Kona Sutra: When Raleigh retired their venerable Soujourn, we were hard pressed to find a suitable replacement till Kona stepped with the Sutra. Like the Sojourn, the Sutra is built as a dedicated, no compromise tourer, using modern technology where it counts and traditional technology where it’s needed. Modern disc brakes provide stopping power that no traditional cantilever brake can match (essential when carrying heavy loads in bad weather), but long-proven Shimano 9-speed components and bar-end shifters far outlast their contemporary 10-speed alternatives while working just as well. The traditional Brooks saddle, of course, is the only option for such a machine.
Under the radar: The compact frame is stiffer than a frame with a traditional horizontal top tube. The straight blade fork also stiffens up the front end when carrying loads. (The high volume Schwalbe tires smooth the ride, negating the need for a fork with deeply curved, flexible blades.) Most importantly the Sutra uses a mountain triple crankset, the only option for a real touring bike.
The Bottom Line: The Sutra preserves everything good about traditional touring bikes, but doesn’t deny the benefits of modern components and design.