Kona’s $1,499 Honzo Review: An Overgrown Dirt Jumper | 2020 Pinkbike Field Trip

Kona’s $1,499 Honzo Review: An Overgrown Dirt Jumper | 2020 Pinkbike Field Trip


– [Cameraman] Next time can you annunciate, the Honzo’s aluminum frame. – The Honzo’s aluminum frames. – [Cameraman] Yeah. – The Honzo’s aluminum frame. (funky upbeat music) Hey everybody, I’m Mike Kazimer. We’re here in Sedona, Arizona for the annual Pinkbike Field Trip. We’re taking a look at a bunch
of affordable trail bikes. Right now, we check out the Kona Honzo. The Honzo’s been in Kona’s
line up for eight years, and is one of the first 29ers to go down the long and slack route. Now, its geometry numbers
don’t look quite as long or slack these days,
but it’s still intended to be a do-it-all, easy
to ride, simple machine. As for geometry numbers, a size large, has a 475 millimeter reach,
the 68 degree head angle, it’s 120 millimeter fork. And then on the chainstays, you’re looking at a 420 millimeter, so nice and short back there. Seat tube angle is 75 degrees. Weight for this bike as
it sits is 32.3 pounds. So what are we looking at for components on this $1500 hard-tail? We’ll start upfront. We’ve got a 120 millimeter
Rockshox Recon fork, no rear suspension so
nothing to worry about there, Drivetrain is handled by SRAM, that’s that the SX 12 speed drivetrain, with the 11 to 50 tooth
cassette, plenty of range. We have Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and those are the MT400 series. You got a TransX dropper post, the WTB takes care of
the tires in this bike. It’s a 2.25 inch Trail Boss. Unfortunately, they
are not tubeless ready, but we’ll talk about that in a little bit. Up front, in the cockpit, you’ve got a Kona branded stem bar and they are Kona’s lock-on grips. The Honzo’s aluminum
frame is pretty simple. You’ve got external cable routing, for the brake and derailleur,
thru axle in the rear, room for a water bottle
inside the front triangle. It is missing some chain slap protection, so you’re going to need
to get a little creative and wrap a tube or something
around it to quiet things down. But overall, just back to the basics. Simplicity is the name of
the game here with the Honzo. We’ve been bouncing this green machine off all the rocks and
cactus here in Sedona for the last couple of
weeks, so now let’s talk about how this bike actually rides. (funky upbeat music) – So if you’re going to
talk about value bikes, you have to talk about
a hardtail of course. You’re gonna get more for your money if you don’t have to pay
for that rear suspension. Kona Honzo, hardtail, no rear suspension. First thing we’re gonna talk about, setup. – Yeah, doesn’t get much easier
than setting up a hardtail. Obviously no shock to fool around with. That fork may end up going 20-30 pounds more than Rockshox recommends, in order to give it that
support we’re looking for. Other set up notes,
this bike has WTB tires that aren’t tubeless ready. No matter how much you try, it’s unlikely you’ll be
able to set up tubeless, so something to keep in mind. We luckily avoided any flats on this. Ran around 23 psi in the front, 25 in the rear.
– It’s cause we’re so smooth. – Super smooth. We got lucky on this one, at least. So, keep that in mind, but overall, once those are set, it’s ready to go. (upbeat music) I had a good time on it, you know, started with the climbing,
it’s a hardtail, so efficiency, obviously, doesn’t get much more efficient than that. – Very efficient. – Yeah, aluminum frame,
it’s not the lightest, but it is lighter than some of the other bikes we have on test. Step on the pedals, goes forward quickly. Climbing position is pretty comfortable and it’s got a fairly
steep head tube angle. – Traditional, right?
– Yeah, 68 degree head tube angle which is actually the steepest on test, but it didn’t feel sketchy to me at all. Kind of maneuver around. Kind of feels like a classic hardtail. – It feels like you’d
expect an aluminum hardtail to feel it’s meant for trail riding and that’s exactly how it comes across. It doesn’t ever feel floppy, but it also doesn’t ever feel too steep, it feels appropriate. – Yeah, and we’re talking about, that it’s an aluminum hardtail, we also have a steel hardtail on test. A lot of time people will say, “Oh, aluminum is harsh. “You need that steel for the compliance”, but realistically, I
didn’t have any issues with it feeling overly harsh. – I mean there’s no shock on any of them. They all feel harsh, you know?
– Exactly. Yeah, I don’t think you need to be afraid of aluminum frame, you know,
ratting your fillings out. It was fine. (funky upbeat music) – So you’re at the top of the hill, you gotta come back down the hill in this hardtail, Kazimer,
what’re you thinking? – [Mike Kazimer] I’m
thinking I gotta remember that I’m on a hardtail, bring back some of those skills.
– Very important. Yeah, just gotta remind yourself. – No rear suspension and
a 68 degree head angle, it’s definitely a bike that is for someone who thinks about their line choice, it’s not for somebody
who just sends it blindly into the chunder, you’re
gonna get yourself into trouble if you do that on this bike. – Yeah, and the geometry on this bike, it is kind of all about fun. It’s got super short
chainstays, 420 millimeters, and a relatively longer front
center, 475 millimeter reach. So that’s kind of just a
party setup, basically. Let’s you get that back end
swappin’ around if you want. Kind of feels like an overgrown
dirt jumper, which I like. Our test loop had some pretty fun little jumps and drops in it. On this bike, it’s super easy to pop out those lips, goof around. It’s just, yeah it’s a fun bike. – Yeah, I think that 475 millimeter reach helps this bike a lot. If it was a shorter reach,
with that head angle, aluminum hardtail, short read end, I think it would feel a little sketchy, but I mean it’s surprisingly
capable here and fun. – Yeah. (funky upbeat music) – As we said, it’s a bike for goofing off, but we did do some timed testing just because people like numbers. – [Mike] Have to be serious. – Serious science happened out there. So timed results, what
were yours looking like? – Pretty good overall. My loop time was fourth
out of eight bikes. On the climb, it was
fifth out of eight bikes. Obviously it’s going to
feel pretty dang efficient. That rear suspension on this
thing is very efficient. And on the downhill, it was
actually tied for second. Our downhill, it’s not super rowdy, it’s trail bike appropriate. Again, little rough at the top, some berms, some jumps,
that kind of thing. Second fastest time. – Yeah, mine was sitting at third overall. Somehow I got my slowest
climb on this, I think. I don’t know what happened there. Might have stopped for a snack maybe, but third in the descent as well. – I think you just needed a break maybe. Are you tired?
– I might be tired. Yeah, maybe I was sleepy. But overall, third fastest time on this bike out of eight,
so pretty reasonable. Especially for a hardtail that’s up against some full
suspension bikes, so yeah. (funky upbeat music) – So let’s talk about
some of the components that you’re gonna get for $1499. Kazimer, what’s some
standout things on here? – Standout things, I
mean, you did have that Rockshox Recon fork, that’s
all the suspension on the bike. I mentioned before, you
kinda gotta put a bunch of air in it, but it gets the job done, and I think the shorter
travel works even better. 120 millimeter just kinda, basically, you just want to take the edge off the bigger hits. – Yeah I would say that this Recon– So we’ve got a lot of Recons on a lot of other value bikes here, but this particular recon
actually felt the best. – Yeah, we mentioned the
tires aren’t tubeless ready, so it’s kind of unfortunate there. The brakes, Shimano’s MT400 brakes, which you know, towards the
bottom of their lineup– – I love their names. – I know, they are very
catchy, easy to remember. But these ones actually weren’t too bad. I mean, they not the most powerful, but on this bike they worked alright, and they were better than the
ones that are on the Stance. The Stance has the MT200,
it’s like the next level down. These ones actually did slow
you down where those other ones took a lot more effort to slow you down. – Right out of the gate, it
comes with a good cockpit, it comes with a dropper
post that works very well and wheels that held up. – Yeah, talking about the frame, there was one little detail, it was like a cable guide was missing, and where the cable comes
right near the head tube, it could use one more cable guide. – I don’t know if it’s– It’s not missing, as in,
they forgot to put it on. Like, they purposely didn’t put one on and it ends up with the housing just like hanging way out like this,
not good, that’s not ideal. – But, an easy fix and not
the end of the world at all. – Just wrap a piece of tape
around your frame, right? – Yeah, exactly, duct tape fixes anything. – $1499, what are you gonna upgrade? – I think I’d start with those tires, just get some tubeless ready tires, don’t have to worry about flats as much. So, a little bit pricey off the bat. Nobody wants to spend that extra 100, but it’s gonna be worth it. And then after that, I
think you just ride the piss out of it until something breaks. – Yeah, I agree with Kazimer. Really, change the tires,
set them up tubeless, and then just ride this
thing a lot, it’s fun. That’s all you really need to do. – Yeah, it’s a nice thing about
it being a hardtail frame, no maintenance on the frame itself, the frame should last
you multiple seasons. So as parts wear out,
you just can replace them with nicer parts, but overall,
there’s nothing you need to run out and replace right
away other than those tires. (funky upbeat music) – We should also mention the Norco Torrent that’s steel hardtail that’s here. This is a very different bike to that. This is a bike that you’re going to cover a lot of ground on. You might not be going super
fast on the gnarly stuff, but you might be having
more fun on the tamer stuff. – Yeah, it’s a little
bit more well-rounded. It’s not quite as long,
quite as slack as that thing. Kind of has more of a
classic cross country feel, but I would even say it’s
not old-school cross country, it’s kind of a modern– – Yeah, it’s definitely capable. It feels well balanced, and yeah, it feels surprisingly capable. Of course it is not the
bike that you are just going to be sending it blindly into the chunder. But, you know, for a
trail rider that wants to cover a lot of ground and wants to have a lot of fun
while their doing it– – Yeah, good choice for that. There you have it, that’s the Kona Honzo. Stay tuned for more videos
in the Pinbike Field Trip here in Sedona, Arizona, as well as a round table discussion where we talk about the pros and cons of all the bikes we have here to test. – Should we go Honzoing now? – Let’s go Honzoing.
– ‘Kay. (funky Upbeat music)