The Kona Stinky through the years: Top row, the Rasta colored 2001 Stinky; Kent DeVries on his personal 2001 Stinky on the Big Drop on Upper Bob's. Middle row, the 2005 Stinky; Bob Torset (who built Bob's Trail, Elastic Chicken, Mas Pollo, Cedar Dust and a lot of SST), rippin' on SST in the early days, when the mid-section jumps were still under construction. Bottom row, the 2006 Stinky; Jon Syre flying high on his personal 2006 Kona Stinky. (2006 Kona Stinky profile shot from togoparts.com.)
currently 6.7 inches front; 7 inches rear
The original Stinky was born and bred on Galbraith -- Kona is the biggest bike manufacturer in the Bellingham area, and the Stinky is the biggest bike to ever come out of Bellingham -- so it's not surprising that the Stinky has long fit Galbraith like an armored glove.
Some of Galbraith's greatest riders, trail builders, and outlaw legends have owned Kona Stinkys -- guys like Kent DeVries of Jack's Cycles in Bellingham, Galen Rockenbauer of Inside Knowledge Maps, The Bob AKA "Motobob" Bob Torsett, Kona Bike designer Pat "The Bear" White, and David Waugh -- every one of them an all around larger than life legend -- as well as Jon Syre of Trillium Corp., which now owns much of Galbraith.
Today's Stinky, however, is not exactly the same as your dad's Stinky. Where the turn-of-the-century Stinkys were essentially beefy but dangerous all-around bikes, the 2006 Stinky is more of a specialist that's really only happy where there isn't any climbing or even much level ground. Today's Stinky may get pushed part way up the Tower Road, and once it starts to roll it hunts for full-on Freeride trails where the riding can turn sick and there are possibilities for serious air like on 911, Scorpion / Evolution, SST, and Shawn's Trail.
Over all performance:
The Stinky is one of those rare and special bikes that changed the industry. When it first appeared in the 90's, it was generally considered a full bore downhill bike. But as technical trail riding developed on the North Shore in Canada and nearby Galbraith Mt. in the USA, the Stinky became a favorite of trail riding's lunatic fringe.
By the turn of the century, the Stinky had become almost mainstream and its popularity was greater than ever. The 2000-2003 Stinkys absolutely rock where the going is extremely technical, vertical, and largely down. You can go anywhere on Galbraith on these bikes, but please note -- on Galbraith (where you have to climb), it helps to be young and/or in really good shape.
In recent years, Kona has significantly deepened the bike, slackened its angles and shrunk the dimensions of its frame, turning it into the badass 2006 bike, which almost looks like a aggro cartoon version of the original. The 2006 Stinky wants to go big, right now. Thinking about one of the flying drop lines at Sandy Stone and Wonderland? This bike can carry you down anything you've got the nerve and the skill to ride. The trade-off is that the 2006 Stinky isn't really an effective trail bike any more. Kona now offers the Coiler and Dawg lines for the whacked-out All Mountain crowd.
Seems amazing to look back at it now, but GalbraithMt.com's first test Stinky had a single crown fork! This was the 5-inch travel Marzocchi Z3 QR20 5, the fork that won such a passionate following for Marzocchi in the forests of western Washington and British Columbia.
By 2006, single crown Stinkys were a distant memory, and the Marzocchi that the top-of-the-line Stinky Primo comes dressed in now is the ultra beefy double crown Marzocchi 888 RCX2 with 6.69 inches of plush travel. The Fox 40 is lighter, but the Marzocchi 888 still rules. This is the fork of choice for Freeriders on Galbraith in the U.S. and the North Shore in neighboring Vancouver, BC. It's completely killer for the intended purpose, which might be descibed as big-move illumination of the NW landscape.
All Stinkies pair a coil-over Fox shock with Kona's version of the "faux-bar" walking beam rear end to achieve a plush ride. When motivating under its own power, the Stinky has a characteristic up an down motion, sort of like the giant mechanical spider in Will Smith's The Wild, Wild West. Up until 2001, the Stinky delivered 5 inches of rear travel. In 2002, it was increased to 6 inches on the standard Stinky line, and nine inches on the short-lived Stinky Nine.
By 2006, the five, six and nine inch Stinkys were history (being partly replaced by the Dawg and Coiler in the Kona line), and the standard Stinky boasted seven inches of rear travel. In 2006, Kona also changed the basic design of the Stinky rear end, moving the pivot point forward off the down tube onto the bent top tube and mating it with a super-long, machined-out walking beam. Looks cool but this l-o-n-g unbraced walking beam gives the 2006 Stinky one of the flexiest rear ends we've ever encountered in a bike with this much travel.
The other problem with the rear end on the Stinky (and all other faux bar / mono-pivot designs) is that it stiffens under hard braking, so that the handling characteristics of the bike suddenly change just when you don't want them to. Bikes that use the Horst-link design are largely immune to this, and bikes that use a floating rear brake like the Foes Inferno are entirely free of it. Kona could solve the Stinky's braking problems with either of these solutions, but it has never chosen to do so.
The brutal truth: in 2006, there are a lot of freeride bikes out there with better rear ends than the venerable Kona Stinky.
Hayes hydraulic disc brakes have come stock on the Stinky for years, and the 2006 model's Hayes Hydraulic Mag BFL V8s are excellent stoppers.
You will break before this bike breaks.
Geometry and sizing:
Not surprisingly, the geometry on our first test Stinky was a little slacker than your standard cross country fare, but not by as much as you might think. The head tube angle on the 2001 Stinky was 70 degrees, the seat tube 74 degrees, the bottom bracket height was 13.4 inches. Kona has steadily slackened these numbers over the years. By 2005, head tube angle was down to 68.5 degrees and slackening fast.
Be aware that the sizing on the 2006 Stinky is miniscule by conventional mountain bike standards. A 17 inch frame, which is a medium on most bikes, is an extra-extra-large in the 2006 Stinky.