Kona Honzo Carbon Trail | Bike Check
January 5th, 2017
Kona Honzo Carbon Trail – XC just got rowdy
Last year I went on the Kona launch to Serfaus Ladis bike park, where I expected to be thrashing the new Process range – but was surprised to find myself astride a carbon fibre, 29in wheel XC world cup spec bike called the Honzo CR Race.
Despite reservations, the Kona Honzo carbon completely blew me away (read my initial thoughts right here). And as a result I have one now for longterm test alongside my Mondraker (check that out right here). Two very different bikes, but equally as good looking.
Check out how good the Kona Honzo carbon looks – this is a 29in wheel bike, with an XL frame – normally they just look like barn doors, but this thing looks sleek.
The Honzo range started with the steel framed 29in model, that was rumoured to take it’s name from Hattori Hanzo – the legendary Japanese swordsmith that was referenced in Kill Bill.
Except some post-pub internet scouring led Kona to the beer and cigarette consuming Austrian Chimp, called Honzo…
Anyhow, the Honzo was so popular that the range has now expanded to offer the regular alloy model (right here); a plus size monster truck (right here) and now an XC World Cup ready carbon light weight – available in ultra light race spec, and two trail specced models.
As you can see in the images, the back wheel is tucked up in insanely short 415mm chain stays. In combination with the steep seat tube angle, these give insane traction for climbing, and help give the big wheels a nimble, agile ride.
To balance this feeling and avoid the typical XC feeling bike, a long front end designed around a 40mm stem and 68degree head angle put you in an aggressive stance that gives the front end loads of grip. Amazing for climbing – outstanding for descending.
The Kona Honzo carbon is a really well balanced bike that’s steep enough for fast handling – but slack enough to inspire your inner idiot.
Here’s the full spec:
- Kona Honzo carbon frame design with Integrated headset and Tapered head tube
- Boost 148 x 12mm rear axle (for chainline and clearance, not daft tyres)
- Internal routing for full length outer hoses
- This size – 1182mm wheel base!
- 657mm TT; 485mm reach; 68deg HA; 75deg SA.
- 415mm chainstays – the shortest out there!
- WTB STS i29 TCS wheels
- Fox Float 34 Performance, 120mm travel, Boost 110mm.
- RaceFace Aeffect SL cranks
- Shimano SLX/XT Shadow Plus 1x 11spd transmission
- Kona XC/BC 35 bar and stem, ODI Ruffian MX grips
- Shimano SLX brakes
- Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 3C 29×2.3″ up front
- Maxxis Ardent EXO DUAL TR 29×2.25″ out back
- WTB SL8 saddle
- Available from Kona World
Obviously to get that ultra short back end, Kona designers have had to whittle things round – the curved seat tube helps, as does the Boost 148mm back end. This was chosen purely for clearance and chain line – it’s not intended to be built with 27.5in plus size wheels.
Given the wide rims, and fairly large volume 2.25 Maxxis Ardent out back – this is fine. For winter mud plugging we’d choose something like the Specialized Storm Control out back to cut through the slop – bigger volume tyres on 29in wheels in thick mud are generally pretty awful.
The cable routing on the Kona Honzo carbon allows for full length housing, and has a combination of internal and external. The underside of the top tube carries rear brake and shifter housing, whilst the dropper post routes internally through the downtube and pops in to the seat tube. The cables are easy to fit thanks to internal channels – no swearing when setting this beast up!
Out back a fast rolling Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tyre has a surprisingly big volume – the wide rim bulks it out. Even though it lacks heavy duty lugs, the short back end and riding position give the bike increased traction. Up front a Minion DHF tyre rolls fairly quickly for a heavy duty tyre, and has excellent traction in virtually all conditions – it’s quite a telling tyre to come on a 29er hardtail…
We’ve already been out on the Kona Honzo carbon in the local filth, and will report back with a review when we’ve had some good time on it.
Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels!