Finally, I have decided to get my daughter a 24” wheel size instead of 26”. After trying out some bikes and I feel that fitting is very important. I had a wrong fitting once on my road bike and I suffered throughout my entire ride. Also, I have read up a lot of review and articles online they recommended kids with height in between 4’5” to 4’9” (135cm to 145cm or 9 to 11 yrs old) to cycle on 24”. I guessed we can’t save on everything.
There are a many aspects why is size important.
If it is too far, it will jeopardize their handling. I saw how my daughter wobbled thru the handlebar when pedaled from a stop position.
Frame Size and wheels
Bigger bikes (like 26”) have longer wheelbase and little kid like them will need extra strength to pedal thru an obstacle like tree brunches.
Bigger bike is heavier. Again, they will need an extra effort to cycle. I read an article stating that 1kg saved on kid’s bike is equivalent to 2.5kg saved on adult’s bike.
Adult cranks are normally 170 – 175mm long. Kid’s bike is around 160mm.
Shopping for a 24” bike in Malaysia can be quite difficult. Not many shops here carry mid/high end kid’s bikes. Asian culture is more calculative when coming in spending this kind of $. Most parents will not spend more than MYR600 for a kid’s bike. In fact, one of the shop customer asked me how much was the priced for the bike and when I told him that time he got shock. He told me he wouldn’t spend that much for it.
This was supposed to be my daughter’s birthday present. She ordered a Trek Superfly 24” back in May but it never got it here. So, we have to ditch that brand and look elsewhere. Like I said, not many brands here unless we special ordered it and that also didn’t come through. We have looked at Specialized, BMC and XDS bikes and it took her 2 hours to decide getting the Specialized over BMC.
Well, kid’s bike is definitely smaller and components used are also lower end comparing with the adult bike. But, the price does not scale down with size. I paid MYR1350 for my daughter’s bike and that bike cost as much as my 1st entry bike (XDS MX-896) I got for myself 2 years ago.
So, what are the features?
Frame: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum, double-butted and formed downtube/toptube, externally relieved headtube, forged dropouts w/ replaceable hanger, disc mount
Front Derailleur (FD): SR Suntour, 8-speed
Rear Derailleur (RD): SRAM X3, 7-speed, long cage
Shifter: SRAM X4 Trigger Shifter, 8 Sp (we opt trigger shifter over grip shift)
Brakes: Die-cast, alloy V-brake
Fork: SR Suntour XCT-JR-24-MLO, 50mm travel
Crankset: SR Suntour, 7-speed Junior, 160mm arms
Chainrings: 42/32/22 steel, replaceable outer ring, w/ chainguard
Cassette: Shimano MegaRange, 7-speed freewheel, 14-34
Tires: Specialized Fast Trak Sport, 24×1.8″
Pedal: Composite platform
Weight: 12.60kg with 50g bottle cage
The bike looks very solid and I will say the design is comparable with the adults design. It is double butted top and bottom tube for better stiffness and reduces weight. The frame has a disc brake mount hole ready for upgrade at any time.
Unfortunately, the looks and ride said differently. On the 1st day we took the bike back, the front hub was whistling when my daughter was riding. Also, the back cassette was wobbling when the wheel was moving. So, I had to bring it back to the shop for repair. It turned out that the bike was in the box for too long as the rubber covering the hub is rubbing against the axle without any play. With little grease, the whistling is gone. There is nothing they can do about the wobble cassette as it is a nature of freewheel. 😦
The total weight of this bike is 12.60kg with 50g bottle cage and pedals. Not sure how will this compares with other brands. I just know the BMC weighs ~600g lesser than Specialized.
For this price range of bikes or 24” MTB pretty much offering the same components as others. There are definitely 1-2 manufactures are giving better components. For Specialized bike, they used a better RD which is SRAM X3 whereas other using Shimano Tourney which is the lowest range for MTB component. By just comparing the component pricing, the SRAM X3 is something similar to Shimano Altus/Acera range.
The original shifter comes with this bike has a very low quality and my daughter could hardly twist and turn the SRAM 3.0 grip shift. I am not sure how this compares with Shimano Tourney in terms of functionality but the price is about the same. So, I assume they are same range. My local bike shop upgraded the shifter to SRAM X4 for free. Just to ensure I do not go over to BMC. 🙂 SRAM X4 shifter is slightly more expensive than Shimano Acera and cheaper than Alivio. So, sometimes you have to demand for better parts. 🙂 The grips will have to change also and they changed to Specialized Bodygeometry grips which I think is not suitable for kids at all.
My personal preference is to have lightest gear available for daughter so that she can climb steeper hill easier until she gets stronger. So, the Shimano MegaRange suits my requirement. The smallest chainring is 22 and largest cog is 34. Normally this type of setting can only be found at a higher end bikes like Trek Superfly 24 or the Giant XTC 24. Most of bike manufactures give the smallest chainring is 24 and largest cog is 28. So, with the ratio of 1.54 vs 1.16 will definitely help especially going uphill. Anyway, cassette can always be replaced when she is stronger.
The brake lever for this bike was designed for little fingers like my daughter. She can reach the lever and press on it without difficulty.
The cheapest thing come with this bike is probably the FD. I tried to Google for the price and there is no result at all. It could be custom made part for bike manufacturer installation only.
The crankset comes with 160mm long which is suitable for kids at my daughter age. Lots of bike shops pushed me for a 26” bike which comes with at least 170 to 172.5mm length and that’s not suitable at all.
Another uniqueness feature is the pedal. Though it is plastic pedal but they made it in a way that it has pins for nonslip when pedaling. Not sure if it hurts when it hits the shin like the adult pedals.
Both of the wheels come with quick release for easy access. I am currently asking them for a quick release for the seatpost also.
Finally, the fork is spring coil with preload adjustable and with mechanical lockout. It has 50mm travel. From the technical spec, this fork weights about 2035g and the lightest 24” XCT fork is just 50g lighter only. A lot manufactures use these forks but they didn’t mention which model.
The bike was tested in 2 conditions. 1 that was completely flat road and 1 with some climb. So far we have not tested on fire road or off road condition as I want her to familiarize with the gear shifting 1st.
An immediate improvement I see her on a flat road was that she can ride much faster with average of 5-6km/h more than her usual. Her max speed was 28.4km/h comparing with about 18km/h on her single speed bike. We did a 17km ride with just about an hour.
With the MegaRange cassette she climbed small hills like mountain goat. And, she is able to climb 7-10 degree gradient slope without coming down and pushed. She had to do some off saddle pedaling at steeper part.
With the SRAM X3 RD and the X4 shifter she is happily pressing the trigger. The way she changing gears looks so easy for her with just a click. Anyway, the shop did lube the cable during installation. That probably helps too.
Braking is another important area for kid’s biking. Without able to reach it or press it, it serves no purpose. The Hotrock brake lever is soft to press and based on my daughter’s feedback it is very powerful too.
My daughter just loves the 50mm fork as she is doing drops after drops. The highest drop she managed to do was ~15cm or 6”. I am just wondering what if I introduce her to air fork. She will probably do DH jump. 🙂
From both rides, I do notice she gets less tired than her usual rounds and drank lesser water (obviously) too. That also explains she can go longer distances with much faster time.
There are a few aspects I feel this bike can improve further. I believe kids do not need 3 chainrings. 1 or 2 should be sufficient for them. Probably a 22 and 32 is good enough or just 1 chainring – 24/26. Having too much chainrings also create an issue when she has to change from 1 to 2. I noticed the chain was very loose and with no tensions it just won’t engage to 2nd gear.
Change the Revo Twist for your children sake. It is so hard to engage.
In terms of price point and features, the only bike that can come close with Hotrock is BMC SE24. I do believe every brand have their own good bike like Trek Superfly, Cannondale Race or Giant XTC. It is all depends on the price point, availability and components they give. But, definitely try to get the highest range model else any China brands are good enough. The reason is because they do spend on their R&D to come out with a kid’s bike.
Well, there are 2 things I would like to update about my daughter’s bike. 1 is the quick release for the seat post. I finally got it after months and months of chasing them and finally they have it. Actually it was a simple mistake/understanding. The clamp size is 27.2mm and they kept insisting it was 25.2mm seat post until I told them give me one 27.2mm 1st and I will try it out which it fits.
Secondly was the kick stand that they gave. I have to wait for months also before I got it. And, once I got it my daughter can use it for couple of months only and it broke. The bottom part of the stand was made of cheap plastic and it can’t hold the ~13kg bike with water. So, immediately the stand gave way and broke. I brought it back to the store for exchange or warranty claim and they told me this can’t be claim but he will try… So, let’s wait and see if they can do miracle for me.