Trailcraft kids mountain bike – unboxed, weighed & first impressions

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After experimenting with kids bikes from Specialized (20″) and Raleigh (24″) for my son, I wanted to get my daughter on something better and lighter. It’s not that those other bikes were bad, they certainly got him out on the trail and are worlds better than what’s sold at big box stores, but they’re heavy. And with retail pricing around $200 to $500, the component spec included a lot of imprecise stamped steel parts.

Then Trailcraft came on the scene and saved Cameron from another hand me down.

Built around a premium 7005-series alloy frame and custom 24″ Stan’s NoTubes Crest wheels and Schwalbe tires, Trailcraft’s Pineridge 24 starts off with a killer foundation for a legitimate mountain bike to get your kiddies off to a rippin’ good start…

FEATURES & ACTUAL WEIGHT

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The alloy frame is their own design, built specifically to fit kids ages 7 to 12 with a minimum inseam of 24″. The geometry is dialed specifically for that size/age, with an emphasis on performance. A big part of that is the short 390mm chainstays. Most 24″ kids bikes’ stays are 410mm, which makes them more stable, but also rather slow handling. To put that in perspective, some 29er hardtails have chainstays around 427mm. So, the Pineridge’s shorter stays still provide plenty of stability, but they make the bike turn more quickly and make it easier to lift the front end over small obstacles.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Butted and shaped tubes help keep the frame light.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The cockpit parts are all alloy, but at these sizes they’re still light. The bar comes in a 640mm width, but I cut it down to better fit my daughter. The stem is 60mm with a 7º rise. One nice thing about Trailcraft’s website is they understand that weight’s one of the biggest issues with kids bikes, so they list the weight of a lot of the parts they chose on their website.

The bike is spec’d with a Shimano Deore 2×10 group including shifters, derailleurs and hydraulic brakes. Compared to what’s on most kids bikes, that’s like taking your Acera bike and going to XTR. In the past, I’d leaned toward twist shifters for kids bikes, thinking they were easier, but my daughter’s had no problems using or fitting the shifter levers, and they certainly provide crisper, more defined shifts than the cheap twisters.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

If you opt for the suspension fork, you’ll get a 1,600g RST First air fork with compression and rebound adjustments. Unlike the cheap coil and elastomer forks on some kids bikes, this one actually works. I set the air pressure fairly low, giving her a bit of extra sag, and then watched it slide up and down easily over small bumps without diving into the travel when braking.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

They spec’d Ashima’s 160mm AiRotors on the bike. While I’ve had some issues getting these rotors to stop my adult sized body, they’re perfectly adequate for a 50-70 pound rider. And it’s easy enough to upgrade the rotors if your little shredder is over cooking them.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The saddle is a Velo Junior that’s thankfully free of logos. The alloy post (160g) comes long enough to accommodate a lot of growth, but thanks to a straight seat tube without water bottle bolts interrupting it, it’ll also drop really low to fit smaller riders without needing to be cut.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Trailcraft also sourced their own cranks in 152mm length. They offer them as a 1x with Race Face narrow/wide chainrings, or this stock setup with a 32/22 double. The cranks are also available separately if you just want to replace your kid’s current bike’s crappy triple with something better.

The frame’s built around a hollow spindle square taper bottom bracket, and the cranks come with sealed bearing, chromoly axle VP pedals with alloy cage. They’re nice, with no bearing play and easy spinning…a massive step up from the plastic or otherwise cheap pedals on other kids bikes. That seems like a small touch, but it’s really part of an overall package that ensures everything works smoothly so the kid can focus on riding and not what’s going on with the bike. We all want the bike to become an extension of our body, and the Pineridge helps that happen for your kid.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Formed dropouts provide sleek, integrated brake post mounts.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Plenty of tire clearance. The Shadow-Plus rear derailleur comes equipped with Shimano’s clutch mechanism, but the plastic on/off lever has already broken off. Fortunately, it’s stuck in the “on” position. The rest of the drivetrain is a KMC X-10 chain and SunRace 10-speed 11-36 cassette.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The wheels and tires are a major upgrade. They use Superlight hubs laced to custom Stan’s ZTR Crest tubeless rims with Pillar double butted spokes. The Schwable’s are their Performance level Rocket Rons in a 24×2.1 size.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The bike ships with an extra derailleur hanger, brake hose clips and tubeless valve stems (tubes are installed in the tires). The black bits on the left are the ends I cut off the handlebars. Fortunately, the foam grips aren’t pre-installed, so it’s easy to trim to length during assembly.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

The complete bike, with tubes in the tires, came in at 21.91lb (9.94kg) after cutting the handlebars. Just spitballin’ here, but that’s anywhere from six to 12 pounds lighter than most decent kids bikes. Considering the ratio of bike weight to rider weight at this age, that’s a massive improvement and often times the difference between a death march or the kids finishing a trail in good spirits.

The Pineridge 24 retails for $1,699 for the alloy frame as shown here. There’s also a titanium model that comes with your choice of rigid ti fork ($2,699) or this RST suspension fork ($2,561). Both are also available as framesets (frame, fork, wheels and cranks) if you have a lot of parts sitting around and could build it up yourself. Yes, that’s 3x what you could get a name-brand kids bike for, but this one will perform 10x better and be worthy of passing down to siblings, cousins, etc., without anyone feeling shafted. But the real value is the improved experience for all involved…

RIDE REVIEW

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

For me, the real joy in getting my kids riding is the opportunity to spend quality outdoorsy active time with them. But it started with a little quality indoors time as we assembled the bike together.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

For some parts of the assembly process, Cam was like “what?”, then she’s was all like “sweet!” Aaaahhh, teachable moments.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Her first bike was a neighborhood hand-me-down 20″ coaster brake Giant that was great for spinning around the neighborhood. But this one was her first new bike, and she’s quite proud of it. OK, enough gushing, on to the review.

Dad: What do you think about your new bike?

Cameron: I like it.

Dad: How is it better than your old bike?

Cameron: It has more gears, so I can go faster. It’s easy to pedal. And it’s blue and sparkly-er!

Dad: Can you control it easily?

Cameron: Uh huh.

Dad: Can you reach the brakes and shift everything easily?

Cameron: Uh huh.

Dad: What do you think when you see it in the garage?

Cameron: I wanna ride it!

Dad: Before you got this bike, you didn’t want to go mountain biking at all. And now you’re excited to go with me, right?

Cameron: Yep!

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Before, she had tried mountain biking one time on her Giant and she did OK, but the combination of general purpose cheapo tires and a coaster brake + rear rim brake simply didn’t give her enough control. On a very mild descent leading into a mellow corner, she got going too fast and went straight off the trail. That was it, one and done. Until the Trailcraft…

With the Trailcraft, she had her first real mountain bike ride and killed it. Seriously, it really surprised me just how good she was on this bike. Not only did it seem to fit her perfectly, but the handling seems spot on for her speed. She was stoked on it, which means I was stoked, and we’ve been riding plenty since.

So you can compare, she’s seven years old, has exactly a 24″ inseam and is 54″ tall. She’s grown a bit since we got the bike, so she probably started riding it with slightly less than the recommended minimum inseam. I still have the seat set a little bit low so she can reach the ground easier, which means she’s not getting full leg extension at the bottom of the pedal stroke. We have raised it a few times since she started riding it, though.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

At seven years old, she’s not thinking critically about why this bike is better or what she’s able to do with it that couldn’t be done on the coaster brake bike. But I can tell you that it’s given her far more confidence and enthusiasm for riding even if she’s unaware of her change in spirit. It’s also given her the confidence to go bigger, taking the new green trail all the way down Mountain Creek Bike Park in New Jersey (shown above).

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Shimano’s brake levers are on the smaller side of things. That, plus the lever shape and adjustable reach, made them just right.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Because she only weighs about 60lbs, we’re able to run low tire pressures without much fear of flatting, so I haven’t set it up tubeless yet. It can be, just tape the rims and add sealant. It’s on my list of things to do. My biggest fear is that she’ll start skidding, which would leave about a dollar’s worth of rubber on the sidewalk each time – Schwalbe’s ain’t cheap! So, I feel bad that I’ve had to rob her of the joy of setting skid mark distance records, but that’s what we kept her old bike for.

Trailcraft youth 24-inch premium alloy mountain bike review and actual weights

Considering the investment a $1,699 kid’s bike is, we’ll be milking this thing for all we can over the next few years. My son’s 10 and just switched from 24″ to 26″, so I figure we’ve got at least three more years before she outgrows it (my kids are tall). The real question is, is it worth the money? Honestly, that’s only a question you can answer, but I can try to help by answering with a few questions. Would it get your child out on the trail more often? Would that help them build more confidence and better skills? Would that translate to more quality time together? If you come up with enough “yes” answers to justify it, the Trailcraft is worth a serious look even among higher quality entries finally surfacing from some of the big brands.

TrailcraftCycles.com

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17 Comments
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Brian
Brian
7 years ago

Great to see this! Ginger at Trailcraft is the best. Well worth cycling parents to check these bikes out!

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

The Trailcraft bikes look great, and I can’t wait until mine’s old enough to get gears and some 24s. I love that Stan’s makes 24″ Crests. $1,700 is a lot of coin, but I bet they have good resale and it’s going to be such an improved experience over the usual big box fare. And it’s a lot less than my bikes, so…

My kiddo (4 y/o, 35 pounds) is on a Cleary Hedgehog (16″ wheels) at the moment, and he is so much happier and has a better experience than he did with his coaster brake equipped bike.

Gene
Gene
7 years ago

Considering how much we are spending on our own bikes these days, $1700 isn’t too bad especially if your kids are really into riding. The weight and spec of these bikes is super impressive considering you don’t have to replace everything like we did to make it lighter. Our kids are long grown now but if this was an option 10 years ago I bet they would have been stoked!

Fartknocker
Fartknocker
7 years ago

Nice bike, nice write-up. Just to chime in, my 4 year old is on a Spawn cycles Banshee 14″. Spawn is based in Canada, where you can get a kids bike with a freewheel. It is really nice, and like the Trailcraft, vastly higher quality than most kids bikes. Spawn has smaller, all the way down to balance bikes, and bigger, all the way up to 24″ bikes. Also, I searched and searched and Kona used to be the only kids bike with discs. Now add Trailcraft to that. I just hope my little tyrant appreciates his sweet ride someday.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
7 years ago

My niece just started on a 20″ coaster, and is still a bit too small for it. Can’t wait until next year. I’ll need to start piecing together one of these over the winter.

tommy
tommy
7 years ago

Wow, this is nicer than my 9 speed XT bike. I would not really call this a kids bike.

Andy
Andy
7 years ago

Is this available in the UK? I would love one for each of my kids.

pfs
pfs
7 years ago

@tommy – Why do kids bikes automatically need to be crappy to be a kids bike? I think that its more important to have them on nicer gear because it will keep them interested in the sport. We need a new generation to keep this thing going.

Trailcraft Cycles
7 years ago

Hi Andy,

I’d love to get a couple bikes over to you in the UK! I’ve already shipped a couple there early this year via FedEx. Please contact me directly for a ship quote and i’ll also help answer any questions you may have.

Best Regards, Ginger

Mirwin
Mirwin
7 years ago

Tommy, who says a kid’s bike has to have POS boat anchor components?

If the parts on this kids bike is making you envious, it’s time for a new bike.

Happy shopping.

bazookasean
bazookasean
7 years ago

Specialized has the Hotrock 24 xc pro. It has very similar spec for $1550 and you can order one at your LBS. They also still have a 2014 full XTR version with a Rock Shox SID for $4000.

They have a 20 inch bike with Hydraulic brakes X7 9 speed shifting and an Air fork for $660.

It’s strange that you say you’ve had Specialized kids bikes before but looked else were because they didn’t have better product. That is very misleading.

I agree this is an awesome kids bike, but just have your review stand at that. There was no reason to imply that Those other brands can’t compete in your first paragraph.

Yes, I’m a Specialized dealer.

Andy
Andy
7 years ago

This bike looks like the perfect ripper for my kid. I have to wonder though, how much of the purchase is based on the daughter wanting/caring about such a premium bike vs. the giddy proud feeling the father gets when he builds a lightweight bike for his kid to ride.

hed1fsu
hed1fsu
7 years ago

@bazookasean.. he wrote an article for trailcraft. Calm down. Shoulda talked the rep into givin’ him a specialized to demo haha.

Steve
Steve
7 years ago

I bought one of these for my son back in April in the green color. The bike is amazing and took my son’s riding to a new level. People on the fence should not hesitate, this is a great bike and nobody has anything close in terms of good spec and proper mtb geometry.

The clear stand out when comparing a Trailcraft to Specialized is 1. 30mm shorter chainstay length (420mm vs. 390mm) and 2. the Stan’s Crest wheelset with 85 gram Ashima rotors. 30mm shorter chainstay’s is substantial on a bike this size. Zero corners cut to make the best 24″ bike and this was the reason we bought it. Probably most important to my son was the ability to pick his favorite color – green.

bazookasean
bazookasean
7 years ago

@hed1fsu This is a comment section; no one ever calms down.

Robbo
6 years ago

Nice rig. It was tough finding decent bikes for my young ‘uns as they grew up, so I generally ended up building my own. Tip for peeps who want to spec shorter cranks for their chitlin’s rides – BMX suppliers make ’em in 4-bolt 104bcd all the way down to 145mm in some instances.

Currently, my Miss Nine is riding an old-stock Giant Talon 13″ alloy frame, carbon forks (sourced from the UK, US$150 or thereabouts), XT 26in wheels with light and baggy DMR dirt jumper tyres and 165mm cranks. Cable Avid brakes are more than enough to slow her down – in fact I had to use Avid levers with the adj fulcrum point to take the sting out of ’em. About $700 Aussie to get it rolling, a nick over 9kg. Good fun to do, too.

Mark
Mark
6 years ago

After agonizing for some time as this was way more than we wanted to spend, we ended up getting a green Pineridge 24. Our son really likes to ride a lot and rather than modifying his 28 pound Craigslist special (which was OK for the neighborhood, but holding him back on the trails) we decided to make the leap. The Trailcraft is a full 6 pounds lighter. After the first mile on the trail we could tell this was really money well spent. The level of quality and component choice is easily 3-4x better than the other heavy stuff out there, especially the wheelset. I would even say it’s not a “kids bike” as it is as nice as most bikes if not more for the money. We got the 2x and it is 22.14 pounds on my Park Tool hanging scale. First ride my son was climbing stuff which put us in amazement. He was literally right there with my wife most of our ride. Thought I would echo this review and “is it worth the money” – Yes if your kid is into it and/or you want to give them the right bike to make them a better rider. This bike is without hesitation the proper tool to facilitate getting them to the next level and building skills to last forever.