Joe at Bicycles of Phoenix has wanted a carbon Honzo for the last couple of years. “I like that it’s a legit, playful bike with progressive trail geometry.” He hadn’t had a hardtail in 18 years, so he wanted to build one that he would still be into for years to come.
“I feel like hardtails are much more timeless, so I put a little into it. I grew up riding and still ride BMX. I like that the Honzo feels like a big BMX bike for the trails.”
The drivetrain is built around a set of Truvativ Stylo carbon cranks with an Absolute Black oval chainring. Kona Wah Wah II composite pedals provide all the traction.
Race Face Next R bars and a Turbine R stem anchor the cockpit while ESI’s silicone grips provide grip and comfort.
SRAM Guide RSC brakes looking after stopping duties.
Industry Nine Trail 270 hoops are laced to Industry Nine’s Hydra hubs.
The wheels are shod with Teravail’s Ehline tires, a 2.5″ up front and a 2.3″ out the back.
And that rad leather frame bag? That is from Studio Seven Leather Co (also from Phoenix) and is their Bicycle Essentials Bag
Despite the fact that the days are the longest at this time of the year, at university it is always the busiest period. Fortunately, this year we finished on June 21, which is just in time for the longest days. So I finally have some vacation days and more time to ride my bikes. I thought I might start off on a big day trip, but where to go riding? There is still a lot of snow at high altitudes in the Alps and not all trails are rideable. I might as well stay in my region. It wasn’t easy to find a really interesting route to ride for several hours so I thought, let’s take the different bikes and make little loops that will make a big one. The idea was, therefore, the following: to do four 40 km rides with 4 different bicycles in one day.
In terms of preparation, I took the time to prepare the bikes and some provisions (even if I haven’t been able to try the recipes offered by messkitmag yet!) during the week so that everything would be ready for Saturday, especially since the day before we were going to celebrate the promotion of one of my little brothers. The first idea was to leave early to see the sunrise but due to a big storm during the night, there was no need to leave before 6:30 am for the first ride.
I decided to start with a 40 km ride on the country roads with the Honky Tonk, a loyal companion for a few years now. The air is still relatively cool despite the fact that 30 degrees are forecasted and it is very humid. To save me a little for the future, there is no big climb planned in this ride and I ride on the small country roads and come back along the Geneva lake. Overall the tour is going well, there is no headwind and there are very few people on the roads. The motivation is there for the rest of the day. In terms of numbers, this makes the first ride of 40.4 km and 310m of D+ in a bit less than 1h20.
Before the 2nd round, it’s time to have lunch with my girlfriend so I won’t be too hungry for the next rides to come. For the second ride, I choose to take Jake the Snake because there are many forest roads that lend themselves to its use. With the rain during the night, the ground is perfect for riding and it’s a pleasure to just hear the wind in your ears and the sound of tires on the small gravel from the roads. The difference in altitude is quite irregular, which makes things a little more complicated to keep a constant pace but it adds fun and it’s a bit more challenging. After 1h30, the 40 km went well and the legs held up well.
In theory, I had about 5 hours left to do 2 more rides with a little more altitude difference and leave at 5pm but due to last minute and unexpected events, I didn’t have time to do the remaining rides and I had to push them back to the next day… Nevertheless, a positive point is that I was able to recharge my batteries with beers and BBQs.
Getting into the saddle after the BBQ on Sunday afternoon wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but once you threw the legs back into their rhythm, It comes back pretty soon. This time it’s towards the “famous“ trail shaped by the Kona Europe staff a few years ago. It’s now 30°C and the 1000m of D+ are felt but it is necessary to deserve the downhill right ? in any case I do not regret having taken the Process 153 and the trail is just wet as it should be, because when it’s dry the infamous small calcareous stones of the Jura are slippery as riding on balls. The flow of the descent is really good, to the point that once down below, the desire to go back up is almost there. But as it says, you shouldn’t abuse the good things.
After 44.6 km and 2h15 of ride time I am back home and take the Honzo with the idea of reaching the “summit” of Mount Mourex to see the sunset.
Going from 27.5 full-suspended to a 29 semi-rigid directly after is a bit strange but the Honzo’s performance is appreciable, especially since the remaining climb is the steepest with slopes sometimes reaching 20%. Once at the top the view is always worth stopping for a moment. Perfect for resting your legs a little even if the mosquitoes started “hunting“. The different lights of the cities light up nicely and it is time to install the frontal light for the descent that is in the shade of the woods. This one is quite long and fast and once down there are only a few kilometers left to go home.
Finally, after about 1h50 of riding I arrived at home and I am still happy to have done these 4 rides with my bikes in a relatively short time. In total, it is almost 167 km (103 miles) in just under 7 hours and about 2150m D+/D- (7100 ft) but the break in the middle made it easier.
The objective set at the beginning has not been achieved, but this gives a good excuse to make another, better-organized attempt this year or next year. In any case, summer has started well and I am looking forward to riding as much as possible during the nice days!
“The national championship is the most important race of the year for me and this year was hosted and organized by our team Kona Bike Center Cimone in the beautiful Sestola. When Alex told me he would have come to follow me all weekend and to document the race with his photos, I got even more excited! The first day of practice went smooth on a very dusty and loose track. I felt good and my Operator 29” was very fast. Quali day started differently from the day before after some heavy rains overnight, and the track became so muddy and slippery. I left for my qualification run pretty relaxed and convinced of my possibilities. I was riding clean until I hit a root with my front wheel and I got stuck in the middle of a steep corner. I finished my run in 15th position but I knew the pace was good, we just had to put it all together. At the end of the day, another storm hit the city, and the nerves and mental strength of the riders got tested even more. On race day, since the first hours in the morning, the tension got very high, as my whole family had come to see me and I wanted to prove at all costs that I could fight for the national jersey.
The national championship is a race that only happens once a year. Everyone gives 100% and many riders play it all for everything. It’s very difficult to keep your nerves and stay focused for so long. t’s so tiring. I think that Alex’s photos really show all the emotions that an athlete feels before such an important race. I was happy to have him by my side to support me.
I went up for my race run and after the warm-up followed by my team manager Matteo. I started for my run. I tried to ride clean on the track that was still slippery, the cheering in the woods was absurd, almost like at a World Cup. It’s always super cool to ride your bike among all those people who support you. I came down conquering the Hot Seat with a lower time than the qualifying winner but I knew there were still so many big names missing. The more time passed, the more I began to think it would be enough to climb the top step, but it wasn’t. In the end, I finished my Italian championship in 4th position, with very tight times, among riders who are constantly in the World Cup circuit. Finally, the tension is gone, I know it’s not the result a rider wants to satisfy, but I’m happy with my run, I gave 100% and this is the most important thing. I would like to thank Alex Luise, all my team for the hard job and Kona Bikes for the support they give me to keep following my dreams!
It’s time to let the photos speak now, it’s really a photo epic and Alex is a master at telling stories through the camera. Cheers everyone, see you on the trails!”