Junior Denali Road Bike

A Junior road bike has smaller 24″ wheels / tires and smaller frames, making them easier for kids to handle. Seldom stocked locally, ordering online is one option.          (click picture for larger view)

Our family, more specifically, our 3 little girls (ages 8-11) have enjoyed riding this 24″ (wheel size) Denali ‘Junior Road Bike’, over the past few months.

There are very few choices on the market for smaller road bikes sized for ‘junior’ sized riders.  Many road bike riders haven’t even seen Junior Road bikes, myself among them.

Most of the “youth” bikes of this size are the comparitively heavy inexpensive 24″ mountain bikes, which usually weigh 35# and roll on knobbie tires.

Great for knocking around the neighborhood, but for your local 25 mile fun ride, let alone a Century or road racing, not so much !

This Denali Junior model features the lowest ‘reasonable’ entry level price – so that if you’re not sure if your little ones will enjoy road biking, you won’t have ‘spent the moon’ needlessly expensive model.

In this case, the cost of entry shouldn’t prove a barrier to trying it:

This Junior Denali sells for about $ 200, on Amazon or Bikes4Families.

As a comparison, the Fuji Ace 24 is $ 499.

The Redline Conquest 24″ is $ 675.  (A great bike, our local shop stocks them…)

The Felt F95 Junior road bike is about $ 900.

While those are not unfair prices for high quality bikes, considering that most children outgrow these models quickly, the price may be too high.

(This is especially so if you are not sure your child will even like road biking.)

The closest price junior road bike to this one is the Giordano Libero 1.6 boys / girls 24″ and that’s $ 399, twice the price of this model Denali.

(Review of the Giordano 1.6 coming soon….)

Last year, I bought the mens Denali (700 c wheels- std roadbike size) / 22.5″ / 54 cm frame, and am quite satisfied with it, and wanted to see what kind of road bike options existed for our 10 year old, 4’4″ 60 # girl.

The ‘normal’ full size road bike, vs.the ‘Junior’ version.
Full sized: Frame = 56cm, 700c wheels (approx. 28″ rim)
Junior: Frame = 44 cm, 544c wheels (24″ rim)

Another requirement was a bike sized so that her two younger sisters, 8 & 9 years of age, and 2-3″ shorter, could also ride it.

Our older girl, who is 10, had no problems fitting & reaching the controls, but the two younger ones couldn’t do so effectively.

They simply didn’t have the reach or hand stength.

The Solution ?

Replace the drop bars with a straight and slighly bent back ‘flat road / mountain bar’ handle bar, which made the controls available for the her younger, smaller sisters.

All we needed to do this was: bar, simple accessory brake levers & ‘shorty’ grips to finish off the bar ends, on the outside of the same ‘Revo-shift’ gear shifters.

(Oh, and shims to fit the bar to the larger 31.8mm Denali stem.)

This Junior Denali comes with traditional ‘drop bars’ found on road bikes. If your children are closer to 4′ tall than 5′ tall, they may need the road bars switched over to a ‘flat bar’. Not hard if you follow simple steps….

Our local bike shop, The Bike Shop in Nacogdoches, supplied all that.  If you lack a good local shop,  you could find the parts on Amazon / online.

Now, all three girls can ride it easily.  Once the younger two grow a bit, we can re-install the drop bars.

Another performance upgrade we’re planning on is to replace the fatter 37 mm / 1 3/8″ wide cyclocross tires it comes with, with a far more efficient 25mm / 1″ wide, 24″ road racing type tire.

This ought to do wonders for the effort required to pedal the bike !

Anyone doing this needs to be aware of, there are 4 different diameters of 24″ tire, slight differences in actual rim size.

The pages at Sheldon Browns Cycling site explain details (search Sheldon Brown bike tires).

I didn’t discover this until I ordered the size 23 x 520 (ISO size for “24 inch”), a Panaracer Pansela tire, and it refused to fit the rim.  It came close, but not quite !

What was really needed was a size tire 25-540, which will fit the slightly larger 540mm rim.

These are known primarily as ‘wheelchair tires’, and sold by medical supply companies, (such as http://www.SportAid.com)

Sounds crazy, I know, but don’t think ‘grandma’s wheelchair’, rather, think: those wheelchair tri-athletes who race their ‘sport wheelchairs’ at high speeds !

For those who upgrade the tires, the tire needed is the Kenda Kontender Court tire, size 25-540, $ 45 per pair, has ‘Iron Cap’ kevlar puncture resistant layer.

I’m in the process of doing this and will update the review once we do so.

This model is supplied with 24×1 3/8″ tires with light tread which are great for on & off road. If you’ll ride exclusively paved roads, efficiency is upgraded by going to a 24×1″ high pressure – 100 psi ‘wheelchair’ tire.

(Update: Fantastic improvment, reduced rolling resistance by 50%.  The only negative is if you do dirt or gravel roads, the stock ‘cyclocross tires’ are better.)

In the meantime, our 10 year old is beginning to do occasional club rides with this Denali Junior Road bike.

She is keeping up with us when we go 20 miles @ 14-16 mph average. She pedals very hard, but the bike gives her the gearing & can do the job.

If she enjoys road riding enought to try some races, we may upgrade her to a lighter, more expensive model.

But certainly this bike now performs well enough to do some introductory racing as it is.

One alternative to buying a lighter weight model would be to just upgrade the heavy parts on this bike to lighter ones, ‘down the road’.

(I have done this on my men’s Denali, quite successfully, as also posted herein]

Our fellow club riders are pleasantly surprised to see her pedaling as fast on it as they’re on their $ 3,000 dollar carbon fiber Treks, Giants, bikes.

With the discovery of these Junior model Road Bikes, one advantage our whole family enjoys is that our family road rides are more cohesive:

Those heavy,  clunky kid’s mountain bikes won’t hold our girls back anymore !

Thanks for reading, hope some ideas here will inspire you to ride together more as a family.

As usual, please ask any questions in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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