Trailcraft Maxwell 26 Review


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.