Scott Scale Junior 24 kids' bike £329

Real cross-country ride

BikeRadar score 4/5

Scott are one of the few big brands to take kids’ bikes seriously, and it shows. Don’t let the Scale's cross-country racer styling put you off – a lighter bike is better for children in every way.

Our teeny testers nailed it straight away: “It’s a proper mountain bike for a kid.” While we might quibble about spec choice here and there, ultimately that’s just what it is.

Ride & handling: A proper cross-country bike for your child

One of our testers mistook the Scale Junior 24 for the Scale RC JR he’d ridden the year before. They are outwardly similar, both being V-braked hardtail racers with flat bars. The main differences are 4.5lb and an extra £470.

Although it's heavier than its more expensive sibling, at 27lb with pedals the Scale Junior is 4lb lighter than the similarly priced GT Outpost 24 and the difference is obvious. Smaller children can actually ride this bike rather than climbing on board and hanging on like a passenger: it’s manoeuvrable and can be ridden uphill.

The fork works well for seated riding, offering 50mm of fairly smooth travel rather than the 10-20mm you so often get from kids’ forks. The downside is that, unlike a more expensive air fork, it won’t ‘grow’ with the child. It’ll work well to begin with, but later in the bike’s life your child will likely find the fork bottoming out.

Despite the flat handlebar, the riding position is relatively upright. If your son or daughter really is chasing a podium position, you could flip the stem over to make it more ‘aero’. Bottom bracket height is on the low side, which is what you want with a small bike, but it could be lower still to make it even easier to get a foot down when things get wobbly.

Crank length is okay at 152mm, although 140mm would suit smaller owners better. The tyres are economy offerings, which is understandable at the price. For more serious riding, you could upgrade them to something like Schwalbe Smart Sams.

Frame: Plenty strong enough, but without the weight penalty that sometimes brings

The Scale Junior 24’s subtly hydroformed aluminium frame is neither as burly nor as heavy as the Outpost 24’s, yet the down tube is reinforced with a welded gusset at the head tube, and it should be well able to survive the kind of knocks that kids this size will inflict on it. Small frames are inherently stronger and stiffer, and this is tiny.

There are no disc brake mounts, but that’s not a problem: V-brakes save weight compared with discs and these Tektro ones work as well or better than the cable discs found on other bikes at this price. You could also fit a disc brake up front. 

Equipment: Good frame, sensible fork – at this price something has to give, and it’s the drivetrain

The RST fork is preload adjustable and has aluminium lowers. Significantly, it has a much lighter weight spring than the forks on the other kids' bikes we've tested recently here, so the 50mm travel advertised is actually available.

The flat handlebar shows where some savings have been made: it’s steel and it’s fitted with Shimano Revoshift gear levers. Twist shifting is intuitive and the levers aren’t heavy or particularly vulnerable in a crash, but cheaper ones can become awkward long-term. “I had these on my old bike and my hands used to slip around them when I tried to change gear,” said one of our testers.

The right-hand shifter only goes up to seven because there are seven sprockets at the back. They sit on a splined freehub, however; you’re not getting an old-fashioned threaded hub with a screw-on freewheel like on cheap bikes.

The main disadvantage over eight-speed is that your upgrade options are limited if you don’t like the 11-28T cassette that’s fitted. We’d fit a SRAM PG730, as the 12-32T range gives better climbing gears. You can’t fit an eight- or nine-speed cassette though, as the seven-speed freehub body just isn’t long enough.

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