Dawes Academy MTB Mountain Bike Review
Our little Kids Racing testers have been putting our Demo bikes through their paces recently to find out just how good they are.
Dawes is not necessarily the first manufacturer you would associate with Mountain Bikes, but their first foray into this discipline with a range of high quality MTB bikes for kids has been quite a revelation…
Dawes 20” Academy MTB
The range starts with the tiny 20” model intended for 6-9 year olds, but don’t be fooled into thinking its just for little ones to mess around with. This bike has proper cross-country geometry, making it very easy for small kids to handle with ease on the rough stuff.
Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 140mm rotors provide plenty of stopping power for children of this weight, whilst keeping maintenance as simple as possible.
Proportional crank lengths, 28T sprocket and an overall weight of just 9.4kg (a weight many kids road bikes aspire to!) means even a little 6-year old can make it up some surprisingly steep climbs in the woods using the Rapid-fire Shifters.
Perhaps the best part about this bike though, is the Air Grind 50mm front forks, which for a change actually work on a kids MTB bike! Beautifully simple, just connect a shock pump to the valve on the top of the fork and either increase or lower the air pressure to suit your riders weight. For longer periods on the road, then can even ‘lockout’ to save little legs the effort.
The fitting of these high quality forks doesn’t mean the rest of the bike has been compromised either, with correctly proportioned riser bar, stem and saddle allowing for a comfortable and safe fit to be achieved. Robust double-wall Alex rims and Kenda tyres are tough enough for almost anything a little shredder can throw at it.
We believe it also represents great value at £439.99. This price compares very favourably with even the most advanced, specialist Kids manufacturers, yet is in a different league in design terms to the traditional, cheaper, heavier and ineffective high-street ‘MTB style’ bikes.
Dawes 24” Academy MTB
So the 24” carries on where the 20” left off with the same XC derived frame geometry, Air Grind forks and Tektro disc brakes, albeit scaled up slightly to suit the older riders, pushing their limits further still.
But this time the Air Grind forks are 65mm travel and the front disc rotors are up to 160mm diameter – both to allow for more aggressive off-road riding by heavier kids.
Groupset is now 9-speed Shimano with Rapid-fire shifters and a 34T sprocket for the even steeper climbs the 8 to 10-year old children will readily attempt. And succeed they will, as the whole package still tips the scales at just over 10.5 kg.
The biggest component difference however, is the move from Mechanical disc brakes to Hydraulic actuation. This does make sense at this age group with its increased weight and bravery! Thankfully, a Mineral Hydraulic system has been employed, making maintenance easy. RRP for the 24″ model is £599.99.
Dawes 26” Academy MTB
Like the step-up from the 20” to the 24”, the 26” represents another jump, this time aimed at 10 to 13-year olds. There is now a choice of two frame sizes to match your child precisely, 13” and 15”.
Again, the crank lengths and riser bars are scaled up to suit the larger rider which has increased weight slightly to 11.2kg – but this still compares very favourably with its closest competitors.
You also get mounting bosses to install ‘Crud Catcher’ style frame guards to the underside of the sloping tube to protect from stone damage, which we recommend you fit – along with Helicopter tape to the Chainstays on all models.
Suspension travel on the 26″ Air Grind fork has now been extended to 100mm, with the addition of a ‘remote’ fork lockout mounted on the handlebars. Very trick! RRP for the 26″ model is £599.99.
To conclude, we feel this range of kids MTB bikes as about a good as any enthusiastic little rider could need, yet being £200 less than their nearest technical rival, the Islabike Creig MTB range.
OK, so there is only a single colour choice for each model, but they still look great. Its no wonder they are proving popular!
So what can our 6-year old and 8-year old testers get up to on their Mountain Bikes? A short video of their half-term holiday at Cannock Chase, Chicksands and Haleigh Park, taking in a round of the MSG race series…