The number of companies making kid-specific bikes is continuously growing. Rather than simply seeing smaller (yet heavy) versions of adult bikes with cheap components, we are starting to notice a movement towards high quality rigs for kids. There were several new brands and models at Sea Otter this year.
Prevelo launched just two weeks before coming out to the Sea Otter Classic. Priding themselves on designing bikes specifically around kids needs, they offer seven different models, from a strider balance bike to a 24-inch hardtail and everything in between.
So what makes them kid specific?
When the designer of these bikes was teaching his own children to ride, he noticed a few things. Kids have more confidence when they are lower to the ground. While the optimal seat height for adults allows a full leg extension at the bottom of a pedal stroke, this position isn’t the best for kids because they can’t put their feet down as easily when they are learning to ride. Prevelo bikes also feature low bottom brackets to get kids even lower to the ground, but short crankarms to minimize pedal strike.
Kid-sized hand brakes offer a number of advantages over coaster brakes that are traditionally-spec’d on bikes for little ones. Not only do they allow for more control, but it gets kids learning how to use them early. Durable components are meant to withstand the beating that kids can put on a bike, and wide cassette ranges actually allow them to make use of their gears.
All Prevelo frames are made of aluminum. The Alpha series is the fully rigid line, which includes a strider, 14, 20, and 24-inch models. The Zulu line includes 20 and 24-inch hardtails. Pricing ranges from $199 for the balance bike to $899 for the two Zulus.
Trailcraft specializes in performance mountain bikes for kids, offering a series of cross-country style rigs in both 24-inch and 26-inch wheel configurations. These frames are also specifically designed for younger riders, with a shorter front end to make handling and learning to pop wheelies and get over obstacles much easier.
The Pineridge features 24-inch wheels while the Timber offers 26-inch wheels. The Pineridge frame comes in aluminum or titanium, while the Timber sticks with the former.
Trailcraft offers a “build your own bike” option on their website, with a choice between various components, such as a Stans NoTubes wheelset or Trailcraft wheelset, Shimano XT 1x or Deore 2×10 and a RockShox or RST 100 mm fork. The Timber 26 Pro with a 2×10 setup and RST fork weights in at 22 pounds with pedals and a 1x setup sheds about half a pound from there.
Recently, Trailcraft also came out with the Maxwell 24, a full-suspension model with 100 mm of travel front and rear, offering an option for more aggressive young shredders.
While Trailcraft’s obvious market is kids, they also cater to smaller adult riders. The Big Mesa (26plus hardtail) and the Maxwell 26 (26plus full suspension) are both designed for riders of all ages in the 4’9″-5’6″ range.
All of Trailcraft’s bikes can be ordered online at http://www.trailcraftcycles.com/bikes. Prices start at $1399.
Islabikes offers a wide variety of kid-specific bikes, from striders to mountain bikes to drop bar road bikes. Multipurpose and mountain bikes are offered in 16-20 inch configurations and feature aluminum frames.
The new Pro Series is an upgraded version of the standard models. They shed weight and offer higher quality components.
The Creig Pro is a high-end kids mountain bike that is offered in 24 or 26-inch wheel sizes and features a RockShox 30 TK fork, a 1×11 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, and tubeless setup. This model is about 4 pounds lighter than the standard Creig frame of the same size. The Creig Pro retails for $2299 while the standard model is $1249.
While I don’t have kids of my own and don’t plan to, it’s neat to see so many options popping up for the future of mountain biking.