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Prevelo Bikes Revolutionizes Kids Bikes and Learning to Ride

As a lifelong cyclist, you can probably imagine that, perhaps just like you, as my kids started to crawl, then walk, then toddle, I was eager to get them onto two wheels as quickly as possible. 

First we had the Kids Ride Shotgun front mounted seat and we shredded. It was the best thing that ever happened to me as a dad because I could go for legit rides while simultaneously earning hall passes with the wife (and didn’t have to pull the also-awesome Burley trailer we still have and use seven years later). I was sure it was love at first ride for my first born.

Then came various tricycles, assorted skate boards, and Striders, which of course are amazing and a must-have for any parent hoping to jump start their kids two-wheeled adventures. Even though mine weren’t winning any Strider World Championships, I had hoped the Striders would set them up for pedal bike success at a very early age.  

Then we got the tiny pedal bikes. And…not so much. I wasn’t sure if my kids were just unathletic or hated me, but they just weren’t taking off on two wheels like every mountain biking dad dreams about. 

Enter Prevelo

Prevelo is a family-owned business launched in 2016 by Jacob and Sarah Rheuban. The California-based brand is dedicated to engineering high-performance bikes and accessories for kids to ensure that the next generation’s experience on two wheels is the best yet. The bikes are engineered for kids, and that’s all they do. Consider it the kid equivalent to your high-end gravel bike. The online ordering process and shipping experience is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. They also make balance bikes and a massive range of every possible bike a youngling could desire.

New this summer, Prevelo announced a significant update to its Zulu line of kids’ hardtails. The new versions are about 15% lighter, making them easier to ride for kids who want to have more fun on the trail or bike path. Since their introduction in 2017, Zulu models have been known for their lightweight, carefully designed geometry, and thoughtful component specs, a combination that makes the bikes fun to ride, and an easy choice for parents who know bikes. This new version represents a significant improvement. The Zulu line is a complement to Prevelo’s Alpha series of hybrid-style all-purpose bikes, which are also apt for riding almost any kind of trail. Prevelo then offers the Bravo series of dirt jump bikes, for kids who are getting a bit more hardcore. And this year at Sea Otter, they introduced an all-purpose hybrid style adult bike, the EagleBear. 

Thank the gods, my 7-year-old got her new Alpha Three right out of the box (which came with her name already emblazoned on the shiny steed and took me about ten minutes to assemble), and immediately overcame whatever was previously holding her back. The combination of lighter weight, more optimal kid geometry, and a freewheel hub seemed to do the trick, and alleviate my previous feelings of failing as a father.

The Alpha One, which my small 4-year-old is currently riding, ships with a coaster brake installed to comply with CPSC requirements in the U.S., but they sell a freewheel kit that allows parents to remove the coaster brake and replace it with a freewheel. The kit is an entire rear wheel, complete with freewheel cog, tire, and tube. Parents can remove the coaster brake wheel and replace it with the freewheel-equipped wheel. Rheuban has some great expertise on why the freewheel is so popular, and it helped me understand and overcome some of my kids stumbling blocks. Often when first learning to ride, kids accidentally backpedal. With a coaster brake, this engages the brake and stops the bike (unintended by the rider), says Rheuban. This can frustrate and slow the process of learning to ride. Secondly, when kids are learning, it’s helpful to be able to easily position the pedals to get started, something obvious that you might not think of until you see it or recall your own early days of learning to ride — If a bike has a coaster brake, the rider has to roll the bike forward to do this, which is a complicated task for someone who is just learning to manage their bike. And, when kids are first learning to brake, it’s common to want to have feet off the pedals, ready to catch themselves when they stop, another point I saw but didn’t know how to correct. With coaster brakes kids have to choose between having their feet out to catch themselves and applying the brake, and so many beginners choose to have their feet off the pedals, which I saw with my daughter, resulting in them stopping the bike using their shoes as brakes and also banging the pedals with shins. Hand brakes don’t require kids to make this choice — they are more beginner-friendly than coaster brakes, a luxury many of us didn’t have growing up! 

“Fun happens when your equipment gets out of your way, and with the new Zulus, we’ve built a bike that will let kids ride to their full ability, without ever having the bike interfere with their fun,” said Prevelo Founder Jacob Rheuban. “We all know that lighter bikes are more fun to ride, especially for smaller riders, but we didn’t stop there; every part on these new bikes was hand-chosen to make these bikes easier to ride, and lighter.”

The Zulu line includes five different wheel sizes, and the three largest have been updated (20-, 24-, and 26-inch versions). These three models fit kids from about 5½ to 13 years old. Models updated include the Zulu Three (20-inch wheels, $1,199), Zulu Four (24-inch wheels, $1,299), and Zulu Five (26-inch wheels, $1,399).

Leading a full slate of updates to Zulu is the first-ever Pivotal-compatible dropper seatpost. Prevelo led a collaboration with KS to create this new post, which takes advantage of the Pivotal system’s low stack height to create a bike geometry that will fit a wider range of rider heights. With the Pivotal dropper post installed, Zulu has the lowest minimum seat post height of any comparable bike with a dropper post.

Other updates include:

// All-new UDH compatible frame with improved internal cable routing, triple-butted tubing, inboard rear disc mount, and integrated headset cups.

// Upgraded to an RST First Fork. Saves weight and runs at lower pressures needed by small riders

// Pivotal seat post and saddle for lower stack height and increased durability. Pivotal

dropper post available as an upgrade.

// New HEIR wheels have tubeless compatible asymmetrical rims, and sealed

cartridge/thru-axle quick engaging hubs.

// Microshift Advent Super Short 1x drivetrain with Clutch Derailleur on the Zulu Three

// Microshift Advent X 1x drivetrain with Clutch on Zulu Four and Five

// 19mm handlebar on Zulu Three and Zulu Four for improved ergonomics. Carbon fiber bar available as an upgrade.

// Kenda Booster PRO tubeless ready 120 TPI tires

Definitely Wild is a column by EO Contributing Editor Aaron Bible. He has been writing for Elevation Outdoors and Blue Ridge Outdoors, among other outdoor publications, for more than two decades, covering cycling, skiing, gear, adventure travel and mountain life. The opinions expressed here are his own. Follow him on Instagram at @DefinitelyWild.

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