Kona Stuff 2-4 £550

Hardtail with style & substance

BikeRadar score 4/5

Kona has been producing premium children's bikes for years. The Stuff 2-4 is a pure dirt-jump bike, and the kids unanimously picked it as the coolest-looking on test. It may not be pedalling-friendly, but it’s a worthy steed if your kid prefers shorter, technical rides or jumps.

Ride & handling: Ideal for air time, not so good on the ups

The Stuff is a chunky bike and – unless you’ve got gravity on your side – the weight increasingly makes itself felt. The tall front end and slack head angle make the front prone to wander. Conversely, it offers bags of control coming down. Rolling over drop-offs or landing jumps is a snap. The Tioga tyres have a big volume for a nominal 2.1in, which helps soak up trail clatter. 

Frame: Burly build takes crashes and bad landings in its stride

The frame is burly, with top and down tubes that flare from round pipes at the seat tube to massive box sections at the head. Any nine to 14 year-old who can crack or kink it behind the head tube deserves some kind of big-air, bad-landing medal.

The bent top tube reduces standover clearance and the bottom bracket is high. Our tester complained that when the saddle was the right height from the ground, the pedals were too close and his knees were coming up too high. It’s not an issue for dirt jumping, where the saddle will be dropped, but it’s not good for pedalling trails.

Equipment: Heavy fork and bashguard limit bike's appeal

The Marzocchi DJ 3 fork is heavy, weighing in at around 6lb. That’s courtesy of 32mm steel stanchions, a steel steerer and chunky fork legs. On the plus side, it’s strong. Hydraulic damping helps soak up hits, but there’s not much adjustability for growing youths – just the facility to preload the already fairly stiff spring a bit more.

Entry-level Hayes Stroker hydraulic disc brakes offer plenty of power for little lever effort, but the default lever position is too much of a stretch for a child’s hands. Thankfully, you only need only a 2mm Allen key to bring it closer. Kona has ditched the big chainring in favour of a bashguard, which eliminates the risk of getting chainring teeth in a leg if feet slip off pedals.

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