First Look: Kona Honzo CR Trail DL

by
July 8, 2017

It’s become pretty clear that XC is no longer what it used to be. Racecourses are becoming more technical, and riders are travelling faster on them. That changes the requirements of the equipment (or has it happened the other way round?), and as a result, XC race bikes have been progressing forward with noticeable vigour in recent years.

In terms of short travel full suspension bikes, we’ve seen more relaxed options hitting the market including the BMC Agonist and the Specialized Epic – two newly released XC bikes that are designed with slacker geometry and the ability to run wider tyres and a dropper post. Likewise, you may recall our Flat Out Race Bike Group Test from last year that featured three hardtails that are favouring a slightly longer and more stable ride quality overall.

Then there are brands who have turned things up to 11. Brands such as Pivot Cycles that dropped the all-new LES 27.5 at PressCamp with its ability to run 2.6in wide tyres and up to a 130mm travel fork. And brands like Kona Bikes that have done the the whole XC thing a little bit differently with the latest Honzo Carbon.

Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
It’s carbon and it’s a hardtail, but it ain’t quite what you think.

Who ever said that a hardtail couldn’t be as fun as other trail bikes? Who assumed a 29-inch hardtail couldn’t have an aggressive trail geometry and a carbon frame that can climb almost as fast as it descends? How come a dropper post and wider/stiffer Boost rear end aren’t features on a frame with no moving parts? Wait. Why didn’t we make the Honzo CR Trail DL sooner?” – Kona Bikes.

Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The Honzo Carbon maintains the playful Honzo DNA, but adds in a lightweight carbon frame.

Kona Honzo CR Trail Features

  • Hardtail XC/trail bike
  • Carbon fibre frame
  • 29in wheels
  • 120mm travel fork
  • 68° head angle
  • 75° effective seat tube angle
  • 415mm chainstay length
  • Boost 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts
  • PF92 threadless bottom bracket shell
  • 1x only
  • Stealth dropper post routing
  • Integrated frame protection
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, & X-Large
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The Honzo is Kona’s flagship XC hardtail, but it’s no nervous anaemic race bike.

Sitting in the Kona range as the brand’s lightweight 29in full XC hardtail, the Honzo Carbon makes a very good effort as disguising itself as a trail bike by way of an internally-routed dropper post, RockShox Pike RCT3 forks and a 760mm wide riser bar. It’s based on the existing Honzo platform – a burly trail-oriented hardtail that first emerged nearly a decade ago with its mega short chainstays and heavy duty steel frame.

This bike here is the first Honzo crafted from carbon fibre. It’s retained a similarly short back end (415mm!) and a reasonably slack head angle (68°), but lightens things up with a stiff and responsive carbon frame. Along with a capable parts spec that wouldn’t be out of place on a long travel full suspension trail bike, it’s a bike that seems set on challenging assumptions.

Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Up front is a 120mm travel RockShox Pike RCT3 fork.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Sealed Charger damper cartridge with adjustable low-speed compression damping.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The Pike’s burly 35mm chassis gives the front of the Honzo a tough look.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The Minion DHF isn’t a tyre you’d normally find on a carbon XC hardtail, but it’s here on the front of the Honzo CR Trail DL. A 2.25in Ardent keeps rolling speed quick out back.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The 45mm stem is about half the length you’d normally find on an XC hardtail, and the 760mm wide bars will have the purist racers scratching their collective heads.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Lock-on Ruffian MX grips from ODI.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
That’s a dainty little stem!
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Being a 1x specific frame, Kona has been able to spec a 1x specific dropper post lever for the KS dropper post.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The LEV Integra is internally routed and gifts the rider 125mm of infinite travel.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
It’s internally routed, save for a small external section above the bottom bracket shell.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Discreet entry port on the head tube for the dropper post cable.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
SRAM brakes and shifter mount to the same clamp.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
External gear cabling under the downtube.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Before the slippery little sucker disappears into the drive-side seatstay.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Rear shifting is looked over by a SRAM X01 11-speed rear mech.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The back end uses a 148x12mm thru-axle, and the chainstay is lathered in low-durometer rubber armouring for protection against chain slap.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Moar carbon, this time for the X01 crank arms.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
The cranks use a regular 24mm GXP spindle, and pass through oversized press-in bearings for the oversized carbon BB shell.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Tidy post-mount brake tabs for the SRAM Guide RSC disc brakes.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
For the rear brake, it’s external hose routing all the way.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
It may be less neat than internal routing, but the mechanics out there will appreciate it.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
SRAM Guide RSC levers provide external adjustment of the bite-point and lever reach.
Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Powerful quad-piston callipers mate up with a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear rotor.

As part of a three-way group test for Issue #114 of Singletrack Magazine, we’ll be putting the lightweight Honzo to the test. If you want to get your hands on the full feature as soon as you can, then head to the subscription page to line up a digital subscription for as little as £1.49 per month – it’s as easy as pie!

Mmm, pie.

Kona Honzo Trail Carbon
Got any blacker?

2017 Kona Honzo CR Trail DL Specifications

  • Frame // Carbon Fibre
  • Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 120mm Travel
  • Hubs // SRAM 900, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // WTB Asym i23, Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3in Front & Ardent EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Chainset // SRAM X01, 32t X-Sync
  • Front Mech // N/A
  • Rear Mech // SRAM X01 11-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM X01 11-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM XG-1180, 10-42t, 11-Speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Guide RSC, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
  • Stem // Kona XC/BC 35, 45mm Long
  • Bars // Kona XC/BC 35, 760mm Wide, 10mm Rise
  • Grips // ODI Ruffian MX Lock-On
  • Seatpost // KS LEV Integra, 31.6mm Diameter, 125mm Travel
  • Saddle // WTB SL8
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight // 11.3kg (24.86lbs)
  • RRP // £4399

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First Look