Kona Honzo commuter renovation- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Kona Honzo commuter renovation

    I have a 2017 aluminum Honzo that I want to set up for commuting. The route is ~21 miles, flat, and ~85% pavement (unfortunately) with some occasional "gravel" sections.

    Current setup: Bone stock with SRAM NX drivetrain (1 x 32t front, 11-42t rear), Rockshox Yari fork @ 120mm travel, and rolling on 29" rims with 29mm internal width.

    Goals: Lighter within reason, better rolling wheels and tires, more gear range on the top end, still rideable on easy but hilly single track.

    The plan:
    • Rigid fork with ~500mm A/C
    • Get rid of the dropper
    • Bigger front cog and/or different cassette out back
    • Updated rims/hubs and 2.1-2.3" tires with streetable tread


    Questions
    1. Fork: I'm having trouble finding a fork that has a long enough A2C for the frame. Whisky just released a carbon one (https://whiskyparts.co/forks/no9-MTN-boost-lt) but it's $550. That's not out of the question but steel is fine by me. Any suggestions?
    2. Gears: For folks commuting on 1x setups, what gears are you running?
    3. Wheels + tires: Looking for a durable and cost-effective wheelset. Custom is a possibility (maybe Hope Pro 4 or DT 350 hubs with decent rims). Thinking 2.1-2.3" tires for fast rolling but I'm not sure what rim width plays best with that range. Also, what tires are folks running for commute and occasional dirt fun?
    4. Seatpost: Anyone have experience with the Cane Creek Thudbuster or other suspension posts? Are they worth it? I'm hoping to take the edge off the rear end since my frame is alu and I might be wearing a backpack.


    It would be really cool to put on drop bars for monster cross action but I don't know how that could work with the Honzo's geo and I'm not sure I want to go all-in on brifters and a frankenstein drivetrain just yet. Thanks for any suggestions!

  2. #2
    Wanna ride bikes?
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
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    Don't bastardize a Honzo into a commuter, just get a commuter, even if it's a converted MTB.

    Ok, with that out of the way you've already identified a couple hangups with that frame. 500 a-c is hard to find and expensive, and the long Reach on a Honzo isn't drop bar friendly. For the amount of time and money you're going to put into it you could just buy a cheap complete bike and be off to the races, err, work.

    A converted 26 MTB hardtail or rigid makes a pretty fun commuter. I also recommend a cross bike. Both of those will also likely have rack and fender mounts which are a real good idea on a commuter.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  3. #3
    Cycologist
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    I agree with *OneSpeed*, it sounds like you want to turn it into something it's not. And it seems a little odd to me that you don't want suspension on the front but you do want it on the rear. For that kind of distance, I would look for a CX or a gravel bike rather than spending a lot of money converting the Honzo.
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

  4. #4
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    I get what you all are saying and I agree that there are better platforms. It was a bit of wishful thinking that I might drop a modest amount of coin and get a nice rigid bike that's fun on the trails and much better on pavement.

    As for removing suspension in the front and adding some in the rear: The idea was to shed some weight with the fork and dropper but have a little something to keep my butt happy in the seat. Not as worried about my upper body on road/gravel chatter and I'll be out of the seat for anything rougher anyway.

    P.S. I've tried a few cross bikes recently but after going MTB only for a while, I find that I actually prefer MTB geo even on the road. Maybe I just haven't found the right one yet.

  5. #5
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    If you've already got a Honzo and are going through with this anyway, here are some parts I used on my Specialized Chisel to do a similar conversion...

    1. Tandell rigid carbon fork (495 A2C): Tandell 29+ Carbon Rigid Fork
    2. Hunt XC Wide Wheelset- cheap, relatively light, and nice engagement
    3. Vittoria 29x2.1 Mezcal tires- light, fast rolling on pavement, and still decent on smooth single track
    4. Carbon bars and seatpost for vibration damping

    These 4 changes dropped a significant amount of weight vs. the stock build, and the bike is really fun on mixed-surface rides. This is a 3rd bike, so everything was very budget conscious, but I've been very happy with all of the parts over 500+ miles so far.
    '19 Yeti SB130
    '18 Kona Honzo CR

  6. #6
    high pivot witchcraft
    Reputation: mtnbkrmike's Avatar
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    Agree also with *OneSpeed*.

    OP - if you are hell bent on a rigid MTB for a commuter, why not sell the Honzo and buy a Unit?

    Personally, I would sell the Honzo and buy a Paddy Wagon (or a geared CX if you are not down with rocking a SS).

    I commute daily in roughly the same situation as you describe (albeit shorter distance-wise). If I didnít feel the need to commute during the winter on my Unit (as a matter of safety), I would never commute on an MTB.

    If this is what you really want though, I suspect it would be cheaper to replace the Honzo with a Unit. Plus you would not end up with a frankenbike.
    Last edited by mtnbkrmike; 01-21-2020 at 06:54 AM.
    2020 Kona Unit
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  7. #7
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Reputation: bbender785's Avatar
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    i say keep the honzo as-is, and convert a 26Ē mtb; you can find them cheap, and get most of the parts you need second-hand. thatís exactly what i did... i bet by the time you figure in the stock parts i sold to recoup a little cost, iím less than $500 into this whole thing:




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  8. #8
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    Agree with the comments about the Honzo not necessarily being the tool for the job, that said I've ridden a few thousand mi on the road on my Honzo and been perfectly fine with it. I finally bought a craigslist road bike, but still put a lot of miles on the Honzo en route to trails.

    Things that I had already done that make it work well:

    Slammed flat bars
    Stiff fork settings
    XCish tires
    34T chainring

    That's it. On a good day my 14lb race roadie is maybe 2mph faster, it really isn't that much at all.

  9. #9
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    Update: I'm glad all of you talked me out of tweaking the Honzo. I brought it out to the trails today and immediately remembered how fun it is to kick around on a hardtail.

    I'll be looking into a thrifty 29er that I can set up rigid or a more dirt-biased drop bar bike. Thanks for all the feedback.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DETarch View Post
    If you've already got a Honzo and are going through with this anyway, here are some parts I used on my Specialized Chisel to do a similar conversion...

    1. Tandell rigid carbon fork (495 A2C): Tandell 29+ Carbon Rigid Fork
    2. Hunt XC Wide Wheelset- cheap, relatively light, and nice engagement
    3. Vittoria 29x2.1 Mezcal tires- light, fast rolling on pavement, and still decent on smooth single track
    4. Carbon bars and seatpost for vibration damping

    These 4 changes dropped a significant amount of weight vs. the stock build, and the bike is really fun on mixed-surface rides. This is a 3rd bike, so everything was very budget conscious, but I've been very happy with all of the parts over 500+ miles so far.
    The Chisel is pretty high on my list of prospects. That frame seems like a steal at $700.

  11. #11
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    Maybe I am a little late to the party on this one, but I just bought a Honzo specifically for commuting and other riding around town. I have a ~7 mile commute and I wanted something that felt like and was as fun as my other mountain bikes, I have an actual road bike but do not enjoy riding it. I have had it for almost three weeks now and love it, I can go wherever I want and my avg speed is only 2-3mph slower than my road bike which is fine for me I am not racing anyone. Being used to full suspension rigs it feels light to me, all I did different than what you see in this photo is throw 2.2 inch conti race kings on for lower rolling resistance.

    Kona Honzo commuter renovation-870dfd66-d786-4cc7-844b-9bca051f981c.jpg

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonaJon View Post
    Maybe I am a little late to the party on this one, but I just bought a Honzo specifically for commuting and other riding around town. I have a ~7 mile commute and I wanted something that felt like and was as fun as my other mountain bikes, I have an actual road bike but do not enjoy riding it. I have had it for almost three weeks now and love it, I can go wherever I want and my avg speed is only 2-3mph slower than my road bike which is fine for me I am not racing anyone. Being used to full suspension rigs it feels light to me, all I did different than what you see in this photo is throw 2.2 inch conti race kings on for lower rolling resistance.

    Your setup looks great, especially the color! I wouldn't worry about changing things up if my route was shorter but I probably need something more gravel-ly due to the distance and headwind.
    Last edited by notsendy; 03-12-2020 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Fixed sentence that didn't make any sense

  13. #13
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    Thanks man, scooped it for $1200, frame was brand new along with the dropper, headset and bb then everything else is in pretty mint shape. Lets me bomb around town and enjoy my time while doing it, my Cannondale roadie would get it done quicker but it just doesn't put the same smile on my face.

  14. #14
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    That's a helluva bike for $1200. The more I ride my road bike as a "commuter" the more I am convinced it is not that much faster than an MTB with fast rolling tires. I do 30mi to and from work once or twice a week, I am definitely a few mph faster on straight flat sections. Anywhere that requires slowing for road surface, curbs, corners, etc. I carry so much more speed on my Honzo that I avg only ~1mph faster over that 30mi. That's even jumping curbs and stuff that the average road cyclist is definitely not doing.

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