You can thank Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins for the current small explosion in new UK companies, like Frog bikes, who are catering for the new found market for upmarket kids' bikes. Not the fluorescent painted 'Ben10' bicycle shaped toys, but real, hardcore with a small 'h', road and mountain bikes fit for youngsters who actually want to ride.
Frog's Road 70 is a 26in wheel, alloy framed road bike, specced to take on road and trail with equal aplomb. If it were an adult bike this would be the sentence we drop the current hot cycling buzz words 'cross', 'adventure' or 'gravel'. In fact, it's some and none of those. It's just a kids' bike, built for kids to take on the sort of freewheeling, where-the-wind-blows sorts of rides they like to do. The sort of rides where you definitely don't need to be held up by tyre type, or mud clearance issues. If the Swiss army did kids' bikes, you'd be on the right lilypad.
At the heart of this bike is a stout alloy frame, pleasing to the eye with clean welds and some thoughtful tube sizing and shaping. The bright in your face candy red paint divided opinion, but all agreed that it was fragile, as chainstay chips quickly showed. The frame is built with cantilever bosses. Very traditional, very cross. We can't help wonder why V-brakes don't feature; they offer greater power and easier setup, especially for budding young cycle mechanics. Nevertheless the Tektro Oryx brakes performed reasonably well on road and trail.
While brands like Frog can build frames that fit kids, and choose wheel sizes they can manage, there are still component issues that remain unsolved. Two are tricky for fix, the third is easy.
Let's start with the easy one. Gearing. Kids' bikes are generally over-geared. The Frog is guilty of this. Small engines with fast burning muscles need assistance. The 34/42 tooth double rings are OK(ish), but our testers wanted a larger sprocket in the 12-27 cassette, maybe a 30 to help with long climbs and as a bail out for the end of all-day epic burn down. Not too hard to fix either at the point of sale or down the line, even better if it happened at the Frog factory.
Harder to fix is the shape of the brake/shifter units. Despite these being Microshift's kids' models, they were hard for little kids' hands to manage. Our testers were able to brake from the drops, but not effectively from the hoods. Mitigating this is the fact that Frog also fit Tektro cross-top secondary levers. What they don't fix though is the issue of the long throw of the Microshift gear paddles that are integrated into the brake levers. The angle they must reach to engage a fresh ring or sprocket, is greater than the length of most kids' fingers. To be fair, this isn't the fault of Frog, who have little choice other than maybe fitting bar-end shifters in the ends of the drops. It's a shame because when shifts are made they happen cleanly and efficiently.
Speaking of the drops, they are one area where it seems some progress is being made to really cater for kids. Frog use a narrow, shallow drop shape. A 60mm stem keeps the bars and brakes close enough that small arms aren't overtaxed to hold on. The combo allows easy transitioning into the aero tuck when the time comes to drop dad in a sprint.
If some of the criticism of the controls sounds all doom and gloom, it isn't. The reality is kids are hardy souls. They make the best of what they have. If that means they don't shift gear much, then then don't shift gear much. It's just a shame their overall experience is sometimes less than optimal.
The 140mm cranks are basic forged units with pressed steel rings, running on a sealed square taper bottom bracket. Our testers were able to generate useful hill climbing torque from them as they tapped out a steady tempo. If the gearing was a tad less steep they'd have be ideal.
The Kenda 1.3in tyres are meanty inverted treads with a diamond file finish. A jack of all trades, they strike a reasonable balance between rolling speed on the road and grip in the dirt. Of course they offer less performance than pure road or off road tyres in each instance, but as a one-stop-shop choice, they're a good choice. Our riders were happy zipping off down dirt trails with only the vaguest of worries about traction. Again, kids will adapt to what they've got and we had zero tyre related issues.
The wheels themselves are ready for action. Well tensioned and with robust unbranded alloy rims that are laced to Quando sealed bearing hubs. They'll run straight, true and smooth for a long time between services.
The bike gets up to speed, though not as fast as some of the purer road bikes, but faster than many of the similarly sized mountain bikes the Frog might see as competition. Keeping it there takes a little more effort, as the large treaded tyres and the overall weight of the Frog ensure regular topping up from the rider. On the plus side the tyres don't get lost in the tarmac cracks and cushion the ride over the worst of the potholes.
Our testers were more than happy chucking the Frog through the turns, even long sweeping loose off-road anti-camber turns that should scare them with a bit of front end chatter and rear wheel steer. Out of the box it can be ridden and enjoyed. We think that with the addition of a wider range cassette and a switch to bar end shifters, or even mountain bike style trigger shifters the Frog 70 would take a leap forward. All told though, it's a great effort.
Versatile and strong bike that will do the job asked today, tomorrow and for years to come
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Make and model: Frog bikes 26 inch childrens bike
Size tested: 26 inch, Red
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Cable Routing External
Bottle Cage Mounts down tube
Front Derailleur MicroShift
Dropouts Replaceable forged aluminium rear dropout and derailleur hanger
Fork Alloy with canti bosses and eyelets and security dropouts
Wheelset Badgeless alloy rims with QR Quando sealed bearing hubs. Stainless spokes, brass nipples
Brake Levers Shifters Microshift
Chainset Badgeless square taper alloy
Bottom Bracket Sealed square taper
Front Derailleur Shimano Sora
Rear Derailleur Shimano Sora
Brake Calipers Shimano Sora, cartridge type rubber insert
Chain Shimano Sora 9 speed
Cassette Shimano Sora 9 speed 12-27 tooth
Handlebar Frog shallow drop alloy 36cm width
Seat Post Frog alloy micro adjust
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Frog 24 is general purpose first proper bike if you're not going to go down the MTB path.
Frog say 'We believe that the lighter the bike, the easier it is for children to learn to ride, and to enjoy it more as they progress'. Sentiments we back up
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Industrial welding and fragile paint, but well built.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6061 alloy frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry was about spot on for riders learning their skills on and off road.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The frame is about right for riders 11-13, A little taller given it's a 26in wheel.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's firm but the extra air volume of the cross over tyres and larger wheels made it comfortable.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Everything was about right, it's tough to make bikes which are proportionally light and strong to their rider weight/power without making them prohibitively expensive.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
No issues with power transfer.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
There was no toe overlap.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? It was neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Generally good at all speeds. Rode the bumps well thanks to a stable geometry, good tyres and bigger wheels.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
If anything everything is 10 percent too stiff; kids just don't have the weight or power to flex tubes like adults do.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
A good comfy saddle was a bonus.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Slick gears and bigger wheels helped keep the bike up to speed.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The drive train is good value and slick when new. Naturally durability, longevity and weght are compromised by their value build quality.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The controls are acceptable in performance, weight and build quality, though the latter two of the three eventually show through. It's all upgradeable in time.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Everything is fine from the box, but it's all quite weighty, this bike will get better as you wear out the stock kit and replace with lighter components.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? I'd look for something a bit lighter - it's a competitive marketplace.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, probably.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
Good, but ultimately built for fun and adventure rather than flat out performance.
Age: 41 Height: 5'9 Weight:
I usually ride: My seven titanium My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, sportives, mtb, A bit of everything