Kona’s Founders Buy Back The Brand, Start a New Chapter

Gerhard and Heilbron, Kona-ing hard. Photo: Kona Cog

Dan Gerhard and Jake Heilbron, the founders of Kona Bikes, have bought back the brand from Kent Outdoors, who’d decided to sell the business just last month. That move followed a PR disaster as Kona had set up their booth at Sea Otter, then hastily took it down, without informing employees or the media what was going on, leading to rampant speculation. Gerhard and Heilbron announced the purchase in a press release

Kona certainly isn’t the only brand in the bike industry to be suffering a post-Covid hangover. Like most brands, they were hit with at first a lack of inventory, then a glut of bikes as the market dried up once people had bought their big ticket outdoor gear. They even held a buy one, get one free sale last year, unheard of in the bike business. 

Gerhard, truing a wheel, sometime in the mid-1970s. Photo: Kona Cog


“We’ll never do a BOGO Sale again, so don’t ask, but we promise to offer good value for good money, always,” Gerhard and Heilbron wrote in their presser.

Kona was sold to Kent Outdoors just three years ago. A difficult time for a bike brand to undergo entirely new ownership and to navigate the seas of deep discounts and direct-to-consumer brands slashing prices to keep afloat as the pandemic ended.

Kona will immediately cease DTC sales, in favor of strengthening their relationships with local bike shops. They have their inventory warehoused and have new models in the works, to be announced soon. 

In addition to their press release, Gerhard and Heilbron wrote a letter to the bike industry which you can read here, but this is the note’s lovely ending. 

“When we stepped away from the business three years ago, we felt the next version of Kona would continue to grow and flourish with time. Recent history proved us wrong, and everyone in the cycling world knows how difficult the past 18 months have become.

So, ring the bell and chime in the third chapter of the Kona Bicycle Company. A little older, and we hope wiser. A little bruised and battered, but still kicking and ready to take on what’s next in our story. The team that kept the flame alive is smaller but stronger, and the bikes that started development before the pandemic are ready to rumble.

We stand here, humbled by the support of you who have cheered on the good name of Kona. We’re ready to meet the challenge of reviving the good times, meeting with our friends old and new, sharing some trails and trading stories, and once again connecting a few more million riders to that long sweet ride. We hope it never ends.”

We’re very big fans of both good news and independent businesses, so we’re stoked to hear this news. 

And hey, here’s our review of our favorite Kona, the Unit X. 


Words by Justin Housman





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