Specialized P1 AM kids' bike £400

Tough jump-style hardtail

BikeRadar score 2.5/5

The P1 AM has been modelled on Spesh’s proper jump bike range, but the frame’s been altered and gears added, so this all-mountain version could give teens the best of both worlds.

“More like a dirt jump bike and not like a mountain bike,” said our young testers. It’s strongly and sensibly made with some nice spec choices, and for short swoopy rides, sessioning smooth trail or tearing around a 4X park, it’s great fun. What it doesn’t do so well is hammer typical forest trails.

Ride & handling: Light jump-style bike with gears for park larks but a tooth-rattling ride

There’s plenty of steering leverage thanks to a wide riser bar, while the short stem keeps bike control on a short rein. The testers liked riding the P1 over jumps and around smooth berms.

They were less keen on the open trail, especially where the surface broke up. It felt “choppy”, they said, and the suspension was “terrible” as the stiffer spring required for landing jumps provides no subtlety over small bumps.

It’s not just the front end either. Short chainstays mean you’re more on top of the back wheel, so bumps have a more direct line through to you.

Even the Specialized Resolution Sport tyres, which have a big volume for a 2.1in tread, don’t compensate enough. At least the two-bolt seatpost means the saddle is unlikely to get jolted out of alignment.

Frame: Strong and good looking, without the normal jump bike weight penalty

The P1's frame certainly looks the part and it isn’t as heavy as you’d expect for a jump bike. Its strength comes not from its material – aluminium is only about half as strong as steel, and a third as stiff – but from its manufacture: fat tubes with thick tube walls.

The aluminium down tube is massive, with an ORE bend at the top to strengthen the down tube/head tube joint without the extra weight of a gusset, and a similar bend at the bottom bracket. Big tubes are a feature of the rear triangle too, which is on the short side for a 26in-wheeler.

That’s typical of a jump bike, giving less back end to wag around when it’s in the air. Despite this, there’s ample clearance around the 2.1in tyre. Both seat and chainstays are braced, and there’s an additional brace on the offside to support the disc brake.

It’s a sturdy frame, but measures in at a tiny 12in. The benefit is more clearance if landings go awry. The bottom bracket is high for shorter riders using this as a trail bike. It’s fine as a jump bike, where you’d drop the saddle anyway, so any talk of having the correct saddle-to-floor or saddle-to-pedal distance is moot.

Equipment: Tough brakes and wheels, but fork is unresponsive and weighty

Up front there’s a stiff Suntour XCM fork that’s adjustable for preload only. A short stem grips its steerer tube, giving a short – and in this size, very upright – riding position.

The cranks are downscaled to 165mm. While 160mm would be better, that’s a step in the right direction – and at least the crank assembly is nice and rigid, courtesy of the splined Octalink bottom bracket. The outer chainring could be dispensed with in favour of a sturdy bash ring, because it won’t see a lot of use.

Brakes are the best we've tested on a kids' bike at this price: Avid BB5 cable discs with a more immediate bite than the Tektro and Shimano discs found on the P1's rivals. They’re also easier to adjust as the fixed pad can be moved in or out without tools.

The doublewall aluminium-rimmed wheels are plenty strong enough for any impact a rider of this size will inflict. On a bigger frame size, you might want more spokes to better survive landings. Here, 32 is ample.

The 1:1 actuation of SRAM's rear derailleurs – in this case an X4 unit – means the lever pulls more gear cable than a Shimano one for each shift, so less finesse is required in gear setup and maintenance.

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