Happy Birthday to us. We’re celebrating by releasing a limited number of one of our favorite bikes, the Honzo ST. Why do we love it so much? Simply put, it just absolutely shreds. We’ve made our steel birthday bike special by adding a super unique mirror-finish paint job, special limited edition numbered decals (only 201 are being made!), a custom 30th birthday saddle, and a custom 30th birthday head tube badge. We’re not afraid to admit it: this bike is gorgeous. We’ve also built the bike with modular dropouts, so you can go full custom with it, or run it as we spec it, with a 120mm RockShox Revelation RC fork, SRAM NX 1×11 speed drivetrain, and SRAM Level T brakes.
Words by Kona Supreme, Delia Massey. Photos by Delia and her riding partner, Kinsey.
Two days before I left for a week-long vacation to Anchorage, I decided I wanted to bikepack the entire Denali National Park Road. My last-minute trip planning escalated quickly, from realizing that Denali was a 4-hour drive from Anchorage, to discovering that the 90-mile road through the park was only open to bikes and park buses, to finding blog posts from people that had bikepacked the whole 180 miles out and back. I had never full-on bikepacked (just done an overnight with a stay at a hotel), but I figured why not go big for my first real trip?!
My partner in forest crime, Kinsey, reluctantly agreed to my crazy idea, and we quickly rounded up some lightweight gear, packed our bikes and lots of warm layers, and got on a plane to Alaska. The night before we left, I sent an email to Revelate Designs, an Anchorage-based bikepacking company, asking if we could stop by and get some bags the next day. They responded yes, so we got off the plane, picked up our bags, and after a trip to REI for food, a bear can, bear spray, bear bells, and some other emergency supplies, we were as ready as we would ever be!
Fast forward to Sunday, May 27th. Kinsey and I drove up to Denali National Park, checked in with the ranger, and picked out our planned backcountry camping locations (both were around mile 60 on the road, assuming we would cover 60 miles a day for 3 days). We watched a video on park etiquette and safety, which was very useful, but also heightened my fear of having a bear encounter. We had our final meal of burgers and beers at 49th State Brewing, and did a practice run with our borrowed Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 tent at a local campground. Aside from putting on the rain fly inside out, we were dialed.
Monday morning, we got up early and drove to the Denali Visitor’s Center, where a couple of moose wandered the parking lot while we attached our bags to our bikes. We set off around 8:30, starting with the climb up the first 15-mile paved section of road (and the only section open to cars). Spirits were high, our fully loaded mountain bikes were cruising on the pavement, the sun was shining, and excitement was in the air. We got our first views of Denali around mile 9.5, and I was awestruck with how large it was. Rainier seems big, looming over my home of Seattle, but Denali is simply massive. At the 15-mile mark, we came to the gate that only allows bikes and buses through, and we saw our first grizzly bear, near a river. Seeing the size and speed with which the bear moved did not make me feel any better about camping in bear country!
As our tires hit gravel, the adventure truly began. No more cars, just buses full of tourists rumbling by every so often (and that only lasted to mile 53, where the buses turned around due to snow). I felt like we were part of the park as the people on the buses took photos of us and waved. We steadily pedaled mile after mile, with plenty of breaks for food, water, and bathroom breaks. There were bus stops and designated campsites with bathrooms and trashcans along the way, which was a huge help. Water was plentiful, with clear streams from snow melt along the way, so we never carried more than 2 liters each (treated with a Steripen).
We climbed over Sable Pass and Polychrome Pass, both of which offered spectacular views, and made our way to our first campsite on a gravel bar right near mile 60. The park rules dictate that you must camp at least a half a mile off of the road, and must be out of site of the road, which is why I chose to pedal in flats to make the hiking easier. We cooked our freeze-dried dinner, had some M&M’s, and stored our bear can away from both the cooking area and our tent. We attempted to sleep, with sunset around 11:30pm. I woke up at 5:00am with the sun and was convinced there was a giant animal walking around outside our tent, sniffing at our things. Kinsey woke up and poked his head out of the tent, and we didn’t see any evidence of any big animals, so perhaps it was just the wind and my overactive imagination. We did find that his helmet straps had been chewed by a hungry ground squirrel!
Day 2 was bright and sunny, and as we came over the Stony Hill Overlook, we had a crystal-clear view of the south side of Denali. It was absolutely breathtaking. I stopped and took the greatest photo I have ever taken with my self-timer, and after soaking in the views, we pedaled on to the end of the road. We passed many kettle ponds, formed when large chunks of ice detached from a glacier and become buried in sediment and melted, and finally reached Wonder Lake at mile 85, and pushed on to our final stop on the road, a beautiful outhouse between mile 89 and 90, that offered us shelter from the wind to cook lunch, and a stream nearby for water.
After that, we began the slog back up the 30 miles we had just descended. We paused for a bit at the Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66, made friends with a marmot, and kept moving back towards mile 60. We saw a momma bear and 2 cubs around mile 62, headed directly for our planned camping spot. We decided it was safest to continue on a few more miles, finding a bluff at mile 58 with a good view of the surrounding terrain.
We survived without any midnight bear attacks and pushed through a headwind on Day 3 to finish up back at the car around 3:30pm. Tired, delirious, with sore butts and sore legs, we were full of joy and adventure! Riding through the park was the ultimate experience, something you can’t get on a bus or in a car, and I highly recommend it. The wildlife was abundant, and in total we saw 18 grizzlies, as well as caribou, Dall sheep, marmots, countless ground squirrels, ptarmigan, hares, and magpies.
I learned that nothing compares to the simplicity and teamwork of bikepacking. Your only goal for the day is to pedal, and your only concerns are food, water, warmth, and wild animals. It was challenging and painful at times, but I loved it, and I’m already planning my next big trip!
- Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 (Thanks Mal and Kelly!!)
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation down quilts, 20 degree
- Cocoon silk mummy liner
- Thermarest Neo-Air
- Sea to Summit pillow (for delicate Delia)
On bike (Delia had a Kona Honzo CR Trail DL, and Kinsey was on an Evil Following MB):
- Revelate Egress handlebar pocket: (snacks, map, gloves, hat, buff, Steripen)
- Revelate Handlebar Harness and Salty Roll: Sleep system, synthetic puffy jacket, rain jacket and pants
- Tent (Delia) or bear can with food (Kinsey) attached to harness with pocket
- Revelate Ranger frame bag (1-L water bottle, fuel, tubes, toilet paper, charger/cords)
- Revelate Gas Tank (Tools: pump, tire levers, tire plugs, multitool, derailleur hanger, master links, knife, headlamp, ski straps)
- Revelate Pika Seatbag: full change of base layers, extra fuel, emergency bivy, emergency ponchos, MSR reactor stove
- Swift Industries Sidekick Pouch w/ Nuun water bottle
- All food aside from clif bars/shotblocks was carried in the bear can at all times unless cooking!
- From High Above Cascadia hip pack, with 2L bladder
- Bear spray!!
- 3 dehydrated dinners
- 2 freeze dried breakfasts
- 1 freeze dried lunch
- 4 tuna packets
- 1 bag of beef jerky
- 1 bag of roasted dark chocolate almonds
- 1 bag of instant mashed potatoes
- Various clif bars and shot blocks
- Nuun electrolyte tabs
It’s time to announce the winner of the coveted Birthday Bike! The raffle from the Sea Otter classic has come and gone and we’re excited to announce the winner. A huge congratulations goes to Matthew Kurkjian of Moraga, California! It almost seems like the steel Honzo was made for him.
“Winning this bike means that my mountain biking is about to get launched to the next level! I have been riding a Frankenstein hard-tail single-speed for 5 years now (my first mountain bike). I dig steel, hardtails, 29ers, and I’ve always admired Konas in the bike shops.” When asked what he’s most looking forward to about the bike Kurkjian is quick to respond that he just wants to get to know the bike. “I’m most looking forward to naming her! And of course our first post-ride beer together (duh). My first Kona. It feels like I’m moving up in the world!”
From all of us at Kona, welcome to the Kona family, Matthew!
It’s the official kick-off of the bike season, and we’re celebrating with thousands of others at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. This year we’re showing off a bunch of our new bikes that will be available later this summer including the new carbon Operator prototype, the Process 29 CR DL, and our gorgeous, limited edition steel Honzo Birthday Bike! More details on all the bikes to come soon!
If you’re in the area be sure to swing by our booth and grab a raffle ticket to win one of only 201 Birthday Honzos! We’ll also have legendary Kona freerider, Graham Agassiz, in the booth signing posters and hanging out this week.
The 2018 Kona Demo Tour is coming to Anthem, AZ TOMORROW, February 27th, at Freedom Cycles from 12-4pm. We’ll also be at the Sedona MTB Festival this weekend. Check out details below and come test ride a new Process 153 CR 27.5, Process 153 AL/DL 29, Hei Hei Trail CR, Honzo AL/DL or the brand new Satori DL!
For the full schedule be sure to check out the Demo Tour page!
It’s Valentine’s Day. For lots of people that means romance, fancy meals, and way too many heart-themed things.
At Kona, we also want to share the love of our favorite bikes with you. So from the bottom of our sappy little hearts, this is an ode to the bikes we are currently loving the most.
Happy Valentines Day to you and your bikes, from all of us at Kona!
Darryl’s immaculate and incredibly detailed Honzo St build is the result of what he calls “the longest demo ever”. Whilst riding his two buddies Honzo’s, Darryl had plenty of time to contemplate what his dream build would look like. The result is one of the most dialed and tidiest steel Honzo builds we have seen. The beauty really is in the details on this one. Read on for to find out about Darryl’s motivation, a full set of build photos as well as the bikes complete component list.
After years of riding carbon everything cross-country race bikes, a buddy let me ride his Kona Honzo ST. Needless to say, I’m a lucky guy with good friends. Two of my buddies had Honzos and before I built my own I put about 450 miles on them combined. Basically, it was the longest demo ever and really helped me determine how exactly I wanted to build mine. I pieced together all the parts, paying close attention to the details all the way down to the Paragon Machine Works cable guides, Shimano’s I-Spec II system, heat shrink to keep the cockpit clean and tidy, and custom frame matching rim decals. As great as the bike looks, it rides so much better. From local after work dirt therapy sessions to shredding big mountain backcountry epics, this thing rides so amazingly. I raced it in my local enduro series this past year and ended up taking the overall in Master Men 30-39. The Honzo can hold it’s own against full-on enduro race bikes. For my annual bike trip this year I headed to Oregon and Washington and the bike felt immediately at home in the loam. The way it handled the trails in Oakridge was just incredible, even at the tail end of the famed “17k in a Day” ride. I love this bike!
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 140mm Boost
Headset Cane Creek 40
Handlebar Renthal Fatbar Carbon 780mm 10mm Rise
Stem Renthal Apex 31mm
Grips Ergon GE1 (Now Ergon GD1)
Brakes Shimano XT M8000 200mm/180mm Freeza Rotors
Shifters Shimano XT M8000
RD Shimano XT M8000 GS
Guide OneUp Components BB Mount
Cranks Shimano XT M8000 Boost 175mm/34t XT Chainring
BB Shimano XT M8000
Chain Shimano XTR HG-901
Cassette Shimano XT M8000 11-46
Pedals Shimano XT Trail
Front Rim Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Flow MK3 32 Hole
Rear Rim Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Flow MK3 32 Hole
Hubs DT Swiss 350 Centerlock Boost
Spokes DT Swiss Competition
Front Tire Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35 (Now Maxxis Minion DHF 3C 2.3)
Rear Tire Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35 (Now Maxxis Aggressor DD 2.3)
Saddle fi’zi:k Tundra M1
Seatpost Fox Transfer Performance 150mm
Clamp Chromag NQR
We are not about to make any wild assumptions about Todd, the owner of this jealousy-inducing carbon Honzo CR Trail DL, but here at Kona just love it when people pour there personality and riding style into their custom bike builds. Whether it’s subtly updating one of our complete bikes or building a bike fresh from the ground up, the finished build tells you so much about the rider and their riding style (or the style they want to emulate). When we spied this amazing build on the OCCP Instagram page we were all gobsmacked and wanted to know more about the owner and his motivations for putting this beautiful Honzo together. We reached out to Jared at The Oak City Cycling Project in Raleigh, NC and he had this to say.
“This was a build we did for a friend and customer at our shop, The Oak City Cycling Project (Raleigh, NC). His name is Todd Hancock. He has been mountain biking his whole life and was super excited to go from riding a Moots rigid single speed to this Honzo that we finished up for him in time for this Christmas. He loves classic bikes, hence the silver touches, Onza gum walls, and some of the USA made cockpit items as well and those silver Industry9 hubs we laced to Velocity blunt SS rims. Got to represent NC as much as we can with our custom builds (the color is also very Carolina sky blue). The Flite saddle is my favorite touch.”
Dirt Rag Post Their Big Honzo DL First Impressions “It was clear that the Big Honzo was made for big fun”
With 2.8 inch wide Rekons from Maxxis, wide bars and a dropper post, it was clear that the Big Honzo was made for big fun. Built around the 6061 aluminum frame, this bike is as tough as it is a good time.
Dirt Rag have just posted up their First Impressions of our their latest review bike, a Kona Big Honzo DL. Its a brief look at this do-it-all fun loving machine and you can check out their initial thoughts here. The full review will be dropping in issue 203 of Dirt Rag due out Early February
“This is my do it all shred sled from enduro racing to the ultimate goal of racing Colorado Trail race event. This is the first bike I ever had the honor of building from the ground up. This is also the first bike I have owned that I plan to have in my arsenal for the rest of my life.”
How cool is Marks us of an old inner tube to keep the seatpost QR junction clean?