Field Trip: Kona's $1,499 Honzo - An Overgrown Dirt Jumper

Mar 25, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Kona Honzo



Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Anthony Smith


The Kona Honzo has become a modern day classic, a bike that's earned countless fans over the course of its eight years in existence. There have been titanium, carbon, and steel framed options offered during that time period, but it's the entry level, aluminum version that we brought in for testing.

Priced at $1,499, the Honzo comes equipped with a 120mm RockShox Recon RL fork, SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Shimano Acera brakes, Trans-X dropper post, and 2.25” WTB Trail Boss tires.

The Honzo's geometry hasn't changed all the much since it was first introduced, other than the reach, which has lengthened slightly since the initial debut. There's a 68-degree head angle (the steepest out of all 8 bikes in the Field Trip), a 475mm reach on a size large, 75-degree seat tube angle, and short, 420mm chainstays.

Kona Honzo Details

• Travel: 120mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 68°
• Seat Tube Angle: 75°
• Reach: 475mm (L)
• Chainstay length: 420mm (size L)
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 32.3 lb / 14.7 kg
• Price: $1,499 USD
www.konaworld.com




Kona Honzo review
Kona Honzo review

Climbing

At 32.3 pounds the Honzo isn't exactly light, but it was one of the lighter bikes in the Field Trip, and it has the easy maneuverability you'd expect from a trail hardtail. It's a much livelier, more responsive bike than the Norco Torrent at slower speeds, and it felt like it wanted to dance uphill rather than stomp and plod.

Longer and slacker bikes can feel like they're on autopilot while climbing, while the Honzo delivers a more engaging experience. It'll dip and dive through tight, awkward sections of trail with minimal effort, and manuals are a breeze thanks to that stubby back end. Rolling terrain is where the Honzo is in its element; it feels like an overgrown dirt jumper, and it shines any time the trail resembles a natural pump track.

Kona Honzo review

Kona Honzo review
Kona Honzo review

Descending

The Honzo's snappy manners remain in place on the descents, and as long as the trail isn't too chunky it's an entertaining ride. If the trail does get super rough and steep the brakes and the fork become the limiting factors – there's not a ton of stopping power from those Shimano Acera brakes, although the brake levers give you enough room to use two or three fingers to try and slow things down. On the RockShox Recon, that 120mm of travel only goes so far, and it needs to be overinflated to keep it from blowing through its travel. There's also the fact that the tires aren't tubeless compatible, so choosing the smoothest line is even more imperative if you want to avoid fixing a flat.

The Honzo does require a more attentive pilot than the Torrent - the Torrent's long and slack geometry makes it possible to get away with the occasional 'point and pray' moments, while there's less room for error on the Honzo. It's not a bike that encourages seeking out the gnarliest descents around; instead, it's an energetic companion best suited for slightly mellower adventures.
Timed Testing

Our timed lap for the trail bikes was around 11 minutes long and split into three distinct sectors. First, a smooth, twisty singletrack climb topped out along a technical traverse that tested the bike's slow-speed handling and traction. After that, we dropped into a fast descent that began with rough, suspension-testing corners before some fast berms, flat corners, and a few fun-sized jumps. Nothing too rowdy, but representative of the terrain these trails bikes were intended to see.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Mike Kazimer: I had my third fastest overall loop time, despite the fact that my slowest climbing time occurred on the Honzo - I made up the time on the traverse and the descent.

Mike Levy: I had my fourth fastest overall lap time, with my second fastest descending time, third fastest time on the traverse, and fifth fastest climbing time.

Swapping out the stock tires to a tubeless compatible setup is a highly recommended first step, but otherwise the Honzo could serve as a great gateway into the world of mountain biking for riders looking for an easy to handle hardtail that won't break the bank.

Kona Honzo review


Pros

+ Has the manners of an overgrown dirt jumper
+ Wheelies and manuals are a cinch
+ Available from a bike shop
Cons

- Shimano Acera brakes aren't very powerful, and the lever shape isn't ideal
- Tires aren't tubeless compatible













The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from: Smith, 7mesh, and Over The Edge Sedona.




Photos: Anthony Smith
Additional footage: Lear Miller



209 Comments

  • 186 1
 Any review of the Honzo is lacking without mentioning Connor Fearon winning an Australian regional enduro race on one... against Troy Brosnan
  • 41 0
 Didn't know about that - impressive and a reminder of "operator vs. machine".
  • 113 4
 @deadflat: No he was on a honzo not an operator smh
  • 22 5
 @kookseverywhere: Brosnan doesn’t ride a Pole either.
  • 18 18
 @WAKIdesigns: He rode my pole once..
  • 4 0
 Is there a video of this?
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer could you guys maybe get @zwift or similar onboard as a sponsor and make some content about using this / or these types of platforms?

I just ride my bike - I do not have a turbo trainer - I have absolutely no idea how these systems work etc

I have been looking at there website and the system seems really cool.

There are turbo trainers and ‘smart’ turbo trainers etc - I have no idea what I need?

Seems like a great idea for content IMHO
  • 1 0
 @harrybrottman: Check out GCN and/or GMBN, as they have content on these topics currently.
  • 106 1
 So if you like mountain biking, this is a good bike.
  • 29 0
 Have sold a number of these to people new to mountain biking. Always super stoked for them.
  • 38 0
 I dont have this model. I have the carbon trail top end model. But the bike is an absolute blast. I rarely take my specialized enduro out anymore. The only trails i dont ride on the honzo are serious downhill trails. As long as you have the skill this bike can handle just about anything. Best decision I ever made buying a honzo.
  • 16 0
 It is. I built one for a fun bike and haven't ridden my fs since.
  • 7 3
 Not bad per se, just too expensive for what it is.
  • 4 0
 @benmoosmann: Ya it really is too much even for new riders. The weight and boat anchor out back are 2lbs lighter than my DH rig.
  • 7 0
 @roedty: Same here. I got the 2015 ST model. I prefer it above my Process 134DL on any trail, except like stuff in the Alps etcetera..
  • 7 0
 I go for weeks at a time without reaching for my Druid. My steel Honzo upforked to 140mm is THAT good.
  • 2 0
 @roedty: Took the words out of my mouth.
  • 3 0
 @roedty: In a similar setup, except a steel Honzo I've had since 2014 with a SB5.5 as my side chick. The Honzo is honestly my go to to this day.

One main thing I do appreciate about the Honzo is the little maintenance it requires. Just clean the chain and send it. The SB5.5 is high maintenance, I don't got time for that!
  • 1 0
 I had an OG steel 2014 model which I loved - Now my hardtail is an NS Eccentric Cromo which I built up. I really like the NS, but the Honzo had a way more playful personality, and at a time when saying that about a 29er was like blasphemy. Rad bike.
  • 2 0
 @mtnbkrmike: I agree...still riding mine. Upforked to 130.
  • 1 0
 Where is the huck to flat test?
  • 1 0
 @mtnbkrmike: came here to for the same. I just built a Honzo ST with a 140 Pike and absolutely love it. Are you running an angle set?
  • 1 0
 I own a shop and can ride anything I want. I have more fun on a Honzo ST built SS w/140 travel than any bike I ever owned.
  • 1 0
 @dedmann: I have a custom SS with very similar geo to the Honzo and it is an absolute blast to ride. For the riding that the vast majority of people do, a bit longer reach, shorter chainstays, and a reasonable HTA will keep you smiling for miles and miles.
  • 78 33
 SX Eagle needs to die in a hole and companies need to send bikes from the factory tubeless, how on earth does a hardtail weigh over 32 lbs?
  • 54 2
 Built to last. Look at those chainstays compared to your average xc bike. Plenty of other bikes on the market if weights a big deal for you.
  • 74 3
 That cassette alone is probably 8lbs.
  • 21 2
 @pinhead907: Recon doesn't help either
  • 39 2
 Makes that Mythique from yesterday's review look really, really good.
  • 33 3
 Yeah we need shimano back damnit
  • 48 1
 @pinhead907: About 1 1/2 lbs to be precise...why entry level bikes need 12 speed is beyond me, wide range 9 and 10 speed drivetrains exist.
  • 12 5
 Cheap dropper, cheap wheels, frame that they want to avoid bringing back the Kona=cracker meme. Plenty of trail hardtails on the market from the 1000-1500$ range that are 30-33 pounds. This is what the market is...look at another fun bike like the specialized fuse. $1700 for less powerful brakes, same dropper/drivetrain/fork, and a house branded tubeless setup. Same goes for a chameleon.

You can get a nukeproof scout or commencal and get slightly better components, but it’s the same weight ballpark. I think the deore specced scout is probably what yalls would like without complaining too much.

You can save a couple hundred grams and add those back in $$$ if they’d specced SLX instead of SX, same goes for NX.
  • 19 12
 I just can’t fathom where all the weight is...I have a 31.5 pound Aluminum fatbike with NX/GX mix, 100mm fork, and 4” minions. 32 pounds on that Kona is embarrassing.
  • 10 1
 Had a 2016 size L honzo AL frame i built up. One of the funnest bikes I've ever owned. 130mm Pike, 2* works, Flow Mk3, X1, Aeffect crank, vaults, Carbon bar, 34.9 dropper, 2.35 schwalbe MM and FA. Weighed under 28lbs

Kona really does need to update the geo on this frame
  • 6 0
 @Savagm:
Cheap components are heavy my man. Look up how much that dropper and cassette are - the stock SX bb’s have a ton of weight hanging out in them too.

The CAAD fatbike is crazy light and fun, and so is the fork. And, I only had to warranty two of those frames. And, only had to reset the needle bearings in that full size run of the forks. Kinda embarrassing. And it’s almost twice the price yeah? Apples to apples.

If most other hardtails on the market weigh the same in that price bracket and have the same basic specs, it doesn’t mean that it’s good - but, uh, theres nothing else on the market you can buy with a 130 fork without going to CRC to save a few hundred bucks. At this price point I think I’d be squeezing together another couple hundred for a full sus, but not everyone wants that. And I know the light & cheap stance is gonna be DRAGGED for being unrideably flexy in the comments when that review comes out
  • 17 2
 These are VALUE bikes and in that category, especially sub-$2000 the pennies matter, at least for the company producing them. Not a lot of margin in bikes of this category. (Which, whether or not bike companies will admit it, is why for a few years there they seemed to hobbling lower end bikes. That seems to changing, thanks to Marin and others.)

That being said, if you watched the video, the suggested path to upgrade was ride it till you wear something out and upgrade it then. As a completely blue-collar MTBer, that is the best way to go. Get the max bike you with your budget, replace parts as you wear them out or break them. Which is precisely what 90% of the buyers of this bike will do.

The hate for SX seems mostly from people who wouldn't get a bike in the price range anyway. It shifts and shifts well enough to be usable for the vast majority of users. Again, as it wears, replace it with better stuff. Shimano stuff at this level wouldn't that much less in weight and may or may not shift as well. Stuff like Box 3 Prime 9 isn't going to hit OEM price points.

Just to be clear, my 2010 Gary Fisher Paragon, a XC race 29er aluminum hardtail, stock was just at 30lbs. So a VALUE trail aluminum 29er hardtail weighing in at 32lbs with tubes and (arguably) a boat anchor of a cassette doesn't seem unreasonable.
  • 10 1
 @parkourfan: or just buy a honzo frame and build whatever your budget allows. i have a rad 2019 honzo ST that is a super fun all around trail machine with full XT/XTR and pike ultimate. fun bike!

but this $1400 build is also great for the $$$. get what you pay for.
  • 4 1
 I have a Honzo. I put light DT XC wheels on it, light XC tires, carbon bar and lighter stem, and it's still 29lbs with 11speed SLX and a Manitou Machete fork. That frame is a beast so it's difficult to get light. I use it on tamer trails where it's a lot more lively and fun than my fs. I love the geometry, feels perfect for what I use it for, trails where I want something that feels lively and quick handling while being more stable and calm than twitchy XC geo. I recently got a drop bar gravel bike and honestly the gravel bike is lighter, more capable and faster off-road than I would've guessed and is quickly becoming my go-to for green trails, somewhat displacing the Honzo.
  • 5 1
 @CycleKrieg:

Marin, Rocky Mountain, and the CRC brands put together a pretty compelling package for the 1000-1500 hardtail range. Giants are much lighter and don’t have a rear thru, Kona/specialized/etc are more expensive. This is the hardtail market right now. Saying UGH THIS IS BAD DEAL isn’t gonna change what’s available right now.
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: Truth. Cheap components are heavy. Especially those cassettes.

And yeah, the lefty needle bearing reset requirement is odd.
  • 4 2
 @dthomp325: gravel bike with 40c+ tires and a mid travel, modern trail bike is a killer pair, covers almost any ride you need without a ton of compromise. Almost all my riding buddies are cutting down to this and it’s great. I got rid of an XC hardtail and endurance road bike for the gravel bike, which was a nice change which left over some $$.
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: Yeah, I originally bought the gravel bike for road riding with my gf, but was really surprised at how good it is off-road. It's a freaking rocketship on smooth hardpack, and it's fun to push the limits and see how much it can handle on little drops, jumps, and drifting turns. Makes easy trails a lot more fun. I want to get a second wheelset so I can swap 30c slicks for road/gravel and 42c knobbies for singletrack/fireroads. My only mistake was putting road pedals on it, because I unexpectedly find myself frequently foot-out/flat-out drifting around on it!
  • 4 0
 @dthomp325: I’m cool with anything with file tread in the middle for the road. Hangs just fine on easy group/cafe rides as needed.

I’d also 100% rather be on gravel or dirt than anywhere close to traffic. I’ve said ever since the first time I owned a good CX bike that something along those lines will handle about anything you could on your first POS hardtail and make it fun again to boot.

To totally derail the thread, I’ve liked the wtb riddlers best for all round use, with the Donnelly/clement xplor mso’s as a close second if you want a thinner carcass. If you really need that road slick, Hutchinson sectors and maxxis velocitas are quite nice and available in sizes big enough you can run a proper wide rim as needed.
  • 1 0
 @parkourfan: I've been happy with the Spec Roubaix 30c tubeless slicks for road/gravel, but it's a pain to swap tires if I want to do rougher singletrack, which is why I want a second wheelset.

I still ride my Honzo on a few sweet-spot trails that are a bit too rough for the gravel bike and not gnar enough for my fs. It's a super fun bike, but don't know if I'd buy it again if I didn't already have it. Like you said, gravel + trail fs is probably the best setup if you're sticking with 2 bikes.
  • 5 1
 @Kimura: but not with Acera parts... For this price I would expect Deore. Alivio is questionable, Acera is simply not up to MTB abuse...
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: I have this set up for my gravel bike: a wheelset with 650b x 47 mm tires and another 700c x 35 mm tires for smoother rides.

I found the 650b wheels on PB or CL for $125 and it's really opened things up!
  • 1 0
 @mnorris122: selling feature. Not hard to comprehend.
  • 6 0
 @ATXZJ: The geo is fine. I've had a couple of recent Honzo's both in Ti and steel. I've never had a bike fit so well. The reach and head angle felt so natural, never left me wanting anything different. It doesn't need a 64 degree head angle and 500 mm reach.
  • 3 0
 I have a friend with a Rocky Mtn Growler 70, I think it is, right around $1500 out the door so a direct competitor with the Honzo. It came with tubed WTB tires which I offered to convert for him. He bought Schwalbe tires with more aggressive tread pattern, valves stems, and I had the tape. $150 upgrade and 2 hours, we had it converted. It saved him over 500grams per wheel, so over 2lbs of rotating weight and no more pinch flats. Rocky had spec'ed wire bead tires that were shot after a few weeks of riding! No better upgrade for the money. I wonder what the Honzo would feel like with better tires set up tubeless?
  • 4 0
 @tunnel-vision: For the most part it just needs to be slackened to at least 66* to match the process line. I ran mine at 65.5 with the headset, and a 130mm fork and it never lost any of its fun factor. Besides, most HT steepen 1 degree at sag so 68* is not a good starting point.

For the record, my current hei hei XC bike has 66* and my supreme sx is sub 63*, both with short CSU offsets.

Don't fear the slack
  • 5 0
 Build your own for cheaper and lighter. The honzo steel frame is like $500, or get a custom Marino steel ht for like $250
  • 1 0
 @Mac1987:
Haven’t seen deores on a bike this cheap in a while.

The aceras squeak, creak, and are a bit flimsy and not all that ergonomic. But, there’s plenty of power, no weird bite point, and a very smooth lever. They aren’t a bad product at all, and are one of the most reliable shimano brakes I’ve worked on. I think I’ve seen a few bent levers on em and that’s it. Maybe one piston issue. Salt, snow, and nastiness all winter on commuter bikes and they hold up like a champ. Mt501’s, like what came on that vitus are still rare at this price.

Tires are nice, but add a bunch to the price. NSMB has had a number of good articles throughout the years about min/maxing cheap hardtails that are rather good.
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: Industry traded slightly better breaks/drive train for a cheap dropper and 1xs.
  • 4 0
 @mnorris122: becuase 12 is bigger than 9 and to an average consumer more is better. I hear you though...
  • 2 0
 @Gmang: this is what I meant to say...sorry that I came off jerky.
  • 2 1
 @bulletbassman: I've got no complaints with this! The kind of rider getting this bike definitely wants a dropper.

And, I'd still take SX over the shit 2x9 and 2x10 systems that were around not so long ago. Dropped chains, crunchy shifting, beginner riders who don't know how to use a 2 by system...
I keep a 26" blur LT around with older, non-clutch x9 on it for beginners to try out. Nobody understands what the front gears do, or how to shift decently at all. Having a stance with SX has been going alot better shifting wise.

A legit clutch derailleur with enough range that a beginner doesn't have to get off and walk? I'm stoked on that. It's quiet, it works, and they sure aren't complaining about .25 pounds going on the back of the bike instead of in the middle. However, cheap droppers, espcially these tranzx ones, are just total garbage.
  • 1 1
 @parkourfan: I never had any problems with SLX level 2x systems. I just changed the cranks and took off the front derailleur anyways.

I learned to ride MTB on a rigid SS that's still my most ridden bike. Walking up steep hills isn't the end of the world. Run up them and you'll be biking up them in no time.

As far as droppers, sure If you're going to put a quality one on there then I'll pay for it. But I don't want to pay for a shit dropper just to replace it anyways. Rigid seatposts aren't the end of the world either. Just ride with it low and stand up and smash the climbs. It's a hardtail, you're going to stand on anything rough anyways.
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: Yeah right dude you'll spend like 3k+ on parts
  • 1 0
 @fruitsd79: I generally thought the Mythique looked really convincing. Superb value for money.
  • 3 0
 @bulletbassman: Beginner bike. It's gonna be ridden for a few years, so the dropper should struggle through that without breaking. Also, 2 bys aren't gonna fit on a modern 1000-1500$ bike - especially since they're coming with 27.5x2.6-2.8 tires or room for 29x2.6, and short chainstays.

You know what beginners hate in a group ride and learning? Getting off and walking. I'm sure you're a rough, tough, single speeder, but the people I sold this kind of bike to are learning to rip around on fire roads, beginner trails, and (if they're young) baby gnar and jumps. You want people to have a ton of gearing. No beginners going to be pumping through the rough and standing up to sprint up every climb, let alone standing on traverses. They like the convenience of a cheap dropper and somewhere to sit down. I'm sure most of us started on bikes with a front derailleur and no dropper, but that doesn't mean that simpler shifting and a slow, heavy dropper isn't going to improve the basic ride experience.

You or I aren't going to buy anything this cheap, ever. Makes me glad. Doesn't mean the parts package isn't good for who's actually going to be using it. Lucky kids and first-time riders, or as a backup/beater bike. A rigid post wouldn't be the end of the world, but the 5 and $700 rigid posted giant talons I sold by the truckful would often come back that season for a cheap brand X dropper within the first season if it was being ridden off-road. That, more than anything shows demand for the cheap droppers, not just that they're common in the 1000+ price range.
  • 1 4
 @parkourfan: That assumes there aren't a huge number of riders who can only afford a 1500 bike every few years. The industry didn't need to start designing bikes that didn't accept 2xs which could be had for nothing these days. The industry doesn't need to push the idea that you need a dropper, F/S, and 500% gear range to have fun on a bike.

It's a circle jerk and the trickle down tech just gets replaced by the new tech as soon as it's affordable by below middle class people. Ultimately it creates a very high $$$ bar to A) Get into MTB at all and B) Be able to maintain your beginner bike you could barely afford.

I ride a SS rigid as my number one because I can afford to. I can't afford to ride my bought used Hightower everyday as much as I'd like to.
  • 3 0
 I gotta say, the Vitus Sentier 29 VRS Bike is $1600, has XT/SLX, Revelation RC, as is probably lighter at the same size. My Sentier 27.5 is serious fun. Or even Vitus Sentier 29 VRX with the Fox 34.
  • 3 0
 @parkourfan:
I have twins and recently bought a pair of 2019 RM Growler 40's for them, reduced to ~$1350CDN each. The HA is 67*, 26"x2.8" tires (in size XS, 27.5"x2.8" for small and up) I'll set up tubeless, 120mm Suntour Raidon air fork, X-Fusion Manic dropper, Shimano MT400 brakes and 1x10 (Deore w/clutch) 30-46 drivetrain. Whether an adult or kid, for anything but DH I think that bike can't be beat. It's a shame RM didn't keep that frame in the line-up, they changed the HA to 64* on the 2020 Growler.
  • 7 0
 @bulletbassman:
What kind of crazy terrain/consumables are you going through that you can’t afford to run a Hightower? Sure, I could theoretically save a couple hundred bucks a year in running costs rn by running a klunker with bb7 brakes and tubeless tires and still have fun, but I ain’t that masochistic. I bet I spend more in gas getting to new trails than in running costs on any of my bikes.

Beginner bikes are better now than ever before. Plenty of 2-3k bikes that rip right out of the box. Sure, there’s dumb spec choices like 3 pawl DT non series grenade hubs, crap bearings, etc. but a 2k trance or 3k ripmo is gonna make literally anyone happy. True beginners/budget riders can get a ton of trail ready, new bike for under a grand. And thanks to depreciation, that vitus or stance are gonna be 900 bucks on the buy/sell and not be crazy with depreciation after a year or two. The current market is pretty great and filled with good options.

The real circle jerk is people claiming that everything’s too expensive these days, that shimano equipped, long travel aluminum rigs are gods gift to the cycling community. And that the LBS are worse than the IRS when it comes to stealing your money.

Nobody’s making you buy axs or get that grip2 or pike ultimate. The yari and fox 34 grip are fantastic pieces of equipment, and midrange drivetrains are real solid. The trickle down tech is fine, and you need some competition on the top end to keep progression going. It’s just that you, personally, do not have to buy it. It’s just a nice option.

@dlford RM growler and nukeproof scout would be my go-tos in this price bracket for a HT. Lucky kids!
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: 2-3k is an entry level most can’t afford. My Hightower’s suspension is crap long before those 50 hr service recommendations. Where I ride is rough. With the extra speed of the ht I have broke 2 rims, loads of spokes, and slashed sidewalls on dh rated tires. The level I can ride my Hightower at comfortably is far harder on a bike than the level I can comfortably ride a hard tail. I’m not telling companies to stop progressing. Just do a better job making affordable bikes that can be ridden hard. Even if it means designing the low end bikes around older but proven tech.
  • 3 0
 @parkourfan: I agree. For the spec/price other bikes might be a better deal. (In fact a Canyon Neuron AL 6.0 is the same price as this bike.) But that isn't what the OP was suggesting.

SX might not be the best, but for this price bracket of (retail) bikes, its workable. When the cassette out or the derailer conks it, get GX or something. 32lbs might not seem that great, but you got tubes, heavy tires and an obese cassette in the mix. Again, all things that can be changed as they wear out.
  • 3 0
 @bulletbassman:
If you’re breaking everything you ride, it’s time to admit you need some stronger stuff. Or, start riding in a way that preserves the equipment. Yes, pros shred brand new rims a few accidental times a season, but that’s their job, and they’re inhumanly fast compared to whatever pace we’re riding at. That being said, even a few rims, tires, and a set of spokes doesn’t sound like it’s anything that’s going to be a prohibitively expensive season.

I agree that suspension can be serviced much more often than 50hrs if you want it to feel silky fresh, but it’s not like it’s totally necessary.

New bikes are damn reliable and strong to boot. I assure you these will hold up to a pretty aggressive rider. Wider tires means harder riding. Dropper post means harder riding. The brakes on this are more than adequate to haul you to a stop. I’d say that companies are doing a pretty nice job of making rugged bikes that hold up well now more than ever.
I offered free service on whatever you wanted within the first year of getting it, and we sure didn’t lose any significant labor time by offering that.

With the average car purchase being over 35k in the USA, clearly people are comfortable swinging their (debt) around to get expensive stuff - so id disagree with you - a couple grand in our market is pretty attainable for most enthusiasts. And yes, I’d prefer that people pay cash that they have on hand for this and not have high interest loans while getting anything expensive, but that’s a different discussion.
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: That for the tips on the tyres, I was just wondering that!
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: fwiw the 'cheap' dropper is as reliable as any Reverb or KS and pretty much the same weight

my Process 153 came with a similar spec. the NX/SX eagle weighs a crazy amount (& ime is flimsy as hell) the wheels weigh 2.5kg

get this bike on sale at the end of the year, upgrade wheels & brakes, stick a decent damper in the fork, then later you can replace drivetrain when it fails with SLX, carbon bar for a bit more weight saving, will be down to 13kg & have a bike that can handle anything
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: See you aren't getting it all. A few rims, tires, and a bunch of spokes is prohibitive to me having a running bike for a whole season. A couple grand is not affordable to most enthusiasts. Maybe one person I work with is driving a new car. My car which I've owned for 5 years was 2700 used. I've spent more on bike maintenance (excluding gas and fluids of course) in the time I've owned it and I bought a car with 100,000 miles. My issue is bikes should be getting more affordable, yet it seems the only model for that currently is to go direct, which I'm not for in anyway. Love my LBS.
  • 2 0
 @Kimbers: Bushing wear within the first year if you're a bigger guy who sits down alot, snapped pivots where the cable inserts, arguably the worst levers on the market, and blown cartridges run rampant on these. I've put plenty of these and PNW loam/cascades in the bin for customers and replaced them with KS's, which are way more reliable, take less weight to actuate, and have actual after-sales support. Being as reliable as a reverb is a bit of a misnomer as well...that's a meme at this point. Air in the lines, saggy hydraulics, etc. The most recent models with the vent valve seem fine, but they haven't been out for long.

Taking the $$$$$$$$ it's going to take to get your 153 down to 13kg is your prerogative if you like the frame and put stock into how light your rig is, but I'd say that's a bit cost-prohibitive, as their $5k carbon models are running around 14.5kg. Also, speaking as someone who's had carbon bars on my last 4 bikes, that's the last place you're going to be saving weight for the $. Check out the cranks instead after you've done up the wheels.

@bulletbassman Having spent years in a shop, the $1500 hardtail to $2000 full sus sales ratio isn't even quite outselling 2:1, and I sold just as many $1500 full sus as $1000 hardtails every year. I'm not making any judgments on how you budget for your bikes - running things cheaply is great - but look at PB as an enthusiast site, and look at the polls of what people are riding. Plenty of rides that are worth more than a few grand hanging out around here, that's for sure.

Most mountain bikes I had going to people who are actually going to ride them off-road were in the 2-3k range, with maybe one or two $1500 hardtails per year going to someone who was actually going to ride them on a trail with dirt on it. I appreciate that you have a good relationship with your LBS. I hope they're giving you a loyalty discount on all those wheelbuilds!

And, like I suggested, figure out how to ride in a way that preserves whatever equipment you have. I don't shred tires and blow carbon rims on my gravel bike when ripping it around on trails, because I remember that it's an overgrown road bike and I don't feel like walking 10 miles back to the car.
  • 3 1
 @parkourfan: If bike companies were offering better models in those lower categories maybe more people would be getting into mtb and therefore your shop. Maybe they'd get hooked riding a badass entry level bike (1000 but prefarbly less) for a couple years and come back for the dope ass F/S rig. My parents wouldn't buy me a MTB as a kid so I broke 2 cheap bikes I could afford and quit. Couldn't get back into the sport until I was 25 and that was on said rigid hardtail. Only reason I could afford the USED hightower was because I was temporarily living back at home for family reasons. But ignore the hightower, cause that's really not in the cards for the market I think the MTB industry is missing big time.

Mountainbiking is fun because I can push my limits out in nature. I've got both bikes built as heavy as possible and usually run 30+PSI in my tires. (It is that steep/rocky where I ride). I limit how much I ride the Hightower to avoid the maintenance so I can go full out when I can swing my legs over it. But there have been plenty of times it sat in my garage with a broken wheel/tire for a month till I could afford to fix it.
  • 3 0
 @bulletbassman: The vast majority of what I sold was giant. Believe me, those 5-700$ hardtails have no problem moving, represent top bang for your buck from any shop out there, but I'm not going to say that the high school kids who are getting them are "enthusiasts" who area actually riding them off-road. The few who do, are the ones coming back for the 2-3000$ bikes. Kids working in honest, blue collar jobs like auto repair or plumbing, not dental trainees. I had 5 guys from the same company all get talons one year, and 3 of them got trances the next to start riding more aggressively than the rail trails they were on before. The week I started, 2 trances and 2 stances went to old friends of mine because they were going to get a hookup, and the average price of those was definitely over 2k.

Don't blame the current market for the budget that you have.

If a company wanted to make a true loss leader of a bike and put it out there, they can, but they obviously don't for good reason. If you're continuously breaking stuff, either back it off, or accept that you're going to pay money to ride at your "full out". Sounds like you're treating your rides like the car you bring to the demolition derby, but that's just me.
  • 3 0
 Still less than Wal-Mart's carbon hardtail
  • 1 0
 Hahahaha for real, taking me back to the 6 inch fork huck ht's from late 90's.
  • 5 1
 @mnorris122: why anyone needs 12 speeds is beyond me
  • 6 3
 @parkourfan: Dude I make 45 k year. I'm not saying I'm totes mcgotes killing it. But to act like there isn't a significantly affordability problem when it comes MTB riding is just not genuine. My BMX I take dirt jumping was $250 out the door and the only thing I've changed on it were pedals and cranks. I'm a pretty heavy guy and the stock bike would probably be fine for most teenagers. Now I don't expect a $250 mtb, but the reason there are quality BMX bikes in a low price range is because BMX values getting kids into the sports. So rather than focusing on making the latest and greatest, there have been numerous brands that focused making the same tech more reliable for less $$$.

Maybe MTB is close to the point where that won't be leap and bounds tech and ever changing standards so more brands will focus on building really great reliable bikes for the price a teenager can afford. Using parts that have been being manufactured the same for over a decade and therefore extremely affordable. But there is a reason people are pissed about ever changing standards and the insane depreciation mtbs across the board see. Auto repair and plumbing are still middle class jobs my man. Any sport you have to be middle class to take apart of has an affordability issue.
  • 4 1
 @bulletbassman: Saying that "BMX values getting kids into the sports" is the stupidest thing I've heard all year. Companies value making money, plain and simple. It's plain idiocy to look at a $2-300, high ten steel BMX bike without even a hint of cro-mo or other features on it and be like "yes, a mountain bike with disc brakes, suspension, and an entire drivetrain should definitely be anywhere around this price, because mountain bikes have been around for a long time."

The reason there are BMX bikes in a low price range is because they're incredibly SIMPLE to make, with a magnitude fewer moving parts - and - plenty of the quality brands are made by huge providers like pacific cycle. There's also SIGNIFICANTLY less margin selling haro, WTP - commodity big brand BMX - than there is in any standard brick and mortar MTB brand. Your shop structure is part of the differential there as well. The only way BMX companies value the kids is by making a huge variety of useless things like valve covers, colorful pegs, and spoke straws to take their last few dollars to spice up their rides.

And my point with middle class jobs was - if they have the enthusiasm for the sport and want to have something a bit more expensive, clearly, they can. I've had crews of EMT's and vet techs come in and get bikes at all kinds of price ranges, and it's crazy how little they get paid for what they do - about half the median USA base income in many cases. I've had kids do yard work and pool cleaning for a summer to come in and pay cash for a pair of $1500 fathoms - and you better believe they got a tidy discount after their parents told me what they'd been doing. One time, years back, a guy on social security disability bought a full suspension SC blur. We got calls from the police for YEARS (shop sticker on the bike) wondering if it was stolen since he'd ride it around town too. He's still riding it around to this day, and the absolutely knackered brake pads on my profile somewhere were off of that rig. Man, if government cheddar can buy a full sus bike, and kids working under the table can...I don't know what to tell ya. Seems damn affordable to me.

Just because biking isn't soccer or basketball, 3rd world cheap doesn't mean it's some high-class, unapproachable thing. We're not paying for course time, for horse stabling, for rink time, track time, whatever. And even for those sports which do, it's not someone else's job to pander to your budget and make them cheaper.

Pricing is stagnant, and depreciation is largely dictated by the market due to a a slow increase in the overall quality and usability of the package year to year in a mountain bike. Things aren't cheap because you want them to be, and saying there's an "affordability issue" and wanting to be handed nicer things for less money is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Bikes depreciate because there's no warranty, someone's beat it to shit, and they're constantly getting better, whether you believe it or not. Asking an entire industry to stop innovation and turn to complacency and mass production so that you can save a couple bucks on your next ride is just wild.
  • 3 0
 @parkourfan: Look man I'm not looking for handouts. I'm due a significant raise if covid doesn't f*ck everything up for me and should be pretty well into the comfortably afford nice hobbies range. But it took me far longer to truly get into this sport purely because of the financials. There are times I can't afford a rim and wheel build or a tire because I live paycheck to paycheck. I'm not telling the industry to stop innovating. But at the same time they should think about the financial accessibility issues the sport has. Budget bikes should be better than they are, the current crop isn't total shit by any means, but they also aren't great. They could be a lot better. Fox rebranding their slightly old tech as Marzocchi is a great example of the industry making financially smart moves that benefit riders. They can make those z1 and z2 for the next 15 years and they'll still be a good budget mtb fork. The shimano slx could be made for 15 years and still be a great drivetrain (not that there was anything wrong with 11speed). The honzo discussed in this thread has hardly changed since it was released and I'd argue those changes weren't necessary and at best a pretty minor improvement. The longer you produce as is, the costs go way down for both manufacturer and consumer. I think this is where the mountain bike world needs to focus when it comes to low end models. Rather than playing the lets make them look as close to what the pros are riding this year game.
  • 1 0
 @parkourfan: I have a giant Talon 2 and I just replaced the seatpost with a KS eTen.
  • 2 0
 Would rather spend 1500 on a nice used Full Suspension bike that weighs 30lbs.
  • 4 0
 @parkourfan: that's the problem. In 2012 one could buy a Ghost hardtail with XT derailleurs, Deore crank, Deore shifters, Alivio disc brakes Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires and RS Recon air fork for under €1,000. Deore disc brakes are dirt cheap aftermarket and should be even cheaper when you buy them in bulk from Shimano directly. Bike spec has gone down and prices have gone up considerately.
Granted, bike performance has gone up, but that's mainly due to geometry improvements that don't (significantly) increase development and production costs. A €1,500 aluminium hardtail should come with at least €100 Deore brakes.
  • 1 0
 @parkourfan: I was talking about getting the honzo down to 13kg

no waaay I expect my process to get to that weight!
  • 24 0
 How are we not talking about how this hardtail with a 68 degree head tube is posting some of the fastest times on the down hill section and is slowest on the uphill. This seems to go against everything we assume about head angles and rear suspension.
  • 8 0
 I think this speaks more to the fact that we should really take the timed results with a grain of salt. They did a single timed run on each bike. There are countless confounding variables that could have affected their times.
  • 5 0
 The dirty secret the bike industry doesn't want you to know about is that a 68 degree head angle is actually a ton of fun on a bike like this under a capable rider. Kona obviously could have slacked it out over the years but didn't, and I salute them for it.
  • 2 0
 @dlxah: In Sedona there's a lot of techy climbs that suspension really pays dividends - if your wheel is touching a rock then it will have traction (it's like magic). My best guess is that they were bouncing the rear wheel off rocks on the climbing bits with this one.
  • 21 0
 Had the 2017 + model, swapped brakes, and tires, overinflated the fork and rode the hell out of it on the Vancouver North Shore, Squamish and some of Whistler trails (not the BP). I did all the tech, drops, rolls, jumps. The bike never held me back, besides destroying some rear rims, never had an issue. Best hardtail I had ever rolled, can't recommend it enough!
  • 21 0
 All we needed to get reviews of sub-$5k bikes was a global economic crisis brought on by a viral pandemic.
  • 16 0
 "Overgrown dirt jumper" and I see no dirt jumping pics :-|
  • 3 0
 its sedona..
  • 7 1
 @Bkinzel99: Arizona only has sand jumps....and they blow away every summer.
  • 6 0
 Sedona actually has a great little bike park too with duel slalom course, dirt jump lines and pump track - if u go worth bring a dj bike if u got one
  • 2 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan: lets have a rock n' roll duel
  • 1 0
 @mtbforlife4: I’m down...hopefully this fall?? This will be an interesting season
  • 19 3
 1500 euros for a ht with such a basic build is just a complete joke.
  • 4 1
 three fingers braking!!! what else do you need?
  • 2 1
 My thoughts exactly.
  • 4 0
 Right?

vitusbikes.com/products/vitus-sentier-29-vrs-trail-hardtail-mountain-bike

This seems like a much better deal by far.

~30lbs, 66.5HT, shimano 12spd DT. Revelation RC. just better on all fronts. All for 150 bones more. Unreal
  • 1 0
 @freestyIAM: I have the VRX 27.5+ using a 140 xcr fork and I tear shit up. Dhf/rekon 2.6
At 260 lbs the deore drivetrain just works. Dropped one chain. In 3 years. Set up 1x9.
  • 12 0
 One of the slowest uphill, and one of the fastest downhill?! Wasn't expecting that.
  • 12 0
 I def thought Mike would be faster than Mike.
  • 8 4
 Is it just me or is this hardtail super expensive for what it is?

Keep in mind a Norco Fluid FS 3 (which is a full suspension) is only 250$ more and there are plenty other cheap entry level trail bikes to choose from. I mean who would rather get this when you can get a FS for the same or just a little more?
  • 4 4
 Maintenance.

Hardtails cost way less $$$ to maintain. I can literally only afford to ride my f/s bike about 1.5x a week. I ride 5-7 days a week if the weather is cooperative. So I spend the rest of the time on my hardtail.
  • 20 2
 @bulletbassman: I've owned lots of bikes and I call BS on the hardtail having cheaper maintenance. Yes you avoid bearing and shock service, but I've gone through rear rims and tires more quickly on every hardtail I've had so it evens out.
  • 4 1
 Yes, ht's may have less moving parts on the frame, but rear hubs and rims can take a beating depending on rider and terrain. Could still come out cheaper than a fs in the long run, but ht's being completely maintenance-free is a myth. Esp with the cheap unbranded hubs most bikes in this category come with.
  • 3 2
 @dthomp325: I break more rims on my f/s.

My rear tire on my hard tail is basically a slick with sideknobs from wear. I can’t afford having fresh tires on any bike I’m riding often
  • 1 1
 As a huge fan of Norco, I have 3 of their high end bikes, this honzo (I have this honzo and the steel honzo for bike packing) is a much better bike than the Fluids.
  • 2 0
 @alexisfire: Comes down to personal preference I'd say... I'd personally take a Norco Fluid FS or my own Commencal Meta TR (which are both entry level) over pretty much any hardtail for pretty much any type of ride. Just really not into how hardtails ride and handle in the rough.
  • 1 0
 @benmoosmann: you have to live in a riding crap-hole town like I do to prefer HT.

Or really be into using a HT for learning certain handling skills.
  • 8 0
 Only 14,999. Cheap
  • 1 0
 LMFAO
  • 1 0
 Was about to say the same. Nice typo.

"Priced at $1,4999"
  • 17 0
 Oops. That’s fixed. It’s much more affordable now...
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: Can you make all other bikes more affordable that easily as well?
  • 5 2
 Bought this and slowly swapped out fork, brakes, wheels drivetrain etc until its basically frame and contact points that are original......one of the best buy and upgrade as you go options out there, frame/geo is timeless and damn near perfect
  • 3 0
 I have been riding a Large 2013 Steel Honzo for the past 6-7 years and absolutely love it The build I have on it now is nowhere near stock but also by no means a dream build. A simple 30T Raceface narrow wide ring up front and 11-46T 10 speed Sunrace Cassette on the back mated to a Shimano Deore derailleur with sunrace shifter works flawlessly. Brakes are upgraded to XT and of course running tubeless on DHF's front and rear. I use the bike for everything from ripping flowy local trails to chunky descents, long adventure rides to full on bikepacking expeditions, I've even run it as an XC race rig and been pleased.

I've demo'd lots of others bikes, borrowed bikes from friends, and strongly considered upgrading to a FS bike. The only bike that came close to making me consider such a jump was the Ibis Ripley. That said, while it was equally fun feeling, (if not more so than my trusty Honzo) it wasn't $5000 more fun.

Hard tails keep ya honest. Steel is real. Get out and ride yer bike and stop worrying about fancy specs. Also, I agree that eagle doesn't matter for like 80%+ of riders and running a 10 speed drivetrain is a great way to build up a bike to be more affordable and lighter. SX is garbage.
  • 4 0
 Steel is magic for hardtail bikes. I bet the ride quality is way better than the aluminum can version.
  • 1 0
 @filmdrew: it definitely is. I've been on my friends 2018 Big Honzo AL DL and the ride quality is very different. I also have a 130mm Pike up front and don't fully understand why they don't stock the bike with a 130mm fork.

That said the stock Revelation that came on the bike felt capable and didn't limit me when I was first getting back into riding trails after buying the bike.
  • 3 1
 Kona actually has a bunch of bikes that would fit in this testing category, including each of the base models in their Process line (27.5/29; 153 and 134). I rode the base 153 29 for weekend in Moab. Other than it weighing a ton, it was a damn good bike.
  • 1 0
 Lol sorry, meant to upvote you, it is a good bike!!
  • 3 1
 I'd happily own a Honzo. They're a great frame.

But this bike sums up everything wrong with the bike industry right now.

archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2015/Trek/superfly_5#/us/en/2015/Trek/superfly_5/details

Look at the build for a similarly priced bike from just 5 years ago. Then also consider that with inflation you'd probably be able to afford the next level specced bike. A far better drivetrain even if it's 2x, similar level fork, cheap but excellent brakes (Upgradeable, but really not necessary). Now I'd say that 5 years ago MTB was shockingly expensive as well, but the industry seems determined to continue in the wrong direction.
  • 1 0
 To sum it up in one sentence: Stuff is getting way too damn expensive.
  • 3 0
 Mindless product differentiation and graphic design aren't cheap; SRAM learned it from Shimano; I'd think that if the Meta HT AM were out with Deore-level 10-speed and a Marz Z2, Commencal would clean up--I'd be wrong; people are buying this stuff or it wouldn't exist; education has failed? Suppose there were three component levels: low, middle, and high--would the cost savings in product differentiation be enough to make a cleanly designed $1500 hardtail? It can't happen in IBD; too many relationships for which to pay? Sadness
  • 7 0
 So not to be a contrarian but let’s look at how this stacks up to a 25yr old entry level “real bike” a Kona lava dome with a shock. In 1994 this bike retailed for 759$ and came with a Marzocchi xc51, a decent reliable-ish fork. A steel frame, the passé metal of the day (same as Al now). An LX rear derailleur and an STX front (back in the day customers were fooled by blingy derailleurs, now it’s number of speeds). House brand cockpit and seat post. Junk shifters and acera x level wheels. Brakes were house branded as well. Those 759$ back in the day are now worth 1324$ So the company has asked for a 275$ pay raise in 25 years. That’s around a 1% merit based bonus over the course of 25 years of fairly good quality bike production. Mountain biking has never been cheap. Most things that require disposable income aren’t. I think broadbrushing the industry as being money hungry is a little disingenuous although not entirely inaccurate. I think we all are. I think most people would like to believe they’d earned a little more than a 1% a year raise over the course of 25 years of good work.
All in all the honzo seems to stack up fairly well with its similarly priced counterpart. You get a reliable fork. The “latest and greatest” drivetrain tech. You get a dropper (btw I’m pretty sure the transX and brand X are the same dropper). You get reliable braking. The tires are a bit of a letdown without a doubt, but entry level people are gonna grab a set of dhf and dhr2 with dh casings because their mate told them they had to anyways.
  • 2 0
 @ceecee: You can always find a better deal out there. This bike has easily recognizable parts to the average non pinkbike reading consumer. It’s like buying a Samsung tv or a Maytag appliance. People buy names because it’s easier to rationalize a purchase if they know what they are getting. Is a meta ht a better buy, absolutely. Will 5/10 trek/specialized/Kona riders have ever heard of a conmencal, probably not.
  • 1 0
 Had a similar convo with you up above, but I like the initiative of bringing out an example. Considering inflation, that MSRP is a hair under $1700 in 2020 dollars. Places you in the roscoe 7-8 territory, specialized fuse comp territory to a tee, speaking for similarly priced name brands. Granted, this also has an inch more travel than the superfly, stiffer frame, the specialized option has sliding dropouts, etc.

Similar suspension, though I'd argue that the 35mm stanchions, sizing of bushings, etc. give a solid win to the newer bike. Also, thru axles, tubeless tires, and doubtless stiffer and better built wheels, because boy were those trek wheels rough.

Worse drivetrain, brakes (although 1x w/ clutch) to trade off for a dropper, exactly as you said.

To sum it up...uh...price is almost EXACTLY stagnant for what you're getting, sticking to name brands. Not a good thing necessarily, but I'd much rather spend the 1700ish on a bike today than the 1500ish a few years ago. Things haven't gotten to be magically better value, since the kit on that superfly hasn't been refined and stuck with, it's been redesigned and redistributed.

If you're going to argue that entry level prices being stagnant is a bad thing, that's a different idea. Stagnation isn't "heading" anywhere by definition, though. No clue where everyone on PB is getting the idea that they're getting fleeced year by year when new stuff comes out.
  • 1 0
 I buy component names.
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: I look for value in the frame, fork and wheels. Everything else is consumable and can be replaced on a budget competently.
  • 1 0
 @gotohe11carolina: so a 30-lb $1500 prog geo hardtail with decent spec is a pipe dream and I should forget about it
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: Congratulations sir, you have won the internets today!
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: lol, sorry I dropped needless snark there. I ride a pipedream, literally! Built it for around 2k. To expect to get a bike with 1k in consumables for 1500 is probably unrealistic. As I said above bikes aren’t really any more expensive than they were in the earlier years of the sport. I think if you buy a nice frame, fork and wheel set the rest of the bike can be upgraded as the budget allows.
  • 2 0
 The Big Honzo is even more fun, I have a steel framed one and it's as tough as they get. Out of the box with 27.5x2.8 tubeless compatible tires it's almost like having a small rear shock. My only gripe was pedal strikes so I swapped them to 29×2.5 and it's become the bike I ride most often, leaving the full squish hanging on the wall for all but the most technical trails. There's room for even wider tires if you want more cush or grip and the 130mm fork slacks the front out a little more than the Honzo
  • 1 0
 Agreed -- I built an Big Honzo ST from frame up for my wife last summer & have been riding it on occasion while I have some of my other bikes apart for maintenance.

Small frame model is a bit small for my normal riding, but feels super-nimble even with 27.5x3.0 tires.

152mm cranks is the route that we both take to avoid pedal strikes.
  • 2 0
 Day 1 - $2000 'own brand' bike proven to be fastest in test.
Day 2 - $1500 heavy, basic spec alu hardtail proven to be 3rd fastest in test.

How can this be spun to justify bikes like the Santa Cruz or Norco costing what they do?
  • 4 0
 I think it's more of a testament that timed testing shouldn't be the sole metric that you use to judge which bike to buy. It's an interesting tidbit of information, but there are so many variables involved that those numbers should be taken with a giant grain of salt.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: 1 timed run right?
  • 1 0
 Didn't watch the video, but assume a longer fork makes this bike better all around? Would love a comparo of this to the steel version. I live my Nimble 9, but an aluminum version sounds to harsh. maybe with some plus tires it could be rad.
  • 3 0
 @Rigidjunkie I have a 2016 steel Honzo with a Fox 140. It slackens the HT a little bit, and the BB is already so darn low on that frame that the little bit it raises puts it in nearly the perfect spot. I'm surprised Kona didn't ship these with 140 forks.
I set mine up SS with 29x2.6" Rekons and a dropper. It is easily my favorite bike and my go-to almost always. The thing is just super fun.

For what it's worth, mine sits around 27-28lbs, built for durability rather than light weight.
  • 4 0
 @yeahdog31: Same here. Honzo ST with 140mm fork for geo reasons, and 2.6s. Been smashing it for about 4 years now, and absolutely love it. Sold my FS trail bikes.
  • 1 0
 @yeahdog31: What ratio are you running SS?
  • 3 0
 excellent, fun bike. I've recommended this several times for newer riders that have a limited budget. Buy some exo casing rekons, and go ride
  • 13 1
 Friends don't give friends Rekons recommendations
  • 1 1
 Just no, Rekon is a rear-wheel specific tire that really doesn't generate enough grip for anything other than light XC riding. If anything, get a pair of Forekasters at the very least.
  • 2 0
 @benmoosmann: Or, you know... Minions Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @Arierep: dhf /rekon. So fun.
  • 2 0
 @Arierep: Ha, true. I dont have friends. I'm also a weirdo who runs 2.35 ikons f/r on my aggro singlespeed hardtail, because traction is for the birds.

So correct, grain of salt recommended.
  • 1 0
 Honest question for the armchair engineers:how necessary is that triangle reinforcement in seat tube above the top tube that we see in most frames? Seems it's a limiting factor in using latest droppers,couldn't seat tubes be shorter and maybe reinforced inside frame triangle (moving said reinforcement under top tube)?
  • 1 0
 My guess is this is an issue for the larger sizes where you have super long droppers or seat posts. Kona already has some of the shortest seat tubes on the market. I'd say it's minimal weight gain for a hella lot more strength in that region. It's thin sheet metal, maybe 100-200g max. Reaching up to the top of your seat tube (above the top tube) with that gusset significantly reduces the cantilever (key word lever) action at the top of the seat tube.
  • 2 0
 Kona isn't going to risk another frame breaking debacle
  • 2 0
 I built up a custom steel Honzo a couple years ago, favorite bike I've ever owned. Only take my full squish out for shuttle laps or really rough rides. Love the hike. With a few upgrades this model should be an awesome ride.
  • 1 0
 Odd that they wouldn't chose tires that are tubeless compatible. It's almost like they expect people to toss those tires. I ran that tire as a rear on my last bike. It's good on dry. Basically a Southern California or desert region tire. Get any water on the trails and it's all over the place. I ran the vigilante on the front. Much better tire. Seems like just running those front and rear would be better... though not as fast rolling. Either way.... to me... if you want a bike in that price range I'd change at the very least these two things. 1. Tubeless tires 2. Put a marzocchi fork on it. Really weird spec on that bike. They're clearly just grabbing whatever the cheapest options are to hit a specific price point. I think someone would be better off buying a frame only and building up something spec'd even just a little better. Better tire choices. Put a marzocchi Z1 on it. Better brakes. Etc.
  • 1 1
 Commencal is slaying the kona. For 400 less and tubeless ready. Droppers are cheap.
www.commencalusa.com/meta-ht-am-origin-c2x29149188
  • 1 0
 @fruitsd79: No dropper, 10 speed X5, and you're comparing it directly to this bike? It also comes with Vee tires, which are not exactly top tier. Considering that there's an extra $129 for shipping, the "value" of this bike is not exactly slaying Kona.
  • 1 0
 @TheRamma: well the fork on the kona is absolute garbage. And so are the tires. And the brakes are smaller.
And there is STILL money left over for a dropper.
  • 1 0
 @fruitsd79: I have no clue what you're talking about. Both bikes have Recon RL's. One has low level shimanos, one has a low level tektros. Sounds like you have something against Kona or for Commencal. Both are just brands. Neither one will ever reciprocate your feelings.
  • 1 0
 I have a carbon Honzo. It's a blast. This review is pretty spot on... If you have the money, bump up to a version with a revelation fork (awesome budget fork) Assuming alum is the same, the rear tire clearance is really small.... ardent 2.25 is pushing it.

Not impressed with this build... even for $1500. Put some tubeless tires on this bike for god's sake.
  • 1 0
 Used to have a 2016 Honzo, and was one of the best bikes I´ve ever had, from small dirtjumps to ripping trails it does everything, a shame that it got cracked, but kona send me the 2017 model that came with a reinforcement on the place the older one cracked, seems to be the same frame that the 2020.
You will not regret guys, it´s fun and fast, just sold it because I got an enduro bike, but if I would get a hardtail again, honzo is on top of the list!
  • 1 0
 Love the Honzo. I had the 2nd year one and just built up another new steel one. Great bike, can ride it on most group rides. Also great to keep those skills sharp as you can’t just rely on slack Ha , and/or lots of travel. I’ll keep that bike around all the time until I want a new one.
  • 3 0
 I still can’t get over how heavy bikes have gotten, I get the bigger wheels and more travel are heavier than my ooold bikes but seriously what the hell?
  • 1 0
 I bought the DL version of this 2nd hand on ebay for less than half the RRP, it was less than a year old. I got it to use as a winter bike and save my full suspension bike from the British Winter. A couple of upgrades later ( along the lines of NSMB's Min/Maxing) and now its the bike I grab first unless I'm riding anything significantly rowdy. It's just so much fun. The lighter wheels and cassette lopped off significant weight and combined with a -2 degree Works Components angleset they have been the best upgrades so far. Hardtails can be so less risky to buy second hand too, so great for a bargain if you know what you are looking for.
  • 1 0
 Been rocking a Big Honzo (almost the same bike in 27.5 Plus) for a couple years now. Ended up going 140mm fork and a works components 1 degree headset to put me at ~66.5 HA and have been nothing but satisfied. Only complaint is sometimes I can get onto trails that my old legs or back can't hang with.
  • 3 0
 I hocked a Honzo once. My friend Bill said it was priceless. Not in El Paso it ain't. In El Paso I got $250 for it.
  • 1 0
 I'm not concerned about weight a bit, but it's outstanding how this trail hardtail weighs almost as much as my 10y old 200mm Kona Coilair. And I bet it brakes, shifts and dampens way worst tbh.
  • 1 0
 I had a 2017 Big Honzo DL. Great bike. Snappy downhill, solid climber. Had t build the fork out to 130mm to keep from pedal striking so much. Simple to work on. And fun as hell.
  • 2 0
 "-Shimano Acera brakes aren't very powerful, and the lever shape isn't ideal
- Tires aren't tubeless compatible "
So, no cons then!!
  • 1 0
 Wait. What?! This craply built Honzo gets 2nd fastest downhill time out of the lot? No tubeless, no anti-flat in rear tyre... And yet they dismiss it like it's nothing. Either this bike rocks or the others stink.
  • 4 0
 Or timed laps don't matter all that much...
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Agreed, not in a Strava sense, but for a group bike test.... Must be frustrating riding these things with such cheap-ass builds.
  • 1 0
 Still rocking the 2014 version before the name change. It just kept rolling n rolling even over relatively flattish rock gardens. Amazing amazing bike. Good job Kona. Drop another 2 degrees you'll have a real work horse.
  • 5 3
 Just compare this bike to Orbea Laufey and you will see how crazy expensive and outdated Kona is...
  • 4 0
 Just like about every Kona out there. Value and Kona dont belong in the same sentence.
  • 1 2
 Uh the laufey is no better and more expensive. Even the low end Eagle is much better than that drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 While I'd agree on the value and geo front, Kona's are generally overbuilt, with great frame reliability. My 2016 134 has seen some serious sh**, and looks/operates almost as good as the day I bought it. Not once have I sent that thing down chunder and thought the green mistress couldn't handle it... Might not be smooth, but I'll make it out alive. For example, my size M frame has a 125mm long head tube... WHAT. Even a size L 153 29er is down to 95mm long head tube (assuming for stack reasons). Which btw, test riding a Large 153 29er, the thing is a TANK. I'll be impressed if I hear about someone breaking a Process or Honzo frame.
  • 3 0
 Just purchased this morning!
  • 1 0
 But you take the rock shox off and sell it for more than you can sell those for and then buy a better fork. In that price range manitou is the best
  • 1 0
 Dude my XL Honzo has the longest reach of any xl bike I've owned..what u takin bout like it has a short reach/liveler and more playful than other long/slack bikes..???
  • 1 0
 Ragley big al : 1000€
Same fork but with 130-140mm
Tubeless wheels with maxxis TIRES 3c
Shimano drivetrain and brakes

Anything to ad ?
  • 3 0
 Just passed 6000 km on my steel SS Honz... Favourite bike ever.
  • 1 0
 I ran those exact tyres tubeless, only problems was I had to inflate them a bit more to have some support in the corners.
  • 3 0
 I used to run tubeless setups of non-tubeless tires too and had the same experience as you. The only other catch is that your sidewalls are MUCH more susceptible to damage/tears. Eventually i bit the bullet and swapped out to some proper tubeless casing tires. But yeah, it worked in a pinch for sure and would be fine if you don't have any rocky terrain to worry about.
  • 2 0
 Think you got an extra digit there @mikekazimer...
  • 2 0
 Now I want to get a hardtail as well.
  • 1 0
 With some good wheels and tubeless tires this bike would weight like 13.5 kg and would become a good climber
  • 1 2
 This bike reminds me of my current bike: a 2017 diamondback lux 1 upgraded with a 100mm air fork, a 1x9 drivetrain, wide bars, and hydraulic brakes. Most of which I stole from a 2016 Giant Talon 3
  • 1 0
 OMG why are the wheels not turned 180. then wtb and trail boss wouldn't be backwards
  • 1 0
 Have you guys ridden the Ragley Big AL? Really curious on to how this compared to that bike.
  • 1 0
 I think they reviewed a Ragley a while back They liked it
  • 2 0
 I will take 11s nx over 12s sx any day
  • 1 0
 Huck to flat not nearly as fun to watch with a hardtail. Looks a little awkward, even.
  • 1 0
 These reviews are tremendous. I love how they're treating this value segment.
  • 1 0
 DJ bikes have 26 inch wheels for a good reason. This bike is a 29 inch wheeled hard tail trail bike.
  • 2 1
 We all know this is not the bike we care about, just give us the donut
  • 4 5
 So it's a hardtail with shitty brakes, fork, and tires. Sounds kinda like when your blind date turns out to be homely, doesn't drink, and has no sense of humor. Next ...
  • 1 0
 I'm enjoying this content. Great way to pass the time!
  • 1 0
 It’s a short chainstay thing.
  • 1 1
 Can we have some seasoned hart tail riders testing the bikes. The small nuances are what seperate the good from the ugly.
  • 1 0
 Once again great review guys!
  • 1 0
 compare with Orange clockork 129...
  • 1 0
 Steel honzo 170mm fork. Funn'er than all get out
  • 2 3
 Just say NO to the 68 degree HT angle. Banshee Paradox V3 blows this thing away.
  • 2 0
 Just change fork to the 150mm paradox recommends.
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