Trailcraft Maxwell 26 Review

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 at Trailside Bike Park

Meet the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. You don’t have to worry about making any modifications to this kids’ mountain bike designed for 26 inch wheels unless you purchase one of the frame only sets. Our son Tyge had the chance to try out one of the Special Build models in orange with a 32-tooth chainring. The price of Maxwell 26 varies due to build options.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 at Trailside Bike Park

Five Ways to Purchase A Maxwell 26

One of the most interesting things about the Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is the fact that you have five different options. You can purchase one of the ready to ride models, like the Pro XT M8000, the Pro Deore M6000, or the Special Build Maxwell 26. You could also buy just the Frame (which comes with the frame, the headset, the derailleur hanger, and the seat collar) or the Rolling Frameset Package. This makes it incredibly easy to customize (or not) for your kid’s exact needs.

Performance Boosters

This kids’ mountain bike has 28h Stans Crest MK3 wheels paired with Joytech Boost Hubs. For tires, you can choose from 2.25 inch Schwalbe Nobby Nics or a pair of 2.1 inch Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. The aluminum spindle has 152mm direct-mount cranks and the Horst link suspension system is designed to take on an uneven patch of trail with ease.

Rockshox Judy air fork on Trailcraft Maxwell 26 kids' bike
Schwalbe Rocket Ron mountain bike tire on the Trailcraft Maxwell 26
Trailcraft Maxwell 26 kids' mountain bike
Trailcraft Maxwell 26 brand detail

Depending on which model you choose, the bike either comes with a Rock Shox Reba RL fork or a Rock Shox Judy fork. The former is on the Pro XT and the Deore models, while the others feature the latter. Since both options are designed for high performance, the choice really is yours.

A Rockshox Monarch RT with 120mm of travel is the rear shock for all Maxwell 26 builds. All models include a Trailcraft Precision Sealed Cartridge headse and Trailcraft lock-on grips.

At-A-Glance Numbers For The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 With Special Build

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26.5 inches

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1 x 10

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26 inches

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About 26 pounds

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Approx. 10 – 13

Brakes And Drivetrain

Our demo bike featured Shimano M396 hydraulic disc brakes. The more we have been able to demo and test kids’ bikes, the more our riders appreciate this brake technology. Well designed hydraulic brakes enable kids to control their speed efficiently without tiring out their hands and arms. This means longer rides and and more fun for the entire family.

The Maxwell 26 Special Build is powered by kids, but that power is sent to the wheels via a 1×10 Shimano drivetrain composed of a Zee 10 speed shifter with Deore derailleur. Our model even had a rear cassette with a 46-tooth ring.

Trailcraft Maxell 26 Special Build brake detail
Front chainring and crankset on Trailcraft Maxwell 26
Detail of rear drivetrain - Trailcraft Maxwell 26

Sizing Specs And Geometry

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is designed to fit young riders who are approximately 10 – 13 years old with a minimum inseam of 27 inches; and who are 4ft 10in tall to 5ft 2in tall. The chainstay length is 420mm (millimeters), while the wheelbase is 1.082m. The angle of the seat tube (74 degrees) and the head tube (68 degrees) are designed for comfort while on the trails. On top of this, the bottom bracket height is 320mm, and the standover height is 675mm. All of this adds up to a very well-designed mountain bike.

Not only is the Trailcraft Maxwell 26 a high performance, lightweight mountain bike designed specifically for kids, but it also comes in four different colors – neon green, deep orange, turquoise, and orange. Trailcraft branded Lizard Skins protective chain slap wraps are fashioned around the chainstay and seat stay tubes on the drive side. Cable ports for an internally routed dropper are included. The quick-release seat collar made it easy for Tyge to adjust the saddle height when the terrain told him to. It’s these details that make the ride even more enjoyable.

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is a full-suspension kids' bike

Riding The Trailcraft Maxwell 26

We say it over and over –  a proper fitting child’s mountain bike enables your young-un to benefit from all of the research and development that goes into a high performance bike like the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. Because our rider fit the bike so well, he was able to use it as it was intended.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 getting put through its paces

Getting on the bike for the first time, our kid was immediately comfortable. The bars on our Maxwell 26 were about 10mm wider than his normal bike. This allowed him to have a more “open” stance as it forced his elbows out a bit more.

The 46t rear ring on the Maxwell 26 made climbing easier for our kid.

As previously mentioned, our demo bike featured a rear cassette with 46t ring. When we hit our first tough climb during a test ride, Tyge down shifted and started chugging away. After a ascending a couple dozen yards, he said “Wow. This is a lot easier than my other bike!” This bike’s drivetrain allowed our kid to obtain new heights when getting to the top of some hills. We did run into some hike-a-bike (for all of us) during our demo period, but again – the weight of this bike makes it easier to push it up a hill, too.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 climbing the Big Thunder Mountain Trail
The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 handling the rough stuff
Good lightweight kid bikes are good for pushing too

When the trails we rode got technical on climbs and descents, the front and rear 120mm suspension performed beautifully. The lock out on the fork was used when climbing smooth surfaces and switched to the open position for choppy terrain. The Rocket Ron tires kept kept our rider on-trail and in control – even through a few loose sections on Thunder Mountain Trail.

The Maxwell 26 in the skate park
This artificial berm was no match for the Trailcraft Maxwell 26
The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 was very maneuverable in the terrain park

Maneuvering the bike through a terrain park and skate park were done with enjoyment and ease. The combination of the crankset length, bottom bracket height, and 26-inch wheels made getting through features and over obstacles a fun time on the bike.

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is one of the best kids' mountain bikes out there

Is The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 The Best Kids’ Mountain Bike?

Taking into account the build quality and weight of this bike, you’re not going to find anything better in the do-it-all category than the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. Pair it with a skilled rider and she or he will have no problem on XC rides, enduro races, dirt jumps and the in the bike parks. Compare it to other bikes. You will find that they are going to be heavier or not full-suspension. And remember, with the multiple build options Trailcraft offers, you can start with a fabulous frame and build this bike however you like.

Looking for something a littler smaller? If this bike sounds amazing, but is a bit big for your rider, check out our Trailcraft Maxwell 24 Review.

The Best Mountain Bike Racks For Families

The best bike racks for mountain biking families

Are you ready for a real bike rack for your family’s mountain bikes? Tired of your mountain bikes getting scratched or damaged during transportation? In our opinion, these are the best bike racks for mountain biking families because each option holds 4-6 bikes; they all require a 2-inch trailer hitch. This results in safe, secure, damage-free transportation.

Yakima Hangover 4 or 6

Our current favorite mountain bike rack for families. It’s a well-priced, functional piece of equipment for mountain bikers who need to get more bikes on cars. The Yakima Hangover follows a similar approach as other vertical racks. A mast extends vertically from your vehicle’s hitch and 2 perpendicular bars span the width of your car. These 2 perpendicular bars (horizontal with the ground), are the base for attaching the crown of your bike and its rear wheel. Rotate a “H” 90º and you’ll get the picture.

Here’s how to load bikes onto this rack. Firstly, lift your mountain bike up to nestle the suspension fork between the brace and post on the top bar. Secondly, pull the strong rubber chain strap over the fork and connect it to the knob on the rack. Thirdly, tilt the bike towards the lower horizontal bar and fasten it against the wheel cup with locking plastic strap.

Unfortunately, this rack will not work with kids bikes with 20 inch wheels or smaller. Additionally, Yakima’s Hangover racks are made for mountain bikes with two stanchion suspension forks only.

To add convenience, the Hangover features a foot-operated tilt mechanism. You can adjust the angle of the rack for hauling bikes and accessing the rear of the vehicle.

The Yakima Hangover 6 is ideal for our family for a few reasons.  First, as a NICA coach, I often transport more than 4 riders. Second, our family of 4 often rides with friends. In the past, we had to take 2 cars in order to get 6 riders with bikes to the trails. Now, with the Hangover 6, we can easily get 6 full-sized bikes and 6 riders to the trail in our mini-van.

Kuat NV 2.0 Mountain Bike Rack With 2 Bike Add-On

The Kuat NV 2.0 is a bicycle rack that’s designed to be both stylish and durable. The original rack holds a total of two bicycles, but with the add-on option, it can handle up to four. This rack has an adjustable front tire cradle system, meaning that your front wheel won’t be dangling in the air or spinning around while your vehicle is in motion. This keeps your mountain bike extremely secure. The rear wheels are held in place with a strap.

On top of this, it has a foot assisted pivot system. All that you need to do is tap the pedal on the bike rack, and it will automatically pivot downward, making it simple to remove the bicycles. The rack itself mounts onto your vehicle’s trailer hitch with the included hitch lock and hand tight cam system. The cable locks, which lock your mountain bikes onto the rack are fully integrated into the device. Basically, your bikes aren’t going anywhere, until you loosen the locks by hand and remove them.

If matching your bike rack to your vehicle is a priority, then you’re in luck. The Kuat NV 2.0 comes in two different colors: gray metallic with orange accents, and black metallic with gray ones. The frame is made from metal, and the entire rack (the original without the add-on system) weighs a mere 52 pounds. Overall, the Kuat is designed to hold bicycles that have a tire diameter of between 20 and 29 inches, although a separate adapter is needed for the ones that are between 20 and 24 inches.

Yakima HoldUp Mountain Bike Rack with 2 Bike Add-On

The Yakima HoldUp calls itself the “serious bike lover’s rack.” This seems to be the case, as this mountain bike rack boasts that it only takes seconds to load and secure your bicycle to it, no matter the size of your wheels. It’s designed to help you cart around bicycles of all types with wheels that are between 20 and 29 inches, no adapter needed. It can also hold models with disc brakes, full suspension, and through axels. Really, there’s not much that it can’t handle.

The main model of the Yakima HoldUp securely holds two bicycles in place while you’re on the road, thanks to its SKS lock system. There’s an additional adapter called the HoldUp + 2 that attaches to the initial rack, allowing you to double its capacity. No matter which model you have (the initial HoldUp or one with the add-on connected to it) you can adjust the amount of space in between the bikes to keep them from bouncing into one another as you drive from one location to another.

The Yakima HoldUp comes in black with red accents and attaches to your vehicle’s trailer hitch. When you’re ready to load and unload, the rack tilts downwards to make this a breeze. You won’t have to lift the bikes over your head, potentially injuring yourself or scratching the bike, while trying to move it. Once you’re done using it, the entire device folds up and stays out of the way.

Thule T2 Pro XT Mountain Bike Rack with 2 Bike Add-On

The Thule T2 Pro XT bills itself as a “pro” level rack, and it certainly lives up its hype. It’s a platform hitch rack that has a frame-free ratcheting arm. If you’re worried about your rack putting pressure on your bike’s frame, then this is the one for you. It holds the bikes by the tires, and even adjusts so that you have plenty of clearance between the two bikes that the initial rack holds. You can always choose to upgrade the system with an add-on that allows for two additional bicycles.

This mountain bike rack weighs a mere 52 pounds when empty, and comes in a solid matte black. This ensures that it will match any vehicle. You don’t have to worry about your vehicle’s color clashing! The Thule was designed to accommodate many different types of bikes. It can handle mountain bikes, as well as downhill and fat bikes, as long as the wheels are between 20 and 29 inches in diameter, and no more than five inches wide.

The patented HitchSwitch lever makes it easy to get the bikes on and off of the rack. All that you need to do is press that lever, and it will tilt downwards for easier access. Plus, you don’t need to use any tools in order to install the Thule T2 Pro XT on the back of your vehicle. The AutoAttach system is just as simple to use as the entire rack itself.

If security while in motion is a concern, then you certainly don’t have to worry about it with this mountain bike rack. It comes with an integrated cable lock and lock knob, both of which keep every in position no matter how bumpy the road is.

Alta Racks GPR mountain bike rack for families

Alta Racks, Alta Six GPR (General Purpose Rack) for Mountain Bikes

The Alta Six GPR is a vertical bike rack. It can hold up to 6 bikes very well. The front wheels of your bikes are nested and secured in baskets. The rear wheels are secured against a horizontal metal bar. We had the opportunity to test one of these and could see why this style of bike rack is becoming more popular. Read our Alta Six GPR bike rack review and see if this is the winning solution for your mountain bike family.