Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike Review

Inspired by its Process MTBs, Kona crushes with this electric trail slayer.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The Kona Remote 160’s lively ride quality belies its 50-plus-pound weight.Jeff Allen

It’s gonna hurt returning this baby to Kona. The Remote 160 is the eMTB for the dedicated mountain biker. I don’t even want to think about giving it up as I write this review. Let’s just rip off the Band-Aid and get to it…

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The Remote 160 gets 160 millimeters of RockShox-provided suspension front and rear.Julia LaPalme

What Is a Kona Remote 160?

The Remote 160 is a 160-millimeter-travel—both front and rear—electrified all-mountain/enduro bike based on Kona’s popular Process full-suspension traditional mountain bikes. The rear travel comes courtesy of a trunnion-mounted RockShox Super Deluxe Select air shock and Kona’s Beamer single-pivot suspension design, while front suspension duties are handled by a RockShox Lyrik Select Charger RC DebonAir fork with 110-millimeter Boost axle spacing.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
Shimano’s 250W STEPS E8000 mid-drive provides the pedal assist.Julia LaPalme

The Class 1 ebike (pedal assist up to 20 mph) gets its electric boost from a 250W Shimano STEPS E8000 mid-drive motor (max torque of 70Nm) paired with Shimano’s new keyless 504Wh battery pack cleanly integrated into the underside of the aluminum frame’s downtube. The battery can be removed easily using a 4-millimeter hex wrench, which means there is no key to get lost. The battery can be charged on the bike via a port on the non-drive side of the frame’s seat tube.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The keyless Shimano battery integrates into the bike’s downtube.Julia LaPalme

Kona used 157-millimeter SuperBoost hub spacing to give the frame short chainstays (435 millimeters across all four sizes), but keep in mind that could limit your selection of aftermarket wheels should you decide to upgrade later—unless you use a SuperBoost adapter kit to fit a 148-mil Boost hub.

Speaking of wheels, Kona spec’d the Remote 160 with WTB KOM Trail i35 TCS rims, boasting a 35-millimeter internal rim width. They’re laced to Formula hubs, then wrapped in a meaty set of Maxxis Minion Minion DHF EXO+ TR (front) and DHR II EXO+ TR (rear) 27.5 x 2.8 plus-size tires. The bike also accepts 29er wheels with tires up to 2.5 inches wide, but this will raise the bottom bracket height by about 10 millimeters. If I owned this bike, I would definitely try out a 29er front/27.5-plus rear mixed-wheel setup for improved rollover up front while maintaining the superb traction of a plus tire out back.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
A button on the toptube turns the Remote 160 on and off.Julia LaPalme

Four-piston SRAM Code R brakes with 200-millimeter rotors check the Remote 160’s speed, and the drivetrain is a mix of SRAM SX, NX, and GX Eagle components offering 12 speeds, a 34T chainring, and an 11-50T cassette range. A cockpit composed of a 35-millimeter-diameter, 800-millimeter-wide Kona alloy bar clamped in a house-brand stem and a WTB Volt Pro saddle with chromoly rails atop an internally routed TranzX dropper post rounds out the package.

Our size-large test bike weighed a touch under 51 pounds without pedals.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
We rode the Remote 160 more than 120 miles on singletrack, fire roads, and at a bike park.Jeff Allen

How Does the Kona Remote 160 Ride?

I didn’t weigh the Remote 160 before getting it out on a mix of singletrack, fire roads, and bike park terrain, and I was surprised when I finally put it on the Cycle Volta scale. It handles so much more like a traditional mountain bike than a 50-pound-plus ebike that I thought it would weigh in the mid-40s. Truly the most lively eMTB I’ve ridden yet. After dialing in the rear shock’s air pressure and speeding up its rebound (my personal preference runs toward quick rebound), the bike popped off rocks and bumps and launched jumps with ease.

Kona has long been on the cutting edge of mountain bike geometry trends, and the Remote 160 is no exception. Long, low, and slack are the calling cards here, with the 475-millimeter reach, 345-millimeter BB height, 65-degree head angle, and climbing-friendly 75.7-degree seat tube angle closely mirroring the geo of the Process lineup.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The STEPS E8000 motor has plenty of power when the trail turns uphill.Jeff Allen

I didn’t fall in love with the Remote 160 immediately. The SRAM SX chain—the lowest-level offering in SRAM’s 12-speed Eagle universe—snapped on a brief climb not 2 miles into my first ride. It wasn’t a situation of shifting under a high load—I had been settled into a climbing gear since the base of the ascent before the break. After fixing the chain with a quick link, it held up fine for the rest of our testing period covering more than 120 miles, so hopefully the breakage was just a fluke.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
We had hardly any qualms with the Remote 160’s part spec.Jeff Allen

The TranzX dropper post also stopped returning to full height at two points in our testing. Applying a touch of grease around the post’s stanchion and cycling it several times took care of the problem, but I’ve never had a dropper require any kind of attention so early in its lifespan.

These are the only nits I could find to pick with the Remote 160’s parts spec. The rest of the component choices are bang-on, from the stout and cushy RockShox Lyrik fork (which accepts Bottomless Tokens to custom tune the air spring for different riding styles) to the powerful and reliable SRAM Code R brakes and crisp shifting of the SRAM NX Eagle single-click lever mated to a GX Eagle rear derailleur.

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
We got 30 miles of range, with 3,600 feet of climbing, using the STEPS system’s Trail and Eco modes.Jeff Allen

Range is good but not exceptional on the Remote 160. With three modes of assist available on the STEPS E8000 drive system—Eco, Trail, and Boost—I got almost 30 miles and 3,600 feet of elevation gain on one charge using the Trail and Eco settings. Testing range strictly in Boost mode, I pointed the Remote 160 up a sustained fire road climb and ascended 2,900 feet over 8 miles—averaging almost 12 mph—before the battery got down to the last of the five charge bars on the STEPS display.

Although the E8000 mid-drive has a stated maximum torque of 70Nm, the Remote 160 accelerates with the enthusiasm of eMTBs with a higher claimed max torque that Cycle Volta has previously tested. This bike flies!

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The RockShox Lyrik Select Charger RC DebonAir fork is super plush, almost like a coil-sprung fork.Julia LaPalme

With the elegant integration of its electronics, solid component selection, and up-to-the-minute progressive geometry, the Remote 160 is a stellar value even though it isn’t cheap. Speaking of which…

Kona Remote 160 Electric Mountain Bike
The Remote 160 retails for $6,000.Julia LaPalme

How Much Does the Kona Remote 160 Cost?

The Kona Remote 160 sells for $5,999. Kona’s 2020 eMTB line also includes the full-suspension Remote Ctrl ($4,999), with a Bosch Performance CX mid-drive, 27.5 x 2.8-inch tires, and 132 millimeters of rear and 150 millimeters of front travel, and the rear-rack-equipped Remote aluminum backcountry adventure hardtail ($3,799), with a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, 120 millimeters of front travel, and 3-inch-wide 27.5-plus tires. For more information, visit konaworld.com.