New for 2012 we introduce the Honzo, a balls-out, aggressive all-mountain 29er Cromoly hardtail. Featuring a beyond-vogue slack 68-degree headtube angle, low bottom bracket and short chainstays, the Honzo is all about getting radical on technical singletrack near you. Featuring a zero-stack internal headset with tapered steertube, Kona continues to lead the way when it comes to the evolution of steel. A single front chainring with chain guide, 9-speed 36-tooth cassette, 31.6 seatpost with dropper post cable routing, and ISCG 05 tabs, the Honzo goes up, down, and all the way around.
Strengths: Confidence boost on both downs and technical ups. It just loves to eat up terrain. Handles well all around. Balance on steep climbs is great front tire doesn't wander.
Weaknesses: A bit heavy, but I built it up that way. No cable guides for a Hammerschmidt
I have it set up with a Hammerschmidt which I love. I like having the low range for long technical climbs. I can't believe how much more confidence I have on this bike. Best explanation I have is that I rarely use my dropper post because I am comfortable on descents even with the seat fully raised.
I went from an On One Inbred which I enjoyed, but was ready for a bike that could help me get a bit more aggressive. The Honzo fits that perfectly.
Bike Setup: Hammerschmidt 24/34 tooth. Gravity Dropper Turbo LP 2.5" down and 5", X-9 9 sd, Stans Flow rims, Rampage front, WTB moto rear, RS revelation.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: February 17, 2013
Strengths: Wow, so much bike for your money! Get a leg over, shut up and shred!
Forget the rest... 2013 model has 10 speed, e13 chain guide, 20mm fork and 12mm rear maxles... Slack head angle, shrt stem, and a 29" wheel right under your backside making for a nimble, smooth, and confidence inspiring ride.... Wow, it's just fun fun fun right out the box
Weaknesses: YOU! You are the weakness! Every bike is a compromise, in this case it is strength and price versus weight and bling. The person who is having the most fun riding is the one that's the winner, not the guy talking up the rising rate and high speed compression adjustability etc... Kona Honzo is never gonna be perfect but is 100% fun and reliable out of the box... Weakness? What?! Grips are hard on bare hands, so wear gloves, change the grips, or harden up...
Rail berms, hammer over ruts, pedal up a hill and smash back down again and again... That's why you buy a Kona. Sorted geometry (really sorted) and built to last. Save up kids and get this bike, it is trailtastic shredarama goodness. Too heavy? get stronger! Simple and fun.... Exactly the reason you head into the forest in the first place, switch off and ride hard.
Strengths: Extremely nimble ride and very stable on descents. For a bike that promises to be a great descender it climbs surprisingly well. Tight, up and downhill switchbacks are a breeze and of course, or rolls over everything!
Weaknesses: The frame is a bit heavy, but it's well balanced so you don't really feel the heft.
I purchased a frame only, so I can't comment on the value of the complete build. I set up mine as a single speed and it is the most fun I've had on a hardtail. Actually, most fun on any bike period. I can see why the wheels on a stock build would hold back this bike, so investing in a reasonably light and stiff wheelset is well worth the upgrade.
This bike is purpose built to slay rough terrain and it delivers. I expected it to wander on climbs, but it's rock solid and never goes off track. And downhill it's incredibly stable. I never experienced any nervousness that most bikes with short chainstays experience.
Can't say enough about this bike. Kona produced a ridiculously fun bike at a great price.
Strengths: Chromoly frame, RS Revelation 120mm, 1x9 and decent cranks
Weaknesses: Elixer 1 brakes, the stock seat, the narrow handlebar and heavy wheel set
I LOVE THIS BIKE! The day I bought this bike I switch out the seat for a SDG bellaire and the bars for some raceface bars that are much wider than the stock bars and I changed out the brakes for some shimano XT's and I was very happy. The only thing left is the anchors they call wheels. I didn't think it was possible for me to like a hardtail so much but I think I grabbed my FS 3-4 times all summer long, this coming from a guy that didn't even want to think about a hardtail and now it is my go to ride. If you live somewhere that has a lot of rocks and roots or there isn't a rock to be found this bike should be on your short list, whether you are going on an afterwork ride to a multi-day ride this bike is built to be punished uphill and downhill. I find that if there is a little something on the trail that you can maybe catch some air on this bike is at home. About the only place I didn't ride this bike is at the resorts and thats not because the bike thats for sure it is because I dislike riding lifts. I did some endurance racing and some epics including an overnight trip and all I can say is HELL YEAH I love you Honzo. Overall I would recommend this bike to any all-mountain rider looking for a bike that is fun and fast and can be raced or just plain punished this is the bike for you.
Strengths: Geo is great for both up and down.
Happy for the 12-*36* 9spd!
Weaknesses: Wheels are boat anchors!
Overall this is a great, fun bike to ride!
It has been a while since I've ridden a steel frame but the Honzo still has the trail chatter absorption of a steel frame that I remember!
The 29" wheels make for a monster truck ride! Going up and over most everything and when pointed down the Honzo will ride over and through anything the pilot can handle! This is my first 29er and I am finding that the wheel size smooths out the terrain which leads me to choosing lines that I normally wouldn't when on a HT. Because of this sometime I am reminded harshly that I'm on HT!
The short chainstays make for a playful and snappy bike. It is very easy to move the bike around.
With the steeper STA it makes for a good climbing position over the bike. And, with the slack for a 29er HTA position over the bike while descending and riding aggressively is good as well. I have yet to feel like I'm going to go over the bars even on STEEP tech descents!
I haven't had much air time yet on this bike. However the few times that I've jumped and dropped the Honzo it felt stable and predictable.
The stock build is reasonably durable for this price point. Although I do feel a few corners were cut with component choice to hit the the price point.
The wheels are boat anchors! And, the freehub blew up only after 3 weeks of riding! It was only the start of the season so I had not been riding it very hard yet.
I sent the wheel in for warranty a month and a half ago and still have not received a working wheel yet!! This has forced me to purchase another wheelset so that I could ride my new bike!
Tires are a personal choice so I can't poopoo the Maxxis Ardents too much. They are good going up and down in the dry. When it is wet the tires don't offer much traction at all.
I also am not a fan of how these tires don't hook up when cornering aggressively regardless.
The Avid Elixer 1 brakes aren't doing it for me either. They do stop the bike well enough. However, even after 3 bleeds I can't get rid of the spongy feel in the levers when applying the brakes.
Also, being a big guy (6'6", 245lbs) the 160mm rotor on the rear doesn't offer very much stopping power on steep descents. I am upgrading to 180mm rotor in the near future.
I swapped a few of the parts out to set the bike up to my own personal riding style.
I installed a much wider bar (780mm Chromag OSX). This helps with a more aggressive riding position over the bike as well as offering more leverage when standing and climbing hard.
A Reverb adjustable seat post was added to make for a seamless transition between going up and down the trails.
Clipless pedals were added to make climbing easier as well as to keep my feet on the pedals when charging down through the chunder!
(It turns out the the RS Revelation that came on my Honzo had only 113mm of travel rather than the stated 120mm. I performed the travel modification to move the travel up to 140mm and and came out with 135mm. The fork works properly. I had a look when I had the fork apart to see where the lack of travel was coming from but could not figure it out. I am still content with the fork.)
I bumped up the travel of the RS Revelation fork from 113mm to 135mm. I've only had a few rides so far with the fork at 135mm. I do notice that I haven't smashed my pedals as much when riding through tech sections of trail. I am also having a much smoother ride down the bigger gnarly trails that I ride rather than bottoming out when it was at 113mm.
The gearing ratio is manageable for extended long climbing.
Although, I am looking at getting a crankset that can accommodate a spiderless 28T chainring. I feel with that gearing ratio I will be much happier with climbing the trails in my area.
I swapped out the Shimano Alivio shifter and Deore RD to Sram X7 shifter and X9 RD because with the gear indicator on the shifter I couldn't place the shifter out-board of the brake lever so that I could easily reach the shifter paddles.
Even with these issues I am still quite happy with the bike. It rides as expected and it is a fun bike to ride!
I am only giving 3 chilis for both value and overall rating because of the freehub issue and having to spend more to replace the wheels so I could ride the bike.
If I hadn't had an issue with the wheels and having to purchase new ones I would have given a 4 chillis rating for value and a 5 chillis rating for overall.
If you'd like to see the terrain that I ride my Honzo on here are links to the videos:
Similar Products Used: 2000 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
2004 Cove Stiffee FR
Bike Setup: 2012 Kona Honzo 20R
Now with changes:
Reverb seat post; Chromag Trailmaster saddle; Chromag seat clamp; Chromag OSX bar 780mm; ODI Rogue grips; CB Mallet 2 pedals; SunRingle Charger Pro wheelset; X7 shifter; X9 RD.
Bumped the travel up to 140mm on the stock Revelation fork.
Strengths: it's steel, the geometry is perfect it's the most fun i've ever had on a mountain bike
it walks when others talk
Weaknesses: no front der but who cares dangly bits suck anyways
I cracked my cannondale the saturday before dirtfest and was devastated, until i remembered i had been saving nickles up for this bike. it just so happened that a mrkauk had one on here with a headset and he got it to me just in time to build it up and go shred some gnar!
first impression: holy sh1t!!! this thing rips!!! this was the bike that i've been wanting since 1998. it wheelies, manuals, and hops with almost no effort. going down hill is a joke. i had a joplin dropper on my cdale that fit right into the honzo (good lookin out on that kona!) and man, when you slam the seat on a dh on this bike it's ridiculous. there is no such thing as too fast on this bike, it sucks you right into the pocket and lets you rip like a champ and float over anything you want!
this bike is stout, it's confidence inspiring and it feels completely indestructible. even crashes and near misses feel more comfortable on this bike. it pumps unlike any other 29er and carries speed like it's got a motor on it, a big motor. climbs felt sluggish at first but then i took an attack attitude and this thing growled at me for more! seriously, push one gear bigger on climbs on this bike, it will laugh and carry you to the top of the hill like a f#ckin sherpa. this is not a sit and pedal bike, it wants you to stand up and push it, it will reward you greatly for your efforts and when you do sit on the saddle it's like riding an old cb650.
i love the fact that i'll be able to swap between 1x9, 1x1 and igh on this bike with the sliding dropouts.
i love that it's solid and silent.
it fits better than any other bike i've owned (6'3" 200#)
the color is awesome.
it's probably right around 29 lbs with my build.
it does not look like a store bought bike
it does not ride like a store bought bike
it made my reba feel better, but it's still gonna be replaced as soon as the xfusion slants are available.
i'd post a follow up later but it's not even necessary, this thing is it.
bottome line, if you are more interested in having fun on your bike, get this bike.
if you count carbs and grams and spend time on a road bike, and like to sit at starbucks talking about your gear inches go get a niner or spec or whatever and be ready to get out of my way on the trail lol.
Similar Products Used: my old haro freestyler sport
Bike Setup: 20" honzo, 50mm spank stem, spank royola bar, joplin dropper post, x9 9spd shifter/der, juicy brakes, nukeproof hub on sun mtx33 rear, nukeproof 15mm convertible on velo blunt up front, reba rl, profile 175mm cranks, vp pedals and 200 lbs of ohio hillbilly.
a Cross Country Rider
from Milwaukee, WI
Date Reviewed: November 13, 2011
Strengths: Going downhill, Going uphill, Shredding the Gnarballs, Running over anything you see on the side of the trail that doesnt really look rideable. Above all else its a really fun and realiable bike.
Weaknesses: it doesnt fly. the stock wheels are heavy, and the crank is ok.
So, I bought this bike and the day it came in I put it together and went to GNOMEFEST, at the Levis Trow Mounds in Neilsville WI. Anyone familiar with those trails knows that it is very "west-like". Now, i knew the Honzo would be the perfect bike for this kind of riding, with its HUGE front fork and killer geometry, slacked out for a more forgiving ride while screaming down whateveryouwant. It preformed beautifully, soaking up any punishment i threw at it. Best thing i noticed is that once i got familiar with the bike i could whip it around windy single track almost as fast as the Unit. Going across more tame singletrack and feilds/swamps/pineforest this bike feels just as at home as it does when you let the brakes out and rip it down hill.
Ive noticed that this bike produces a more laid back riding position and you should embrace that as youre not going to be over the bars pinning it on this machine. Sit back, relax and let the big tires and big fork do the work. However if you come to a really steep climb you can climb uphill just as youd expect from any 29" bike. A tip for climbing, move the rear wheel back a smidge from the front and youll notice your rear end staying a little more under control when climbing. I was spinning the rear wheel considerably when i first started gunning up tough rooty/rocky sections.
So the stock set up will get you through anything. Sure its not a tricked out bling machine out of the box. But it works, and its a toy thats meant to take alot of unadulterated abuse.
so, who should buy this bike? Someone who wants the perfect compliment to the rigid single speed 29er. The Honzo is going to open up new doors to what a 29er can be. Big, Gutsy, without limitations. And if the term "Drunken-Master" comes to mind when you think of this bike. Let me just affirm that you are correct.
Similar Products Used: Kona Unit, '09, and '12 SS, rigid.
Bike Setup: bone stock except for the grips, pedals, and seat.
a Cross Country Rider
from Chula Vista, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: November 11, 2011
Weaknesses: Frame is heavy, but that's why it's so stiff and performs so well.
First of all, I expected the front end to wander on steep climbs, but it stuck, no wandering. This has a lot to do with the steep seat tube. It felt very efficient without any discernable bottom bracket flex. I expected this because the tubes Kona uses are fatter than my old Niner MCR 9. This frame weighs 5.75lbs. where the Niner 853 steel frame weighed 4.5lbs. and doesn't have sliding dropouts. For my weight, about 200lbs., the MCR 9 was nooodly, but comfortable. I felt it absorbed a lot of my pedaling power and the head tube was extremely flexy. The Honzo is a stout frame, and I don't think you can achieve that without it weighing more. I don't notice the weight, but I do notice the power transfer and SOLID feel of the frame. Also, I expected to dab the more technical sections because I'm not tuned to this bike yet, but I cleaned them all.
After reaching the top we lowered our seats and headed back. The words that comes to mind descending on this bike are INSANELY FAWKING AWESOME. Because of the short chain stays, the bike corners like a roller coaster doing a 180. The Honzo's geometry positions you over the rear tire and the pivot point of the bike in the turns. I'm not much of a downhiller, but I was flying and not worrying about any ruts or rocks because the fork and frame just swallowed them up, very confidence inspiring. The chain stays also make coming off jumps more intuitive. With Niner's geometry I always felt like I was waiting for the rear tire when popping off curbs and jumps, but the Kona feels right on.
This is the best bike I have ever owned, period. If you're worried about frame weight, you could save about 1/4-1/2 lb. going with a Canfield Nimble 9. The geometries with 120mm forks are almost identical, but the Nimble 9 has a slacker seat tube, which may affect climbing, and does not accommodate a tapered fork, two things I really love about the Honzo.
PS - check out this video of the Honzo in action: http://vimeo.com/30398545
Bike Setup: 012 Kona Honzo Med.
2012 Fox F29, 120mm, RLC, Tapered, 15mm TA
Stan’s Flow Wheelset with 3.30 front hub, 3.30 Heavy Duty rear hub
Maxxis Ardents: fr/2.4exo, rr/2.25
Thomson X4 70mm zero rise stem
Thomson Elite seatpost
Easton Monkeylite xc lo-rise carbon bar 27 inches
Specialized Henge Expert Saddle, ti rails
Odi Rogue lock-ons
Avid Elixirs R 185/160
Sram 991? chain
XT med. cage derailleur
Shimano 12-36t cassette
Niner 32t front chain ring
XT rear shifter
Cane Creek Headset
27 lb. 13 oz.
a Cross Country Rider
from North Shore, B.C.
Date Reviewed: October 1, 2011
Strengths: Steel frame, great geometry, good build.
Weaknesses: Would be nice to have an option for a front FD.
This bike is blast! Picked it up yesterday and hit the trails on the North Shore.ran a couple loops on Fromme which are typical north shore technical,bordering free-ride. Climbed great up the FSR and descended awesome. Despite being a hardball, it rolled on everything and put my Altitude to shame. It's my first 29er and am very impressed. It's quick and nimble. The slack 68* head angle chewed through the shore trails no prob. Overall,haven't had this much futon a bike in along time. Was also looking at Chromag's 29erthat looks great but the full kit from Kona is a great value. Would have supported the local guys but the value spread was too great.