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  1. #1
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    The Honzo Sizing Thing

    Howdy. I've finally decided on a Honzo, and after reading all through the Honzo build thread, and elsewhere, it looks like the only thing left to decide is size. I'm right at 5' 9.5", and most folks at 5'9" like the small (16"); one or two prefer the medium (18"). I know this comes down to personal preference -- at least partially -- but I'd really like you to weigh in with your experience on these sizes.

    I want to get the 2012 frame, but could go with a later version.
    I'll be using a Pike 140 I have already. I have plenty of stems 40mm-75mm, so can use any.

    Of course, I'd demo if I could, but can't where I live now...

    I currently ride a 17.5" Stumpjumper, and a 17.5 Remedy. This will definitely be a bike I'll ride for fun, rocky and rooty stuff, jumping around, probably singlespeed most of the time.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
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    From ninerbikes.com:

    "For riders who fall between sizes we recommend sizing down for a more maneuverable ride or sizing up for more stability."

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    I do hear ye, Bacchus; that's the rule of thumb. I think it applies across the board, to all kinds of bikes. However, I'm really looking for testimony/opinions from folks who have actually ridden this bike, for one main reason: Kona doesn't offer size suggestions for heights, the way some manufacturers do; the geometry of the bike is unlike that of other bikes I've seen with such suggestions offered. So, there's no "between sizes."

    Also some folks insist that the bike is accurately ridden "long" -- with a long toptube and short stem, and that to size down detracts from some of the awesome things about the bike. That's what I want to hear about.

    Anyone out there 5'9" - 5'10" really dig your medium Honzo?

  4. #4
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    i am 5'9" and happy i chose a medium, small would of been too small. I had a 50mm stem on mine too...

  5. #5
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    I'm 5'7 and always pick bikes in the 17"-19" range because that's where I feel at home so to speak.

    With the honzo I deliberately got the small as half the point of the bike is to be a nimble 29er, going down a little on size only strengthens that particular feature of the bike.

  6. #6
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    I'm the same height as you and I'd go with the medium. I just got a 2014 Explosif and went with the medium - similar fit and philosophy with the long TT/short stem.

  7. #7
    FM
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    Look carefully at the reach numbers. The older small (16" frames) had a reach number comparable to most medium/17" frames out there. Top tube length really only matters when you're seated, and the curved seattube on frames like the Honzo make top tube lengths a little misleading. Same with the headtube length- look at the stack height instead.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Look carefully at the reach numbers.
    I was going to point this out, too. The reach between the small Honzo and medium Explosif is same, 2mm difference. This is why at 5'9" I chose to get a small Honzo. I also ride it with a 50mm stem. I would like a little more TT and ST but it is still in my comfort range. The medium Honzo has almost an inch more reach and stack than the medium Explosif.

  9. #9
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    Thanks a ton for all the proper pointers. These kinda condense the sizing variables mentioned in the Honzo Build Thread. In a good way.

    Obviously, I really do need to jump on both, but can't... Comparing the geo and numbers, the Honzo 18" is very close to a Nimble 9 "large" -- and it's funny that the 2012 Honzo's standover is 1.9 inches higher than the Nimble 9. (Of course, that's the older version with the taller front triangle.)

    FM, are you saying that the stack height of the 18" Honzo is actually similar to that of most other typical ~17.5 bikes? --I haven't done the math on these comparisons yet, and was wondering (hoping) you had...

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    Thank you for posting this; I saw it in the build thread as well, and was wondering if there was any consensus developing about the sizes and maneuverability. Of course, a smaller bike would typically seem more nimble. But there is such a thing as TOO SMALL.

    The thing is, I doubt that Kona would size their bikes so that a 5'9" - 5'10" rider uses the smallest model they make; that cuts out way too many customers. I read an article awhile back on Kona's approach to designing frames, and if I remember rightly it noted that the longer top tube was meant to correct a common problem of riders being too hunched when riding -- it's intended to straighten us out, and get our weight over the front a little more, aiding handling; this is accentuated with the short stem, wide bars. At the same time, the short chainstays are what enable it to whip around corners a little better.

    Again, this is just what I read from Kona, and I'm sure that the folks who are ~5'9" and are happy with their 16" frames are doing just fine.

    On a side-note, I also race/ride a 17.5 (superfly), and it works well for me; however, I've gotten two bike fits from friends that do that stuff for a living, and they both told me that I'm too crunched up -- that I should try out a 19 and see how it feels... I haven't yet, but I am getting my brother an 18" Honzo, so maybe that's a step in that direction.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by beer_coffee_water View Post
    I was going to point this out, too. The reach between the small Honzo and medium Explosif is same, 2mm difference. This is why at 5'9" I chose to get a small Honzo. I also ride it with a 50mm stem. I would like a little more TT and ST but it is still in my comfort range. The medium Honzo has almost an inch more reach and stack than the medium Explosif.
    I would still go with a medium Honzo. If it wasn't for the 19" seat tube on the large Explosif I'd go up a size and run a 50mm stem instead of the 65mm I am running.

  12. #12
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by bisicklay View Post
    FM, are you saying that the stack height of the 18" Honzo is actually similar to that of most other typical ~17.5 bikes? --I haven't done the math on these comparisons yet, and was wondering (hoping) you had...
    Full disclaimer- I no longer own a Honzo. I'm 5'9" and liked the 16" size- the FIT was perfect. Yet I went with an 18" on the frame which replaced the Honzo (titus fireline) and yet the Honzo actually has a longer reach, yet a shorter ETT & stack height.

    Of all the numbers, stack is the one I would consider least, because this is easily adjusted with flat/riser bars and stem spacers. Next I wouldn't think too much about effective top tube length, because it's really driven by reach+seat angle.

    I think of reach and wheelbase as the two most informative numbers. Reach gives you an idea of how stretched you're gonna feel when out of the saddle, stem length aside. And wheelbase tells you how boring/stable or quick/nervous the bike is gonna be at speed and in corners.
    So anyways. Many of us in the 5'-8" range typically fit 17" frames best, which makes for a tough decision when the available options are 16" or 18". Looking around I found the medium/17" frames I've owned, which fit me best, all had reach numbers around 16". That's right where the small/16" Honzo is. The 15" seat tubes on the newer small Honzos are a tough call though.

    The Honzo does have a very short wheelbase, and chainstays, but I would (and did) just move the sliding drop-outs back 1/2" before I'd size up.

    Last thought; I think the Honzo geometry says a lot about how this bike is meant to be ridden. Trying to make it more of an XC bike by sizing up is a compromise, and there's other bikes out there with more XC-oriented geometry and features if that's what you're after.
    Last edited by FM; 01-27-2014 at 03:52 PM.

  13. #13
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    FM -- Thanks for your take on this. Like I said, I'm looking to ride this thing like a big DJ bike, but on longer trail rides -- tight trails, gaps, drops, features. [I've got the Stumpy for XC stuff, even though I will 'jump' it a little... it's just a bike.]

    For me, the dilemma is more like what Collins said... That I want to try out riding this thing the way Kona wants; if this longer TT is supposed to put me more forward, more aggressive on a 29er, I'm game. [I raced DH, XC, etc. in college in Brevard; no superstar, but I can hang. And I really don't know much about geo/tech; I relied on coaches for that, and just rode. I should've learned more...]

    Anyhow, from what I've gathered from articles on Kona's recent offerings, they're really pushing that aggressive AM riding should be done with this geo. I wanted to see if people's experience jived with that approach. I'd still like to hear from others... I wonder if anyone went from an 18" to 16" and thought it best for certain applications?

    Also, I suppose part of my question boils down to reach, and which size will give an optimum reach for my dimensions. As usual, I think this will be determined under load -- on the bike.

  14. #14
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    As I said before I am 5'9" and went for a medium. I didn't mention before though, I demoed a 16" for a ride and while it felt kind of cool, I realized it is the incorrect size for someone of my size and trusted the fact that I should ride the size Kona intended for me.

    So personally, I think with any of the Kona bikes with non-traditional geo, sizing up or down is probably a mistake in the fact that you are un-doing what the designer intended, unlike a bike with more traditional (road based) sizing.

  15. #15
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    Looks like it's time to chase down an 18"...

    Anybody else with vital feedback? Especially: I wonder if anyone went with a 16" and thought it best for certain applications?

    Thanks.

  16. #16
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    Just for consideration. 2012 Honzo geometry compared to Nimble 9. Note that the reach on the 16" Honzo is actually longer than the medium nimble-9. Also note that the reach on the medium Honzo falls somewhere between Large and XL on canfields geometry.

    Kona Honzo 2012
    The Honzo Sizing Thing-honzo.jpg

    Current Nimble 9
    The Honzo Sizing Thing-nimble-9.jpg

    Also for reference- chromags sizing. No reach #'s but you can compare the ETT lengths and rider heights.
    The Honzo Sizing Thing-chromag.jpg

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Just for consideration. 2012 Honzo geometry compared to Nimble 9.
    The Canfield wasn't built around a short stem though.

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    I've been looking at those two bikes side-by-side for a while, and unless I've forgotten something, the geometry is extremely similar; in fact, the only significant difference is the standover. (I am concerned about this because with a 140 fork, that top tube might mean trouble for my boyz.)

    The effective top tube length [TTH in Kona's abbreviation] difference is pretty minimal. They both seem to be "built around" a shorter stem... Maybe a 10mm longer for the N9?

    "Medium" frame:

    Honzo: ETT = 609.6mm + 45mm stem = 654.6
    N9: ETT = 596.9 + 55mm stem = 651.9

  19. #19
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogboy View Post
    The Canfield wasn't built around a short stem though.
    Where does it say that? And when you say short stem, you mean 35mm? 50mm is not really short anymore by AM standards.

    All I'm getting at is that 17" reach is LONG for somebody 5-9". a 35mm stem would improve things, but you are still moving the front wheel 1" farther out in front of the rider. The Honzo predates the process bikes, and doesnt look like the stock builds come with a 35mm stem.

    Look at pretty much all the AM 29'er frames on the market, 16" reach is pretty standard for medium/17" size. Works well with a 50mm stem, would also work with a 35. no need to add an inch to the reach/TT.

    Kona does have a fit chart. I'm not saying a medium won't work or the small will fit better. Just saying, focus on the reach, that tells you more about how the bike will ride than top tube length- that only matters when you're seated.


    FWIW- 16" honzo "fit" similar to my previous medium canfield yelli screamy. No doubt the Honzo wheelbase was shorter though, which made it handle a bit smaller. 50mm stem and 30" bars on both.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    ... but you are still moving the front wheel 1" farther out in front of the rider.
    ...
    Look at pretty much all the AM 29'er frames on the market, 16" reach is pretty standard for medium/17" size. Works well with a 50mm stem, would also work with a 35. no need to add an inch to the reach/TT.
    This gets at the heart of my question... Didn't Kona see a need to add that inch to the reach, to better couple it with the quick steering of a short stem?

    “The longer top tube is our attempt to get the rider in a more aggressive position, a position where they are going to feel more confident controlling their bike.”
    (quotations by Kona Product Manager, Chris Mandell)
    from Kona's 2014 Process: a Bike Magazine Blueprint Exclusive

    Of course, this wouldn't preclude that the N9 wouldn't also handle quicker with a shorter stem, but with the shorter top tube, I can see how it might get squirrelly.

    Thanks for this debate. It's helping me, as I've been riding/racing for a while, but have simply gone on my gut, and rarely gave specific geo/lengths a second look unless it felt weird. I suppose this scrutiny is a move in the right direction... or a good distraction from work.

    So, I'm thinking I'll end up with at 35mm stem. We'll see -- once I get the damn thang.

    More info?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Where does it say that? And when you say short stem, you mean 35mm? 50mm is not really short anymore by AM standards.
    It doesn't say that anywhere, but going by the 15.93" reach on the medium Nimble 9 I'd have to run a 60mm stem to get a good fit - I'm 5'9.5" with not so long arms. That's not a terribly long stem, but I was thinking around 40-50mm when I said short. I'd be happier with the large Nimble 9, but the 20" seat tube wouldn't work with a dropper for me.

  22. #22
    FM
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    Ha, good stuff guys!

    Dogboy, I know SO many riders who are taller than you and prefer shorter/smaller bikes. Nothing wrong with that. I think what we're getting down to is personal preference and rider style. Longer works great for trail riding and higher speeds. Shorter works better for jumping and cornering. Most of us can happily adapt to going up or down a size (I have on several bikes) and compensating with stem/seatpost etc.

    Bisicklay, the Chris Mandell link you posted... that was for the process and their newer bikes, does it apply to the Honzo? Who knows. Put another way, couldn't you go with any brand short stay 29'er, size up, and put a 35mm stem on? Seat tube length and standover being the only limitations.

    Full disclosure... the "fit" (reach) on my 16" Honzo felt just about perfect, and it cornered, jumped and manualed awesome. But I did feel the wheelbase was a bit short for high speed trail riding. Sizing up wouldn't have made me happy, even with a 35mm stem. In the end I came around to wanting a frame with similar reach, but longer wheelbase & lighter weight.

  23. #23
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    Affirmed! Thanks FM, Dogboy.

    This came up for me partially because I've usually sized down, and I was wondering what these engineers might be suggesting, especially since my bike-fit folks were always telling me to go larger. Regarding FM's question about the Mandell quote intended for the Honzo, it certainly seems it does, considering exactly how they sized it (which is the issue I started with); otherwise, right, one *could* simply size up on any similar whip.

    It will be informing to see what the thing rides like, considering my racer has a 110 cm wheelbase and a 41 reach (plus a 10 cm stem); and the Honzo 112 with a 43 reach...
    All my FS rigs (26ers, all) have used <50mm stems, and I've loved those... Looks like I'll dig this one.

  24. #24
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    Well, at my request, my framebuilding riding friends schooled me about frame dimensions last night, over cheap bourbon. I retained some of it, but it did jumpstart a shamefully neglected autodidact in me. Now I have a rookie's grasp of such imperatives as front-center and reach and trail and etc. Plenty to learn... while it's 5 degrees.

    Sheldon Brown helped a truckload, of course. Here's one thing that got me going early on... maybe it will benefit someone here:
    Waltworks Bicycles: Front Center: It Works, *****es

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