Just before the world went bananas with Covid… and bikes and toilet paper went flying off the shelves, we caught a glimpse of something new in the leafy suburbs of Frenches Forest in Sydney’s North. Bicycles Online is one of Australia’s most successful cycling businesses and when BNA’s own Christopher Jones toured the Bicycles Online offices and warehouse last year, the team already had their minds tuned to ‘ultra-light’ kids bikes. Their leading bicycle brand, Polygon, has now released a new children’s bike that promises to shed some of the heavy lifting that kids usually have to endure.
The Polygon brand already have a kids bike called the Relic which comes a range of sizes (kids bikes are sized based on wheel diameter); 20”, 24” and 27.5”. This model has disc brakes and suspension forks and taps into the strength that Polygon has established in mountain biking. However, at 13.6 kg for the 24” Relic, which is for children aged 7 – 11 of age, you can throw around the term ‘robust’ but would shy away from describing it as agile. Sure, the Relic can deliver on those mountain biking aspirations, but what if the children just need two-good-wheels for the urban jungle?
The new 24” Polygon Premier weighs-in at 10.6kg, 2.8kg less than the Relic, and has been termed ‘Ultralight’.
Although this is not ultralight in the sense of a Tour de France winning carbon fiber adults road bike, kids bikes tend to be heavyweights. A ‘few kilos’ in weight-saving will take off some of the burden from parents carting the bikes about but more importantly, it will be easier for the kids to ride and have fun. Without disc brakes and front suspension like the Polygon Relic, the Premier has the chance to ‘lighten up’ and the aluminium frame, along with a bit of care selecting appropriate components, helps those kilos just fall off.
There is also a smaller 20″ version of the Polygon Premier model for kids aged 5 – 8 years of age for $20 less and because of the similarities, this review should also provide a fair orientation for the smaller sized 20″ version.
In a nutshell, the Polygon Premier is a kids’ bike that borrows from the simplicity of a BMX, but has gears to deliver more versatility. With the retail price of $399.00 for the 24″ version, it is a brand-name bike that also takes a bit of the weight off mum and dad’s wallet.
But this wouldn’t be a review if we didn’t take a closer look, and my 10 year old son was the key tester.
The Bicycles Online website is easy to navigate and you shouldn’t encounter any surprises, bikes are split into logical categories (kids, road, mountain, etc.) along with specialised sub-categories.
One of the biggest worries you may have is “will this bike fit me?” Or rather, “will it fit my child?” Children grow fast and an age-range guide may not be enough to decide. BicyclesOnline has a handy “Bike Fit Calculator” that provides sizing guidance based on the height of your child. And because children grow and will eventually need an upgrade, a good quality bike will have a long, useful life with siblings, cousins or friends.
I already know that the 24” model (ages 7 – 11) was right for my son and for the complete experience I when through the entire purchase process. There are the multitude of payment options that you would expect and when you already know what you want, it can genuinely take less than two minutes. A tracking link is provided and it is pretty obvious that BicyclesOnline are doing a lot of things in the E-Commerce space well as I wasn’t left with questions or uncertainty.
I placed the order on a Friday and received the bike on the following Thursday on the other side of Australia in Perth. Standard shipping was quoted as 5 days, so this was excellent service, especially given the current pandemic. Along the way, emails and SMS updates were sent advising me of shipping status – excellent communication!
Although I didn’t have any issues, the retailer is well-known for the customer-friendly approach and they make it easy with the 14-day free returns policy. They have staff on the phone who can actually help you… this is not something you can expect from every retailer.
Unboxing and Assembly
The box from Polygon was sturdy and arrived without any damage. The bike itself was well packed, with internal cardboard bracing to prevent the box being crushed and to protect the bike. The fork was wrapped in thin cardboard which can be recycled. I appreciate it when sustainable packaging is used. The packaging was not all perfectly ecological, some foam blocks were used to keep metal components from rubbing against each other, but even for this they had reusable Velcro straps as opposed to disposable cable ties so this is moving in the right direction.
My bike maintenance skills are limited, but assembly was straightforward. The instruction book was easy to follow, with plenty of pictures for clarity. The box clearly states that Polygon recommends assembly by a qualified bike mechanic, something I doubt many online shoppers will bother with.
A list of torque settings was provided to ensure bolts weren’t too loose, or overtightened. As I have a torque-wrench already, I could follow this guide. A torque wrench is usually a $40+ tool and it should be used to avoid over-tightening and damaging bolts, but I suspect this may not be the case for all customers.
As a pragmatic solution, BicyclesOnline recognise that a torque wrench may not be in every toolbox and suggest their ‘budget friendly’ (and weird looking) Entity torque wrench for $21.99. Alternatively they suggest, “As the torque wrench isn’t provided, we recommend tightening until firm without cranking and forcing the bolt to as tight as it can go.”
But how tight is tight? Well, this means securely tight, but don’t mistake this for super-dooper tight… As the bike isn’t carbon fiber, the torque is not quite as critical but it won’t hurt to ask friends if anyone has a torque wrench (and they chances are, they can put the bike together as well).
I encountered a few assembly problems out of the box; a loose gear shifter that rotated on the handlebars when shifting into easier gears; a loose seat-post clamp; and some gouging around one of the bolt holes that holds the handlebars onto the stem that was cosmetic.
The loose shifter was easily fixed with an Allen key, though I feel this was a disappointing assembly oversight. Thankfully, the brake levers were tightened properly. The loose seat-post was easily fixed thanks to the quick release clamp though this could definitely surprise a young rider with a sudden dropping or twisting saddle if not checked.
For online purchases, brake and gear alignment is a common frustration and in this case, out-of-the-box the gears were properly aligned and the brakes didn’t rub.
I also noticed that the mounting screw for the bell was too thin for the clamp it screws into and doesn’t properly “bite” in and tighten the clamp, so that needed replacing too.
The lesson here that it is worth thoroughly checking the bike first and ensure everything is correctly tightened and working before the kids whiz off. The nature of mechanical things is that you should inspect the bike regularly as well.
This unusual chapter heading describes a simple and logical idea. Cheap kids bikes have a tendency to use cheap adult-sized components which makes no sense at all. If the hands of a child can’t reach the brake levers and don’t have the strength of an adult which is required to brake (or change gears)… it’s a safety concern. The build-kit for the bicycle should be appropriate for the rider, in this case, appropriate for a child.
My 10 year old son is the test rider for the 24” Polygon Premier and stands 140cm in his shoes, average among his schoolmates. He rides to school every day and has provided the feedback from his rides.
The 7-speed twist-shift gear is light and it is easy to shift. Out of the box, the gears shifted smoothly, even into the biggest “granny” gear, and the gears did not require further adjustments. There are no front gears so this is perfect for introducing young riders to gears, without confusing them with the ‘sometimes complicated’ triple front chainring setup. There’s even a small “bash guard” to help protect the rear derailleur in case of a drop or a tumble.
The handlebar itself is thin and sized for small hands, and he finds the grips slim but comfortable.
The brake levers are well sized for young hands, offering further adjustment closer to the handlebars if required. The lever pull was just-right out of the box and the brakes did not rub either rim. V-brakes are used on this bike and these are easy to adjust with the help of a Youtube instructional video.
With regard to the gear range, the 32-tooth front chainring is smaller than chainrings often spec’ed on kids bikes. It is matched with a 14-28 tooth rear cassette which is a suitable range, especially the easy “granny gear” for steeper hills. On rolling terrain kids tend to spend far more time in their easy gears than their (harder) faster gears, so specifying a small front chainring was a smart choice from Polygon. The flipside of this is that if your child is a natural born sprinter, they may run out of the faster (harder) gears.
The 1.75” wide tyres have a good width for riding over mixed terrain such as grass and gravel, with enough cushioning to safely hop up and down kerbs and provide comfort on bumpy surfaces. The tread pattern is not as knobbly as mountain bike tyres, the advantage is that it is a bit faster on the road and maintains good grip for roads and smooth surfaces.
The wheels lack quick-release skewers and instead require a spanner to remove them. It is not uncommon for kids bikes to just have bolts for the wheels however I always envision how hard it would be if there was a puncture while we were out and about. However, a quick-release is used for the saddle which is a big bonus and not a feature you would expect on bikes in this price category. When the kids start to grow fast, the ability to quickly and easily adjust the saddle height is a relief.
The basic plastic pedals are a step up from many cheap bikes as the “pins” on the platforms offer good grip, better than the flat pedals many bikes come with. The pedal bearings do feel quite gritty though, so longevity of the pedals could become an issue over time.
The standover height is particularly important for young riders. Kids need to be confident that if they stall, they can safely put a foot down and won’t topple over. The frame design is fairly generous in this respect and the minimum standover height is 58cm which meant that my son had ample clearance when he stopped riding and was just standing.
A lot of kid’s bikes tend to have over-engineered streel frames, resulting in a heavy bike. It is not uncommon to see kids bikes between 13 – 15kg. Without saying that steel can be used to build light bike frames (because it can), aluminium lends itself as a good material because it can contribute to a light-weight frame and can be designed attractively.
It was already mentioned that this bike saves-weight without suspension forks and while they are popular, cheap suspension forks will do more to add weight than to improve the ride quality. I weighed the Premier at 10.5kg which is slightly under the specified 10.6kg.
Let’s get a little techy for a brief moment. One of the details I spotted on the BicyclesOnline website was that this bicycle frame is specified with AL6 6061 Aluminium while the MTB styled Polygon Relic is AL6 Alloy. This is either an identical material… or a different one… hard to say. AL6 is a Polygon-internal title in which AL6 Alloy is used to describe an undefined metal alloy and ALX Alloy describes 6061 aluminium alloy.
Although the specification of AL6 6061 Aluminium is sending a confusing message, we can simplify this in a flash, it is an aluminium frame, it’s fine, don’t worry about it.
The welding of the aluminium frame looks good. Compared to steel welded frames, aluminium welding is naturally ‘chunkier’. It is solid and there are not gaps so this is good.
How does this kids bike compare?
This bike compares well with the Byk brand E-540×7 model which is also 7-speed and an unspecified weight (probably around 10kg) but with a higher price tag of $559.
My kids have previously ridden the Reid Viper 24” ($299), also with 7-speed, and the 20” Byk E-450 ($419) which was a single gear.
The Polygon splits the premium and budget pricing of those two brands, and at $399 offers good quality welds and a solid paint job, in line with the competition.
The Reid bike was geared for flatter terrain, with a large 42T front chainring that made hills difficult for little legs, even in the easiest gear. The Polygon’s 32T front gear really lets kids spin up hills much more easily, where the Reid would see them running out of gears and walking their bike up many hills.
But does it look cool?
Regardless of weight or price, having a bike that kids want to ride is important for motivation. If they think their bike is daggy, they won’t want to be seen on it.
My son preferred the black/red/yellow colour scheme, which looks better in person than in the promo photos. He thought the green and white colourway was nice, but he preferred the fiery colourway.
And if I am permitted to add my opinion, the red/black/yellow Polygon premier is miles ahead of the competitors in looks, plus the Polygon name is not bad for street-cred… if that type of thing is important.
Wrapping it up
Online purchasing and delivery was dead-simple though a basic level of bike maintenance knowledge is a massive advantage if you want to assemble this yourself. If you are a bit unsure, look out for someone in your social circle who is a bike rider and would be willing to help out for 15 minutes. The backup option is getting your local bike shop to assemble it.
My son loves this bike and trusts its stability and handling so much he taught himself to ride with no hands on this bike.
He also loves the lighter and nimble feel compared to his mountain bike which was built ‘extra strong’ to take a beating on the proper offroads. Lighter-weight bikes like the Polygon Premier are a reminder to parents that not every kid truly needs a heavy mountain bike. This bike is perfectly suited to urban life, and the chances are good that you kids will love it.
More about this bike from: BicyclesOnline : Polygon Premier 24″ Ultralight Kids Bike
About this review
This review was sponsored by Bicycles Online and was been conducted as independently and genuine bike review.