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2017 Kona Honzo CR Trail DL & 2018 Kona Process 153 CR Review

We review the Kona Honzo CR Trail DL hardtail mountain bike and Kona's carbon trail/enduro bike, the Kona Process 153 CR. 

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Tech

Kona Honzo Mountain Bike Kona Process Mountain Bike

The Kona Honzo CR Trail DL is a hardtail that's built for having fun. Thanks to its carbon frame and aggressive geometry, it's one of the most capable and versatile hardtails around. 

At the more enduro end of the spectrum, the shred-lovin' Kona Process 153 CR spearheads the long-awaited revamp of Kona's legendary Process line, with a new carbon frame and suspension layout. It's built to descend gnarly downhill trails and delight riders who love to play.

 Kona Honzo and Kona Process Mountain Bike


Kona Honzo CR Trail DL 

  • Carbon Hardtail Frame
  • Aggressive Trail Geometry
  • 29" Wheels
  • 68° Head Angle / 75° Seat Angle
  • Long Reach (450mm Medium / 475mm Large)
  • Short 415mm Chainstays
  • Fox 34 120mm Fork
  • Shimano Deore XT Drivetrain

Kona Process 153 CR 

  • New Carbon Frame Option
  • Improved Suspension Layout
  • 27.5" Wheels
  • 66° Head Angle / 76° Seat Angle
  • Long Reach (450mm Medium / 475mm Large)
  • Short 425mm Chainstays
  • RockShox Lyrik 160mm Fork
  • 153mm Rear Travel
  • SRAM GX Eagle Drivetrain


Kona Honzo CR Trail DL 

Kona has never been afraid to shake things up, and when it came to making the first Honzo, they eschewed everything hardtails had traditionally been to create one of the original aggressive trail oriented hardtails. It’s designed with progressive geometry similar to their full suspension trail bikes: long, low, and slack for downhill stability. Short chainstays keep it playful while big 29er wheels let it roll faster. The result is a hardtail aimed more at having fun than all-out racing. The geometry means it jumps and manuals easily, making it more adept than most at boosting little features out on the trail and diving hard into corners. The hardtail nature means that it provides more feedback and requires more precision than a full suspension trail bike, which many enlightened riders find more exciting and desirable. The Honzo was initially offered with a steel frame, but in 2017 Kona released the carbon framed Honzo, drastically reducing the weight well under 30 lbs and finally making it a hardtail of the future.

The Honzo CR Trail DL is all black from front to back. Suspension duties are handled by a Fox Performance 34 fork with 120mm of travel. It has a Shimano Deore XT 1x11 drivetrain, with SLX brakes, and Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks. The KS Lev Integra dropper provides an ample 150mm of saddle drop to handle steep and rowdy descents. The lightweight carbon frame means that the bike has a lot of room to be upgraded into whatever type of machine you desire. Lightweight wheels and tires along with some other choice carbon components will turn it into a bike you that can hold its own at your local XC Race. Or just ride with downhill casing tires and reckless abandon, doing things you never thought a hardtail capable of before. It’s a bike with the geometry and specs to easily replace any mid travel trail bike while being easier and cheaper to maintain. If you’ve never experienced the sheer joy and excitement an aggressive hardtail can give you, the Honzo is one of the best places to start.   

Kona Honzo and Kona Process Mountain Bike

Kona Process 153 CR 

When Kona’s Process series of bikes were first released it was nothing short of revolutionary. With their progressive geometry, they became the genesis of the long, low, and slack movement that drives modern mountain bike design today. In 2018, the Process has finally had its first major redesign in four years. The most exciting change for many riders is the introduction of the long-awaited carbon frame option. The Process 153 is Kona’s most versatile enduro style trail bike, with enough legs to take big hits and tackle rough downhill tracks, while still being manageable on the pedal back up. There are 2 carbon options and 2 aluminum options. Only it’s big brother the Process 165 is more downhill oriented but only comes in the aluminum frame option. There is a 29er 153 option as well, with near identical geometry, also with aluminum frames.

The Process 153 CR is one step down from the top spec CR/DL model, with a carbon front triangle and aluminum rear triangle. It has a burly RockShox Lyrik fork with an ample 160mm of travel up front for absorbing hard hits. The new 153mm rear suspension layout is designed to be more progressive, providing support for impacts and a solid platform for railing turns, while also having increased anti-squat characteristics to make pedaling uphill more bearable. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain helps too with 500% gear range. Perhaps the most exciting change is that the new layout finally allows a water bottle to be fit inside the frame!

Kona Honzo and Kona Process Mountain Bike

Rider Type

Kona Honzo 

  • General Fun Seekers
  • Daily Trail Shedders
  • One Bike, Do It All Riders

The Honzo is the type of bike that can appeal to anyone. It’s equally at home getting airborne on a set of jumps as it is climbing thousands of feet on all-day epics. Thanks to the carbon frame, its versatility is amplified. If the odd XC race was ever on the docket, the Honzo CR Trail DL wouldn’t be too out of place. It’s a bike that many riders would consider a quiver killer, capable of all sorts of riding from cross country to all mountain. It stops just short of enduro racing and downhill/bike park riding, an arena where a bike like Kona’s Process 153 full suspension mountain bike become the weapon of choice. But if you’re truly rugged and adventurous, you could try it on the Honzo. Ultimately, if you’re a rider that’s seeking versatility paired with shredability in a lightweight hardtail platform, the Honzo CR Trail DL will cover all your bases.

Kona Process 

  • Enduro and Downhill Focused Trail Riders
  • Hooligans
  • Park Rats

The Kona Process 153 is downhill focused, but its modus operandi edges more toward playfulness that all out speed. The suspension provides plenty of feedback, which isn’t to say that it isn’t plush, but it isn’t a downhill couch designed to plow through the terrain. It’s a bike that rewards you most if you can take advantage of the bike’s natural playfulness. Overall, the feel of the Process 153 is on the sportier end of downhill and it will be a great companion to any rider who sees the value in finding creative lines to boost and jib. If you’re an enduro racer, it will still be able to hold its own and compete with other 6” trail bikes. Though it pedals well enough uphill, if big miles or climbs or your cup of tea, then Kona’s more XC Oriented trail options like the Hei Hei Trail and Honzo will suit you more.

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Bruce is a writer who loves getting his bikes dirty, trying new tech, and riding tough trails that make him suffer for hours at a time.