Trek Fuel EX 8 Review

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Trek Fuel EX 8 Review

The Trek Fuel EX 8 is a mountain bike capable of handling all types terrain. To prove this point our kid was able to test the bike completely in many different locations. From hitting the jumps at the original Red Bull Rampage site in the desert to a junior devo NICA cross-country race in the alpine, the Fuel Ex 8 was up to the task.

Trek Fuel EX 8 Review

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Who Is Trek Fuel EX 8 For?

This mountain bike is designed to fit riders 4ft 6in tall (XS) all the way through 6ft 7in tall (XXL). That’s quite a range, isn’t it? A Fox suspension package means the bike is ready to go for trail rides and cross country loops, bike parks, technical terrain and dirt jumps. Novice riders through experts will enjoy riding the Trek Fuel EX 8. If you were to put a pin in the bike spectrum from light-weight cross country racer on the left to downhill freeride machine on the right, we’d place the mark a couple slots to the right of center. Tyge is just a touch over 5ft tall and he was paired with a Small frame with standover height of 27.79 inches.

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A Quick Overview Of The Trek Fuel EX 8

standover height icon

STANDOVER HEIGHT

Min ~27.55 inches

drivetrain icon

DRIVETRAIN

1 x 12

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WHEEL SIZE

27.5in (xs, s), 29in (m and up)

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WEIGHT

~30 lbs sans pedals

Frame Style And Tire Sizes Vary

Because the bike is available in seven different frame sizes, there are a couple of secondary features you should be aware of. The XS and Small sizes will have a curved top tube. This is a great because it will allow shorter riders to comfortably straddle the bike with both feet planted firmly on the ground. This also enables the rider to get a foot down quickly if bumpy or uneven terrain dictates a dab or quick stop. XS and Small frame sizes for the Fuel Ex 8 will also come with 27.5in wheels. This is also a plus in the design-and-fit column. We have seen other brands with XS and Small frames and 29in wheels where the length of the frame is too short and the rider’s foot makes contact with the front wheel of the bike.

Top tube - Trek Fuel EX 8 review

About The Trek Knock Block

The Knock Block is a proprietary function of many Trek mountain bikes. This feature is designed into the stem of the bike and it prevents the handlebars from turning 90º. With the addition of the Knock Block, Trek is able to tinker with geometry and ergonomics that result in a bike where the suspension fork cannot strike the frame. Does it limit your turning radius? Technically it does. But not many people are capable of throwing down a 90º turn over a very small distance. Some have mentioned that the Knock Block negatively affects how a bike is stored/transported on a truck’s tailgate or inside a car. This video from Trek explains the Knock Block feature a lot better than we can.

Bontrager Parts

As you may know, Bontrager is Trek’s house brand for components. Some folks are not fans of this approach, but the trade off is a lower overall price for the bike with parts that function very well. Tyge did his best to beat this bike up and it would be reasonable to believe that at the very least – the Bontrager Line Dropper would surrender. But after several months of rough treatment and transport, the dropper works as well as it did when we built up the bike.

Grip detail Trek Fuel EX 8 review
Trek Fuel EX 8 - Knock Block

Frame Aesthetics

Overall the design of the frame is appealing. It’s no-nonsense linkage design is clean and unobtrusive. The front- and rear-wheels are attached to the bike with thru axles. Internal cable routing and an under-the-bar dropper remote keep additional lines on the bike pleasing. Because we have a small version of the frame, there’s not a lot of room to work with for a bottle cage on the down tube. The solution was obtaining a side load bottle cage. You may like the Bontrager Left Side Load Water Bottle Cage for your small frame.

Internal cable routing on the Trek Fuel EX 8
Top view of the Trek Fuel EX 8

Trek Fuel EX 8 Suspension

A Fox Performance Float EVOL, RE:aktiv 3-position shock with 130mm of travel fills the space for the shock. The fork on the bike is a Fox Rhythm 34, Float EVOL w/air spring and 140mm of travel. Both the shock and fork have lock-out features. We easily added or removed air for the suspension depending on the day’s terrain. And, you can also adjust the rebound for the fork.

Trek Fuel EX 8 with a Fox shock

Measurements And Angles For The Trek Fuel EX 8 [small]

Reach420mm
Stack568mm
Top Tube (effective)567mm
Seat Tube C-T355mm
Head Angle66.5º
Seat Angle75.5º
Chainstay435mm
Wheelbase1143mm
Standover706mm
BB Drop14mm
BB Height341mm
Wheel Size27.5"
Front Travel140mm
Rear Travel130mm
Trek Fuel EX 8 - Shimano brakes and SRAM drivetrain
Tire detail - Trek Fuel EX 8 review

Trek Fuel EX 8 – Build Specs

FrameAlpha Platinum Aluminum, tapered head tube, Knock Block, Control Freak internal routing, downtube guard, ISCG 05, magnesium rocker link, Mino Link, ABP, Boost148, 130mm travel
ForkFox Rhythm 34, Float EVOL air spring, GRIP damper, tapered steerer, 44mm offset, Boost110, 15mm Kabolt axle, 140mm travel
HeadsetKnock Block Integrated, cartridge bearing, 1-1/8" top, 1.5" bottom
Rear ShockFox Performance Float EVOL, RE:aktiv 3-position damper, tuned by Trek Suspension Lab, 210x55mm
AxlesFront: 15x110mm / Rear: 12x148mm
Rims/WheelsBontrager Line Comp 30, Tubeless Ready, 6-bolt
TiresBontrager XR4 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 tpi
CranksetTruvativ Descendant 6k Eagle, DUB
Chainrings30T
Bottom BracketSRAM DUB, 92mm, PressFit
ChainSRAM GX Eagle, 12 speed
Rear DerailleurSRAM GX Eagle
Cassette/Rear CogsSRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 10-50, 12 speed
ShiftersSRAM GX Eagle, 12 speed
HandlebarsBontrager Line, alloy, 35mm, 27.5mm rise
Tape/GripsBontrager XR Trail Elite, alloy lock-on
StemBontrager Line, 35mm, Knock Block, 0 degree
BrakesShimano Deore M6000 hydraulic disc
SaddleBontrager Arvada, steel rails
Seat PostBontrager Line Dropper, internal routing, 31.6mm
PedalsNot included
Weight~30lbs. without pedals
MSRPLive Price
Trek and NICA : Trek and Trek retailers make up the largest annual contribution to the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). If you have a registered NICA athlete in grades 7-12, or if you are a registered NICA coach, you may be eligible for a discount on select Trek mountain bikes. Check with your local Trek dealer.

Riding The Trek Fuel Ex 8

Tyge loved the suspension on the bike. He only weighs up to 95 lbs with gear and his flyweight build was a good match for the Fox squish.

140mm of suspension was perfect for demanding downhill riding

We got the right size Fuel EX 8 and it made a difference. Your kids are growing and they’re not going to be on the same bike for more than a season or so. Know that your investment goes beyond the money spent. When you purchase a proper fitting mountain bike for your kids, you’re giving your children the opportunity to enjoy the sport with safety, progression, and fun in mind. Also be aware that a good bike is going to have a good resale value. Families all over are looking for good used bikes and you can usually receive over 70% of what you pay for a new bike.

Wheelie mode on the Trek Fuel EX 8 in Park City

Tyge loved the tires. He’s never been on 2.6in wide tires before and they immediately granted more control, stability and confidence. On loose surfaces, there was more tire in contact with the ground. On skinnies, there was a wider footprint which resulted in more support and security. Market year 2021 Trek bikes will ship without tubes and with valve stems and rim strips from carbon builds down to the 7-levels. This is good news – tubeless tires out-of-the-box!

The Trek Fuel EX 8 with SRAM Eagle drivetrain was comfy when pedaling

The 1×12 Eagle drivetrain has a 50t ring on the cassette and 30t front ring. That provided plenty of pedal power for long, sustained climbs. If your child has not yet experienced a drivetrain with this set-up, they’re going to be pleasantly surprised at the additional climbing and pedaling capabilities the drivetrain provides. Shifting was smooth and simplified.

Zooming along at Powder Mountain on the Trek Fuel EX 8
Sending a drop at the old Rampage site aboard the Trek Fuel EX 8

Riding with flat pedals or clipless pedals was determined by the task. For cross country, some trail riding, and a couple of NICA races, Tyge sported clipless pedals. At the bike park, dirt jumps, and technical terrain – flat pedals were the accessory of choice. We have learned to travel with both sets of foot platforms for extended outings and road trips.

Taking an optional line at Grafton Mesa on the Trek Fuel EX 8

On jumps and bumps, Tyge was able to control the bike very well. Be sure your kid uses the dropper to get that seat out of the way so your can get low on the bike when needed.

Racing the Trek Fuel EX 8 at a NICA event

Racing the Fuel EX 8 on a couple of Utah’s NICA courses proved to be very fun. The 1x transmission and gear range was very beneficial. And, the dropper was used throughout races. We certainly tightened up the suspension and tires for more grip for one flowy, firm track. On another course with a lot of loose corners and and a layer of dust, the 2.6in wide tires were perfect with lower air pressure. If your kids are cross country speedsters, you can explore additional options in the company’s catalogue that are lighter and have features favored by world-class racers.

Step up your game with the Trek Fuel EX 8

Being comfortable with a bike’s geometry allows the rider to progress on technical terrain and in the air. Blend this in with the will to succeed along with finding the right speed and you will get favorable results aboard the Fuel EX 8.

The Knock Block did not limit or impede the cornering or handling of the Fuel EX 8

Cornering with the Knock Block technology was not prohibitive and it functioned as engineered by Trek’s design team.

Dropping in at Trailside Bike Park

140mm of suspension is plenty for a kid of Tyge’s stature and riding style on big jumps and technical terrain. He could only bottom out the fork and shock if we let out all the air. And, both components had enough range to allow us to tinker with the sag and find the best settings.

Our small Trek Fuel EX 8 was the right size for technical desert riding

The bike really shined after the turns were earned. On open descents, the Fuel EX 8 was is in its element and an extension of the rider.

The 2.6 inch wide Bontrager tires made the Fuel EX 8 a confident cornering machine

Braking power provided by Shimano was always reliable and easily controlled. When you get your Fuel EX 8, be sure to set up the cockpit so the levers are at the proper angles for safety and ergonomics. You can reduce finger cramping and arm pump by simply setting the levers up the right way.

Topping Off The Trek Fuel EX 8

Our child enjoyed this bike because he’s a good fit for it literally and figuratively. The size range of the Fuel EX line-up has him covered so we were able to choose the right size, right away. He also has access to a lot of different terrain due to the west’s never-ending mountain bike season. From the rough and please-don’t-tumble red rocks to the flowy NICA race courses, the Fuel EX 8 has what it takes to make its riders happy. The geometry and build are great for beginners through experts who would like to get better at bikes. And, the bike is a good choice for those who are ready to drop a proper amount of money for a machine that will enable kids to grow their love for the outdoors; on bikes – together.

Riding the Trek Fuel EX 8 on the rocks

Bontrager Quantum MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet Review

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Bontrager Quantum helmet with MIPS review

Mountain bike helmets provide mandatory protection. They protect your head in case of a fall and are designed to absorb and dissipate as much of the impact as possible, doing their best to prevent traumatic brain injuries or worse. Not all helmets are created equally, and the Bontrager Quantum MIPS Bike Helmet is definitely one that you should be taking a second look at – in a good way.

Bontrager Quantum helmet with MIPS review

Not only does it come in nine different colors, including a cool teal and volt combination, black, white, and several shades of blue, among others, but it contains top-of-the-line protection. Plus, with three sizes to pick from, small, medium, and large – finding just the right fit is easy. After all, you don’t want a helmet that’s too large, because it could slip while you’re riding and not protect your head properly. Plus, the BOA fit system helps you quickly and easily fit the helmet to your head. The helmet features an adjustable clasp and the length of the chin straps can be adjusted.

BOA adjustment system on the Bontrager Quantum MTB helmet

The helmet will will fit heads ranging from 51-57cm (small), 54-60cm (medium), 58-63cm (large). And, it weighs 335g through 410g.

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Visor detail - Bontrager Quantum mtb helmet with MIPS
Rear view - Bontrager Quantum bike helmet with MIPS protection
Bontrager Quantum helmet with MIPS - trailside repair

When it comes to safety features, the designers at Bontrager have been thorough. The built-in MIPS protection system covers the head and prevents against angular impacts and multi-directional damage. There are lock-down dividers that help keep the helmet in place, as well as an in-mold composite skeleton making it strong and effective.

Style for miles with the Bontrager Quantum MIPS helmet

In addition to the safety features, the helmet contains recessed and internal channels that allow for airflow – which help keep your head cool as you ride. The washable helmet pads also wick away sweat mid-ride. There’s even a removable snap-on visor that keeps the sun out of your eyes but removes easily if you no longer need it.

Our kid has been using this helmet for a few months now and he still likes it. He hasn’t complained about it being uncomfortable or heavy. It’s well ventilated and good looking. The visor does its job and the BOA fit system provides a snug fit. We’ve affixed a GoPro compatible mount on the top of the helmet. This will let our kid sport an action camera, like a GoPro Hero 8 or the Bontrager Ion Pro RT light.

This helmet holds a GoPro, or Bontrager ION light with easse

The Bontrager Quantum MIPS helmet in our possession has survived a couple of minor crashes. It’s dirty, but structurally safe and sound. The helmet is great for trail rides with our NICA team. Mom and dad need new helmets soon, and based on our son’s experience with the Bontrager Quantum, we may end up with the same model.

Kid riding mountain bike with the Bontrager Quantum helmet

PNW Components Range Stem With Accessory Mount Review

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PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount review

The PNW Components Range Stem with built-in GoPro compatible mount works with action cameras, lights, or other somewhat reasonable items you’d like to attach. What about a banana you ask? With a little ingenuity, we bet you could figure it out. The MSRP is $64.00 USD and you can buy it direct from PNW Components.

PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount review

Available in 40mm and 50mm lengths, the stem is made of a forged alloy that allows it to take a few licks and remain in place. The Range stem with GoPro mount fits on 31.8mm handlebars, and it’s compatible with a 1 1/8 inch steerer tube. Be sure your steerer tube and bars meet these specs.

We had to swap out the handlebars on our younger kid’s bike because the original bars were too fat. The four-bolt mounting system is just like most stems and that makes it easy to install with a 4mm hex key.

After installing the stem, be sure that it’s centered on the steerer tube, the bars are aligned properly along their proper x- and y-axes, and all of the bolts [including those for the brakes, levers, and grips] are tightened down to the proper specs.

PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount - review
Light attached to the PNW Components Range stem

To adjust the angle of the mount, there’s a small bolt in the center of it. Just loosen it with a 3mm hex key, slide the mount vertically in its desired position, and tighten the bolt.

The PNW Components Range Stem weighs in at 174 grams for the 40mm size and 210 grams for the 50mm version. The neutral black color of the stem blends in with most existing bars so your mountain bike will maintain its fashion and increase its functionality at the same time.

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GoPro on the PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount
Back of camera - PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount

When we paired the stem with a GoPro Hero 8, it worked just fine. Our oldest likes to keep his cables long on the bars so he can spin them doing jibs and thus the cables are visible in his clips. I bet we could have temporarily cleaned these up by either adding an extension to the mount or getting them out of the way with a zip tie or two.

POV from the PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount

Our oldest discovered the mount was pretty durable. While learning how to backflip, he took a couple hard crashes without anything in the mount and it didn’t break.

Durability testing with the PNW Components Range Stem

Using the PNW stem with a light is a no-brainer. Its clean and useful design allows you easily adjust angle of the light to the desired position so you can see the trail ahead of you.

POV of the PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount with light attached

Summing Up The PNW Components Range Stem

Overall, we think the PNW Components Range stem with accessory mount is a great idea and we’ll continue to use it. It cleans up the cockpit by allowing you to utilize a part of your bike that’s already there so you don’t have an additional camera mount or light mount on your bars. By design, the mount is centered on the bike so it provides a balanced point-of-view for a camera and brightly floods the trail ahead of you evenly when you use the stem with a compatible light.

Bontrager Cycling Socks Review

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Bontrager mountain biking socks review

Most of the time my kids wear loud socks covered in tacos, flying fish or pugs wearing party hats. But if they wanted to attack the whoo-de-doos with Euro-style, they’d tuck the tootsies into Bontrager’s black Race Crew Cycling Socks. They’re techno-socks: well made, thin and quick to wick away foot sweat.

Bontrager mountain biking socks review

Of course, it’s not like any tween TikTok fiend is going to be caught doing the Renegade in black mid-calf socks, ever. Fortunately, Bontrager also has their Race Quarter Cycling Socks in 15 shades and patterns, with “Ride Bikes Have Fun Feel Good” on the inside the cuff for inspiration. The “pink frosting” color with white polka dots on a light pink background were deemed cute, and the “mulberry” version, which is a dark purple with lighter purple crosses on it, received a thumbs up.

Both versions of the socks have a fitted feel, with the Bontrager logo across the top and compression around the arches. Though soft, they have little stretch. My 14-year-old found the size large calf-height socks too tight for his men’s size 10/Eu 43 paddles, but they fit my women’s size 8/Eu 39 feet very well. Size small in the quarter socks was a perfect fit for my 11-year old, who usually wears a women’s size 7/Eu 38.

Bontrager colored cycling socks
Bontrager cycling socks review

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Nice points are the solid fabrication and flat toe seams. The 5-inch tall crew socks are also available in 3-pair packs of black, bright yellow and white, but, laundry-chief MTB mom speaking here, there is a considerable benefit to stain-hiding shades. The 2.5-inch quarter socks are only available one pair at a time, so you might have to pick up a few sets to avoid the dreaded one-sock-has-gone-missing syndrome.

The socks are an easily-washed mix of 95 percent nylon and 4 percent spandex. Ideally, they’re supposed to be washed in cold water with no bleach and tumbled on low. For people who do laundry according to real-world busy parent standards, the socks have not frayed, shrunk, developed holes, or changed color despite being washed in hot water and run through the dryer. So far, the socks have not retained smelly foot stench, though they have yet to experience the Petri test of being peeled off after a muddy ride and stashed under a car seat for a few weeks.

Full Face Mountain Biking Helmets For Kids

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Best full-face mountain biking helmets for kids

Full-face mountain biking helmets for kids: A proper fitting helmet keeps your children safe while they’re riding the trails. A full face mountain biking helmet can offer improved protection. These full face mountain biking helmets for kids are far more advanced than the ones that emerged ten years ago. They are lighter. Hard outer shells with molded interiors made of advanced foam polymers are designed to cushion blows to the head. Yet, the proper fitting helmet is comfortable to wear. On top of that, the helmets featured here come in an array of colors and sizes, all of which should placate even the most meticulous kid, even as the safety features – such as MIPS make mom and dad happy.

VIEW the Comparison Chart for Full-Face Mountain Biking Helmets

100% Status Jr. Downhill/BMX Youth Helmet

The 100% Status Jr. Downhill/BMX Youth Helmet is designed for safety. Its exterior consists of lightweight fiberglass, making it comfortable to wear. The interior, most of which is made of EPS foam, also has a removable liner that can be tossed into a washing machine for easy clean up after riding on a hot day. The cheek pads and chinstrap liner are also removable and washable, ensuring that no matter how messy things get, the helmet will look as good as new.

Speaking of the way the helmet looks, it’s available in three color combinations: Kelton Blue, DDay White, and Black Meteor. There are three different sized outer helmets to choose from, youth small, youth medium, and youth large, and the interior section comes in two different sizes for a snug fit. The visor is completely adjustable, and it screws into place so that it won’t come loose while your child is riding. On top of this, the helmet is compatible with a number of different emergency release systems. One of our favorite full-face mountain biking helmets for kids

Kids Full Face MTB Helmet, Fly Racing Default

Fly Racing Default Full Face Mountain Biking Helmet For Kids

Fly makes some of the least expensive full-face mountain biking helmets for kids. This option weighs in at about 2.5 lbs and it’s available in several colors and youth sizes. The lightweight design and poly-alloy materials make it as comfortable as some carbon helmets costing at least twice as much. 21 vents help keep riders cool as they bomb their favorite dh trails, jump lines, or bmx tracks.

The padded chin strap is an additional feature that keeps this full face helmet stay put. An easy-to-thread and fasten nylon strap with d-rings are responsible for securing the helmet. When your little womprat starts to stink up this lid from the inside the cheek pads and liner can easily be removed and hand washed. One of our kids wears this full face mountain biking helmet. He really likes it.

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Giro Disciple, full-face mtb helmet for kids

Giro Disciple Full Face MTB Helmet

Our oldest son wears one of these full face mtb helmets. You can see photos and read the review of the Giro Disciple here. He likes it because of its techy Hawaiian design and comfort. His mom and dad like it because it’s priced well and has MIPS protection.

The Giro Disciple weighs about 1300 grams and has 14 vents. It’s also ASTM-1952-DH certified which means that it passes the grade for downhill racing in terms of coverage and higher impact levels. It is available in five sizes from XS to XL. The minimum head circumference is 18.5 inches.

MTB Helmets For Kids

Make sure your kids have proper, well-fitting head protection.

Mountain Bike Helmets For Kids

G-Form knee pads for kids

Knee Pads For Kids

Knee pads are another level of protection for young riders.

MTB Knee Pads for Kids

Camelbak LUXE hydration pack for kids

Hydration Packs For Kids

Is your kid big enough to carry their own water and supplies?

MTB Hydration Packs for Kids

Troy Lee Designs Full-Face Mountain Biking Helmet - D4

Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon Bike Helmet

Looking for a lightweight, extremely protective, yet stylish helmet? If so, then the Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon Bike Helmet should be on your list of contenders. Complete with a full-face design that covers the jaw and part of the neck, this helmet comes with a sturdy matching visor and a collarbone suspension system.

Available in sizes extra small and large, and in a black and silver combination that looks sleek on the trails, the D4 is made of TeXtreme Spread Tow Carbon Fiber Shell. It comes with the MIPS system installed, helping prevent brain injuries, as well as plenty of interior padding for comfort. Also, the outer shell has several ventilation holes, keeping you from overheating while riding. It even comes with a helmet bag.

Troy Lee Designs D3 Full-Face MTB Helmet

Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite Helmet

With numerous colors to choose from, including black, navy and silver, navy and white, red and white, and white and navy, it’s easy to find a Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite Helmet that coordinates with the rest of your gear. Sizes range from extra small to double extra-large, helping you find one that fits just right. After all, the fit is important when choosing a helmet, since one in the proper size helps protect your brain.

On top of the cool color combinations, the D3 helmet has many other things going for it as well. There are over 20 built-in high-flow vents that allow air to flow in, keeping your head cool on even the hottest days. In addition, this full-face helmet has a lightweight fiberglass shell, an adjustable visor, and 3D cheek pads.

Full Face Bike Helmet for Kids - Troy Lee Stage with MIPS

Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Helmet

Designed for endurance mountain bikers, the Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Helmet is a full-face model that contains the MIPS brain protection system. This, as well as the built-in EPS foam inside of the helmet, helps prevent damaging rotational impacts in case of a crash. However, not only is the helmet full of safety features, like a reinforced shell and chin-bar, but it’s also lightweight, coming in at a mere one pound, eight ounces, and well-ventilated.

The Stage MIPS Helmet comes in an array of colors, including camouflage green, red, black, midnight blue, pink and yellow, and two pinstriped options – black and cyan, and black and white. This makes it easier to find one that coordinates with your bike and makes you look cool on the trails. As far as sizes are concerned, your options range from extra small to double-extra-large, so finding the right fit won’t be a challenge.

Kali Protectives Full Face Mountain Biking Helmet for Kids

Kali Protectives – Alpine Rage Youth Helmet

Both strong and lightweight, the Kali Protectives Alpine Rage Youth Helmet is one that your kids will want to wear. It’s made of the company’s patented Composite Fusion Plus Technology, which fills the space between the outer tri-weave shell and the inner lining with cone-shaped EPS multi-density foam. This technology is supposed to reduce the G-forces of an impact by 25%. The Alpine Rage helmet also has LDL technology that prevents injuries due to linear impacts.

The helmet also has anti-microbial pads, a breakaway visor, and a liner that’s removable and washable. It has a full-face design that protects the chin, and it comes in two different colors – combinations of either matte black and blue, or a matte gray and fluorescent yellow. It weighs a mere 30.9 ounces and comes in a size youth large.

Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon mtb helmet

Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet

There’s a reason by the Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet has such an important (and winning) pedigree – it combines safety features with lightweight construction in several snappy colors, such as Maui blue and black iridescent. Available in sizes small through large, the Rampage Pro Carbon leaves no safety “stone” unturned. There’s liquid in between the inner EPS foam lining and the outer shell, protecting the brain from impacts. The magnetic visor is designed to detach during a crash, thus keeping landings from being even more damaging.

The helmet comes with mesh screens protect the face from insects and kicked up debris while riding, and there are intake and outtake ports located at various points to allow for plenty of comfortable airflow. Speaking of comfort, the inner liner is completely washable, and it wicks away moisture.

Comparison Chart: Full-Face Mountain Bike Helmets For Kids

Full-Face Helmet Brand & ModelFull-Face Helmet Brand & ModelWeightMin. Size (head circumference)MIPSCertifications / RatingsMSRPLive Price
Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon HelmetTroy Lee Designs D4 Carbon Helmet2.20 lbs (medium)20.86 in.YesCPSC 1203, CE EN 1078, ASTM F1952-DH, ASTM 2032-BMX$550.00EVO
Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite MTB HelmetTroy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite MTB Helmet2 lb 8.5 oz20.5 in.NoCPSC 1203, CE EN 1077, CE EN 1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032, ASTM F2024$249.00Backcountry
Troy Lee Designs Stage HelmetTroy Lee Designs Stage Helmet1lb 8oz (medium)21.3 in.YesCPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032, AS/NZS 2063-2008$299.00Backcountry
Kali Protectives - Alpine Rage Youth HelmetKali Protectives - Alpine Rage Youth Helmet1.98 lbs20.75 in.NoASTM F1952, ASTM 2032, EN 1078, CPSC, AZ/NZS 2063-2008$275.00BTO Sports
Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon HelmetFox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet2.71 lbs20.75 in.YesCPSC 1203, EN 1078, AS/NZS 2063, ASTM F1952$374.96 - $499.95Backcountry
100% Status Jr. Downhill/BMX Youth Helmet100% Status Jr. Downhill/BMX Youth Helmetna20.9 in.NoASTM, CPSC, CE, AS/NZ$175.00Backcountry
Fly Racing Default Full Face Mountain Biking Helmet For KidsFly Racing Default Full Face Mountain Biking Helmet For Kids2.5 lbs18.25 in.NoCSPC Certified$109.95BTO Sports
Giro Disciple Full Face MTB HelmetGiro Disciple Full Face MTB Helmet2.53 lbs20.47 in.YesCPSC Bicycle, ASTM-1952 DH$249.95EVO

What Is MIPS? What Does MIPS Do?

MIPS, which is short for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System is found inside of helmets designed for mountain biking and other pursuits. You can tell which helmets come with a MIPS system because they have a yellow dot on them, usually on the back, that often contains the system’s initials.

Why is MIPS important? The system kicks in during a crash, protecting the brain from rotational forces, particularly during angled impacts. These rotational forces are dangerous because they can tear brain tissue, leading to swelling, bleeding, and increased pressure. According to studies, most crashes lead to an angled impact, yet many traditional (non-MIPS) helmets aren’t tested for them. As a result, preventable brain injuries can occur, which is why it’s best to wear a MIPS helmet.

The system consists of a BPS, or Brain Protection System, usually hidden behind additional padding. The system allows the head to move inside of the helmet during a crash. When your head is stationary and unable to move, all of the rotational force produced by the crash is transferred to the brain. With MIPS, these forces are dampened, thus preventing brain injuries.

Check out our other favorite mountain bike gear and accessories on our Reviews page.

We’d love to see what MTB antics your kids are up to! Share your mountain bike adventures with MTBwithKids on Instagram or Facebook

Prevelo Zulu Four Heir Preview

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Prevelo Zulu Four Heir preview - featured photo
Prevelo Zulu Four Heir preview - featured photo

Pre-Orders begin on Monday, June 29 at 11am PST.

The Prevelo Zulu Four Heir is one of the best kids mountain bikes you can get.
Getting on the pedals when mountain biking on the Prevelo Zulu Four Heir
The Prevelo Zulu Four Heir works well inside.

This is Prevelo’s Zulu Four Heir. It has 24 inch wheels and a standover height of 25 inches. The bike was designed to fit kids ranging in age from 8-11 years old. Highlights of the build include an 80mm travel fork with carbon lowers and a 12-speed 1x Shimano drivetrain. This matte radical red machina weighs in at 25.39 lbs and it retails for $1,499.00 USD.

Stay tuned. We will drop our full review for this bike within a week.

Bontrager Flatline MTB Shoes Review

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Bontrager Flatline shoe review

We’re taking a look at the Bontrager Flatline Mountain Bike shoe. Sure, we’ve been a fan of another over the last few years, but Trek’s house brand, Bontrager, has stepped up its game with in the apparel and accessory market over the last few years and we’re excited to try something new. The Flatline’s are available in sizes from 3.5 – 14.5 (US men). MSRP is $129.00 USD, but you can click the jolly red button below with our affiliate link to get the live price.

Bontrager Flatline shoe review

Our 13 year old wears a size 6 and we’re always glad to find that when we order online correctly for fit, we can hit the trails right away. You want to make sure you get the fit just right so it’s firm around the sides and top of the foot, yet there’s a little wiggle room in the toe box for comfort and more than a couple weeks of growing.

New Vibram soles - Bontrager Flatline shoes
Bontrager pedals with pins

It’s important to note that these shoes need to be paired with specific pedals. Regular flat plastic pedals with textured surfaces or metal pedals commonly known as “rat-traps” just won’t do. You gotta pair these shoes with pedals that have metal pins extending from the platforms. Many brands make these types of pedals, but the Bontrager Line Elite MTB Pedal Set has been designed to be your Flatline’s BFF. The combination of rubber and pins prevents the shoe from easily slipping when pedaling or applying your full weight to the pedals. You’ll notice the difference when simply pedaling, too. The shoes have eyelets that allow you to lace them up across the very top of your foot to ensure a super secure fit if desired.

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Bontrager Flatline shoes review - Vibram soles

The Bontrager Flatline Mountain Bike Shoe has a Vibram rubber outsole that can best be described as “sticky” as it helps your feet adhere to the pedals. Vibram soled shoes have been around for decades and they’re the go-to for quality hiking and running shoes. They do very well when gripping flat pedals with pins and rocky surfaces. Speaking of the bottoms of the shoes, the uniform treads are designed to help your feet adhere as well, allowing you to maximize your power and give you a predictable interface between the outsole and the pedals.

Lace and pull tab detail
Backs of the Bontrager Flatline shoe

In addition to those features, the toe and heel sections have directional treads that help you not only stay on the pedals but also deal with any off-bike terrain. The midsole is made of EVA, which absorbs a bit of the shock. In addition, the exterior consists of synthetic leather that’s extremely durable. There’s an extra lace holder that keeps your tied shoelace ends from flapping in the breeze or potentially getting tangled in the pedals. Even with this being said, the laces for these shoes are long and we always tie extra knots in them to make sure they don’t get caught in the drive train.

Bontrager Flatline shoes in a corner

With a couple of colors to choose from, including black, red with black accents – and a combination of muted and bright in battleship blue and marigold, your dirt monkeys will look great while riding as well. Sizes to choose from include men’s 3.5 all of the way up to 14.5. Sorry, but now you don’t have an excuse for trying out a pair Bontrager Flatlines for yourself.

Worn in Bontrager Flatline shoes for kids

As far as durability goes, our kid has tried his best to beat these mountain biking shoes to bits and they have held up very well. All the stitching and glued pieces are as firm as the day we opened the box. The treads on the soles are in good shape. The shape of the shoe has remained in-tact and they’ve been worn-in so they fit our kid’s foot while maintaining stiffness of the sole.

Absorbing tricky terrain with Bontrager Flatline shoes
Descending with the Bontrager Flatline shoes

Feet on the pedals is important for pre-loading the jumps and making the landings.

MTB shoes for kids that grip - Bontrager Flatline shoes
Not slipping on the pedals is very important

Tyge hasn’t had any slipping issues on the pedals that result in taking pins to the shins. I guess this can be attributed to about 5% luck and the remaining 95% due to the fact that the Vibram soles maintain a firm grip on the pedals. He told us, “I like these shoes because they feel good and they stick to the pedals. The basic black and red just looks good, too.”

Bontrager Flatline shoes after quite a few rides
Bontrager Flatline shoes - worn sole detail

Over the years, we’ve learned that mountain biking shoes for kids are kind of like bikes. They’re not a long term commitment because they will only fit your growing kids for around a season. So why in the world would you spend your hard-earned money on a pair of Bontrager Flatline mountain bike shoes for your child when they’re only going to use them for less than a year? Because of the quality, comfort, fit and performance they provide. The contact points on your kids’ bikes matter – especially the area where most of a rider’s weight is supported and energy gets transferred to wheels. This is why if your kid is beyond recreational mountain biking it’s going to be good to pick up a pair of Bontrager Flatline shoes.

Das Optics Sunglasses Review

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Das Optics sunglasses review

What’s better than a pair of sports glasses designed to protect your eyes and make it easier to see the trail while mountain biking? A pair made by a company owned by a 12-year-old rider and his dad, of course.

Das Optics sunglasses review

DAS Optics glasses (the name comes from the business’ mascot, their dog named Das) was founded by Grady Jensen and his dad, Chris. Grady wanted a pair of sunglasses similar to the ones that his friends wore on the trail, but rather than just buy him some, Chris decided to start a company that makes their own. The sunglasses retail for $40 USD and ten bucks from each sale of the glasses goes to the nonprofit of the buyer’s choice – making this a more than worthy endeavor.

The backstory isn’t the only boss angle in the DAS Optics story . The lenses and frames are slightly customizable thanks to an included sticker pack. Das Optics offers two models of sunglasses – the V2 and Sendees. We’re talking about the Sendees in our review.

Designed to be very lightweight, as well as protective, the lenses have UV protection and are large enough to fit comfortably while covering a good portion of the face. The shield-style design goes up over the eyebrows and down towards the cheekbones, providing plenty of coverage on the sides of the eyes as well. There are even small vents in the lenses to help prevent fogging and improve aerodynamics. Das Optics shades measure about 6 inches from temple-to-temple so they will fit adult-sized heads, too.

Das Optics review - vent detail.
Das Optics sunglasses in case
Das Optics sunglasses review - about 6 inches wide

The frames come in two different colors, black and white, ensuring that they’ll coordinate with the rest of your mountain biking gear. The white ones have lenses that have a bit of rainbow reflection to them, while the black ones have clear lenses. Don’t worry, both provide plenty of protection while out on the trail. And, although mountain biking is the first activity on the list, these sunglasses also handle other sports, such as Nordic skiing and downhill skiing. They are designed to work with different types of helmets and stay in place thanks to the solid earpieces.

Das Optics descending

Although the Das Optics Sendees were designed with kids in mind, these sunglasses will fit adult faces as well. The frames come undecorated, with a pack of stickers (and yes, even adults will enjoy putting them on their sunglasses) that contains pairs of small designs for the bottoms and sides of the frames. This ensures that you really can make them your own. The Das Optics sunglasses also come with a hard carrying case so your kids’ rad shades don’t get crushed when they’re not on the noggin’

Das Optics climbing

Our dirt rat really got his 1980’s on when he paired the Das Optics sunglasses with a yellow and blue jersey, pink gloves, and half shell. He’s tried to wear the sunglasses with his Fly Racing full-face mtb helmet, but the padding in the helmet won’t allow the temples of the sunglasses to get in there comfortably. That’s not a bad thing. Only dads should wear sunglasses with full-face helmets, right?

Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Review

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Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Review

Kids who enjoy a solid romp down the side of a mountain, complete with aggressive terrain, need a mountain bike that can handle every bump, rock, and other obstacles in their path. The 2020 Rocky Mountain Reaper definitely fits that bill. Coming in at three different sizes, although we tested out and will be reviewing the 27.5 model here. The MSRP for the Reaper 27.5 is $2,849.00 USD.

Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Review

Rocky Mountain:  Website | Instagram | Facebook

Available in a cool shade of brown with light blue accents on the front, the Rocky Mountain Reaper almost blends in with the terrain. After all, mountainside trails are known for being brown and surrounded by clear blue skies. However, what young riders are able to do with this bike certainly doesn’t blend in at all. With a bike that can handle enduro, downhill and all-mountain riding, it’s easy to see why.

The FORM™ Alloy frame features full sealed cartridge bearings and a press-fit bottom bracket. It comes with internal cable routing and 2-Bolt ISCG05 mountain tabs. Our demo weighed-in at around 31.5 lbs without pedals, meaning the Reaper is light enough for a young rider to handle, while while having the proper components and suspension to take on rough terrain.

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Compression adj on RockShox fork - Reaper 27.5 review
Suspension linkage - Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5

Your kid’s Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 will include a RockShox Deluxe Select RT shock with 130mm of rear travel, a RockShox Sektor RL 130mm fork, and a Rocky Mountain Toonie dropper (100mm travel) attached to a WTB Volt Race 142 saddle. The 27.5-inch tires, Maxxis Minion DHR II Folding 27.5 x 2.3 in both the front and the back, can handle even the roughest terrain. The overall size of them and the frame makes it clear that this bike is designed for older kids, those who have outgrown other models in both height and ability. The tires are mounted on Shimano MT400 Boost 15mm hubs in the front, with Shimano MT400 Boost 148mm in the back. Stainless steel spokes and WTB ST i23 TCS tubeless rims complete the picture.

Shimano brakes
Maxxis tire close-up

The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 At-A-Glance

standover height icon

STANDOVER HEIGHT

31.18 inches

drivetrain icon

DRIVETRAIN

1 x 12

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WHEEL SIZE

27.5in or 26in

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WEIGHT

~31 lbs sans pedals

The brakes are Shimano M6000 2 piston stoppers with 180mm rotors and Shimano M6000 brake levers. Rocky Mountain Lock-On Light grips are attached to Rocky Mountain AM 760mm handlebars. The shifter is a SRAM SX Eagle.

Chainring and crank on the Reaper 27.5
Chainguide on the Reaper 27.5

What really gives the bike it’s power (besides your child’s feet, of course) is the drivetrain. It’s composed of a Sram SX Eagle chain, 30T chainring, and a 12-speed cassette. All can handle the speed and terrain of the mountainside while helping your young rider stay in control.

Head tube badge - Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 review
Saddle detail - Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Review
Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Review - SRAM Eagle drivetrain

Speaking of control, the Rocky Mountain Reaper comes with the brand’s patented RIDE9 adjustment system. All that you – or your child – need is a set of hex keys to adjust the interlocking clips, customizing the bike to handle the given terrain. There are nine different possible settings (hence the name of the system), each of which changes the angle of the head tube and the seat tube. The reach and bottom bracket drop are adjusted as well. The three main angle settings, each broken down into several minute adjustments, are for neutral ground, high-speed stability, and proper traction when climbing. This makes the ride customizable, based on your child’s preferences and the mountainsides that they’re conquering.

Rocky Mountain Reaper Comparison Chart

The Reaper is available in 3 sizes. A couple of them can even accommodate different wheel sizes. Read our review featuring the Rocky Mountain Reaper 26 here.

Reaper 24Reaper 26Reaper 27.5
MSRP$1,949.00 USD$2,349.00 USD$2,849.00 USD
Wheel Sizes (in)
* factory set up
24*, 2626*, 2427.5*, 27.5+
Standover Height (in)
RIDE-9 settings, l-r
Slack, Neutral, Steep
27.24, 27.32, 27.3628.62, 28.70, 28.7431.18, 31.29, 31.37
Giro Disciple full face helmet - manufacturer photo - three quarter view

Full-Face Helmets

Protect your kid’s grill with the proper helmet.

Full-Face MTB Helmets For Kids

G-Form knee pads for kids

Knee Pads

If you ride a bike, you’re gonna fall down. Just sayin’.

MTB Knee Pads for Kids

Leatt 2.5 chest protector for kids

Chest Protection

Options from Leatt, Fox, and more.

MTB Chest Protection for Kids

Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Build Specs

FrameFORM™ Alloy. Full Sealed Cartridge Bearings. Press Fit BB. Internal Cable Routing. 2-Bolt ISCG05 Tabs. RIDE-9™ Adjustable Geometry + Suspension Rate
ForkRockShox Sektor RL 130mm
Front Travel130mm
ShockRockShox Deluxe RT
Rear Travel130mm
HeadseteFSA Orbit NO.57E
StemRocky Mountain AM
HandlebarRocky Mountain AM 760mm
GripsRocky Mountain Lock On Light
BrakesShimano MT500 / Shimano RT64 180mm / Shimano RT64 180mm
Brake LeversShimano MT500
ShiftersShimano SLX
Rear DerailleurShimano SLX
Cranks & ChainringsRace Face Ride Cinch 30T Steel
Bottom BracketRace Face BB92 24mm
CassetteShimano SLX 11-46T
ChainKMC X11-1
Front HubShimano MT400 Boost 15mm
Spokes2.0 Stainless
RimsWTB SX19
TiresMaxxis Minion DHR II Folding 27.5 x 2.3 / R = Maxxis Minion DHR II Folding 27.5 x 2.3
SeatpostXFusion Manic 30.9mm
SaddleWTB Volt Race

Who Is The Reaper Made For?

This full-suspension bike with 27.5 inch wheels is for kids who like the rough and beaten trails. It’s excellent for rock gardens and roots. The frame’s geometry is the perfect fit for steep descents, bike parks, and shuttle laps. Trail riders who don’t mind the bumps and young enduro racers will enjoy all the attributes of the Reaper 27.5. The bike’s suspension set up welcomes the jumps and drops that lie ahead. Even beginning mountain bikers who are advancing their skills on rugged rides will appreciate the bikes capabilities. Regarding size and fit, the Reaper 27.5 has a standover height of 31.18 inches and you can view the Rocky Mountain sizing chart here.

Angles And Measurements – Reaper 27.5

Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Illustration

Click the image above to enlarge it

TTH Top Tube Length - HORZ547mm
HTA Head Tube Angle66.4º
HTL Head Tube length100mm
STA Seat Tube Angle - Effective74.4º
STL Seat Tube length365mm
RC Rear Centre426mm
BBD Bottom bracket drop28mm
R Reach385mm
S Stack580mm
SH Standover Height792mm
WB Wheelbase1,100mm

Riding The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5

Our kid is about 5’0 tall and weighs close to 90lbs with sopping wet gear and his pockets full of rocks. Over the last couple of years, his bike handling skills have improved dramatically. He’s always had a good sense of balance, but his confidence when riding technical features has risen. He’s not the fastest, but he knows how to roll the rocks and is comfy getting in the air.

Riding technical terrain on the Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5

Cornering on the Reaper 27.5 was pretty darn good. If you can do it properly and set your tire pressure correctly, the Maxxis tires aboard the Reaper hold true and track through loose dirt. You can’t execute correct body position when cornering on a bike that doesn’t fit, so be sure to get the right size Reaper for your kids. They’ll be able to loop through the berms a whole lot easier.

Cornering on the Reaper 27.5 - a full suspension mountain bike for kids
Cornering close-up on the Reaper 27.5

Shorter chainstays are now a common design feature a lot of mountain bikes for riders of all ages and the Reaper 27.5 is demonstrative of this. We compared its 426mm chainstay length to other bikes we’ve recently had (including a hardtail xc bike), and they’re all within a few millimeters. Shorter chainstays result in a more playful, quick-reacting frame. Longer chainstays are more stable at high speeds. With the Reaper 27.5, the rear end was stabilized by the RockShox shock. Of all things, something that our kid specifically spoke about was the saddle. He said it was super comfortable compared to other bikes he’s ridden. It allowed him to be a little more cozy and remain content on longer rides.

Campus wheelie - Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 review

Having the suspension set up properly is paramount to ensuring your Reaper performs as intended. We do our best to keep a shock pump with us so we can add or release air depending on where and how we’re riding. The Reaper’s RockShox components are the right size because kids don’t need tons of travel and you can get the squish just right depending on your child’s weight and riding style.

The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 is a rock chomper

Jumping with the Reaper 27.5 was always a good time. Getting up to speed on proper slopes is easy and the bike’s suspension assists with pre-loading for take-offs and smooths out the return to earth.

Getting the Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 in the air

The Reaper performed very well on jagged trails. Even pedaling up the chunky stuff while clipped-in, a strong intermediate rider will be able to maximize her/his power. Pedal-bob wasn’t an issue and the dropper post worked very well when our kid was pedaling across rolling country.

Doing a clipped-in technical climb

Summing Up The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5

The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 is going to be the choice for groms who like to chomp on rocks after they finish their vegetables. It has the right geometry and components for younger humans who appreciate earning their turns on trails with technical descents. The bike will really shine when the liftie removes it from the sled at the bike park and tells you to “have a good ride”. Rocky Mountain has been making award-winning bikes for decades and the Reaper 27.5 will prepare your kids for their first adult-sized mountain bike in the company’s line-up.

Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Preview

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Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 Preview

The Rocky Mountain Reaper 27.5 is a full-suspension mountain bike with a 130mm travel RockShox fork and 130mm of rear travel. The bike comes with a dropper and 27.5 inch wheels. You can also fit 26 inch wheels to the bike.

Rocky Mountain Bicycles:  Website | Instagram | Facebook

Our kid rode this bike in several places over a few months and the two really bonded. It was like Eragon finding Saphira, Han and the Millenium Falcon, Harry and his Nimbus 2000.

Stay tuned as we work on our full review and post an in-depth article within the next week or so. If you don’t already – please follow MTB With Kids on Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for our emails on the home page, too. It helps us keep you up-to-date with reviews, tips for riding with kids, trail and destination info.