Focus Zonukwa £699

Budget women's mountain bike

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Mail order giants Wiggle have unleashed some real bargains from Focus before, but although the Zonukwa looks good on paper we had mixed feelings about it that didn’t dissipate as we notched up the test miles.

Ride & handling: Lags behind its rivals in terms of both speed and fun

The crazily short saddle pushes you forwards, effectively steepening the seat angle significantly and making balancing traction and power on sharp climbs really difficult. It also inhibits control on descents and it’s a sharp reminder of how much an apparently insignificant component like this affects the ride.

Even when we put a more regular seat on the Zonukwa, it was still hard going. It’s a real plodder, feeling ungainly and lazy on climbs, and managing to be both nervous yet sluggish on the descents.

We struggled to get 80 percent of the stated travel out of the RockShox Dart 3 fork and it failed to suck up the damage of our favourite technical trails, doing nothing to flatter the rider.

The drivetrain functions impeccably as you’d expect from SRAM X.7 and the parts are respectable despite the budget fork, so we have to blame the frame for making the bike feel cheaper than the sum of its parts.

Frame: Plain-looking chassis with V-brake tabs that spoil its lines

A double butted 6061 aluminium frame is a fairly plain starting point for a mid-range hardtail. There’s little going on with the tubing and, while the absence of marketing hyperbole and hydroforming is refreshing, the minimal work on the tubeset goes some way to explaining the ride feel.

The oversized down tube is quite unforgiving, and though there’s plenty of mud clearance around the back tyre, leaving V-brake tabs on a disc-equipped frame feels like an afterthought. An integrated headset keeps the front end height low.

Equipment: Mostly adequate budget kit, but saddle and fork disappoint

The Focus wears plenty of Concept SL finishing kit, with post, bars, stem and the bizarrely stumpy saddle all bearing the budget marque.

Alex X2100 rims are basic but durable, and Schwalbe’s Smart Sams are fast rolling tyres and great for hardpack.

The RockShox Dart 3 fork sticks out – 28mm stanchions look anorexic these days and the lack of substance extends to ride feel, too.

The drivetrain is SRAM X.7 with a serviceable Truvativ Firex chainset. Brakes are Avid Juicy 3 which stop just fine, with plenty of feel and adjustability for small hands.

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