Kona’s New 2017 Lineup
Tested on the rigged trails of Squamish, British Columbia
Droppin’ in: Kona built a reputation around bikes that like to be ridden aggressively. It doesn’t matter if you prefer a hardtail or a full suspension, because Kona has you covered with their trail-ready bikes. Photo by Caleb Smith
Kona Bicycles was established in 1988 by a group of guys who shared a deep passion for building and riding bikes. To this day, all of Kona’s founding owners are still involved in the company, and many of Kona’s employees have dedicated more years to their work than they can count on two hands. The Kona culture is based on working hard, playing even harder and sharing high fives at the end of an epic day. Kona has a widespread and diverse set of athletes in its quiver, from cross-country smashers like Barry Wicks and Spencer Paxson to World Cup downhill racers, such as Connor Fearon, and Red Bull Rampage senders, such as Graham Agassiz (aka Aggy). Heading into 2017, Kona combined its enthusiasm for building bicycles with modern components and input from its highly talented athletes to create its best lineup of bikes to date.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017
The most obvious change to Kona’s 2017 lineup is the reintroduction of the Hei Hei’s carbon frame (it was absent from the lineup last year). The Kona Hei Hei now consists of three purpose-built models: the Hei Hei, the Hei Hei Race and the Hei Hei Trail. Though the names are similar, each bike has very different characteristics. The next update to Kona’s 2017 lineup was to the famous Honzo. Kona’s Honzo is built for riders who love to shred trails but value the simplicity of a hardtail. The Honzo is actually a unique bike, as it’s one of very few aggressive 29er hardtails on the market. For 2017 the Honzo received the full-carbon treatment for the first time ever and is now available in an aluminum version with bigger shoes. Last but not least, Kona took its existing fat bike, the Wo, and made a few tweaks. Kona also added a suspension fork to create the trail-ready Wozo.
Always carry a spare: A derailleur hanger is literally designed to bend or break to prevent the rear derailleur from getting damaged in a crash. Once the hanger is damaged, the bike will no longer shift properly. Kona felt that a broken hanger is a lame reason to get stuck on the trails, so they decided to provide riders with an extra one hidden inside their frame.
Work hard, play hard: Kona is a company that enjoys putting in long days when they are required, but they also enjoy kicking back and having a good time as much as possible.
Kona’s Hei Hei comes in three levels, ranging from the top-end Supreme model to the DL model to the entry-level Hei Hei model. These bikes are all designed for trail riding and feature 29-inch wheels. All three models have 120 millimeters of travel up front and 100 millimeters in the rear. The bikes all come spec’d with drop- per posts and share the same geometry, with a 68-degree head tube angle and 16.9-inch chainstays.
Hei Hei: Kona’s 2017 Hei Hei features a short-travel design with 29-inch wheels and the ability to easily tackle technical trails. We ran the Hei Hei through some of Squamish’s finest trails with no issues at all. Photo by Caleb Smith
The Race models come in the same three trim options—Race Supreme, Race DL and Race—but are tailored to an entirely different rider. The Hei Hei Race models have 29er wheels, 100 millimeters of front and rear suspension, and a cross-country-inspired geometry. We did a full test on the Hei Hei Race DL back in our August issue.
Kona had a Hei Hei Trail model last year, but it’s important not to get these two bikes confused. Kona’s 2016 Trail model is now simply part of the Hei Hei lineup. The all-new Hei Hei Trail is a completely different bike, featuring 27.5- inch wheels, 140 millimeters of travel and the same three trim packages as Kona’s other bikes. According to Kona, the Hei Hei Trail and the Hei Hei are similar in their ability to tackle trails; they are just designed for different riders. The Hei Hei Trail was a blast to ride on the aggressive Squamish trails, but we rode the Hei Hei 29er the following day and felt our confidence was identical aboard each bike. Really, the choice comes down to a rider’s preference for 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheels.
The brand-new Honzo Carbon frame comes in a Trail version and a Race version that actually share the same geometry but differ slightly in component spec. The Honzo CR Trail comes equipped with a dropper seatpost, burlier WTB wheels and Maxxis tires so riders can go shred this bike right out of the box. The Race version, however, takes a slightly different approach. The Honzo Race has a rigid post, although it’s capable of running a dropper as well as lighter-weight WTB wheels and cross-country-friendly Maxxis tires. Kona believes the new Honzo Race, with its 120-millimeter fork and more aggressive geometry than the average cross-country bike, is the answer to the increasingly gnarly World Cup venues appearing around the world.
photo by Caleb Smith
As Kona set out to build a 27.5+ bike, Kona discerned that these bikes were being built for riders looking for more traction, more fun and a suppler ride. They soon realized that the Honzo’s playful nature and aggressive styling would mate well with plus-sized tires, thus the Big Honzo was born. This bike is quick, nimble and, best of all, an absolute blast to ride. The Big Honzo DL comes spec’d with a 1×11 drivetrain, a dropper post and a guaranteed good time.
Kona’s Wo has been in the lineup for a few years, but when Kona started to see riders modifying them to be better adapted for trail riding, Kona felt it was time to come out with a purpose-built fat bike to shred trails. The Wozo is that bike. It’s slacker and longer than the Wozo and comes with a RockShox Bluto fork. The Wozo also comes with a 1×11 drivetrain and mismatched tire sizes, with a Schwable Jumbo Jim 26×4.8-inch in the front and a 26×4.0-inch in the rear.
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