Frog Bikes Road 67
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY DAVE HAYGARTH
It totally figures from a marketing perspective that the rise in dads and mums riding and racing bikes means that those component- and weight-savvy adults will want the best for their little darlings. We all know how much better it feels to ride a nice, light, well-fitting and well kitted-out bike. Frog Bikes is one of those specialists that’s seen what was a bit of a chasm in the market only a few short years ago. The company offers child-specific bikes of all sizes from balance bikes right up to 26″ wheel ‘teen’ bikes. As it happens, I have a daughter who is pretty nuts about ’cross.
Frog’s Road 67 model is a 24″ wheel model built up from a 6061 alloy frame and fork. Its recommended age range is 8 to 12 (based on a minimum inside leg length of 67cm). The sizing of children’s bikes is usually a bit less important than with adults. The main reason being that kids grow so fast – what fits them now will need adjusting in a few months or even weeks. To make things a little bit easier, the bike comes with a quick-release seatpost and enough cable outer built-in to allow the bars to use as many spacers as you want. I suspect very child-friendly short cranks on the spec means that the frame could afford to drop the bottom bracket down a couple of centimetres. Climbing on feels a bit ‘high’ compared to our tester’s other 24″ wheel bike. That can be a slight chore if you’re talking cyclocross. First impression is that it’s light, well-built, and well-assembled. Like rival companies in this children’s market, Frog Bikes has been careful to get the detail right. Internal cable routing, featured on this bike, seems more and more common these days. On a bike with a bit less frame real estate than an adult’s, all those external cable-stops can be a bit too much litter on a children’s bike frame.
These bikes may look a bit ’cross with their Tektro Oryx canti brakes, but they also come with a set of road tyres and tubes. That’s a lovely bonus and I know children who would kill for some slick 23mm tyres on their bike – making them look like those road heroes. Who doesn’t want to look like Armitstead or Sagan, eh? And if Armitstead, Sagan, Wyman or Van der Haar aren’t good enough, I reckon there’s a bit more room in the frame to take a slightly wider mountain bike tyre, too. All-rounder? With drop bars, this can be very cool.
A single 34 tooth chainring on 127mm cranks is all a youngster needs, but the rear cassette needs a bit of a rethink if you’re using this for ’cross. Little legs, again, are not too generous on watts, and I suspect another gear at the back may help when the ’cross season starts, but my tester here is convinced she can manage!
The almost-essential step up to drop handlebars for youngsters means that bar-top chicken levers are needed. While these are so important for giving a child confidence off-road, the one downside of kids ’cross bikes is that everything is really crammed into a small space. The result in this area is that the cable run between the lever adjuster and the brake hanger is very tight, which might lead to some binding after a few muddy days out.
Another problem with little people on drop handlebars is shifter- and brake-reach. My tester is right at the bottom edge of the recommended age for this bike, and I can sense her itching to grow her hands a tiny bit more. Although the Microshift gear units are very well designed for beginners (big shift-paddles, compact hoods and grip), these little fingers are really at a hell of a stretch to change gears. This not a problem specific to this particular bike, but just a warning to parents thinking of drop bars.
Despite what might seem like a few ‘faults’ above, I think these are all very minor issues. The big picture is that this is a rock star of a bike for a young rider. I can’t stress enough how happy my Elsie has been on this bike. She is constantly saying how comfortable and fast it feels. How can that be anything but good? We’re dying for the season to start!