700X36 tubeless tires laced to an Alex Al disc wheelset. An FSA headset, Kona seat post, seatpost clamp, 15 degree flared handlebar and stem as well as a WTB Volt saddle round it all out.
After about 100 miles, I made the decision to make the Rove my go to gravel bike, for epic long distance events. I switched out the wheelset to Bontrager’s Affinity Elite tubeless. I wanted to go a little wider with my hands in the drops, so the Salsa Woodchipper handlebar just made sense. I lightened up the cockpit a bit with a Chris King headset, Thomson seat post and stem. Although the cassette and crankset are perfectly capable, I switched out the cassette for a 10X42 and the crankset to a Rival 42t, just to allow for a little more top end speed.
After a 100 mile gravel ride and many long, steep climbs, I’m extremely happy with my choice. The steel Rove is snappy enough for any gravel race, long epic adventure or daily commute and climbs as well as it’s TI counterpart.
Kona leaves nothing to chance. With 3 water bottle mounts, full fender and rack mounts, the Rove is as versatile as a do all bike could be. Also, the olive color is beautiful and adds a bit of class.
18 thoughts on “Kona Rove – Steel”
Gots me thinking, steel over my aluminum?
Steel Rove is considerably more expensive than AL Rove, but those two can’t be compared. Difference in ride is even greater than diff in price. If Rove ST is too pricy for you, checkout Sutra or Tonk. I’d always choose Tonk before Rove AL and price is similar.
I own a Rove ST 2017 since recently, (I confirm every word from this review), and it’s just in every way better than my aluminium Trek or GT. Now they are for sale 🙂
Very useful review! I see you had to change for a smaller size, and I have some doubts there too. Normally I also ride 59 road bikes (I’m 1.87cm tall).
I was in the local bike store and tried the Rove ST 2017 57 and it still felt too big for me. It can also be due to quite wide factory handlebar, which I would later change.
Do you think that Rove sitting position is just different than other road racing bikes and I will get used to it? Or I should go for 54 (in the shop they didn’t have it).
The seat tube is a little longer than most 57cm bikes. Kona’s sizes run a little big for most models.
Hi Rob, thanks for the answer. I’ll put it this way. When you sat on the 57 first time, did it feel right right on, or it took you some getting used to?
I noticed one thing on the very bike I will probably buy: in standstill I press the front brake to lock the front wheel, and then try pushing the bike gently forward, and it doesn’t feel stiff, as if there’s some free run somewhere. The seller says “it’s a (soft) steel frame and it’s normal”, but I’m not sure what to think. Did you notice the same? Cheers
I do not. A steel frame is not going to be as rigid as a carbon or aluminum frame. However, the ride quality is superior.
and one more question 🙂 Why did you change the wheelset? What makes the Bontrager better whatn the factory setup?
Hi, I upgraded to the Bontrager Affinity Comp. It has a DT Swiss hub that I feel rolls a little smoother. The wheelset has since been renamed the Paradigm. Same wheels, new name.
Hope this helps, Rob
So I purchased my Rove ST 2017 few days ago. I agree with every word of this review (except the size, explained later). Frame is really exceptional. It feels almost as nimble as a racing bike, but on the cobblestone you can ride almost as fast as on asphalt.
I have one concern about Spyre front disk brake. It provides plenty of power and modulation, but sends some vibrations through the fork when pressed halfway. Annoying. I went back to the store and they applied some brake fluid on the disk, but no improvement. Anyone some advice?
Another concern is the size. Most reviewers, say you should take a size smaller. That’s what I did too, but in my case I think I made a mistake. I took the 57, and I changed the original 9cm stem to 11cm but it still feels kinda short. I’m 1.87m tall. Maybe I’ll get used to it.
1X11 drivetrain is just perfect
Thanks for the great reviews; they’ve encouraged me to look for a Rove of my own. I’m used to riding my roadbike, but when out riding, I often wish I could take the paths less travelled. These bikes seem absolutely perfect for that and even add some style while doing so.
A chance has come up for me to snap up a still brandnew Rove ST 2016 model at a very serious discount. However, it’s a size 57 and I’m used to riding a 55-equivalent framesize in my roadbikes. To know whether it be worth taking a look, I could really use your advice. At 1,80m/5’10ft, I’m curious to know what ultimately made you decide to buy the 57cm, as both your experiences seem to differ quite a lot.
@Bardami: Given that you would now opt for a 59, would you say that a 57 could suit me at only 6/7cm shorter height?
Hi, as i have said before, I’m 6’2″ tall. The 59cm was too big for me, however, the 57cm is perfect. Kona does run bigger than most brands. Check the stand over and Seat Tube length and Top Tube length and compare to your road bike.
I hope it works out for you!
Hi Il Falco,
sorry I only now se your comment. The only thing I can say about fitting is go try the bike before you buy it. Bodies are very different, and it’s perfectly normal that a taller person rides smaller bike. I went to bike fitting service, they measured every part of my body into last milimetre, put the measurements into computer, set my bike according to the output, and it was – awful. Bike felt 2 sizes larger! In the end I’ve found my sweet spot with Rove 59 and a 9cm stem. Please note that saddle shape greatly influences the stem length. In my case at least
I am 188cm tall with 49% inseam (long legs short torso). Kind of body that makes it hard to fit a bike. On Rove 57 it felt short in every way for me, and it didn’t feel bigger than other 57 bikes. Just my feeling. If you ride 55 road bikes, buy 55 Rove.. It comes with a 9cm stem, so it can’t go any shorter.
I don’t suggest deciding the bike size based on internet reviews, that’s the mistake I’ve made. Also stuff in the shop didn’t help me a lot. I also suggest seeing yourself in the mirror (a shop window) while sitting on the bike. That reveals a lot. Also some research about your body dimensions will give insight, like measuring your inseam and “ape index”. There are plenty of videos on youtube, just search for bike fitting. Rove57 felt very good when I first sat on it because It’s just a marvelous bike. But after 5 days riding I realized it’s short in every way.
Thanks for the great review. I love my Rove ST 2017 for daily 50km work commute on roads and cyclepaths, some of which are poorly maintained. I swapped the original tyres for 36c continental contacts; however, repeated punctures made me change again to trusted 32c gatorskins (the largest size, unfortunately). No more punctures but the ride is rougher and so after another year of jarring, I’ve ordered redshift suspension stem and seatpost, which i hope will be kinder to my aging body.
My reason for coming here today was to seek info about maximum tyre size for ROVE ST 2017. Does anyone know? Also can someone recommend a good tyre for bikebacking NZ’s Grand Loop, which I’m planning to do with a few friends next year? https://bikepacking.com/plog/the-grand-loop-film/
Thanks for the comment.
I believe 42cm would be the widest tire you could fit in the 2017 Rove st.
I Love the WTB Nano 40cm tire for the roughest dirt and gravel roads. If conditions are muddier, I prefer the Maxxis Ravager 40.
Hope this helps.
Hi Mark, 44mm width was just rubbing the frame a bit, so 42, as suggested bu ridingmilford is probably ok. One more remark. If you’re riding mostly on flat, with the factory gearing (40t in front) you’ll probably use the most in the 2 smallest sprockets in the back, which will put your chain in diagonal. That means more chain and sprocket wear, and less efficiency. I swapped the front cog with 44t, and now on flat, my chain is on the 4-5th smallest sprocket, which still gives me plenty of options on both sides. After SRAM cassette got worn off relatively quickly (after 800km), I installed Deore LX cassette and it still holds after 1500km. Shifting is less crisp though, but it’s ok.
Another remark/discovery I’d like to share. if you’re riding over rough surfaces, I warmly recommend SQlab 612 Ergowave Active S-Tube Saddle.
It’s from “Active” series of SQlab saddles, which means it allows your pelvis to tilt with pedaling. It also damps the road imperfections. It’s one of my best discoveries in last few years. I used to be a die-hard Brooks fan, but this is another level.
For the tires, I’m using Schwalbe Marathon Pros. They are a bit hard over broken surfaces, but resistant for punctures. they are probably not by everyone’s taste.
Hi, thanks for the insight. I will definitely take a look at the SQlab 612 saddle. I currently ride a Chromag leather saddle that I love. But a going another route on a future build is worth looking into.