I’ve spent the past few months aboard the 2018 Kona Wozo, a bike that is designed as an all-season, aggressive, hardtail that happens to have fat tires. This bike hasn’t seen much change from its 2017 counterpart, but that’s for good reason. I have had a great time riding this bike and am happy to share what I have learned.
I have had plenty of experience riding the Wozo’s skinny brother, Honzo. I have had my Honzo for two years now and it continues to be my go-to for any type of trail riding. I was blown away when I compared the numbers on the Honzo to the Wozo. They are almost identical, which amazes me given, you know, Big F’n Tires.
Kona isn’t the first company to design a fatbike after a skinny bike’s “proven” geometry. However, I think it is a much larger feat to design a fat-bike with almost the same numbers as a bike like the Honzo. The Wozo maintains almost the same chainstay length as the Honzo, all while having plenty of tire clearance for the 4.0” Maxxis BFR. It also has sliding dropouts for those people that like to either tinker with their bikes or the real wacky riders that ride fat single speed. (Looking at you, Ronsta!)
My opinion on the spec:
Overall I was impressed with the spec of this bike given the price point of $2499. I wasn’t disappointed with any of the changes that were made from the 2017 model and was pleased with the performance of all the components. Most people I talk to tell me that Shimano makes the best brakes, so some might be disappointed with the switch from Deore to Sram Level brakes. However, I felt consistent braking through all of the cold and never had any fading or lack of power.
One little thing that I would change would be getting rid of the matchmaker for the rear brake and shifter. I found that placing the levers where I prefer them spaced the shifter in too far, making me adjust my grip to make a shift. Again, this was a little issue that is an easy fix, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I have ridden the Bluto on other bikes and have always been happy with it in the snow, including my test time on the Wozo. It worked flawlessly and even came with the tooled axle, which I like. But, I have always thought the Bluto was a little flexy for my 210 pound, downhilling, dirt jumping, summertime self. I would love to ride this bike in the summer with a 120mm Mastodon and really put it through some bigger riding.
The Kona branded components on the Wozo were all solid and well thought out. I particularly liked the 35mm handlebar and stem combination. The wide bars and short stem pair perfectly with the modern trail geometry and make for a snappy handling bike. It also has a 31.6mm seatpost with a two-bolt clamp making it easy to dial in your seat angle. The frame ready for a dropper post with stealth routing comes out of the seat tube near the bottom bracket and up the top of the downtube using a couple extra threaded bolts.
Lastly on the spec; This bike comes with a 4” tire on the rear and a 4.8” on the front. The rear end of the frame has sliding dropouts with a 177x12mm thru axle. There is plenty of clearance for the 4” tire even with the dropouts slammed all the way forward. Because I was curious, I slid the dropouts all the way back to see if a 4.8 would be able to fit. The answer: Yes, BUT NO. There was only a couple of millimeters between the tire and the chainstays.
Riding the Wozo:
As I had mentioned earlier, I have a Kona Honzo that has been my absolute favorite bike of all time. That bike, for me, has redefined what a hardtail is capable of. This bike, the Wozo, gives me that same feeling in a fat bike. Kona has proven themselves once again that they have some of the most capable and enabling bikes. This bike enables me to ride the way that I like to ride, fast and loose. I am the guy in a race that “wastes” energy by jumping off and over anything possible. The Wozo had me doing this all over.
The only difficulty I had with the Wozo was keeping both tires on the ground. The short chainstays had me wanting to bring the front end up and pop off of everything. Hopping on the Wozo is easier than any fat-bike I have ridden and will give any rider more confidence in their abilities. Just make sure that you keep your weight forward on climbs because the front end comes up easier there too.
I was comfortable riding just about anything on the Wozo. I had plenty of riding through multiple inches of fresh snow and even attempted to ride on Lake Winnebago. I was unfortunately unable to ride the Bike Across Bago event due to veryyyyy slick conditions and a lack of tire studs. But this didn’t dampen my spirits at all on the Wozo.
The 2018 Kona Wozo is a bike that enables you to ride anything that would want. It is capable of handling some of the most aggressive trails with its burly spec and near perfect geometry taken from its skinny brother, Honzo. If you aren’t worried about weight, but would rather have a bike that will hold up to anything that you can throw at it, then the Wozo is the bike for you.
I give this bike 5 big ol’ gnomes out of 5. I will now be spending the rest of my Winter seeing what I can do to get a Wozo in my permanent stable.
Cheers and happy trails,
PS – If you want more information about the Kona Wozo visit – http://www.konaworld.com/wozo.cfm