VIDEO: Young Heroes: The Kids' Grand Canyon 24"
August 8th, 2017
August 8th, 2017
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It’s too true, whilst I agree a cheeky Frankenbike for pub runs and errands is more than acceptable, when it comes down to it, why not have the best you can? Whether you’re racing for that podium top spot, or just aiming for maximum fun down the trails, a bad bike is just going to ruin your buzz.
My point rolls through the ages, and I know this is a point of contention for many, but here we go. This goes for kids as well, now I know you can go to a generic automotive store and buy a bike for less than a bottle of oil and some new wiper blades, but is this really what you want your kids growing up thinking a bike should be? There’s too much emphasis on baby seats and glittery tassels, and not enough on confidence inspiring brakes and a comfortable riding position. Over the past couple of years a lot of the big bike manufacturers have picked up the baton of youth bike design, in a market that was once decidedly owned by one or two main players and there is now a wider breadth of choice in quality, style and price range.
Some argue that “V brakes never hurt me” or “What do they need bl##dy suspension for?!”, but I refer back to my initial point, why have a bike that is less good than it could be? In general bike technology has come along exponentially from the time these people claim to have been merrily on their bikes, not being hurt by V-brakes. Often my response to this argument, is to link to the numerous edits that come out monthly showing what could be described as a level of skill that puts the majority of us to shame. Not saying that every kid is going to be learning backflips on dirt at 8 years old, but why risk it.
I have been on the hunt for my daughter’s next bike for a few months now, and there are plenty on the market, which is great, as it gave me the option to choose the features that I thought would be most beneficial. Canyon bikes, well known for their Enduro sleds and more recently the new downhill rig, the Sender, have come into the youth bike market in a flurry of excitement, and for good reason. They have dropped the Young Heroes range, sporting the full set; from a 16” balance bike, up to the 24” all singing hardtail, the Grand Canyon. We were in the market for the larger of the models, the Grand Canyon. It ticked a lot of the boxes for features I was looking for, as well as bringing a few extras to the table as well. Ordered!
The Grand Canyon 24"
Baby seats, baskets, glittery tassels and police sirens all grab attention, but really bring nothing to the table when it comes to actual functionality on a bike ride, they're the equivalent of putting sweets at the till to sucker punch you. Whilst aesthetics are wholly important there are better ways of approaching the subject. Canyon's Young Heroes have, in my opinion, nailed it. Without delving into the functional features of the bike, these steeds grab attention in a wholesome way. The Grand Canyon comes in two colour ways, both predominantly black, one sporting red additional decals, while the other, my preferred choice, was the World Enduro Action Team colour way, also seen in the race equipped adult Strive. OK, so you may have noticed the geeky excitement here, and you’re thinking to yourself “Great, Dad likes the bike, he also likes a pint of bitter and a bag of pork scratchings, his 8 year old daughter is going to be looking for something slightly different.” Well thats where Canyon have boxed clever, first things first, whats to like?
Me: “Molly, what do you like about the bike?” Molly: “I really like the Orange rim and the suspension”
Nailed it! On further questioning she was also very excited about the fact that she was going to have a matching colour way to her mum’s Strive, and was very happy with the blue details. So on first impressions, we were both pretty happy.
It’s all well and good having something pretty to look at, but the proof is in the pudding. How does it ride? The obvious choice is usually on the local loop, where you know what to expect and how you want the bike to handle. This is relevant across any age, and bike size, any bike, a level playing field is a great test. So down the hill, over the road onto the single track, just a short 2km loop of woodland trails, some roots and a few rocky sections.
Me: “So Molly, how did you find that?” Molly: “Wowowow, I’ve never ridden that bit before!!!” whilst seriously excited.
Now of course, the punchy rocky climb she was talking about, indeed had never been conquered by her before and it was awesome, firstly to watch it happen and secondly watching her levels of stoke peaking on the rest of the trail. I’m not naive to the fact that a lot of this new found confidence and ability came from the bigger wheels, suspension and everyone loves a new bike, but I’m also pretty sure that the combination of design features on the Grand Canyon, which I’ll get to soon, also had a huge part to play in the overall feel and approach she had on that first ride.
The Build and Spec
We know the bike had won Molly over on first impressions, Orange rims and suspension being the main culprits, once she got riding the compliments for the well thought out features just kept flowing. The front suspension comes in the form of the Spinner Grind Air fork, which is by the far the best fork, I personally, have seen on a youth bike. Adjustable air chambers meant we could get them set up for her weight, and unlike a lot of the competition these actuate and function perfectly even for her small frame, including a functioning lock out.
The cockpit, is unique to the Grand Canyon; a one piece bar and stem provide a compact and agile steering platform, while the small gauge bars and custom Canyon grips give the best possible point of contact for little hands to grip onto. Mounted up on there as well is the positive, yet light enough SRAM X5 shifter, providing the command of the 8 gears on the X4 mech. No faffing around with unbranded components and pig iron mechs, nor the dreaded grip shift, just simple, functional gears, that work! This stretches further still, to the SRAM Level brakes, which provide dependable, responsive and light braking. This, for us, was a game changer. No more hauling on some archaic calliper or v-style brakes, hoping they’ll pull on and provide some, any, maybe, stopping power. Little hands can pull these SRAM levers all day, safely and consistently.
Combined with the rest bite provided with the efficiently functioning forks, short rides become easier and longer rides become possible. Unfortunately the cockpit threw up two of the only real issues we found with the bike; the brake lever acts as the clamp on the undersized grips, while as a clamp it works well, with the reasonably long blade length on the Level the positioning meant that it wasn't possible for Molly to one finger brake, and we couldn’t move it inwards. This was overcome with a home made shim and a couple of zip ties, so not really ideal, but not the end of the world. The other small negative was the Canyon branded grips; while the body of the grip is great, small profile, plenty of grip, the plastic ends, I assume designed to stop the hand slipping off the end, after a few drops of the bike, a couple of questionably sharp edges had started to form. Quick file down and it was sorted, but something that could quickly be solved with a softer compound plastic or rubber.
Overall, the Grand Canyon is a stunner, it impressed both myself and Molly from the off and continues to surprise and please every time we ride. Since having it, rides have got longer and the quality and confidence has sky rocketed. Highlights still remain in the brakes, suspension and surprisingly the novelty of the Orange rim just hasn't worn off!
The Grand Canyon 24" comes in at £699 RRP and while I appreciate this isn’t a cheap purchase, in the kids bike market it stands up to the Canyon name and offers good value for money and sits somewhere in the middle of the market when costed up against the main competitors. When costed up against the components you yourself are running, it’s merely a set of forks or a decent set of wheels and as an investment hopefully it means you will get more chance to ride your bike. It will give your junior partner in crime the best start in their cycling life and if it just doesn’t work out, the great thing about this new wave of quality kids bikes is (but don’t hold me to this) that they seem to hold their resale value, and remember, life’s too short to ride S#-T bikes!