Honzo

Kona Endurance Team Completes Epic Rides Triple Crown, Spencer Paxson 5th Overall in Series

This just in, Spencer Paxson set out to climb over 10,000 metres in a day on the longest day of the year. Check out his Instagram stories while they’re live for the next few hours, and read on below for his report on this year’s Epic Rides Triple Crown…

Words by Spencer Paxson.

Yes, I still own a skin suit! Amidst all of our backcountry adventuring, we members of the Kona Endurance Team have also been busy doing some good old fashioned bicycle racing. Last Sunday saw the conclusion of the 2017 Epic Rides Off Road Series in Carson City, Nevada.  The three-race series began in late-April through the cactus of Prescott, Arizona, the slick rock of Grand Junction, Colorado in mid-May, and wrapped up under the hot blue skies of the the Sierra Nevadas.

Painface on a knobby-tire breakaway for two laps before being caught by the pack. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

I can speak from experience that within the realm of endurance mountain biking, the Epic Rides Series has come to be the most distinguished race series in North America, attracting the entire tribe of top-ranked endurance racers this side of the Atlantic (and in some cases a few Europeans, too), all vying for a piece of the prestige and $100,000 prize. This year I managed to log consistent efforts and earn 5th overall in the series.

A podium finish eluded me this season, and snagging a top-5 overall admittedly had more to do with luck. I finished 9th in Carson City, and was a subpar 14th in the other two events.  Going into Carson City, a few riders in the top-10 were unable to contest the final event due to injuries, and there were some mechanicals in Sunday’s marathon that shifted things around even more.  Not exactly how you want to earn your marks, but then again, consistency and luck are a reality of the sport.

The Pro men start the Capitol 50 race Sunday morning. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

While the racing is serious, one of the greatest things about the Epic Rides Series is that it proves how well-done events go far beyond the racing itself.  Each event consists of a 3-day festival atmosphere where beginners, seasoned amateurs, and the world’s fastest pros come together to enjoy mountain bike culture, live music and world class singletrack.  A pro fat-tire crit kicks things off on Friday night (it’s all about putting on a show!), followed by great music and beer gardens Friday and Saturday nights. Amateurs race on Saturday morning, and the pros race on Sunday. Over a thousand racers partake in the events, and thousands more come to watch and experience the weekend.

Barrington Levy headlined the music festival on Saturday, providing mellow reggae tunes for the crowd. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

Each stop of the Epic Rides Series places a rewarding spotlight on its host communities, helping to promote community health, outdoor recreation and making a real boost to the local economy. As the Executive Director of the Carson City Visitors Bureau was quoted in the Nevada Appeal, “Epic Rides is more than just a good fit in Carson City. It has made an impact in our rebranding and we are seeing a dynamic change.” According to the Carson City Visitors Bureau, Carson City’s revenue in tourism increased 64 percent over the last four years, from $12.3 million to $20 million.

Racers take in a flowy descent on the Postal Run trail Saturday. Photo by Brian Leddy c/o Epic Rides

Out for food on Friday night, we noticed that several new restaurants and other businesses had opened up in Carson City since the first event in 2016 thickened their circle on the map.  Significant buy-in from sponsors and host cities provides the largest cash purse in endurance mountain biking (split equally for men & women) along with a strong media platform.  That in turn attracts major industry players and their top professional riders to participate in a world class set of events.

The momentum is unquestionable, and the series plans to expand in 2018 and beyond.  Meanwhile, Todd Sadow, President and visionary of Epic Rides, looks to support groups within the host communities to build and maintain trails of the Off-Road series. The fundraising goal in 2017 is $30,000, and 100 percent of the funds will go to repairing, maintaining, and expanding existing trail systems — evenly split between the host cities.

Proud to be keeping Kona Cog a strong presence at the Epic Rides events since their inception as a noteworthy pro-am series. Photo by Patrick Means

It is a great series to be a part of – as an elite-level racer, as a member of the mountain bike tribe at large, and as someone who appreciates the value of a healthy, local community.

Needless to say, I’m stoked to come back for an even bigger and better series in 2018!

In the meantime…time to head into the mountains.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Kona Adventure Team’s “Cooldown Adventure”…somewhere in the mountains above Lake Tahoe…

Blazing through the streets of Carson City in Friday night’s street race. I nearly held off the pack for the win despite racing knobbies! After all, it is called a FAT tire crit.

Factory Jackson is in awe of the Honzo CR Trail: “The Kona really has encouraged me to ride…”

Andrew Dodd from Factory Jackson has recently published an excellent long term review of our Honzo CR Trail. The Honzo inspired him to get out in sloppy conditions all winter and helped him to push his riding skills – exactly what we were hoping by sending over a long term tester.

“Unlike many hard tails that can feel a bit nervous when the going gets treacherous, the Kona Honzo CR Trail actually has more in common with the way you might ride a jump bike on a section of single track. It’s stiff and really inspiring to ride.”

“Overall – I bloody love this bike. You might have already guessed that.”

Without any doubt, Doddy is impressed! Read his complete long term review at Factory Jackson!

“Reasonably priced and unreasonably fun” – Big Honzo Wins a Bicycling Magazine Editor’s Choice Award

The Kona Big Honzo DL has won a Bicycling Magazine Editor’s Choice award! Bicycling revealed their 2017 Mountain Bike Editors’ Choice Winners at Sea Otter this past week and the Big Honzo – “reasonably priced and unreasonably fun” – made the list.

“If you want to shred trails—without the expense, additional complexity, and service requirements of full suspension—this Kona is reasonably priced and unreasonably fun.”

Read the full writeup at Bicycling.

Dirt Rag is Loving the Honzo CR: “Kona knocked it out of the park…”

Dirt Rag‘s Scott Williams has begun testing on the Honzo CR Trail DL and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting it back any time soon. From the component spec to the frame details to the ride characteristics, Scott is loving the Honzo CR.

“As a full-on ambassador of the hardtail world, the Honzo checks many of the must-have boxes for me. Simply put, a solid, dependable build that’s ready to shred straight from the box.”

Read Scott’s First Impressions review at Dirt Rag and keep an eye on newsstands for the full review in their next issue.

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Ti Tuesday: Cam’s Leave-No-Stone-Unturned Ti Honzo

Leave no stone unturned. That’s the idea with Cam’s Ti Honzo. This bike has so many details that you’ll keep finding more the more you look. Cam’s story is also one that might resonate: selling a previous bike and immediately regretting it. Fortunately, Cam’s day to day at Joy Ride Bicycles in Lacey, WA keeps him in the loop, and he was able to atone for his past mistakes.

“A couple of years ago I sold my Steel Honzo for something that I thought ‘was a better bike’ and I’ve been regretting it ever since. Turns out there may not actually be a better bike than the Honzo, so when the stars aligned earlier this year and the prospects of affording a Ti frame became feasible it was a no brainer. While the initial build is focused on shreddy and durable, there is a ‘B’ build in the works for bikepacking so stay tuned for an update on the most versatile Honzo in the PNW.”

Scroll down to pore over the details on Cam’s Ti Honzo covered in Pacific Northwest loam. For more Ti Kona goodness, check out the Ti Tuesday archives and #TiTuesdaysWithKona on Instagram. If you’ve got a Ti Kona bike, please do get in touch!

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Ti Tuesday: Ricardo’s Ti Honzo is Shred-Ready!

Pop quiz: how can you tell a rider is from BC? Well, the first thing you can do is look at the components they’ve chosen for their custom build. Chromag cockpit, check. Race Face, check. Maxxis Minion, check. Rockshox Pike and Reverb, check. Fork fender, check. NOBL carbon rims, check. One ripper of a Ti Honzo? Check.

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Ricardo in Vernon, BC, sent through these photos of his sweet Ti Honzo build. Sure, you might choose different components if you built your own custom Honzo, but you can’t argue with this one!

Fork: Rockshox Pike RCT3 140mm
Wheels: NOBL rims on Hope hubs
Cockpit: Chromag BZA bar and stem, Chromag Trailmaster LTD saddle
Headset: Chris King
Brakes: Shimano XT
Shifter: Shimano XTR
Derailleur: Shimano XT
Cranks: RaceFace Turbine Cinch
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb 150mm

Scroll down the detail shots on Ricardo’s shred-ready Ti Honzo. For more Ti Kona goodness, check out the Ti Tuesday archives and #TiTuesdaysWithKona on Instagram. If you’ve got a Ti Kona bike, please do get in touch!

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Bikepacking.com’s Long Term Review of the Big Honzo: “Outstandingly comfortable and capable.”

Skyler des Roches over at Bikepacking.com has been riding our Big Honzo for several months now, getting into development projects such as Porcelain Rocket’s Albert seat pack for dropper posts and taking the bike on a number of backcountry bikepacking trips.

This week he published his long term review of the Big Honzo. Skyler went in-depth on the geometry of the Big Honzo, praising its capabilities as a 27.5+ mountain bike first, noting its plus-tire-specific geometry, and concluding that these traits lend themselves well to his style of unsupported, off-road bike travel.

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“The Big Honzo and Big Honzo DL are throwbacks to the go-anywhere recreational bikes from the dawn of mountain biking. It’s a bike with no racing niche. This being 2016, you need just a mountain bike with smart, progressive geometry that will make the most of your abilities and let you ride.”

“Kona has done well at the balancing act between making a bike that people will love, and hitting a price point. Besides, the Big Honzo’s precise and intuitive handling, and its powerful riding position, make it far greater than the sum of its parts.”

Scroll down for a few more photos below, and head over to Bikepacking.com for a whole pile of great photos and words.

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Leah Maunsell and the Kona Big Honzo in Ireland

The Kona Honzo was built for rugged terrain, and the Big Honzo is a natural extension of that initial purpose: all the fun of the Honzo’s snappy handling and progressive geometry, with the traction, control, and confidence of high volume 27.5+ rubber. In creating a video around this bike, we wanted to find a location that was suited to its character. We hooked up with rising enduro star Leah Maunsell and headed for her home county of Cork, Ireland.

The Sheep’s Head peninsula is a rugged sliver of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s southernmost tip. Big views and big skies set the tone as the landscape undulates, offering up some of Ireland’s finest coastal views. The trails here run along the spine of the peninsula on a mix of upland and rocky outcroppings, setting the perfect stage for Leah’s outing on the Big Honzo.

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Evolution

From a design perspective, the Big Honzo retains the successful DNA found throughout our Honzo line, with subtle adaptations that make it more than just a 29er with room for wider tires. A new yoke at the bottom bracket junction maintains the Honzo’s tight 415mm rear end, while the bottom bracket drop has been adjusted to optimize Honzo-like ride qualities around 27.5×2.8” tires. We call it an evolution of the bike everyone else is already chasing.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for the Honzo. The original steel prototype was the first Kona prototype I ever had the opportunity to ride. I came back with the bike and told my co-workers something to the effect of “well, that just ruined every other hardtail for me”. It’s been a long road of evolution and expansion for the Honzo line and I’m grateful to be a part of it. The Big Honzo embodies all the traits that “ruined” other hardtails for me and I can’t say enough positive things about the bike.” – Ian Schmitt, Kona Product Team

kona-ride-2017-8464Ian puts his pre-production Big Honzo through the paces in Squamish, BC.

Big Honzo DL

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Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
Wheel Size: 27.5+
Wheels: WTB Scraper STP i40
Front Suspension: 120mm
Fork: RockShox Yari 120mm
Crankset: RaceFace Aeffect SL
Drivetrain: SRAM GX 1x 11spd
Cockpit: Kona XC/BC 35 bar and stem, Kona Race Light Log grips
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic
Front Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Rear Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Saddle: WTB Volt Sport

Big Honzo

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Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
Wheel Size: 27.5+
Wheels: WTB Scraper STP i40
Front Suspension: 120mm
Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL 120mm
Crankset: RaceFace Aeffect
Drivetrain: SRAM NX 1x 11spd
Cockpit: Kona XC/BC bar and stem, Kona Race Light Log grips
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic
Front Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Rear Tire: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8″
Saddle: Kona Trail

Get all the details on the Big Honzo and Big Honzo DL here.

Bikepacking.com and the First Dropper Post-Compatible Seat Pack – On a Kona!

We love seeing what people get up to with their Kona bikes – especially when they’re doing things that have never been done before. A while back we sent Skyler Des Roches of Bikepacking.com our Big Honzo DL for review. Skyler is a well-known pioneer in the bikepacking world, seeking out uncharted overland routes and putting his equipment to the test in tough, real world circumstances.

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Skyler is currently riding the Big Honzo DL on the North Shore attempting to shake the production Albert into submission.

Skyler works closely with the folks at Porcelain Rocket, makers of high quality bikepacking gear in Calgary, AB. As one of Porcelain Rocket’s beta testers, Skyler takes prototype product out into the unknown and rides it until it falls apart – sometimes catastrophically. With the Big Honzo, Skyler has the perfect platform to test Porcelain Rocket’s new dropper post-compatible seat pack, named Albert.

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Innovation through iteration.

Over at Bikepacking.com, Skyler has written up his experience with the R&D process of the Albert seat pack in great detail. It’s an interesting read, and a window into the dedication that innovators like Porcelain Rocket have to improving or enhancing our experience of bike travel. We’re so happy to have Skyler on the Big Honzo, and look forward to reading his long term review of the bike.

Check out a few more photos below, and head over to Bikepacking.com to read the Albert’s development story.

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The Albert employs a removable dry bag.

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Skyler testing on the Colorado Trail earlier this fall.

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The Big Honzo DL, all packed up and ready to shred!

Ti Tuesday: Jeremy’s Ti Honzo – “Pure, Sleek, and Timeless”

Being a long time BMX rider, Jeremy was on the search for a fun and practical hardtail that would suit his riding style. His friend Simon at Passion Vélos in Trois-Rivieres, QC pointed him to the Honzo, and Jeremy’s imagination got moving. The Honzo’s short chainstays and progressive geometry appealed, but it was the raw finish on the Honzo frames that sealed the decision:

“Having stripped the paint from more BMX frames than I can remember over the years, the aesthetics of the Ti Honzo were very appealing to me. There’s something about raw metal that is just so pure, sleek and timeless.”

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Jeremy built his Honzo with a Fox Float 34 fork and the new Fox Transfer dropper post, and kept things clean and simple with a Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain. His BMX background is evident in the Eclat pedals and Sensus grips, and the Chromag cockpit is on point.

“This bike feels amazing. I’m stoked to see where its wheels take me over many years to come.”

Us too, Jeremy. Thanks for sharing.

Scroll down for the details on Jeremy’s Honzo, and for more tasty Ti action, check out the #TiTuesdaysWithKona tag on Instagram and our Ti Tuesdays archive HERE.

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The Last Wave – Spencer Paxson

We roared across the land like a spandex-clad apocalypse, the leaves whirling into the air in our wake, for we’d sucked the air out of the forest and into our own little vortex, into our lungs to fuel our legs to push harder, and harder still, chests heaving like bellows, and we weren’t so much on wheels as we were just flying, gravity an afterthought, and still we pushed for more, like we wanted to burn our tires clean off our bikes, which shuddered and hissed and left arched slashes through the sandy soil. Behind us the leaves settled back down onto the dirt path and the orange and red Michigan forest was still, finally. We were the last wave of the day.

The square red signs with white numbers counted down the what couldn’t come quickly enough, or was about to arrive too soon, the finish of this race, the 27th Iceman Cometh Challenge. We started as a group of 92, local heroes and characters, Olympians and World Tour demigods, keeners all of us. And now, a short 80 minutes in, just 5 km to go, 38 km behind us, and there were ten of us, following the same track that 5,000 other racers had done earlier.

One rider was off the front and out of sight, the rest of us chasing and racing for second. One of us would be the first to launch a final attack and it would be too soon, too soon before the line where it counted to cross first, and the rest would scurry around the miscalculation and, like pinballs astray, we would zigzag up the final steep hill, squinting out of pain and the afternoon sun glinting through the trees, the scent and sensation of beer particles spraying out of the mouths of the screaming crowd. Across the line, we’ve finished in some order or other, screeching to a smoldering halt. Any longer and we would have been spewing blood out our eyes.

Released from our manic state, we’re suddenly all smiles and high fives, catching our breath, talking about this race, unique and bigger than any other mountain bike race in the country, all the way up here in northern Michigan in November. I was the one in the lead group who had gone too soon, and the cold beer was dulling the sting of my misjudgment and missing out on a larger portion of the $32,000 up for grabs amongst the top-10. In just under 85 minutes of racing, the winner had just made around $70 per minute, me around $4.16.

But money mattered less with each recounting of the day, and this weekend spent with new friends from Traverse City and the Einstein Bicycles shop. Over more beer and pizza and day-old scones back at the shop, we joked and talked bikes. The day was already good history, a good notch in each person’s own folklore. It felt good to be a part of it and this buoyant sector of the cycling community. From the first wave to the last, it’s what it’s all about.

Spencer Paxson is a Kona Endurance Team rider. Follow his daily updates on Instagram and his longer pieces on Blogspot

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Post-race reflection. Photo by Cody Sovis of Einstein Cycles.

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Spencer raced the Iceman Cometh on his Honzo CR Race. Photo by MarathonFoto.

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