2021 Kona Honzo ESD Bike
(discontinued)

Vital Rating:
Discontinued
Related:
Where To Buy
Shipping available to the contiguous 48 states and Washington DC.
Shipping available to the contiguous 48 states and Washington DC.
$3,099.00
Honzo ESD
$3,099.00
Honzo DL
$2,699.00
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Kona Honzo ESD Review
Kona's aggressive hardtail is ready for anything.
Rating:
Vital Review
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Is steel real? Kona's Honzo ESD stares you dead in the face with a deadpan expression to reply, "yes." With an intimidating head badge and geometry inspired by the Process X, this bruiser of a bike was able to handle everything we were able to throw at it. After all, why wouldn't it, the Honzo ESD is Extra Slack, Dude. We've had the Honzo ESD in our hands for quite a long time to see how this bike, and our molars, would hold up.

Strengths

  • A riot on the trails
  • Confident, capable descender
  • More agile than numbers suggest

Weaknesses

  • Portly
  • Weak rear hub engagement

Highlights

  • Kona Cromoly frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 150mm (5.9-inches) fork travel
  • 63.5-degree headtube
  • External cable routing
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • Two water bottle cage mounts
  • 200 mm dropper post
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Boost 148 rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 33.58-pounds (15.23kg)
  • MSRP $2,999 USD
  • $699-Frame and rear thru-axle only

Geometry

The frame has an aggressive 63.5-degree head angle paired with a steep, 77.5-degree seat tube angle that didn’t allow the front end to float on the steepest climbs. Even though it’s paired with a 150mm travel fork, we scaled the climbs easily, even with the stubby 417mm chainstays. The 525mm reach was plenty comfortable for our 6'1" test rider. Our size XL test bike had an impressive, 1285mm wheelbase.

Setup

We set up the Marzocchi Z1 to our body weight suggestion located on the fork, in this case, 80psi. Rebound was set for two clicks less than dead center. We didn’t have to adjust it from there. For the tires, we set the air pressure to 25psi front and back to allow for a slightly more comfortable ride.

On The Trail

From the Bogus Basin Gravity park to Eagle Bike Park, and all the trails in between, the Honzo ESD went everywhere with us. We had no issue running this down the black diamond runs as well as the local, fun loops. We even took this hard-charger out for some XC practice with the local high school team.

DH/Technical Performance/Fun Factor

With the 63.5-degree head angle, 150mm Marzocchi Z1, paired with 29-inch wheels, the Kona Honzo ESD made us forget we were on a hardtail. Drops, jumps, and rocks were no match for this beast. As with longer bikes, it did seem a little slower in tight technical turns, but excelled in the straights, even when it got nasty. The cromoly frame was extremely stiff, without being harsh, and seemed to track anywhere it was pointed.

The Marzocchi Z1 paired with the long wheelbase smoothed out the rough portions and the rear tracked with very little problems. This helped to prevent the rear end from bouncing on even the chunkiest descents.

Unique Features

The Kona Honzo ESD comes specced with rear sliding dropouts that can be utilized for a longer wheelbase or a single-speed conversion. Running this bike in the XL, we felt the wheelbase was long enough and it seemed to ride the best with the dropouts moved all the way in. Riders will not go thirsty with the Honzo ESD. Ours had two water bottle mounts, with additional mounts for other gear options.

Geometry

At first, we were intimidated by the numbers of this bike. This is a massive machine with a 1285mm wheelbase. Once on the bike, it feels closer to a Large and we felt it was more than comfortable on the jumps, drops, rocks, and even climbs. Keeping the rear end of the bike in nice and tight made for a surprisingly snappy ride.

Perceived Weight

After several rides, we guessed the weight at about 29-pounds and were shocked to see it tip the scale at over 33-pounds. This bike definitely rides lighter than it actually is. On the descents, it was easily maneuverable and it seemed to climb efficiently for the weight.

Climbing

To test out the climbing, we teamed up with one of the local high school mountain bike teams for a practice with the A squad. Although the flat pedals and tires weren’t ideal for climbing, we were able to hang. With help from the lockout on the Marzocchi Bomber Z1, the big grinds were manageable.

We definitely didn’t have any PRs on any climbing segments, but this bike wasn’t designed for XC races. On a few steep pitches, we were pleasantly surprised to see the front end stay planted thanks to the seat tube angle.

Sprinting

Sprinting was a hoot on this bad boy. Coming out of corners, the bike seemed to rocket out, due to it being a hardtail. Also, short, punchy climbs proved to be no match. During the test, we switched back and forth between clipless pedals and platforms. We derived that the platforms were more suited for the Honzo ESD. This is a bike for fun and should be equipped as such.

Build Kit

The Kona Honzo ESD had a nice mixture of Race Face & Shimano components. The Drivetrain is an SLX 12-speed derailleur paired with XT shifter. Shimano Deore 4 piston brakes were chosen to stop this beast. The beefy Marzocchi Z1 Bomber fork ate up everything it was presented with. Raceface Aeffect cranks, bars (780mm), and stem (35mm) were a solid addition.

Our Honzo ESD used a TrazX Dropper with a whopping 200mm drop, which was nice with the low-slung top tube. To round out the build, Kona went with Race Face AR30 rims paired with a Maxxis Assegai EXO TR 3C 2.5 (front) and a Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO TR 3C 2.4 (rear)

Fork Performance

The Marzocchi Z1 fork performed flawlessly from day one. Super easy to set up and was able to eat up any drop, jump, or rock garden we were able to throw at it. The full lock-out came in handy when it was time to start heading up the hill. There's something we appreciate about the simple setup and adjustments of the Marzocchi line, especially on a hardtail.

Tire Performance

The Maxxis Assegai and Maxxis Minion DHR II combo were perfect for the loose, rocky descents and dusty conditions in this area. They are a go-to combo because of their predictability but tend to be slower for climbing, which this bike was not intended for.

Wheel Performance

The Race Face AR30s were nice with the 30mm width and felt stiff, which was nice for our larger riders. The weak link was the Shimano SLX hub which fell short on the engagement portion that we felt on several rides. The latent engagement seemed even more pronounced on a hardtail.

Brake Performance

Right out of the box, we had a bad front brake. After troubleshooting several things, we eventually replaced it with another brake. Our replacement 4-Piston Deore brake offered consistent performance. There was plenty of stopping power and we never experienced any brake fade. 

Drivetrain Performance

We experience zero issues with the Shimano SLX derailleur and Shimano XT shifter combo. Even shifting under load, the pairing was consistent and gave us no problems. Kona's choice to outfit the Honzo ESD with the nicer Shimano XT shifter did not go unnoticed. We know high-end derailleurs may look flashy on the showroom floor but it's the shifter that makes the on-trail performance difference.

Noise

We consistently had noise coming from the bottom bracket. The fact that the frame was cromoly seemed to amplify the sound. Once the bike was cleaned, the creak went away for a few rides and returned. We finally remedied the issue by removing the bottom bracket and cleaning it.

If we were to make an upgrade, it would be in the wheels, or at minimum a nicer hub. At the $2,999 complete and $699 frame price tag, we feel it’s in line with the competition, such as the Marin El Roy we tested. Kona offers a lifetime frame warranty to back up the frame.

Long Term Durability

This bike seems like it’s built to last. The beautiful red flake paint showed no signs of chipping or wear during our test. Kona offers a lifetime warranty on their frame to the original owner if they register the bike within 3 months. This bike is one you can have in your stable for years to come and has the option to convert it to a single-speed.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Kona Honzo ESD was a lot of fun. The Chromoly frame is built to last and burley enough to keep up with your friends on the gnarliest of descents. It will surprise a lot of people with how capable it is, not only down, but also up. The long slack geometry and the 150mm Marzocchi Z1 had us forgetting we were on a hardtail, until the climbs. Kona's Honzo ESD is the perfect tansition for the hardtail curious and will keep riders cackling all the way down the trail.

Visit konaworld.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

John Palumbo - Age: 46// Years Riding MTB: 26 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 205-pounds (92.99kg)

I have over 26 years of cycling, with over 20 years of racing multiple cycling disciplines (XC, Marathon XC, Xterra Off-Road Triathlon, DH, DS, BMX, Enduro, Road, Criterium, Time Trial). I’ve donated over 500 hrs to our local trails in building and maintaining them. I currently sit on a trail access advisory board, coach high school mountain biking & am actively involved in the local mountain bike community. I’ve held several positions in the bike industry representing Intense Cycles, Dragon Optics, Troy Lee Designs & Tannus Tire Inserts.

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Specifications

Product
Kona Honzo ESD Bike
Model Year
2021
Riding Type
Trail
Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider
Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
SM
MD
LG
XL
Wheel Size
29"
Frame Material
Chromoly
Frame Material Details
Butted chromoly, molded chainstay protection
Rear Travel
Hardtail
Rear Shock
N/A
Fork
Marzocchi Bomber Z1, GRIP damper, 42mm offset
Fork Travel
150mm
Head Tube Diameter
Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Headset
FSA Orbit 1.5 E ZS
Handlebar
Race Face Aeffect R, 35mm clamp diameter
Stem
Race Face Aeffect R, 35mm bar clamp
Grips
Kona Key Grip, lock-on
Brakes
Shimano Deore, 4-piston, Shimano RT64 CENTER LOCK rotors (203mm front, 180mm rear)
Brake Levers
Shimano Deore
Drivetrain
1x
Shifters
Shimano Deore XT, 12-speed
Front Derailleur
N/A
Rear Derailleur
Shimano SLX, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs
ISCG05
Chainguide
N/A
Cranks
Race Face Aeffect R
Chainrings
Race Face Aeffect R, 30 tooth, narrow/wide profile
Bottom Bracket
Race Face, 73mm
Pedals
N/A
Chain
Shimano Deore, 12-speed
Cassette
Shimano SLX, 12-speed, 10-51 tooth
Rims
Race Face AR 30
Hubs
Shimano SLX, CENTER LOCK rotor mounts, 110x15mm Boost front, 148x12mm Boost rear with MICRO SPLINE driver
Spokes
Stainless steel, 14g
Tires
Front: Maxxis Assegai, 3C, EXO, TR, 29" x 2.5" WT
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 3C, EXO, TR, 29" x 2.4" WT
Saddle
WTB Volt
Seatpost
Trans-X +RAD dropper, Shimano remote lever
Seatpost Diameter
31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp
Kona, single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
148x12mm Boost
Max. Tire Size
 
Bottle Cage Mounts
One inside front triangle, one under down tube
Colors
Gloss Metallic Red with Silver Decals
Warranty
Lifetime frame
Weight
N/A
Miscellaneous
External cable routing with internal dropper post routing
Price
$2,699.00
More Info
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Shipping available to the contiguous 48 states and Washington DC.
Shipping available to the contiguous 48 states and Washington DC.
$3,099.00
Honzo ESD
$3,099.00
Honzo DL
$2,699.00
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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