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Kona’s new “Honky Tonk” has local roots

Posted by on March 10th, 2008 at 10:50 am

Kona Bicycles’ latest model is named after local off-road racing hero and co-owner of Sellwood Cycle Repair Erik Tonkin.

Kona’s new “Honky Tonk”.

Calling it “a model made specifically for the Portland community,” Erik Tonkin says the new “Honky Tonk” frameset offered by Kona Bicycles is the result of his request for an inexpensive, around-town commuter frame that his customers could build up any way they’d like.

“I think it marks the high-point — or low-point, depending on your perspective — of my career.”
–Erik “Honky Tonk” Tonkin

Tonkin, a former U.S. World Championship Cyclocross Team member and co-owner of Sellwood Cycle Repair, says he told Kona’s product manager that his main requirement was a frame available separately for between $300-350. Other features he encouraged them to include were an all chromoly-steel frame and fork, standard road geometry, clearance for large tires, down-tube shifter bosses (“for that inexpensive, old-school option”), and fender and rear rack braze-ons.

Tonkin plans to sell them as framesets and wants to encourage customers to, “have a hand in building them up.” He adds, “The idea is to make it your own, and do it within whatever budget you’ve got.” He says they can build them into complete bikes for anywhere from $675 to $1,275 (using new and/or used parts).

A Honky Tonk all dressed up.
(Photo: Sellwood Cycle Repair)

Tonkin says having the frame available separately is important; “Most companies only make their top-of-line, flagship models available as framesets, so they’re just too expensive for the consumer to buy and then build into a complete bike.”

Twilight Criterium 2007-39

The man behind the bike.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As for the name, Tonkin swears he had no say in it. “They simply told me they were naming it for me because it was my idea and I helped design it. At first,” he says, “‘Honky Tonkin’ was floated as an idea, but they toned it down.”

Kona plans to offer the Honky Tonk as a complete bike in their standard line-up in 2009. It is currently available as a frameset (with headset) only. See more about the bike here.

You can check out the Honky Tonk, and maybe even get Erik to autograph one for you at Sellwood Cycle Repair (7639 SE Milwaukie Ave.).

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Ralph March 10, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Will the frames come treated with frame saver or some other corrosion resistance?

    This is a bike designed for a city known for its rain, and it doesn\’t take much of it to get inside a steel frame and start to rust.

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  • RyNO Dan March 10, 2008 at 11:28 am

    A bike named after Eric. Hell Yea !
    Purple and gold please, phil wood hubs,
    King head set, disc brakes………. –Dan–

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  • Todd Boulanger March 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Great news…how about adding:
    – a more traditional curved fork (French style?)
    – extra drop outs on top for a Paul front rack
    – low rider rack drop outs on the mid fork
    – a bridge for bolting down a (AXA SL7 type) euro wheel lock by the rear brake
    – hole for running generator lighting internally in the frame

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  • Refunk March 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Good deal.

    I second Todd B\’s list item of mid-fork braze-ons for a front [low rider] rack. If all ya got is two panniers, the weight is better carried on the front rather than back in the rear where yer carcass is already loading the wheel. Of course, if you wear a daypack or messenger bag to commute, than it\’s immaterial.

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  • Mmann March 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Ralph (#1),

    If the bike is going to be built to order, Framesaver is a good thing to request if having it done, or doing the build yourself.
    I like the looks of this and while I agree a couple more things could be added, The overall concept, especially if going with used or \”last year\’s\” components could result in a sweet all-rounder at a very nice price. I think it\’s a good business model for Portland as well – would be nice to see what kind of build different shops can come up with.

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  • Erik March 10, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Good thoughts, everybody. I agree that treating the frame with \’framesaver\’ is smart–it\’s also easy since it comes as a naked frame. I also like the idea of front rack mounts–the weight does feel better there. Keep in mind that Kona offers many different Project2 forks, some with both disc tabs and low-rider rack mounts. We can swap the forks out–and we have. No problem. Thanks for the positive response.

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  • Dag March 10, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The actual website for the bike manufacturing company is:

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  • Hollie March 10, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Honky Tonkin… hahahahaha

    Reminds me of the Salsa Casseroll, but with a better fork. Awesome to see a frame made for a guy like Erik. Sellwood has done right by me so many times and I\’m proud to roll on wheels they hand built.

    Way to go, Honky Tonkin!

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  • david4130 March 10, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Have they ever considered posting it\’s specifications like surly dose with it\’s frames? It would be nice because then I can know if I already have parts that will fit it and thus know if the build is within my price range or not.

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  • kasandra March 10, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    That\’s pretty adorable. Three cheers for Erik.

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  • Zaphod March 10, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Brilliant frame! & Keep the straight bladed fork… stylin\’

    If only I needed another bike.

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  • peejay March 11, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Well, you can\’t build it up any way you like if it\’s got vertical dropouts. You shifter people have fun with it, though.

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  • David Feldman March 11, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Rust v. steel frames is a red herring–all it takes is one little spray can about every two years. UV probably hurts carbon more than wet weather riding hurts steel. And of course there couldn\’t be a better person for Kona to name it after! \”Honky Tonk–\” they need to put a little picture of a house trailer on it somewhere.

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  • Qwendolyn March 11, 2008 at 6:42 am

    \”If only I needed another bike.\”

    You cannot have too many bikes, Zaphod. It isn\’t possible.

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  • tonyt March 11, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Ditto what David #13 said. Just takes a little care here and there to have a steel frame last a lifetime.

    Also keep in mind that the steel alloys that many companies are running is much more resistant to rust than back in the day.

    Yea on all involved for making it steel.

    Disc tabs and horizontal drop outs . . . well, I mean if it was perfect, then you wouldn\’t have that next bike to dream about.

    I mean, who only wants one pair of shoes?

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  • newbie March 11, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I can\’t think of a better person to name a bike after! Erik runs his shop in a way that makes bikes affordable and accessible to everyone.

    He lives and breathes bike advocacy.

    Cheers to Erik and Sellwood Cycle!

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  • john March 11, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Even those of us that have many bicycles, there is something to be said about having just one or two. upkeep and maintanence is just so much easier.
    I always thought it would be nice to have light road racing frame with just enough clearance for cross and mud. or touring or etc.. skip the canti\’s and go with long reach side caliper (10 times easier to take care of !). Framesaver is a little overpriced, any oil that leaves a film is good too. With tig too, you can weld seal most of the tubes cept seattube, obviously. Steel is always a great material easily repairable, have fixed a number of broken frames with a wire brush,flux, torch and brass literally riding again in 20 minutes. Straight forks are easier to build, and i like the look too, ride or flexibility is same as curved fork of course. I like the lugged fork crown rather then unicrown (ugly)

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  • David Feldman March 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I sell Framesaver, but the generic replacement would be LPS3. Framesaver is formulated to more easily coat the inside of a tube, however.

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  • Dabby March 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I have had the pleasure of being lapped by Erik many times.

    Of course I was on a single speed MT bike, and he was on gears, and is much faster than me, so we weren\’t even in the same race technically.

    I also love the horrifically muddy MT. bike race he throws in the coast range. The first time I raced it (on my polo bike, rear brake only) I came in third S.S., but a full 15 minutes behind Molly….

    Kudos Erik, and as I have recently shopped Kona\’s, this will be on the top of the list.

    Now if they would only make some Project 2 forks with a one inch steerer, in 26\” and 29\”?

    Retro MT. Bikes need love too….

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  • erin g. March 12, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    This bike is yet another example of Mr. Tonkin\’s much-deserved prestige. Another example would be the Kona Dealer of the Year award, proudly received by the Sellwood Cycle Repair team. Next time you folks visit the shop, be sure to ask for a glimpse of the coveted trophy. It is an honor fit for a king. Or a throne, rather.

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  • Garrett March 12, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Kudos to Erik!

    After a long search, my girlfriend finally found her perfect cross/commuter at Sellwood. Erik was the most helpful, most knowledgeable, least pushy guy at any of the LBSs we checked out.

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  • JeremyS March 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I picked up my Honky Tonk a week ago today and I\’m in love with it. I had it built with 105, Fir Zenith rims, Ritchey PRO, and silver fenders. I\’ve been searching for a good rain bike with road geometry forever, and I finally found it.

    Jeremiah and Erik were fantastic to work with–you guys have a customer for life.

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  • Anonymous April 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    aha! so thats why Erik was talking it up! 🙂 i went in the other day to check out the bikes/gawk at the new kona kapu which is beautiful/attempt to see if anyone had an awesome touring bike that they wanted to get rid of(the answer was no).
    as i\’m researching options for a touring bike i came across someone asking whether to get a Salsa Casseroll or a Honky Tonk, and apparently the word on the street about the Honky Tonk is: there isn\’t much! which totally makes sense if it was built with a local customer base in mind. And yet Erik was humble enough not to actually mention that he had a part in getting this bike produced.

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  • Bruce December 10, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Oye, it’s hard to find one, this late in the game.

    I just broke my ’92(?) Kapu (the one with Columbus Genius tubing) and I’m realizing that this is the only thing that can possibly replace it.

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