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  1. #1
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    Honzo San - Long term review

    Long term might be stretching it, but I've logged enough hours on enough terrain to say without a doubt that the Honzo has become my goto bike.

    My Honzo is set up as a single speed and I'll never add gears. This bike climbs exceptionally well. I've done several 5k+ days of elevation, including one particularly tough 7500 foot day that kicked my ass, but the descents were so much fun I couldn't help but climb back up to do it all over again.

    The past few days I've been riding with a visiting friend. She tested out the Honzo and fell in love, so I rode my 21 pound XTC carbon single speed. It's fun, climbs so well it feels like I'm cheating, and turns on a dime. But the 100mm fork, combined with 72 degree head angle makes for a much more nervous handling bike in chunky terrain.

    Halfway through a ride yesterday she wanted to ride the XTC, so we swapped, and the moment I got back on the Honzo it felt like home. It took a few turns to get the feel back. The XTC is a point and shoot bike, while the Honzo likes to be leaned. So my riding style needs to change a little between bikes, but nothing I can't adapt to in minutes. The Honzo likes to be steered at the bottom bracket, so leaning back and pivoting around the saddle and digging in with the pedals really helps get the bike around tight corners at high speeds. It's not a point and shoot bike, but once you figure out how to push off your pedals to turn the bike by leaning (hard) you will be rewarded with ridiculous grip and stability.

    Yeah, the Honzo is heavier and yeah it's not as stiff and rocket-like as the carbon bike, but the fun factor is so off the charts there's no comparison. A friend asked on a recent ride why on earth I'd prefer to ride a 27 pound steel single speed over my carbon bike. I let him ride it down a rocky trail. He understands why now. The descent is well worth the climb.

    I was planning on riding my carbon at Downieville this year, thinking the Honzo might hurt too much on the climb at the start. I have no such worries now.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by i.a.n. View Post
    Long term might be stretching it, but I've logged enough hours on enough terrain to say without a doubt that the Honzo has become my goto bike.

    My Honzo is set up as a single speed and I'll never add gears. This bike climbs exceptionally well. I've done several 5k+ days of elevation, including one particularly tough 7500 foot day that kicked my ass, but the descents were so much fun I couldn't help but climb back up to do it all over again.

    The past few days I've been riding with a visiting friend. She tested out the Honzo and fell in love, so I rode my 21 pound XTC carbon single speed. It's fun, climbs so well it feels like I'm cheating, and turns on a dime. But the 100mm fork, combined with 72 degree head angle makes for a much more nervous handling bike in chunky terrain.

    Halfway through a ride yesterday she wanted to ride the XTC, so we swapped, and the moment I got back on the Honzo it felt like home. It took a few turns to get the feel back. The XTC is a point and shoot bike, while the Honzo likes to be leaned. So my riding style needs to change a little between bikes, but nothing I can't adapt to in minutes. The Honzo likes to be steered at the bottom bracket, so leaning back and pivoting around the saddle and digging in with the pedals really helps get the bike around tight corners at high speeds. It's not a point and shoot bike, but once you figure out how to push off your pedals to turn the bike by leaning (hard) you will be rewarded with ridiculous grip and stability.

    Yeah, the Honzo is heavier and yeah it's not as stiff and rocket-like as the carbon bike, but the fun factor is so off the charts there's no comparison. A friend asked on a recent ride why on earth I'd prefer to ride a 27 pound steel single speed over my carbon bike. I let him ride it down a rocky trail. He understands why now. The descent is well worth the climb.

    I was planning on riding my carbon at Downieville this year, thinking the Honzo might hurt too much on the climb at the start. I have no such worries now.
    Thank heavens for threads like this.
    Having been on 26" full suspension bikes for ever and currently racking my brain with geometry numbers and advice for my current build - my 1st 29er HT SS- this post just might have saved me huge $$ and regret.
    I thought I wanted a light carbon 29er hardtail SS for my next bike and was in the process of comparing all the stuff we usually do when I went to a shop that suggested I take a look at the Kona Honzo he had on the floor. He said "It's not carbon, its not light and its not "fast" like an XC bike but its the most fun for what you like to ride.
    I thought, no thanks. Way too heavy and besides that size it way too small for me to even get a feel for it. But I reluctantly took it out for the parking lot test. Yup, it was heavy (32lbs.) but it felt so light and WOW! the fun factor was amazing, and that was only in the parking lot.
    It felt like I was riding my old BMX race bike and what I thought was too small (19") was actually so comfortable. (All my 26ers are XL's)
    Having a preference for the most techincal, rocky, rooty trails here in New England I think the Honzo might be the ticket.
    The carbon build was going to be the Pivot LES SS with a 120mm fork. But Honzo might actually be the "better" choice and a huge savings to boot .

  3. #3
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    Honzo San - Long term review

    Yep I was on a 26" FS for a very long time and didn't think I even wanted a 29er and a ht but then I took the honzo for a parking lot ride and thought yeah this could be cool. Lucky for me my birthday was close so bang biscuit I bought myself one and now I don't even really ride my other bikes. I have taken mine on bikepacking trips to trips on the bike path and even some races, yeah it's kinda a tank but when the trail turns down hill and gets all nasty the bike laughs and says yeah that's what I like. I am currently getting a set of Hadley's built up with a rear thru axle just to dress her up a bit. Bottom line the best bike for the buck for sure.
    ilovebikes.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    I don't think you can go wrong with most any carbon hardtail frame these days, but as far as bang for buck is concerned, the Honzo wins hands down. And to be honest, I kinda like the extra heft of this frame when I'm bombing technical trails. It just plows through stuff with very little feedback coming through the frame. If you're buying a complete bike the one area I'd recommend spending a few bucks is the wheels. A reasonably light and strong wheelset will make a world of difference. I'm riding on Mavic Crossmax wheels that weigh 1770 grams and are very strong.

  5. #5
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    Honzo San - Long term review

    I do have one complaint thou I wish it wasn't a press fit bb.
    ilovebikes.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    Must be new to the 2013 model. My 2012 is threaded.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikepackingdude View Post
    I do have one complaint thou I wish it wasn't a press fit bb.

  7. #7
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    Honzo San - Long term review

    No I have the 2012 too. Guy at the lbs said it was press fit when I went to swap out cranks lol must have been the FNG.
    ilovebikes.blogspot.com

  8. #8
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    He was definitely wrong. They're threaded. I have yet to come across a steel frame with a pressfit BB. I'm sure they're out there, but I haven't seen any.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikepackingdude View Post
    No I have the 2012 too. Guy at the lbs said it was press fit when I went to swap out cranks lol must have been the FNG.

  9. #9
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    Honzo San - Long term review

    Good to know thanks👍.
    ilovebikes.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    thanks for the great review... a good read

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