Home » The Ford Focus Kona Mountain Bike Edition Has To Be The Only Car Recalled For A Bicycle Problem

The Ford Focus Kona Mountain Bike Edition Has To Be The Only Car Recalled For A Bicycle Problem

2000 Ford Focus Kona

In the early 2000s, Ford came up with a plan to attract young buyers to its inexpensive Focus. Teaming up with mountain bike manufacturer Kona USA, Ford launched the Focus Kona Mountain Bike Edition. Just 5,000 of these cars left the factory with a special bicycle strapped to its roof and a package that made the little Focus appear more rugged. It’s also perhaps one of the only cars to get a recall that had nothing to do with a car, but with a bicycle.

Every week, I go through my emails and the comments of these lovely pages to find a new Holy Grail to write about. At the same time, Autopian Publisher Matt Hardigree has been submitting his own suggestion as a grail. He’s suggested the same car for about a month now and I think it’s time to shine a light on it before he slaps a Houston Astros logo on one of my Smarts.

2000 Ford Focus Kona

The Focus Gave The Escort The Boot

The history of the Ford Focus started with the Escort. As Automotive News reported in 1996, Ford was developing a replacement for the Escort under the codename CW170. A world car, this vehicle was positioned to replace the Escort both in America and in Europe. It would release in Europe first in the 1998 model year before landing in America for the 1999 model year. The Escort was getting a new generation, too, but this new car was going to represent Ford’s small car effort into the New Millennium.

In 1998, the Focus hit the 1998 Geneva Motor Show. It was reportedly a shock to show attendees, as it was such a radical departure from what was expected from Ford. The Focus sported ideas from previous concepts like the high-mount taillights while designer John Doughty draped the car in Jack Telnack’s sleek “New Edge” styling. A polarizing design philosophy, it had already been applied to the Ford Ka and the Cougar (Mercury Cougar here).

The funky design continued in the interior, and the whole car seemed to split car journalists at the time. Check out this archived Edmunds review:

Soft-touch material is everywhere, including the dash, seat covers, headliner and door panels. Gauges are large and clear, radio and climate controls are easy to reach, and everything is properly labeled. Two large cupholders in the center console will swallow 1-liter bottles while not blocking a thing. Ford went so far as to add soft-touch textures to items like the audio control knobs and to place rubberized material in the Focus’ many storage bins to reduce rattles when driving. It’s this sort of attention to detail that won points with our editors. While ergonomically sound, the Focus’ interior, like its exterior, displays much of Ford’s “New Edge” philosophy that had editors split on loving or hating it.

003 20 Years Of Ford Focus

And here’s an archived review from the engineers at Machine Design:

In creating the Focus, Ford set out to give its small-car image a kick in the pants. Built on a new platform, the Focus comes in a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and wagon versions. The redesigned 1999 Mercury Cougar was the first vehicle sporting Ford’s “New Edge” styling. On the Focus this styling continues, beginning with cat-eye-shaped headlights to the angular lines running along the sides, and ending at the rounded rear end. It mixes round shapes with funky geometric ones and adds sharp angles, somehow making them all work together.

Despite the polarization, the Focus was awarded the 1999 European Car of the Year, beating other iconic cars in a landslide. The Focus scored 444 points while the Opel Astra grabbed second with 272 points, the Peugeot 206 securing third with 249 points, and the Audi TT trailing in fourth with 235 points. That one surprises me, as the first-generation TT has a restrained, elegant design that I wish we got more of in today’s landscape of angry edges.

Targeted At The Youth


No matter the market, the intended demographic for the Focus was clear. Ford really wanted to sell these to young people, reportedly Generation X.  I took a stroll through the Ford Heritage Vault and found brochures for the Focus. They featured colorful pictures, snazzy fonts, and the kinds of hip young people that Ford thought would want to drive a Focus. Today, an automaker might get mocked for trying so hard to attract the “yutes.”

I dig these brochures, they have a bit of an old-school racing game vibe to them. While I could not find data for the first-generation Focus, Ford reported that in 2017, the average age of a regular Focus buyer was 46, and the average age of a Focus ST buyer was 36.


In an effort to further boost the Focus as a young person’s car, Ford joined the ranks of just a few manufacturers to sell a car that came with a bicycle on its roof. In 1996, Volkswagen sold the Jetta Trek. It sounds like a Star Trek-themed car, but you got a Jetta with theming from the bicycle company, including a roof rack. The next year, The Volkswagen Jetta Trek came with even more Trek badging. Apparently, this car was targeted toward budget-minded car buyers and cyclists.

In 2000, Ford joined Saab in offering its own bicycle-inspired limited edition. At the Chicago Auto Show, Saab gave you the Gary Fisher mountain bike racing team-sponsored Saab 9-5 Gary Fisher. That one got you a 9-5 wagon with an Aero body kit, three-spoke wheels, and a mountain bike. Ford? It rolled into the Los Angeles Auto Show with the Ford Focus Wagon Kona Concept.

The Focus Kona Mountain Bike Edition

Photos Ford Focus 2000 2

Like those other cars, Ford teamed up with a bicycle company. This one was Kona USA, a company founded in 1988 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded by cyclists Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron. The pair worked with Mountain Bike Hall of Fame rider Joe Murray to create a line of hardtail bikes. Kona has the distinction of being the first brand to make an entire range of mountain bike frames with a sloped tube design. Kona’s bikes were so good that Kona dealer Bow Cycle says that Kona won the 1993 “Bike of the Year” from Mountain Biking magazine for its Kilauea cycle. This is to say that Ford chose what sounds like a neat brand to pair with its car.

The Kona Mountain Bike Edition started off as a concept car based on the Focus wagon.

RM Sotheby’s

As a production car, the Kona Mountain Bike Edition was based on the Focus ZX3 hatch. The highlight feature was a bolted-down luggage rack and a fork-mount bike rack. Perched on it was a 2001 Kona Blast bike that at the time, was available only by purchasing this car.

In addition to that, the car came with custom side moldings that resembled a bike tread, special seat covers, 16-inch wheels custom floormats, and a “Dirt” color that was specific to the Kona Mountain Bike Edition.

2000 Ford Focus Kona

A neat quirk that I like is that the seat covers were designed to be removed and machine-washed. After all, you might be covered in dirt after a fun bike ride.

Under the hood of the Focus Kona Mountain Bike Edition resides a 2.0-liter four making 130 HP and 135 lb-ft torque. Ford advertised features like a single-disc CD player, fog lights, optional four-wheel ABS, optional keyless entry, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 16-inch alloy wheels that came with the Kona edition were an inch larger than the aluminum wheels on the standard car. As for the bike, the Kona Blast was color-matched to the Focus and came equipped with a long-travel fork, Shimano gears, and dual disc brakes.

Ford sold just 5,000 of these for just a single year to buyers who both wanted a Focus and the latest Kona bike.

Perhaps an amusing event attached to the Kona Mountain Bike Edition is that the car got a recall for something that had nothing to do with the car itself. As Automotive News reported in 2000, the limited edition car was recalled because Kona had to replace a possible defective crank bolt on the bike. To carry out the recall, owners of the vehicle (of which about 800 were sold at the time) were advised to visit a Kona shop.

But for the cars that hadn’t been delivered or sold yet? They were repaired on the Ford dealership lots. Automotive News remarked on the amusing oddity of bicycles getting fixed at a car dealership.

Perhaps it will be no surprise that I couldn’t find any of these currently for sale. I found old ads, but nothing fresh. I’ve noticed that rare versions of common cars sometimes end up ragged out and destroyed with the rest of them. If you somehow have one, is it worth anything? I can’t say, even the concept car sold for a paltry $8,250. But if you’re a lover of first-gen Focus, it seems like a good addition to the collection.

[Correction: A source for this story noted the Focus target demographic as Millennial, but the birth year range really matched Generation X. Thank you kind readers!]

2000 Ford Focus Kona


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40 Responses

  1. Were they really marketing it to Millennials at the time?

    When the car was released in 2000, Millennials were aged 4-19, so only a fraction of the demographic were even old enough to drive, let alone afford a car that came with a fancy bike.

    If anything, they were going after Gen-X who, at the time, were ranging in age from “just entering the workforce and getting their first big-boy paychecks” to “mid-30s and approaching a mid-life crisis, wanting to prove to themselves and their friends that they were still youthful and fun”.

    1. You are exactly right. I was 16 when the Focus came out and was certainly not going to be buying a new car.
      As an elder millennial closing fast on 40, it annoys me to no end that the term has just become a catchall for ‘young people that eat avocado toast and don’t respect their elders et cetera’. I have grey hair, a mortgage and a midlife crisis convertible damnit!

      1. Dude dont get your unisex panties in a bunch. You got fedoras, tiny under lip tiny beards, fake glasses, wearing my grandpas clothes, and drinking coffee and IPAs that cost 4x what we boomers drink and it tastes like shit.

    2. You know, I checked my sources again and noticed something a bit weird. They say Millennial, but the noted age range goes back to the 1970s, which isn’t really Millennial. It would appear to be that you’re correct in that the targets were Generation X! I have issued an edit. I love you guys!

      1. You’re cool, M.S. Few authors have enough pride in their work to go back and update little nit-picks like that, and I appreciate the fact that you and your colleagues strive hard to get all the details right. Major thumbs-up to you!

        I suppose I’m just overly sensitive to the term “millennials” being thrown about because, as a member of that cohort, I have heard it thrown around pretty haphazardly over at least two decades… usually in a disparaging manner.

        1. “Radio reaches [some bullshit number]% of adults, children, and millennials every day!” -iheartradio advertising ad.

          No, I’m not on my 3rd mortgage, a 15 year career, have 4 kids, and am old enough to get nostalgic about cars from the late naughts. And I was born in 1990.

          Keep up the good work Mercedes!

  2. Too bad the production version wasn’t the wagon. More space and more practicality.

    We didn’t get the 4-door hatchback ZX5 until 2002, but that would’ve been a good fit for the Kona, with the 4 doors but not as big as the wagon.

  3. Picking some nits…think it was really more pitched to Gen X, since the oldest Millennials were about college-age when the Focus came out. Certainly those from both gens on the cusp, anyway.

    I always liked all the special editions Ford offered on the Focus early on, especially the Sony edition.
    I saw on some carspotting Instagram, someone had found a Kona Focus that was starting to sink back into the earth despite looking savable.

    1. Good catch, was thinking the same thing.

      “Mountain Bikes” were huge at that time as the more adult version of the inline skates of the early ’90s.

    2. I think the Sony Edition is where the optional HID headlights debuted, which were available on the SVT later. These are the best performing headlights of any car I have owned.

  4. “Kona USA, a company founded in 1988 in Vancouver, British Columbia.”
    I found this amusing. Like how the NHL is the National Hockey League, when it was started by teams in two nations.

  5. The holy grail version of the first-gen Focus is not the Kona, but the 2.3 Duratec PZEV ZTW with the MTX75. In CARB states, the 2003-2004 Focus were all sold with the 2.3 Duratec, which gets you more torque than the SVT, but available in every body style.

    1. A million times this. Especially because Cosworth was making parts for the 2.3 and claimed a possible 230HP naturally aspirated. (100hp per liter!)

      I owned a fully modded 00 ZX3 and then an 04 SVT and severely regret getting the SVT over an 05 ST just to get that sweet 2.3.

  6. A friend’s parents bought one of these new when their Taurus wagon gave up the ghost, and my friend got the bike. It was a pretty nice bike, and it had disc brakes. The problem was that they had an extremely high pitched squealed sometimes when he was braking. Not sure if they were just adjusted wrong or what. The weird thing was that if we were riding around town at dusk or at night, he would get dive bombed by bats every once in a while, presumably because the brakes were making a noise that bothered them. The car was nice, but at the time we felt like the Kona branding on the side was a little goofy looking.

  7. To my great shock, my parents were persuaded to send me off to college in a new Focus. My mom loved the Kona Edition, that’s what persuaded her. But, I negotiated up to a Focus Wagon because I already loved wagons. It was the first new car my family purchased in my lifetime.

  8. It’s unusual to see one these days that’s not faded and rusty, but these pictures are a reminder that the design of the Gen1 Focus has aged remarkably well.

    1. I thought they were really ugly and slab sided when they came out, now that most everything is ugly and slab sided they don’t stand out as so bad anymore, but the look hasn’t grown on me. I will ad that the slab sided thing is why wheels have gotten so big, so the tall slab sided won’t look so bad. Unfortunately the Focus was designed before they got the big wheel memo.

  9. I’m a little surprised Subaru never had a car/bike package since they also sponsored Gary Fisher for a long time and had bikes and team cars at the Auto Show. Minor trivia item is that Gary Fisher was bought by Trek in 1994 or so which means they did two car & bike packages.
    From slightly newer Konas I can tell you that the Kona Blast was a mid range hardtail since my 2007 Cinder Cone was the next higher with Deore and Rock Shox, but I hauled my Kona on a Saturn. FWIW Saturn sponsored bicycle teams but never offered a bike.
    BMW Motorcycles sold rebranded Whyte mountain bikes for a while because they had a front suspension similar to BMW’s Telelever.

  10. This is a SE that I have never seen in the wild, but remember the advertisement. The marketing pictures remind me how great the MkI Focus design is, especially in 3 door hatch form. It still looks fresh to these eyes. Makes me miss my SVT Focus!

  11. These came out near the end of my bike mechanic and MTB racing career. As “Cobra” points out, the main company was still based in BC, but this sounds like the US distributor maybe?

    This bike was about as high-end as the car. I guess a good fit(?), but not exactly a stellar product. Konas were early to the aluminum frame with longer-ish travel forks and disc brake game, but this was an entry-level model or close to it.

    Finally, isn’t that James Franco in the “youth” ad? Whoever it is seems to be wearing a bike chain bracelet, too. I may or may not have had a similar one around that time…

  12. We had 5-6 Kona Focus units on our lot. Took a while to move them …the bike was baked into the overall price.

    I remember the owner hated the bikes clogging up the sales storage area/lunch room so they got blown out for $100 over invoice.

  13. I remember seeing a Focus Kona edition in the showroom of Montgomery Ford when my parents were shopping for a Windstar. At the time my dad also had a Kona Coffee poster in the living room, so I thought that the brown Focus was a special edition for Hawaiian coffee. It sat there for a while. A few years later we were back and instead of the Focus Kona, there was a blue Focus Saleen N2O, which is even more of an oddball.

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