Bike Review: 2020 Rocky Mountain Growler Jr 24

24” kids bikes are when it really starts to get fun. The increased efficiency of the larger wheel opens up new worlds of riding options. Suddenly you and your miniature riding partner are easily covering distances that would have taken an entire bag of gummy bears on their 20” bike. Not today, but soon. Your Strava KOMs are in danger.

The Growler Jr 24 is a scaled down version of the popular hardtail from Rocky Mountain Bikes. Like its big brother, it’s a progressive hardtail shredding machine.

Bike Specs
  • Highs Progressive geometry and plenty of kid friendly features.
  • Lows A bit on the heavy side.
  • MSRP $719
  • Weight 30.6 lbs / 13.9 kg
  • Suspension Hardtail
  • Front Travel 80mm
  • Frame Aluminum
  • Wheels 24″
  • Drivetrain 1 × 8
  • Groupset Altus
  • Brakes Hydraulic Disc
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Rider — Frankie
  • Age 8
  • Height 53.5 in / 136 cm
  • Weight 65 lbs / 29.5 kg
Geometry

Progressive mountain bike geometry means a longer bike with a slack head tube angle and a steeper seat tube angle to compensate for the additional length. The goal is greater stability at speed on rough terrain. The Growler Jr 24 has a 66° head tube angle, 73° seat-tube angle, 361mm reach, and a 1,026mm wheelbase.

It really is a scaled down version of the 29” Growler.

24” Growler vs 29” Growler

It's a lot faster and I can go up hills easier.
Frankie
Drivetrain

The simplicity and effectiveness of a 1x drivetrain is a must for all geared kids bikes. Anyone that’s taught a kid how to shift can appreciate the benefit of removing the front derailleur from the equation. The Growler Jr 24’s 1x8 gearing offers a wide range compared to other bikes in its class. In short, it makes climbing and descending more fun.

Rocky Mountain Growler Jr 24
18 mph
Salsa Timberjack 24 SUS
17 mph
Norco Fluid HT+ 4.3
18 mph
Kona Honzo 24
14 mph
Shifting

Trigger shifters are much easier for small hands, especially with gloves, compared to the grip shift option common on 24” bikes. The Growler is equipped with SunRace trigger shifters which shifted reliably.

Gearing indicator on top of the bar is a helpful touch.

An added benefit of trigger shift is room for proper lockable grips.

Brakes

The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes and 160mm rotors have a solid and powerful feel out of the box.

The levers have a reach adjustment to enable one finger braking for even the smallest of hands.

Suspension Fork

I’m not impressed with the 80mm Suntour XCM30 suspension fork. Even with the preload backed all the way off it’s way too stiff to be any benefit to a 65 lb rider. It’s just extra weight. That being said, Frankie thinks it looks pretty rad.

Tires

The oversized 2.6” tires are the saving grace for the inactive suspension fork. With ~10 psi the bike feels like it has suspension, both front and rear. They also gobble up off-camber roots and rocks.

Wide Bars

Complementing the progressive geometry, the bars are wide, 700mm wide. That’s like 100m wider than the bars *you* were running in the 90s. Wider bars mean more leverage and greater control of the bike. Frankie and her sister were practicing wheelies and you could really see the added stability from Frankie’s wider stance. I’m sold.

Gallery

Shimano Altus 8 speed rear derailleur

The chain guide was a bit finicky. The chain came off several times which required an allen wrench to get it back on. We ended up removing it entirely without any issues; so far. The narrow wide chainring does a good job of keeping the chain on the ring.