2016 Kona Honzo CARBON!

Words Todd Hellinga
Photos Todd Hellinga
Date Jun 17, 2016

After years of refinement of popular, and relatively trend setting, metal-tubed Honzos, Kona is finally releasing a composite version of their much-loved 29’er. Slated for a mid-2016 release, the Honzo line finally goes space age, featuring a 68° head angle matched to a 120mm fork, and longer reach that stretches 15mm across the size range. So, here it is: the Kona Honzo Carbon.

Kona Honzo Carbon

Other new features over the alloy options include a 160mm post mount brake in addition to a tapered integrated headset. The bike also features a boost spaced fork and rear hub, but make no mistake, this bike is a dedicated 29’er and is not designed for compatibility with 27.5+ configurations.

Kona Honzo Carbon

But what does the frame weigh? While I don’t have all the numbers, I am told that in size large, frame only, the carbon version saves 510g over the AL model, CR 1340g/2.95lbs versus AL 1850g/4.07lbs. Over a pound of savings is pretty significant, and I think most people will be pretty happy to hear that.

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The line will feature three models, with each of them hitting some pretty impressive price points, while featuring tried and true components and technologies that are sure to be fairly reliable and future proof for the average user.

 

my17_honzo_cr_race

Kona Honzo CR Race, $4499 CDN. Fox Float 34 Performance Air, Shimano SLX/Deore 11spd.

my17_honzo_cr_trail

Kona Honzo CR Trail, $4499 CDN. Fox Float 34 Performance Air, Shimano XT/SLX 11spd. KS LEV Integra dropper post.

my17_honzo_cr_trail_dl

Kona Honzo CR Trail DL, $6499 CDN. Rock Shox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, SRAM XO1, KS LEV Integra dropper post.

MY16 Kona Carbon Honzo Geometry

When Caleb Smith called to ask if I was interested in getting on an early release version I jumped at the chance. Over half of the hardtails I’ve owned in my life have been Konas, and I was definitely interested in giving this bike some quality time. The Honzo features clean, classic lines and a no nonsense parts spec, and I’m always partial to stealth matte finishing. Our test model was an early release, and as such does not represent the spec of the production model. We had a Hope/WTB wheelset and Yari fork, while the production run will feature SRAM 900 hubs laced to the WTB Asym i29 TCS rims and a RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air.

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On-by of course. Todd hasn’t been a fan of single ring systems but maybe this will change his mind.

With a SRAM XO1 drivetrain, Guide RSC brakes, Maxxis EXO rubber, Race Face bars, KS LEV dropper post, and a smattering of Kona branded parts, the CR Trail navigates the fine line between value and performance.

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Smooth lines make it clear there are no welds on this frame.

Stiff in all the right places, the Honzo CR is a streamlined frame with beefy junctions in high-stress areas. Cable layout is a clean hybrid external/internal affair, which home and shop mechanic will both appreciate. The bike also features a stealth-routed KS LEV dropper post.

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Sensible internal routing with an external rear brake hose placement for easy swaps and maintenance.

The Honzo CR frame features seat and chainstays that are wider laterally, and thinner vertically. This seems to be a bit of engineered compliance, to smooth out the ride slightly while allowing the bike to remain laterally stiff.  This turns power into speed efficiently, while keeping harshness to a minimum in chattery sections.

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Seatpost line peak-a-boo.

Wide bars, short 40mm stem, and a ridiculous amount of standover are a couple of highlights of the bike. The Minion DHF on the front is certainly a nice touch for Whistler riding, and the Ardent is certainly better in 29’er form than smaller wheel sizes, although is still a bit of a handful on wet roots. The KS LEV Integra also features the southpaw lever right where a front derailleur shifter would normally be, making actuation intuitive.

Kona Honzo Carbon

Do you need a little speedster in your life?

The Kona Honzo Carbon looks fast standing still with its long reach and wheelbase, low bottom bracket height, and slack-ish head angle. But what’s the reality of this long reach 29’er for an average-sized medium frame rider on the trails? An early observation is that a seat slammed all the way forward and a 40mm stem leaves little room for adjustment.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks for a full-length review and my thoughts about how this machine stacks up in a crowded market.


Can big wheels and a light frame put you back on a hardtail?

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Comments

craw
0
Cr4w  - Aug. 30, 2016, 2:24 p.m.

When can we read the full length review?

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mike-in-cave-creek
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Mike in Cave Creek  - July 2, 2016, 6:43 a.m.

For the same $$ as the DL Trail you could build up a pretty pimped out Canfield EPO which is 27.5+ doable. The EPO also blows this thing away in the looks dept, and it's got a threaded bottom bracket.

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bagheera
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Bagheera  - June 19, 2016, 2:41 a.m.

Did I get this right, they're trying to sell me a SLX/Deore-equipped HT for 4500? Sorry, I'll pass.

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ivan-huginski
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Ivan Huginski  - June 18, 2016, 9:32 p.m.

650B wheels and a 160mm Pike should make for almost the same axle to crown measurement. Now that would be a rowdy and fun bike. Considering doing that myself vs. a Chromag Stylus.

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 17, 2016, 7:04 p.m.

Looks like a great update. Short CS 29ers are great. Nice work Kona. 🙂

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peterk
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peterk  - June 17, 2016, 2:40 p.m.

crowded market? How many slack carbon hardtails are there? Canfield, Ghost, what else?

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0
t.odd  - June 17, 2016, 2:56 p.m.

Chromag Surface/Rootdown BA , Transition AM, Niner ROS 9, Trek Stache, Banshee Paradox, among manyother more boutique brands…granted maybe using the term 'crowded' was slightly misleading, but brands are certainly moving more in this direction.

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 18, 2016, 7:10 p.m.

None of those are carbon.

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lumberjake
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lumberjake  - June 18, 2016, 7:15 p.m.

I think the key word was "carbon", not many of these are going carbon.
I like they went this route, the original Honzo, while innovative, weighed a ton at over 7lbs. I mean why bother with a ht if it weighs as much as its fs counter parts. Part of the appeal of a hardtail is weight savings making a much more maneuverable and flickable bike. A light bike si?ply makes everything a bit easier and fun.
Both carbon and ti make sense. Just because these are the materials of choice for uber lite race machines doesn't mean thats all its good for.
With these materials you get strength at much lighter weights which makes sense for bruiser ht.

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t.odd  - June 18, 2016, 9:01 p.m.

yes, you are correct. I made an incorrect statement….I wasn't really thinking about the carbon aspect as much as the slacker geometry one

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craw
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Cr4w  - June 20, 2016, 11:51 a.m.

Which model of Ghost are you referring to?

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reini-wagner
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Reini Wagner  - June 17, 2016, 2:20 p.m.

Finally! It does look gorgeous, really! I'm curious about its metal siblings.
Two thoughts: the price on either the CR Race or the CR Trail seem to be off.
And why is Boost mentioned as though it were new to the Honzo? It's been used on the AL version too…

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craw
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Cr4w  - June 17, 2016, 2:03 p.m.

This bike looks incredible! Though I wonder if we've gone far enough with these super short chainstays? Anyone with a longer inseam is going to be flipping over backwards on this bike.

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0
t.odd  - June 17, 2016, 2:13 p.m.

I'm enjoying the short stays, but maybe a bit more upright seat angle would take a bit of that rear bias away and allow for a bit more fore/aft seat adjustment for a wider range of body types

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craw
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Cr4w  - June 17, 2016, 2:19 p.m.

That makes sense. But at some point longer femurs and a very steep STA don't mix. I guess it was too costly to continue with the adjustable CS?

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 17, 2016, 7:03 p.m.

Steeper than 75 deg??? I couldn't ride a bike with a STA that steep.

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drewm
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DrewM  - June 17, 2016, 7:47 p.m.

It might be cost as well, but I'd guess on both the alloy and carbon Honzo it comes down to weight savings. Between the 4x M8 steel bolts and the beefy dropouts themselves it is a huge difference not to have them.

Strictly from a singlespeeders perspective. My preference is sliding drops, but if weight is an issue Kona could have gone with a PF30 shell, like on their cross bikes, and that would have allowed for an eccentric. It's not ideal (sliding drops are simpler; more reliable: aka better) but I know a few guys who would have been all over this frame if it was singlespeed-able.

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t.odd  - June 17, 2016, 10:13 p.m.

touche….if it wasn't for the reach, it would be a lot less problematic for me

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 18, 2016, 6:41 a.m.

I'm not super excited for the currently fashionable super long TT/steep STA and low BB geos on so many bikes. When I look at getting a reasonable fit/body position I have to choose between running a stupid short stem to get a reasonable reach to the bars or downsize and have a mile of seatpost levering away at the frame.

I'm hoping it's a phase and we'll end up back somewhere in between "old skool" and "modern" geos in a few years.

That's a bike industry thing though not really anything to do with the Honzo specifically.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - June 18, 2016, 7:12 a.m.

Yeah a 75 seat tube angle is too upright for my femurs. I had a road bike like that and had to have a 35 mm offset post to fit the bike to me. I am not convinced that short chain stays are good.

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t.odd  - June 18, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

I agree, Vik…seems that like everything it has to get pushed a bit too far before they dial back it in…

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ivan-huginski
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Ivan Huginski  - June 18, 2016, 9:35 p.m.

You don't need sliding dropouts for single speed. You can get away with a DMR single speed conversion kit.

But then you'd have to be okay with a chain tensioner on your shiny carbon frame.

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drewm
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DrewM  - June 18, 2016, 9:49 p.m.

I'm not sure how to respond to this…

I mean, on the one hand you are correct except if I was going to go that route I'd use the Rennen tensioner:

On the other hand, anyone who is spending this kind of dough on a frame they are planning to singlespeed is not using a tensioner. Tensioners are for modding the bike you already have, not building your personal edition of simplicity.

I guess in terms of framesets it's not that big a jump to the Ti Honzo.

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vincent
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Vincent  - June 27, 2016, 8:44 a.m.

There are still plenty of options for a less progressive bike. Look at the new Niner Air9 RDO- or Kona's own Raijin. Personally it took a me while to see the benefits of long, slack, low- and I still think it can be taken too far- but these bikes are a blast to ride.

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sam
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Sam  - June 19, 2016, 3:58 p.m.

I think it should have rear suspension, but it doesn't so I will buy another bike.

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aron-burgundy
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A.Ron Burgundy  - June 17, 2016, 1:48 p.m.

Gorgeous! Probably in the minority here, but wish it was singlespeedable though. Without a tensioner.

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craw
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Cr4w  - June 17, 2016, 2:05 p.m.

Retaining the option to run a slightly more conventional chainstay length would be nice too.

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - June 17, 2016, 7:05 p.m.

An SS option would have been nice, but I get why they wanted to keep things simple/light.

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drewm
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DrewM  - June 17, 2016, 7:49 p.m.

I said the same thing above -- if the sliders add too much weight (they are heavy) a PF30 shell (if you're going to go pressfit anyways) would have allowed for an eccentric BB.

Very sweet otherwise.

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jason-van-horn
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Jason Van Horn  - June 18, 2016, 9:05 a.m.

They already made that bike- it's the Ti version.

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aron-burgundy
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A.Ron Burgundy  - June 19, 2016, 6:51 a.m.

They made a Ti bike out of carbon?!?! So cool

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ken-leggatt
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Ken Leggatt  - June 17, 2016, 1:33 p.m.

Nice bike.

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jonas-dodd
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Jonas Dodd  - June 17, 2016, 1:16 p.m.

Homina, homina!

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