Dirt Rag Magazine

First Impressions: Kona’s new Honzo AL/DL, Hei Hei Trail and Precept 150


Kona’s tagline for its 2016 lineup is “Going Deeper” and it’s an apt description for its largest-ever product range. While some models carry over largely unchanged, nearly every mountain bike gets an update of some kind, and several get ground-up redesigns. We sampled some of the latest on the trails outside Bellingham, Washington.

Honzo AL/DL

When I rode the original Honzo for a long-term review last year I couldn’t help but feel that it was really only going to make a particular type of rider happy. In classic Kona style it was built tough, and didn’t worry much about the gram scale. It was a ripper, for sure, but wasn’t the bike I would choose for all-purpose mountain biking.

2016-kona-4

The new aluminum Honzo changes that entirely. It sheds nearly three pounds of the frame weight of the steel version (which is still available as a frame-only) and transforms the bike into a much more pedal-friendly all-arounder. You might be saying “Ok, so it’s a Taro,” an aluminum model that had a similar geometry to the steel Honzo, but it’s not. The aluminum Honzo is entirely new, with an all-new tubeset, different hub spacing (Boost 148) and a PF92 bottom bracket shell. The short 415 mm chainstays and 68 degree head tube angle stay put while the front center stretches out even more, now matching the front end geometry of the Process 111.

2016-kona-3 2016-kona-1

The AL/DL model comes with the new Foax 34 fork (with the much improved FIT4 damper) set at 120 mm and a 1×10 Shimano drivetrain at $2,199. The AL model swaps in a RockShox Recon fork at $1,599 and the frame itself can be had for $500. The steel frame remains largely the same but gets the same geometry as the aluminum model and retails for $525. Finally, there is now a titanium frame for the true connoisseur at $2,199.

 

Hei Hei Trail

The Hei Hei has long been Kona’s full-suspension cross-country platform, and the latest version adapts in accordance with the changes in cross-country riding. Races are getting more technical, riders are looking for more travel, and versatility is being favored over gram counting. The new Hei Hei Trail addresses these demands with new geometry and an all-new suspension platform.

2016-kona-7

The new Hei Hei Trail moves 100 mm of travel through a new flex pivot design Kona calls Fuse. By eliminating the pivot near the dropout and instead allowing the chainstay to flex 1.5 degrees, the rear triangle is lighter and simpler. The linkage is also much smaller and the shock is mounted lower, resulting in better standover and a lower center of gravity.

2016-kona-9

Up front the bike’s attitude is transformed with a 68 degree head tube angle and a longer reach (though not as long as the Honzo or Process bikes). Paired with a 120 mm Fox 34 fork it is more than capable of hanging with its Process cousins, especially when equipped with a dropper post through the available stealth routing. The Fuse suspension is poised and responsive, and while it doesn’t have a lot of travel it is more than capable. Of the three bikes I sampled, the Hei Hei Trail was the one that surprised and impressed me the most.

2016-kona-5

The Hei Hei Trail DL is equipped with a Fox 34 fork and 1×11 Shimano XT drivetrain for $3,299. The Hei Hei Trail rolls with a RockShox Recon Gold TK fork and 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain for $2,499. The frame only is $1,699. There is a Hei Hei Race version, with a 100 mm fork and a very race-oriented build kit, but it will only be available international markets.

 

Precept 150

While the Process line of bikes have been earning a lot of accolades, including in our pages, they are inherently more expensive to manufacture. The Precept line uses a more traditional single pivot suspension layout and more affordable build kits to hit a lower price point without sacrificing the attitude of Kona’s more expensive models.

2016-kona-11

The Precept 150 is an all-new model with 27.5 wheels and 150 mm of travel front and rear. The aluminum frame features a tried-and-true linkage-driven single pivot design paired with a RockShox Sektor fork and ships with a KS dropper post and 2×10 SRAM drivetrain. The geometry matches the Process 153 with a 66.5 head tube angle and 16.7 inch chainstays, keeping the Precept 150 feeling light on its feet and never cumbersome.

2016-kona-12 2016-kona-13

While it doesn’t have the bling factor of the fancy parts the Precept 150 is perfectly at home on steep, rocky trails and would be just fine doing light bike park duty or enduro racing. The single model will sell for $2,699.

 

Print

First Impression: Kona Precept DL


Editor’s note: This is one of six bikes we’ve gathered together that fall between $1,900 and $2,600. Read our introduction to see the other five and watch for our long-term reviews of each in Dirt Rag #182, due on newsstands and in mailboxes in February. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a bike review.


kona-precept-DL-first-impression-1

Kona’s line of Process bikes has been a runaway success, racking up a number of positive reviews and happy customers. The Precept line offers many of the same qualities that riders love about the Process—slack angles, short chainstays, aggressive attitude—and hits a more wallet-friendly price point.

The Precept DL pictured here retails for $1,899, well below some of the other bikes in this group test. The least expensive Process 134 lands at $2,799, and there is a less expensive Precept model at just $1,599.

The Precept DL follows the flow of the Process 134 model fairly closely: It has 130mm of travel through a classic linkage-driven single pivot layout, an all-aluminum frame with threaded bottom bracket and dropper post routing, and 140mm RockShox Sektor fork out front. The build kit includes nearly all Shimano gear, including Altus shifters, 3×9 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. One of the highlights is the Deore thru-axle hubs front and rear with Shimano Centerlock rotors.

The numbers are right on the money for a fun, responsive trail bike: 68-degree head tube angle and 16.7-inch chainstays. The 758mm front center on my size XL tester is long, but not nearly as long as the 776mm on the Process 134 bikes, a notable difference if you like your top tubes long and stems short.

After a few rides it’s clear the Precept DL is designed for maximum fun on a wide variety of trails, from relaxed to rowdy. Watch for my full, long-term review in Dirt Rag #182 next month.

 

Print
Back to Top