For a number of cyclists with kids, their children’s bikes benefit from gratuitous hand-me-downs. Those reused parts add up to some pretty sweet rides for the kids, but ultimately the frame and fork are typically still heavy and don’t perform as well as many adult bikes. In an effort to create lifelong riders, Trek took a long look at the bikes that their own employees were custom building for their kids and decided to offer that performance right off the shelf.
Using all of the technology found in the full sized Fuel EX mountain bikes, the new Fuel EX JR has been built from the ground up for an ideal fit for the little ones. Most importantly though, the suspension has been completely reworked since simply lowering the pressure on a shock built for heavier riders won’t do the trick. Oh, and the 26″ wheels look so much at home on the 12.5″ frame that it will leave you wondering how they were ever the standard size for adult bikes…
While the frame is not simply a downsized Fuel EX chassis it does include ABP, Full Floater, a tapered head tube, and shorter reach with a lower BB for an ideal kids’ fit. Trek wanted to make sure the frame was actually built for little rippers rather than just putting smaller wheels on an adult frame. To go along with the new frame, Trek invested a lot of time in the development of the suspension with X-Fusion. As Trek’s suspension guru Jose Gonzales points out, lowering the pressure on shocks built for a 170lb rider still leaves too much air volume and too strong of a negative spring for the shock to work properly for smaller riders. Instead the Fuel EX JR uses a smaller micro shock with a downsized air piston so that the air canister is charged with normal shock pressures. The damper is also reduced in size which combined with the lighter negative spring in the air circuit makes a 90mm suspension with lockout that will work just as well as adult suspension but for kids.
Worthy of the $1,979.99 price tag, the Fuel EX JR has an impressive spec with a 2×10 Shimano Deore Shadow Plus drivetrain, Bontrager AT-650 double wall rims with XR2 26×2.2 tires, 160mm cranks with bashguard, and Shimano M355 hydraulic brakes.
In spite of already boasting an impressive spec, the 26″ nature of the JR means they will still be an excellent candidate for hand-me-down upgrades. Trek had a few examples of baller kids’ builds that were to be given away in a contest at Sea Otter.
In other kids’ bike news, the Farley has been downsized as well for the Kids’ specific Farley 24.
Built with an aluminum frame that is 2x compatible, the Farley 24 will ship with a 1×9 drivetrain to keep it as simple as possible. Running 24 x 4.0 tires from Innova, the frame uses 135/170mm spacing front and rear with quick release axles. Offered in two color options, the Faley 24 will be available soon with prices TBD.