The Gios needed to be replaced so I looked to one of the highly revered sponsors of the Mighty Team Seagal, Kona bicycles. I entered into negotiations with their top brass and we came to a quick agreement. After an exchange of important numbers my selection was final - a 54cm Kona Honky-Tonk frameset was bound for Missouri.
The Honky-Tonk is Kona’s new "utility road frame." It is a geared version of the already popular single-speed Kona Paddy Wagon and named for Portland's’ Erik Tonkin, a local shop owner who caught the eye of Kona after converting a few Paddy Wagon's from single to geared use. Crafted from Dedachi COM 12.5 butted steel tubes, this frame is just what I was looking for – something practical for everyday use with a little dent resistance. The Honky-Tonk is painted a real nice red color with white panels, the Kona decals are printed in retro-style font that looks very fast. The frame comes as a "set" complete with a lugged steel fork (1 1/8” threadless steer tube) and a FSA aheadset. Rounding out the package are numerous braze-ons and useful bits including 2 bottle cage mounts, rack / fender braze-ons at both the dropouts and also on the seat-stays, a pump-peg, and a chain hanger. There is generous room for larger tires; Kona says the frame will accept up to at least 28mm wide rubbers.
The Honky-Tonk frameset was carefully packed and arrived without a scratch. The FSA headset cups were already installed, nice for those without access to expensive shop tools. I was in a unique situation; the 54cm Honky-Tonk frame dimensions were quite similar to those of the Gios, so the parts swapped over pretty easily. I used the stock steel fork and a very solid parts build consisting of mainly Campagnolo Centaur 10-speed components: pre-QS ergo levers, derailleur’s, brakes, 32h Velocity Aerohead rims laced to Centaur hubs, Veloce 12-25 cassette, Chorus crankset and BB, Race Face Cadence stem, and Campy carbon seatpost.
The build went very smooth as the gruppo was pretty new with limited use. The cables and housings were still in great shape and the frames were so close in size I was able to re-use them. The Gios frame utilized a braze-on FD, and the Honky-Tonk takes a clamp-on style FD. It’s easy to convert a braze-on FD to a clamp-on style with adapters but Campy doesn’t make them in the 28.6mm size anymore…that’s OK Nashbar does! It was on sale too, only $3.99!
The Honky-Tonk frameset became a bicycle in just a few hours, there were only two small set-backs:
1) The frame calls for a long-reach brake in the rear, my Campy rear brake was a standard model. I was hopeful and it almost worked, but it didn’t work. I pilfered the correct model brake from my single-speed road bike.
2) I don’t do gears very well. My teammate and very good buddy Wes McLaren, MD had to be called in to tune the derailleurs.
The final result is quite beautiful. I commuted for a few days, and had the opportunity to hammer out some Southwest Ave Hill Challenges™ as training rides. The real test came on Saturday March, 22. I was visiting my parents in Kansas City, KS for Easter and I brought the completed Honky-Tonk along for the trip. I woke-up before the sun and left the house by 6:00am. Sunrise was scheduled for 7:17am, I was riding in the dark for almost an hour before everything lit up. What a cool route. I went south from my parent’s house at 119th St. and State Line, within 8 miles I was cruising along smooth country roads intersecting farmland landscapes complete with mooing cows, barb-wire fences, and even roosters. I hadn’t woken to see the sun rise on purpose for quite some time; it is quite an experience to do so while atop a bicycle. I spent around 5 hours in the Honky-Tonk saddle pedaling about the Kansas countryside and must say it was a very comfortable journey. I rode 75 miles, with about 4,000ft of climbing across a wide variety or road surfaces. I am very pleased with my new road bike. The steel frame is both stiff and compliant; with a very solid feel overall. I came across some pretty big hills and had to get out of the saddle and really mash a bit– this frame definitely offers efficient energy transfer. Between 5 to 10 miles of the ride ended up on gravel roadways - the further south away from KC I traveled the worse the surfaces got. Fearing a puncture I was never completely comfortable on the gravel sections with my 700x23 tires. The bike handled these surfaces admirably and I was lucky that I never needed to break out a spare tube.
Let me tell you what I have gotten myself into here people: this is the best road bike any single-speed mountain biker could ever want.
Good luck at Ouchita this year everybody. Look for our Moustaches. Thanks for stopping by.