KONA Cinder Cone 2010, mountain £750, www.konaworld.com


As testament to the  durability of this famous marque, I’ve still got a 1988 Cindercone (from the first year of Kona production) that runs perfectly. But compared to the steel original this current iteration is a whole different machine. 

However two design aspects have remained consistent over the decades: the compact geometry and sloping top-tube, both Kona trademarks. The shorter reach (15-20mm less than all but the Pinnacle) and lower standover are why the brand’s always been popular with female and smaller male riders, the more upright position providing great all-day comfort and making the bike highly manoeuvrable on tight trails.

Something of a revelation was the Rockshox Tora fork, which achieved its full range of 100mm travel over the bumps at Bedgebury (a rarity on cheap suspension) and when locked out for commutes still allowed a small amount of movement to taking the sting out of potholes. The Shimano brakes have been confidence-inspiring at every turn and the low-profile Maxxis tyres particularly adept on hardpack Sustrans-type trails. There’s rack and bottle bosses too. 

My only recommended changes would be slimmer grips and a less heavily-padded saddle. Available in a staggering seven sizes from 14-22in, there’s one for everyone, and women may want to check out the Lisa hardtail (£600).

PROS fork, brakes, size range
CONS saddle, grips