First Impression: Kona Honzo CR Trail DL

Kona knocked it out of the park with the Honzo CR Trail DL. Featuring a stealth matte black finish, aggressive all-mountain geometry and a reasonably lightweight package, this Honzo is a grand slam. It took all but five minutes on my initial ride to develop an attachment, which quickly led to confirming with our Tech Editor that we don’t need to send this back to Kona anytime soon. Right?


I tested the Honzo Carbon Dee-Lux, and deluxe it is, with an all-star build kit including a RockShox Pike, KS Lev Integra dropper with Southpaw remote, WTB Asym i29 wheels, SRAM XO1 drivetrain and Guide RSC brakes. Simply put, a solid, dependable build that’s ready to shred straight from the box.


I instantly felt at home aboard the Honzo, with the long top tube (25.5 inches), relatively low bottom bracket (12.2 inches), fairly slack head angle (68 degrees) and uber short chainstay (16.3 inches). These combined factors created an insanely fun hardtail for aggressive trail riding. As a full-on ambassador of the hardtail world, the Honzo checked many of the must-have boxes for me.


Climbing was not quite as effortless as on a 20 lb. cross-country race bike, but I was more than happy giving up a little climbing prowess for the added descending capabilities. Equipped with the highly regarded 120 mm RockShox Pike, the front end was ready to soak up whatever chunder you were willing to throw in front of it.  And surprisingly, for a hardtail, the rear triangle felt comfortably supple. I was in disbelief that a hardtail could feel that smooth; it was almost, dare I say … softail-esque.


Although the Honzo is perfectly capable as a cross-country race bike, you may find yourself having more fun playing as opposed to seeking the smoothest and fastest lines. It’s a perfect option for the weekend warrior with a moto background who’s not afraid of letting the bike dance beneath them or the trail rider that can’t justify the full-suspension costs and likes to dabble in cross-country style singletrack.

Look for our full review of the Kona Honzo CR Trail DL in the upcoming issue of Dirt Rag magazine. Subscribe now so you don’t miss the review and all the rad stuff we’ve got planned this year, and sign up for our email newsletter to get great content like this delivered directly to your inbox every Tuesday!