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  1. #1
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    2012 Kona Honzo for front range?

    I'm searching for a cost effective steel hard tail that is below $2000, preferably around $1500. One bike that looks interesting, though I have not seen it yet in the metal, is the Kona Honzo.

    One thing that worries me in the 1x9 gearing with no opportunity to add a front mech. I'm wondering if anyone has ridden this on the type of slopes we have here in the front range? I'm not the strongest rider around and a 32x26 low gear seams pretty steep. My current bike, a 26er gives me a 24x32 low for a gearing of 1.4. This bike would be 1.9.

    I'm not sure my legs can handle the terrain around here with that high a gearing.

    So any thoughts? This would be my first 29er..
    Last edited by TheNormsk; 12-27-2011 at 05:46 AM.

  2. #2
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    Trailwrecker at large

  3. #3
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    They're nice but they are also bloody expensive... Still, it is an option I should consider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    I'm searching for a cost effective steel hard tail that is below $2000, preferably around $1500. Once bike that looks interesting, though I have not seen it yet in the metal, is the Kona Honzo.

    One thing that worries me in the 1x9 gearing with no opportunity to add a front mech. I'm wondering if anyone has ridden this on the type of slopes we have here in the front range? I'm not the strongest rider around and a 32x26 low gear seams pretty steep. My current bike, a 26er gives me a 24x32 low for a gearing of 1.4. This bike would be 1.9.

    I'm not sure my legs can handle the terrain around here with that high a gearing.

    So any thoughts? This would be my first 29er..
    Two come to mind, I know a bunch of people with the El Mariachi. They all love it.

    Salsa Cycles | Bikes | El Mariachi 2

    Also saw a Transition TransAm in Redstone. Impressive looking bike.

    Transition Bikes
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debaser View Post
    I know a bunch of people with the El Mariachi. They all love it.

    Salsa Cycles | Bikes | El Mariachi 2

    ^^+1 !!
    I'm a cowboy on a steel horse i ride!

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  6. #6
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    The Salsa is nice and is top of my shopping list but may be more than my wallet can handle (I'll know more after new year). However I want to consider all steel hard tail options out there.

    Steel under consideration (current order of preference):
    Salsa El Mariarchi
    Raleigh xxix+g
    Trek Sawyer
    Kona Honzo
    Voodoo soukri
    Marin Pine Mountain

    I am also considering frame only options like the On One inbred 29er and the Vassago bandersnatch. However I'm having issues restricting my build spec to remain in budget.

    I've excluded other steel frames for being too expensive. These include Spot, Niner MCR, Transition, Breazer, and Jamis Dragon.

    Did miss any?
    Last edited by TheNormsk; 12-27-2011 at 09:32 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    ...I am also considering frame only options like the On One inbred 29er...
    I like mine tons. 1st generation, rides great, but it's a tank. Looks like they've changed some since mine, might be a bit lighter.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  8. #8
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    I love my Surly Karate Monkey. Very versatile frame - set it up however you want.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jradin View Post
    I love my Surly Karate Monkey. Very versatile frame - set it up however you want.
    +1. I've had a KM for a few years and like it a lot. I bought it as the 'complete' SS and it has been through several configurations - 1x9, 3x9, rigid, front suspension, etc.

    If you were willing to consider an aluminum HT this is an astoundingly good deal - Airborne Bicycles. Goblin

    I know that steel is real, etc but there are some good, inexpensive aluminum HT's out there. I recently built up a Niner EMD9 with a similar components spec to the Goblin and it's been great. I honestly couldn't tell much difference in ride quality compared to the steel KM (rear end maybe a tad bit harsher but nothing significant).

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    +1 for the Transition TransAm 29 and +1 for getting it from Redstone Cyclery in Lyons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holmes View Post

    I know that steel is real, etc but there are some good, inexpensive aluminum HT's out there. I recently built up a Niner EMD9 with a similar components spec to the Goblin and it's been great. I honestly couldn't tell much difference in ride quality compared to the steel KM (rear end maybe a tad bit harsher but nothing significant).
    My other 29'er hardtail is a Ventana El Padrino.

    The differences between the feel of steel and aluminum are less than they were 10 and 15 years ago. I wouldn't have traded my steel bike for al back then, but between the feel of the big wheels and how well my Ventana rides, I don't miss steel at all.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debaser View Post
    My other 29'er hardtail is a Ventana El Padrino.

    The differences between the feel of steel and aluminum are less than they were 10 and 15 years ago. I wouldn't have traded my steel bike for al back then, but between the feel of the big wheels and how well my Ventana rides, I don't miss steel at all.
    Yeah - I started riding on rigid steel mtb's back in the late 80's ;-) I agree that these days (assuming you are using a susp fork and tubeless tires) the frame material is less relevant to overall ride quality on a HT than it used to be (at least at the price point the OP is looking at). I absolutely love my EMD9, feels and rides great.

  13. #13
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    Interesting comment on the steel versus aluminum debate. I started with steel in the 80s (hey didn't we all) then went to a Kona titanium hardtail (which was awesome) then onto two types of aluminum full suspension bikes. I'm kind of used to a softer feel these days. My road bike is aluminum with carbon seat stays yet I find that thing brutal on the rough stuff, so I was shying away from AL for my new hard tail. I want to get back to the roots to that "whippy" feel of steel and I can't afford titanium anymore.

    It is probably true that I can by more of a bike and lighter in AL than I can for steel. Still if I went AL now for hardtail I would feel a traitor to the grass roots side of the sport. Silly I know... My other consideration is that more steel frames have classy or understated paint jobs whereas most AL frames I see look like they were painted by a teenager with ADD who's taken speed. Honestly most frames' paint jobs out there make me want to vomit.

    Anyway, I'll look more and open up my search to AL...

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    if you do buy a kona, be sure to replace the cheap azn spokes with DT Swiss right off

    save your dollars and buy USA made instead of kona or the other azn frames

    instant gratification is for fools

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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    My other consideration is that more steel frames have classy or understated paint jobs whereas most AL frames I see look like they were painted by a teenager with ADD who's taken speed.
    LOL - problem solved - Niner EMD 9 Frame '11 at JensonUSA.com - I built up the grey frame about two months ago. Pretty low-key. Guess it just depends if you want something off the shelf or would be OK with building up from a frame.

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    neiner = poop

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debaser View Post
    My other 29'er hardtail is a Ventana El Padrino.

    The differences between the feel of steel and aluminum are less than they were 10 and 15 years ago. I wouldn't have traded my steel bike for al back then, but between the feel of the big wheels and how well my Ventana rides, I don't miss steel at all.
    Electric Sex and straight-gauge tube toughness for the WIN.

  18. #18
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    Kona people were thinking Going Down rather than Going Up when they were designing Honzo. I see it as natural terrain dirt jumping bike. Very short (26er short) chainstays, slack headangle, burly build. It's for jumping, dropping, pumping and cornering, not for long climbing - though it probably can...
    Looks like fun bike - if it is what you are looking for! Thing you can take dirt jumping to Valmont bike park and to the Halls Ranch - when they both free from snow I mean

  19. #19
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    I'm not a dirt jumper so I'll scrub the Kona off the list.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    Interesting comment on the steel versus aluminum debate. I started with steel in the 80s (hey didn't we all) then went to a Kona titanium hardtail (which was awesome) then onto two types of aluminum full suspension bikes. I'm kind of used to a softer feel these days. My road bike is aluminum with carbon seat stays yet I find that thing brutal on the rough stuff, so I was shying away from AL for my new hard tail. I want to get back to the roots to that "whippy" feel of steel and I can't afford titanium anymore.

    It is probably true that I can by more of a bike and lighter in AL than I can for steel. Still if I went AL now for hardtail I would feel a traitor to the grass roots side of the sport. Silly I know... My other consideration is that more steel frames have classy or understated paint jobs whereas most AL frames I see look like they were painted by a teenager with ADD who's taken speed. Honestly most frames' paint jobs out there make me want to vomit.

    Anyway, I'll look more and open up my search to AL...
    Aluminum frame, 2.4 tires, and spend all your leftover cash on beer. Seriously - you're too old to be all fashionista about your bikes.

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    Yes, Kona puts Honzo squarely into their gravity bikes.
    I am thinking about 29er myself, but I am firm believer in rear suspension (pun intended) when riding Colorado and Utah - and good FS 29ers without significant compromises mean serious money...
    Actually 2012 Specialized hardtails look very good - and are reasonably priced.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergio8691 View Post
    <snip> and good FS 29ers without significant compromises mean serious money...
    Isn't that funny? 'Cause good FS 26ers are readily available *without* significant compromises for very reasonable prices.

    Oh yeah - I did it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by sergio8691 View Post
    Actually 2012 Specialized hardtails look very good - and are reasonably priced.
    A bike shop buddy of mine built up a Rockhopper SS and has put a ton of miles on it. He was able to get the frame at cost (cheap) and Ebay'd and Craigslisted the rest (nice wheelset, Reba Race fork, etc). He rips on that thing.

  24. #24
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    Well I might be changing my whole tune.

    I was going the hardtail route primarily as a stop gap as I was convinced I needed (er wanted) the Ibis Ripley 29. However to go that bike justice I would sink $5-6K into it and that I would not be able to do fo a couple of years. Hence the hardtail to have fun on for the time being while I begin to retire my antique Boulder Starship. That's why I wanted to limit the budget.

    However looking around more, I come across the Salsa Horsethief FS and the Kona Satori. Both are 5 inch 29ers with complete builds in the $3 region +/- $100. The Salsa looks like the better bike and should be available March. These are definitely more trail orientated bikes and closer to what I want longer term.

    Perhaps its time to talk to Golden Bike Shop to see what they can do for one.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    <snip>
    However looking around more, I come across the Salsa Horsethief FS and the Kona Satori. Both are 5 inch 29ers with complete builds in the $3 region +/- $100. The Salsa looks like the better bike and should be available March. These are definitely more trail orientated bikes and closer to what I want longer term.

    Perhaps its time to talk to Golden Bike Shop to see what they can do for one.
    Giant Trance X. Spend the money you save on beer.

  26. #26
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    But that is a 26er. I also like "simple suspension". Call me old fashioned...

    Seriously though, my current ride (when its not broken or leaking oil) gives me 3 inch rear and 90mm front on a 26" rim and I've had it 15 years. If I am going to change now it has to be a dramatic change. I say 29er with 5+inch travel is dramatic.

    Perhaps I'm stupid? Probably...

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    Did you mean the Giant Anthem X?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    But that is a 26er. I also like "simple suspension". Call me old fashioned...

    Seriously though, my current ride (when its not broken or leaking oil) gives me 3 inch rear and 90mm front on a 26" rim and I've had it 15 years. If I am going to change now it has to be a dramatic change. I say 29er with 5+inch travel is dramatic.

    Perhaps I'm stupid? Probably...
    Hey - you said it... not me. Wheel size is irrelevant. Well, not irrelevant. Those bigger wheels weigh more and reduce your tire and fork options. Oh - and they are more expensive.

    Yeah - I went there too. Call me crazy.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    Did you mean the Giant Anthem X?
    Nope. The head angle on that damned thing is silly steep.

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    the drugs made me realize it's not about the drugs

  31. #31
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    Don't listen to sergio, i have a frame with similar geo to the honzo and it climbs awesome and is way more fun to ride than a 17 inch plus chain stay 29er. Numerous people told me the same blah blah and i asked if they had ever ridden a bike with geo like that and they all said no.

    The honzo is a tank, i think the frame weighs in the 7-8 pound range but it's really fun to ride

    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    I'm not a dirt jumper so I'll scrub the Kona off the list.

  32. #32
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    Yo kerryn,

    We'll have Satori demo's in stock in about 2 weeks. Before the trails dry anyway. email me at kaj @ fullcyclebikes.com and I'll make sure we give you the winter "freebe" demo.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    Nope. The head angle on that damned thing is silly steep.
    I here ya on going slacker with the Anthem X 29er if you are more of a ripper. Stock the 29er is pretty stable (winning the Downieville all mountain title this year), but if you really want to let it loose you can run a 120 fork up front. The RS fork on the 2012 Anthem X2 29er you can adjust to 120mm, which is what I did on mine. Business in the back and party up front. It's the anti-mullet of 29er's. Not sure if that's a good marketing plug or not
    Kona Wo for Fat Biking, Ibis HD3 for Trail Shredding, Merckx Road bike for collecting dust in garage

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    Oh dang! We've got an 18" Satori demo in the building right now at Salvagetti!

    Kerryn, compare the geometries of the Satori and the Horsethief. The Satori is part of the new generation of fs 29" bikes. Bikes that were designed with a whole lot of fun in mind, with slacker head tubes and shorter stays. The Horsethief has more 'old school' geo...like 3 yr old...omg. It does make a huge difference.

    With .7" shorter stays and a slacker HTA with a shorter fork, the Satori is going to feel nimble and playful compared to the Horsethief. I spent a good day on the Satori and often forgot that I was on a 29er. Thats sayin' something.

    Salvagetti is pretty evenly divided amongst 29er and 26er people, and every employee who has ridden the Satori has comeback all starry eyed. The 26er people can't believe how well the 29er rode...and the 29er guys are like, "Why the hell hasn't someone done this already?!"

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    I must admit I'm still torn between getting a hard-tail and a trail bike.

    I know I should get a trail bike so I can really attack the gnarly stuff better, trails like SSV, the boulder fest that is picture rock, Heil, White Ranch etc. Still I ride a lot of Marshall Mesa/Springbrook (close to home) and the limestone paths over to Gunbarrel at night where a hart-tail shines.

    I came across the BAMF **** Kicker which looks a good deal at $1700 and I was thinking cool a Carbon hard-tail from a Boulder company. However researching this more the BAMF company appears to be run by a bunch of a*holes and seems to be best avoided.

    I really like to continue down the trail route. The ultimate question is how well can I lock the Satori or the Horsethief out to ride more like a hard-tail when i'm on the flatter stuff? I think this is why I was tending towards the Horsethief as initial review stated that it had a stiffer, more hard-tail feel to it, though it still had the squish when needed.

    I'll admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Kona (even though their bikes of late have not suited me) because I had an awesome experience and great customer service from them when I had my titanium Hei Hei back in the 90s. However I also like the Salsa brand and know several people who rave about the El Mariarchi.

    What I really want is a quality hard-tail with 1.9" skinnies (sell my road bike) and get a trail bike. Perhaps a trail bike and a CX bike....? LOL I can't decide.

    Anyway, right now I feel conflicted...
    Last edited by TheNormsk; 12-29-2011 at 08:18 AM. Reason: Fixed some typos

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrock450 View Post
    The honzo is a tank, i think the frame weighs in the 7-8 pound range but it's really fun to ride
    My 18" frame with a 24" ETT weighs 5.5 lbs...

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post

    Anyway, right now I feel conflicted...
    Sounds like you need to get out and ride some bikes/demos.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  37. #37
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    My advice...

    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    I must admit I'm still torn between getting a hard-tail and a trail bike...The ultimate question is how well can I lock the Satori or the Horsethief out to ride more like a hart-tail when i'm on the flatter stuff? I think this is why I was tending towards the Horsethief as initial review stated that it had a stiffer, more hard-tail feel to it, though it still had the squish when needed...
    ...don't buy a full suspension bike based on how similar it is to a hardtail. If you want a hardtail, buy a hardtail.

    In my opinion and experience, the whole "hardtails are faster in ______ conditions" argument is false. They may feel faster, but if you put a watch to it they rarely are. When I got my first full-suspension bike I was convinced I needed a lockout rear end and that my climbing would suffer. I rode a long climb that was a benchmark for me, ~3 hours of pavement and variously lumpy dirt road. I knew how long it took to do on my hardtail. I rode it the first time on my full suspension bike, leaving the shock free.

    Felt slow and sluggish, but knocked ten minutes off my best ever time.

    My advice is, either ride a full suspension bike or don't. But picking your full suspension bike based on how much like a hardtail it is, that's not a good strategy.

    My $.02

    (please don't read this as me telling you what to think, it's just what I think)
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  38. #38
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    I've ridden full suspension (the 26er XC variety) for 15+ years, so I am used to squish. My current bike was an awesome ride though it is getting long in the tooth and it is out of service while I wait for my shock to be rebuilt by Risse, and for me to overhaul my disk hydraulics...Plus these days it is outclassed by more modern, cheaper offerings.

    I like the idea of going back to a hard-tail for the flatter stuff but certainly not on a aluminum rocket sled. I want some comfort. But after so many years on a FS a HT kind of scares me. While riding this year I admit that the number of times I said "I wish I had like 5 inches of travel" vastly out numbered the number of times I wished I had a hard-tail. Actually the number of times I wished I had a cross bike outnumbered the number of times I wish I had a hard-tail

    So when I get back home (currently stuck in WI) I will start talking to the local shops about demos of trail bikes. Current evaluation list is:

    Salsa Horsethief
    Kona Satori
    Giant Anthem X 1
    Specialized Camber Comp 29
    Trek Rumblefish Elite

    My budget is to stay within $3k. Did I miss any contenders?

    Perhaps I should change the title of this thread to "An imbecile changes his mind.."

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    I've ridden full suspension (the 26er XC variety) for 15+ years, so I am used to squish. My current bike was an awesome ride though it is getting long in the tooth and it is out of service while I wait for my shock to be rebuilt by Risse, and for me to overhaul my disk hydraulics...Plus these days it is outclassed by more modern, cheaper offerings.

    I like the idea of going back to a hard-tail for the flatter stuff but certainly not on a aluminum rocket sled. I want some comfort. But after so many years on a FS a HT kind of scares me. While riding this year I admit that the number of times I said "I wish I had like 5 inches of travel" vastly out numbered the number of times I wished I had a hard-tail. Actually the number of times I wished I had a cross bike outnumbered the number of times I wish I had a hard-tail

    So when I get back home (currently stuck in WI) I will start talking to the local shops about demos of trail bikes. Current evaluation list is:

    Salsa Horsethief
    Kona Satori
    Giant Anthem X 1
    Specialized Camber Comp 29
    Trek Rumblefish Elite

    My budget is to stay within $3k. Did I miss any contenders?

    Perhaps I should change the title of this thread to "An imbecile changes his mind.."
    You should put a Trance-X on that list. The Anthem is a 4" bike... Trance-X is its "big brother".

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    You should put a Trance-X on that list. The Anthem is a 4" bike... Trance-X is its "big brother".
    But the Trance-X is a 26er and I was kind of going with the whole 29er thing. I'm 5'11" if that makes any difference, so I should be in the medium.large of 29ers.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    But the Trance-X is a 26er and I was kind of going with the whole 29er thing. I'm 5'11" if that makes any difference, so I should be in the medium.large of 29ers.
    Will you quit this "I'm only interested in 29'er" $hit?? You do know that 36'ers are even better, don't you??

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    Will you quit this "I'm only interested in 29'er" $hit?? You do know that 36'ers are even better, don't you??
    Ah, geez, baconman! Don't confuse this poor guy anymore than he already is!

    Kerryn, just get back to good ol Colorado. Pick a good trail that has all the technical/flowy/whatever you feel is good for testing a bike, demo as many bikes as you can ON THE SAME TRAIL and hopefully back to back (maybe one or two a day, back to back days if possible). Narrow it down to the two best feeling bikes. Take those two out and decide which one feels the best. It will be good to put the 26er in there for comparison. Just remember that the FIT of the bike is the most important component. Have fun!
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    Hey, I'm over 40 so its easy to get confused these days

    Now all I need is for the snow to melt off so I can get out and ride. Its amazing how much more time is wasted online when you can't ride.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    Its amazing how much more time is wasted online when you can't ride.
    skinny tyres

  45. #45
    Old, Slow and now FAT! :)
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    Tires not the issue. Having a broken bike is. I can't wait for it to be repaired.

    I'll ride in anything down to about 10F. Below that my feet lose sensation...

    The photo below was my last ride in the Chicago area (early January and about 17F) before I moved to Colorado.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2012 Kona Honzo for front range?-winter-biking.jpg  


  46. #46
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    I'm confused.

    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post
    Tires not the issue. Having a broken bike is. I can't wait for it to be repaired...
    I think maybe by skinny tires he meant road bikes? Didn't you say you needed to wait for snow to melt?
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

    "I like my wimmen like I like my beer--cold and bitter!"

  47. #47
    Old, Slow and now FAT! :)
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    As I said I'm easily confused!

  48. #48
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    I think you should ignore most of these guys, go see Kaj or Flowtron or Yetigirl and get the info from people who know their bikes. You can just skip over any post from the chickenman, total BS.

  49. #49
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    I think a Honzo would be a great bike for the front range and some extra hairy lines, with its very pleasant geometry. I ride a yelli screamy (canfield) which is a honzo ish bike and they are so much fun to ride its crazy.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarateChicken View Post
    save your dollars and buy USA made instead of kona or the other azn frames

    instant gratification is for fools
    Bullsh*t.

    Instant gratification is for people who want to ride NOW instead of sitting on the sidelines saving up for months or years for a US-made bike.

    Tons of great bikes being made in Taiwan right now.

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