How We Roll: Montana Miller’s fat-front Kona Honzo

Editor’s note: While we at Dirt Rag get to ride a lot of very nice bikes, most of them are bone stock or very close to it. I’ve always enjoyed seeing how individual riders personalize their bikes with component choices, accessories or other little touches that really make them their own. We’re starting a new feature called How We Roll to highlight some of the cool, unusual or just awesome bikes we see out in the wild. Up first: our current intern Montana Miller.

What terrain do you ride the most?

Sharp slippy rocks in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

How many hours a week does the bike get ridden?

Around 10 to 15. Sometimes more, usually not less.

If this bike was a sheep, would you rail it hard in the corners?

No. I’d pump it through the rollers.

Is there anything special or different about your build?

The fat front. It turns the Honzo into a rigid bike that I can actually ride hard. With a 29er front wheel, I was constantly pinging the rim or folding wheels over. The 135mm spacing on the fat bike fork let me build the front wheel with even spoke tension (most standard front disc wheels have only have about 60 percent tension on the non-disc side,) so I ended up with a wheel that’s stiff and really strong.

With six psi in the fat bike tire, I can take the same lines that I used to take with a 120mm suspension fork. I just have to be a little careful on sustained descents, because once the fat tire starts bouncing, it can get out of control pretty fast. Since my home trails are so wet and gritty all year, and all my riding is off road, I was putting new seals in my suspension fork almost every month. With the rigid fork, I don’t have to do anything. That’s nice.

I have a Pugsley, and did some rides on that on dry trails, but the fat rear tire is pointless in the summer. A fat front adds a lot of control, but a fat rear just adds a lot of drag.

You brought this bike to a gunfight. What now?

I’d get shot, and probably wouldn’t be super happy about it.

When you built up this bike, what did you dream about doing with it?

When I built up the Honzo, I dreamed about having a bike that I could ride for more than one season (I was on race frames before that, and cracking one every year.) So far so good.

Anything you plan on changing?

I’m planning on racing this setup this season, so I’m going to build up a 29er front wheel for smoother courses. The 3.8 Knard is just a little much to drag around on a buff trail.


Does your bike have a name? Have you assigned it a gender role?

No and no. It’s a machine. I don’t make it dinner or take it to bed with me either. Although I have been tempted. I get lonely sometimes.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done with this bike?

I dropped down a set of stairs carrying a six-pack home the other night. The cardboard ripped, and I was left gripping a six-pack handle while I watched all my beers explode on the pavement. It was a sad night.

What makes this bike unique? What makes it yours?

The bad rattle can paint job that rubs off on my shorts.

Vital stats

  • Frame: Kona Honzo
  • Rear Shock: No
  • Fork: Salsa Enabler
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Stem: Thompson X4 50mm
  • Bars: Jones Loop
  • Grips: ESI Chunky
  • Brakes: XTR Trail M988
  • Rotors: Formula R1 (F180/R160)
  • Rims: F:Surly Large Marge Lite, R: Stan’s Flow
  • Hubs: F: Surly Ultra New, R: Industry Nine Single Speed
  • Tires: F: Surly Knard 26×3.8, R: Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4
  • Cranks: Shimano SLX
  • Chainrings: Raceface Turbine 36t
  • Cassette/ cog: Surly 20t
  • Derailleurs: No
  • Shifters: No
  • Pedals: Shimano XT Trail M785
  • Saddle: WTB Volt SLT
  • Seatpost :Thompson Elite
  • Seatpost clamp: Salsa Flip-Lock