A Day on the Kona Satori and a Look at the Honzo

Kona House of the Big Wheel Launch Part 3 (of 3).

By Ryan LaBar

A Day on the Kona Satori

As evidenced by my previous two “House of the Big Wheel launch” posts (here and here), it’s clear that Kona has completely embraced the 29-inch wheel size.

While I spent most of my time during this launch aboard the cross-country oriented Hei Hei 29er, I was able to spend the better part of the day on the company’s full-suspension all-mountain 29er, the Satori.

Photo: Sterling Lorence

The ride was a shuttle with a healthy dose of climbing along the way. Our route was Bug Springs to Prison Camp to Molino Basin finishing up on the Arizona Trail, near Tucson, Arizona.

The first three trails on that list listed are primarily gravity-fueled and littered with fast, stair-stepping rockgardens. I must say that my initial impressions of the bike were all positive here. The stiffness of the bike felt good front to back, and the 130-millimeters of travel (front and rear) combined with the big wheels and slack, 68-degree headtube angle easily ate up rough sections of trail. Additionally, the short, 17.3-inch chainstays allowed me to easily manual through dips and kept the bike nimble through the switchbacks and tighter sections of trail.

The Bug Springs trail offered some stunning views.

The Arizona Trail section was more rolling terrain with a healthy dose of pedaling (especially considering we had finished the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo the day before). Climbing, and other out-of-the-saddle pedaling situations, on the Satori yielded a good bit of bob, and seemed best done with the blue lever engaged. To be honest here, I would have liked to spend a bit time dialing in the rear shock’s settings–this could remedy some of the experienced bob.

Look for a full review of the Satori in an upcoming issue of Bike magazine.

A Look at the Kona Honzo

Kona’s Honzo is anything but a “normal” 29er hardtail. Kona designed it to be ridden aggressively down steep, tight terrain. To make the bike do just that, Kona had to implement some outside-the-norm design choices while creating this bike. The most notable of these choices is the bike’s lack of front derailleur. The Honzo has insanely short 16.3-inch chainstays and an ultra-low 12.2-inch high bottom bracket. These numbers make it impossible to run a front derailleur without it interfering with the rear tire. The front end of the Honzo is a slack 68-degrees and equipped with a 120-millimeter fork. Additionally impressive (for a steel frame) is the ability to run just about any dropper post with a standard 31.6-millimeter seat tube diameter. Keeping the bike stiff are a tapered headtube and through-axles front and rear. Kona kept the price low too at just $1,800.

Here is Kona’s House of the Big Wheel video for the Satori and the Honzo:

Special thanks to the folks at Southwest Trekking for showing us the trails and some truly impressive bus driving.

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Add a Comment

  • http://nsmb.com Dan

    No front derailleur? No problem! With a 1×10 drivetrain, you gave all the range a fit rider needs.

  • Disco

    Road bikes, whatever; for a time suspension seatposts and stems were all the rage but eventually 650b will rightly prevail once tire and rim makers quit being so lazy and cheap.

  • Disco

    A bit cruel, Kona can’t help what marketing foists on the masses and does well evolving their designs to compensate for shortcomings. The slack head angle will keep the tire off my and other riders toes and ISCG tabs will permit a hammerschmidt instead of lanky stays and dodgy handling to keep the chain and rings out of the tires. Props Kona, though to the industry I’d sooner flatland a 24″ cruiser than be excited about balloon tires so damn big they compromise the entre design, tough work.

  • Jack

    On The Honzo its great to sit right on top of the tire and the slack head tube makes for a great ride not to mention 110mm travel fork. Kona did a great job with this bike. Look for others to follow in thier tracks

  • ross mcgarva

    think the Honzo is 1×9 but hay who’s counting

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