Got a kid who enjoys racing cyclocross and hitting the trails? Woom has a new series of lightweight rigid bikes that are race-worthy and won’t break a kid’s back or your bank.
We put the $679, 18.9-pound flat-bar Woom Off 5 24” wheel bike to the test.
The Search for a Youth Cyclocross Bike
Cyclocross is undoubtedly a great bike racing discipline for youth. The off-road and closed course nature of the racing presents a low-risk environment and the compact nature of most races makes for a family friendly activity. Go to just about any cyclocross race and you’ll likely find entire families participating at some level.
Unfortunately for the smallest racers, most major manufacturer’s dedicated cyclocross bikes fit range starts at 4’11” and feature 700c wheels. What about the smaller kids?
Some, like Vida Lopez de San Roman, turn to custom frame builders for what has been their traditional bastion, fit issues. Others embrace a “run what you brung’ attitude and ride their general-purpose kid’s bike. A third option comes in the form of smaller bike manufacturers that specialize in the unique market segment of high-end bikes for kids such as Prevelo, Islabikes and Woom.
Not many families or kids have the luxury of owning a quiver of off-road race bikes. Often, it’s a question of prioritization. A dedicated drop-bar race bike could be the way to go for a child focused on cyclocross, but what if a kid likes to ride trails, race cyclocross, grind some gravel, hit a few jumps and ride to school? A mountain bike is arguably more practical and definitely more versatile. Furthermore, most 8 to 10-year-olds are still much more confident on a flat handlebar.
Woom designs and manufactures kids bikes in a variety of sizes, starting with a 12” balance bike and maxing out with a 26” platform. Woom produces a rigid mountain bike, the Woom Off, a series of rigid, lightweight mountain bikes that start with 20” wheels and go up in size to 26″ wheels with the Woom Off 6.
Sure, the Woom Off may be a mountain bike, but with a rigid carbon fork and a lightweight aluminum frame, the 24” wheeled Woom Off 5 is a sub-19lb bike for kids ages 7-11, or 49-57” tall.
The Woom Off 5 is built around a 6061 aluminum frame with fully manipulated tubing. The design has a low standover height for rider confidence and sports features usually not found on youth bikes, like thru-axles and a tapered steerer fork.
The frame features a saddle height that ranges from 28.2″ to 32.3″ with the supplied seat post. The effective top tube is 21″. Think that sounds long? Keep in mind that the small bike has a slack 70-degree seat angle, which reduces the effective reach.
One of the things that sets Woom apart, for better or worse, is the amount of the bike that is built to spec for the company, and parts of the frame do depart from more standard dimensions.
The rear dropouts, for example, use a 135mm thru-axle wheel, providing a narrower stance for smaller riders. Similarly, the fork tapers from 1 ⅛” to 1″, rather than the more common 1 ⅛” to 1 ¼” or 1 ½” found on adult bikes. Although you could run an adaptor headset, parents hoping to swap between rigid and suspension forks will be hard-pressed to find 1″ steerer suspension forks in good working condition.
The frame geometry, listed only in Imperial units, follows mountain bike trends with a relatively slack front end and short stem. It’s built to be stable with a 38″ (965mm) wheelbase. For reference, a 47cm Trek Boone is only 3cm longer, despite being drastically larger overall. Also aiding in stability is the 69-degree head tube angle.
The Woom 5 is built using a large amount of house brand parts designed specifically for the bike as a package. Most notable are the 1″-1 ⅛” tapered fork and the Woom Off Disco Tec wheels, which use a 15x100m thru-axle in the front and a 135mm rear spacing.
The 9-speed SRAM drivetrain uses an X5 shifter and rear derailleur with an 11-34t cassette while a 28t narrow-wide chain ring mounted on 130mm crankarms keeps the front in check.
A single chain guard keeps the chain from dropping on the outside, and keeps the young one’s pants clean.
Stopping is handled by Promax hydraulic disc brakes, which feature levers designed specifically for small hands and 140mm rotors.
The handlebar is a 600mm flat MTB style bar with 20mm of rise and an anodized silver finish and is clad in custom silicon grips. The stem is CNC machined with a 50mm length and a +/- 15-degree design. The saddle, which was designed to fit the dimensions of a child-sized pelvis, is mounted to a 350mm 27.2mm seat post.
Woom also custom spec’d the wheels, using a 20 spoke, 2x lacing pattern front and rear on Off Disco Tec double-wall rims. The hubs feature sealed bearings and 15x100mm front and 12×135 rear thru-axles, not something you find in every bike shop. They’re relatively light, but not officially tubeless. That also applies to the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. Woom reports that they’ve had some success doing tubeless conversions, but we haven’t tried this ourselves yet.
The Woom Off 5 impresses with its low standover, stable, confidence-inspiring geometry and ergonomically-accurate components. Woom ensures its contact points are designed for the smaller riders. The smaller saddle, narrow diameter grips and short cranks all ensure the youth have a comfortable experience. The cranks, at 130mm seem awfully short, even when compared to other brand’s 24″ wheel bikes, but crunch the numbers and they’re proportional to a 5’11” cyclist on 172.5mm cranks. Teaching the kids to spin and preserve their young knees seems like a good thing.
We won’t oversell our tester’s ability to wax poetically about ride quality or handling, even if he’s nearing approaching records for bikes ridden by a nine-year-old. What we can tell you is that the Woom Off 5 is impressively light and is the most cyclocross-ready kid’s mountain bike we’ve seen.
Compared to the average kid’s mountain bike, the 18.9-pound Woom Off 5 makes barriers and run-ups a relative breeze. With its selective parts pick and lightweight carbon fork, the Off 5 is three to four pounds lighter than bikes nearly twice its price.
That weight savings will come in handy when the cyclocross course or trail points up, as the gearing is relatively tall for long or steep climbs. A 28×34 low gear will have them running on the steepest climbs—and parents will assure them it’s faster anyway. Some may long for the lower gears offered by 10-speed and 11-speed cassettes, but such an upgrade would require a new shifter, cassette and rear derailleur.
A lightweight 27.2mm two-bolt post both keeps saddle angle secure during remounts and allows weight weenie parents plenty of options for gram savings.
The wide riser bar paired with hydraulic brakes and grippy, wide Rocket Ron tires make for a confidence-inspiring ride when the terrain is bumpy, technical or drops down. We’d love to have tubeless options here, but understand that at $679, Woom had to make some compromises.
Thankfully, those compromises are only in areas that a parent will notice.
Your kid’s smile may prove that the Woom Off 5 is the ultimate do-it-all kid’s bike.
Brandon Grant and Andrew Yee contributed to this review.
Woom Off 5 Full Specs
Frame: Woom Off 5, 6061 alloy, 135mm rear dropout, external cables, post mount disc brakes tapered headset
Fork: Carbon, 15x100mm thru-axle, post mount discs
Shifter: SRAM X5
Brake Levers: Promax, kids lever
Brake Calipers: Promax
Brake Rotors: Promax
Crankset: 130mm crankarm, alloy
Chain Ring: 28t narrow-wide
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X5
Cassette: SRAM 11-34t, 9-speed
Wheels: Woom Off Disco Tec, alloy, 20 spoke, 2x lacing, alloy nipples, 15x100mm front, 12x135mm rear.
Tires: Schwalbe Rocket Ron, ADDIX Speed compound, 2.35”
Handlebar: alloy, 600mm, 20mm rise
Stem: CNC alloy, =/- 15 degree, 50mm length
Seatpost: Alloy, zero-setback
Saddle: Woom, child-specific design
Pedals: fiber reinforced nylon flat pedal
More Info: woombikes.com