What’s the best way of testing a junior bike? By asking a kid to ride it! Neil Clark from Portsmouth has sent us his review of the Boardman Junior Sport/e Mountain Bike, a lightweight bike for 9- 14 year olds which is more than capable of tackling the trails!
Want to see how his son got on with the bike riding over the South Downs? Read on to find out more!
How did you feel when you were picked to review the Boardman Junior Sport/e Mountain Bike?
I was thrilled! We picked the bike up from Halfords in Waterlooville and we left the bars flat so we could fit it in the car. The guys at Halfords were helpful and did a great job with the assembly.
What were your first impressions of the Boardman Junior Sport/e Mountain Bike?
The bike really stood out from the other junior bikes in the shop. The black frame and the green decals really make it look grown up and it wouldn’t appear out of place riding at an event. The welding is smooth and oozes quality and the components are better than most in its price range. I was pleased to see that Boardman had opted for decent V-brakes rather than cheap mechanical discs that need constant maintenance.
For a junior bike with 26 inch wheels it is surprisingly light. I had no problems carrying it out of the shop and loading it into the boot of the car.
…and what did Ashton think?
The stand over is a little too high and Ashton had to resort to tippy toes to keep the bike upright. The age range states from age 9. I think this is a little optimistic as Ashton isn’t short for his age. Realistically it’s age 10+.
Nevertheless Ashton was keen to try the bike out in our garden to get a feel (please excuse the fact he isn’t wearing a helmet in the photos but it was just a few laps on the grass in the back garden).
Although the frame is a little big for him he took to the bike like a duck to water, coming from 24inch wheels this looked like he was riding a 29er.
He was really pleased with the quick fire gear levers as he has been used to grip shift. The gears change quickly and smoothly and the brakes are sharp. There was no fighting with the gear or brake levers, both are very light and very responsive.
In summary his first impressions are great. He loves the look of the bike and feels he is now riding a ‘grown up’ bike like his big brother.
Time for some real off-roading! How did the bike perform out on the South Downs?
We initially crossed some muddy fields and although the bike is slightly big for Ashton, the knobbly 16 inch tyres made light work of the sticky mud and puddles.
The front suspension worked well for Ashton although a heavier rider may find the forks a little stiff. This said they are coil sprung and work better than expected for bike of this level.
After conquering the mud we found ourselves with a few grassy climbs. Again the Boardman had no issues climbing like a mountain goat. There wasn’t any slippage from the rear tyre despite Ashton having to ride standing up in places.
What about the gears?
As I was following Ashton on my bike I did notice he was struggling slightly trying to select the appropriate gear.
The triple chain ring is a bit overkill for a child’s bike and could do with the outer chain ring being removed as it really isn’t required especially for off road. I think simplicity is the key when it comes to kids bikes.
The gears did fire through the changes smoothly and quickly though and the Tourney derailleur does an excellent job.
How does the bike go downhill?
What goes up must come down! We had a small descent on the trail and the upright position of the bike made it easy for Ashton to control. It was sure-footed and gave me confidence as a parent that the bike wasn’t going to deal my son any unnecessary surprises.
Ashton did hit a deep puddle at speed on the descent, causing the bike to kick out slightly, but it soon came back in line with a squeeze of the brake levers.
What did you think of the brakes?
On that note, during the whole ride the Tektro V-brakes were excellent. The mud and water didn’t cause any problems with stopping and I would prefer these over cheap mechanical discs any day.
As Ashton gets older there is an option to add a disc brake to this frame which is a nice touch.
Any final thoughts on the Boardman Junior Sport/e Mountain Bike?
In summary this bike is a true MTB and not a kid’s bike pretending to be one!
It is great for XC riding and although not the fastest it will offer junior riders a decent platform to hone their skills off road while giving their parents the peace of mind that the bike is stable with the ability to stop quickly and safely when required.
Neil is part of our Parent Panel and we sent him the bike in order for him to write this review. Want to learn more about the Boardman Junior Sport/e Mountain Bike? Take a look here, and stay tuned for the next Parent Panel review for a closer look at our kids’ bikes, scooters and more!