The Queen Kikapu has its Kona stablemates’ fine trail manners in a female-friendly package, but could shed a couple of pounds.
With their low slung top tubes and sizes that go down to 14 inches for most of their models, Kona has big experience building bikes on the small scale. The Queen Kikapu is part of their women's specific range and we really like the look of it. It has the classic Kona graphics and not an overly girly touch. In the size 16in tested, most of our riders found the reach too short, making the position fairly upright - this will suit some women better than others.
On the trails the nifty Kona handling makes it easy to tackle technical sections and tight singletrack. Its responsiveness is reassuring at speed when you're headed round those fast corners too, with solid, easy-to-reach braking performance to back it up.
For most riding conditions the suspension behaves well, not allowing too much pedal feedback and ironing out the bumps. However, it's not as plush as some setups, kicking up more trail info and sometimes losing traction at the back. On full lockout mode there's ample rigidity to stand on the pedals and stomp, which is ideal for getting you up any steep hardpack or tarmac sections.
The Queen's 30lb weight keeps it from being an all-out race princess though, and it's equally not as downhill-ready as others we've tested. The Tora fork is dependable and has a nice action, but it is heavy and a relatively basic fork for the price range.
On the plus side, the bike feels solid. You wouldn't feel bad pushing your limits now and again, confident that the Kona is up to some playtime on the trails. Once it gets going, the Queen carries its pace well and really shines on flatter sections, where its sweet handling comes to the fore - but it could shed a couple of pounds to live up to its worthy cross country credentials.
An upgrade in time to better wheels would boost acceleration and lighten it up - though as it stands there are lighter, faster bikes out there for the same amount of money.
© BikeRadar 2007