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Verdict: 
Well-made, smart-looking bike that's fun to ride across a range of terrains thanks to kid-friendly finishing kit
Weight: 
9,020g

Giant's ARX 24 is a new addition to its children's bike range and it really is rather good for the aspiring junior cyclist. A great quality frame and fork matched to a well-chosen spec list make it an easy and fun bike to ride, and it doesn't cost the earth either. It's also available in four other colours, if yellow doesn't do it for your young 'un.

  • Pros: Impressive quality alloy frame and fork, well chosen kit for small hands
  • Cons: Not as light as some of the competition

More and more brands are starting to realise that a lot of parents are willing to invest in quality bikes for their children, especially if it makes the riding experience as addictive and fun as we find it ourselves when we go out for a spin.

> Find your nearest Giant store here

First up, it needs to be light.

For the ARX Giant has used its Aluxx grade aluminium alloy, not just for the frame but also the fork, and that means the whole bike comes in at a pretty impressive 9.02kg (19.88lb) on the road.cc scales. It's not the lightest out there, with Hoy's Bonaly 24 having a claimed weight of 8.6kg which sounds perfectly feasible as the 20in Bonaly we tested weighed just 7.8kg.

As we often say, though, weight on paper really isn't everything, and according to our 10-year-old tester Libby, the ARX feels much lighter than it is. She had no issues lifting the front wheel to hop up kerbs, and when we were out and about on the trails, ruts and tree roots weren't an issue either.

Giant_ARX_Riding_2.JPG

The lack of weight also helps when it comes to climbing, and thanks to the all-round stability of the Giant, Libby found climbing while both in and out of the saddle plenty of fun.

Libby isn't the most confident of descenders, tending to overthink things at times, but she certainly seemed pretty happy with how the ARX handled. The Giant has a wheelbase of 929mm, which when paired with a top tube with an effective length of 500mm and head tube of 120mm allowed her to position herself perfectly on the bike, spreading out her bodyweight.

Giant_ARX_Riding_1.JPG

The head angle of 70 degrees and trail of 73mm means that the steering is nicely balanced and neutral; the wide 500mm handlebar helps too.

> Bike speak: road.cc A-Z of cycling jargon

The gravel track in the local park that we used for testing has plenty of swooping bends and short, sharp climbs, and as Libby continued to do lap after lap I could see her confidence grow as she started to take the bends without using the brakes.

Braking and gearing

When she did need it, the braking was good, courtesy of alloy V-brakes mated to CNC machined braking surfaces on the rims.

Giant ARX 24 - rear brake.jpg

Gearing is another important criteria when it comes to children's bikes, especially when the rider gets to a level where they actually start using them efficiently. Rather than Gripshift or the thumb lever like that used on the Hoy Bonaly, mentioned above, the ARX uses a Shimano SL-M310 Rapidfire-style shifter, controlled by both the thumb and finger. Even for small hands this is easy to reach and use while riding.

Giant ARX 24 - grip and brake lever.jpg

The lever skips the chain across the eight sprockets with relative ease, delivering a crisp shift each time from the Altus rear derailleur. Ratio-wise, the cassette covers 12-32 teeth with the largest one there offering a decent climbing gear when paired with the 32t single chainring.

Giant ARX 24 - drivetrain.jpg

Finishing kit

The rest of the kit is all Giant branded, with the stem, handlebar and seatpost all coming from its Youth range, the stem measuring a diddy 60mm in length. It's all alloy, as you'd expect, and does the job.

Giant ARX 24 - stem.jpg

Giant provides the Youth saddle as well, which Libby said she got on with and found totally comfortable on rides up to a couple of hours on the road.

Giant ARX 24 - saddle.jpg

With kids' bikes their sizing is determined by their wheel size; here they are 24in, built using Giant's own alloy rims and stainless spokes. There are 28 spokes front and rear, and the wheels took plenty of abuse on the trails and local byways. There is an ARX 16 and an ARX 20 available in the range, too, for smaller kids.

Giant ARX 24 - fork.jpg

The Innova tyres are 1.5in wide with a minimal knobbly tread, which means they work in most conditions without sacrificing too much in terms of grip and rolling resistance. Again, just like the wheels, they are durable and robust with no issues from punctures or damage.

Value

Value-wise, for what you are getting the Giant sits well against the opposition. When you look at the package you are getting for £325, I'd say it is well priced. The frame and fork are quality pieces of kit, neatly welded and finished off with a very hardwearing paint job. You get a set of water bottle cage bosses plus all of the cable routing has been well thought out.

Giant ARX 24 - down tube.jpg

In comparison, the Hoy Bonaly 24 will set you back £360, though it is a little lighter. Islabikes has the Beinn 24 which has an alloy frame and steel fork, but one of those will cost £439.99 – although they do hold on very well to their value, for selling on secondhand. (We tested the Beinn 26 in 2016 and the Beinn 24 back in 2013.)

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best kids' bikes

On the whole, I'd say the Giant ARX is a very good package: a mixture of a lightweight setup that is also hardwearing and durable in the hands of fearless youngsters.

Verdict

Well-made, smart-looking bike that's fun to ride across a range of terrains thanks to kid-friendly finishing kit

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Giant ARX 24

Size tested: One size

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Sizes One Size

Colours Pure Red / Black, Orange / Black, Lemon Yellow / Black, Blue / Black, Neon Green / Black

Frame ALUXX -Grade Aluminum

Fork alloy

Shock N/A

Handlebar Giant Youth, 500mm width

Stem forged alloy Ahead

Seatpost Giant Sports, 27.2 x 300mm

Saddle Giant Youth

Pedals FP-651

Shifters Shimano SL-M310

Front Derailleur N/A

Rear Derailleur Shimano Altus RD-310

Brakes alloy linear pull

Brake Levers alloy, Junior MTB

Cassette Shimano HG200, 12x32

Chain KMC X8PL

Crankset alloy forged 3-piece, 32, with Chain Guard

Bottom Bracket sealed cartridge

Rims Giant Kids 24, 6061 aluminum, with CNC braking surface

Hubs alloy, F 28H QR,R 28H NUT

Spokes stainless, 14G

Tyres Innova, 24x1.5, 60tpi

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?

Giant says, "WHY SHOULD LIGHTWEIGHT PERFORMANCE BE LIMITED TO ADULT BIKES? THIS SLEEK LITTLE ALUMINUM FLYER IS THE LIGHTEST IN ITS CATEGORY, AND IT'S DESIGNED WITH STABLE GEOMETRY THAT MAKES IT EASY FOR YOUNG RIDERS TO GET GOING.

Most youth bikes are constructed with heavier frames and materials, but we designed the all-new ARX to be lighter, quicker, and more fun for young riders. Fact is, smaller riders can benefit even more from a lighter bike. With its ALUXX aluminum frame and fork, ARX is the lightest bike in its category''which makes it more fun to ride. The frame features a lower bottom bracket for a lower center of gravity and added stability. It comes in three different wheel size choices for different heights, and has versatile tyres that can handle rough roads, paths and even some dirt. The frame is fitted with lightweight components that are sized specifically for young riders, including cranksets and cockpit components perfectly sized for various wheel options (16, 20 or 24)."

It is a very well thought out package for young cyclists.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The ARX is available in three sizes: the ARX 16 (16" wheels), the ARX 20 (20" wheels) and this ARX 24.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Well made and brilliantly finished with a solid paint job.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Giant uses its Aluxx tubing in the frame and fork. It's a 6061 series alloy that it is single butted along the tube length.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The geometry is absolutely spot on for children rather than just being a shrunk adult's bike compromise.

SEAT TUBE LENGTH (mm) 305

SEAT TUBE ANGLE 72.0°

TOP TUBE LENGTH (mm) 500

HEAD TUBE LENGTH (mm) 120

HEAD TUBE ANGLE 70.0°

FORK RAKE (mm) 40

TRAIL (mm) 73

WHEELBASE (mm) 929

CHAIN STAY LENGTH (mm) 385

BOTTOM BRACKET DROP (mm) 40

STACK (mm) 468

REACH (mm) 348

STAND OVER HEIGHT (mm) 575

HANDLEBAR WIDTH (mm) 500

STEM LENGTH (mm) 60

CRANK LENGTH (mm) 140

WHEEL SIZE 24"

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

It is very similar to other top end test bikes of this size.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes, the frame and fork weren't harsh at all.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

No complaints from the tester. The bike could cope with the power she was putting out on the climbs.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The handling seems to have just the right amount of neutrality to be smooth and easy to control.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Libby was a fan of the padded saddle.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The tyres rolled well on the road but had enough bite for light off-road duties.

Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

It's a good selection of gear ratios and ease of use for young riders.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

Solid little performers, taking plenty of abuse without issue.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

The tyres can cope with most conditions and they look to be durable.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

It is all sized correctly for the child who would be riding this bike.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It costs less than quite a few of the main competitors, such as Islabikes and Hoy.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The ARX is a very sensible approach from Giant, delivering a lightweight, well-made frame at the centre with a selection of kit that works perfectly for growing children.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

1 comments

Avatar
joules1975 [604 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Nice to see this in a flat bar configuration. My son had what is essentially the same bike in drop bar format (TCR Espoir), but they didn't adjust the length of the frame to take account of the extra reach in the bars, the result being he just felt far too stretched the whole time and didn't like riding it.

Switched it to flat bars and it transformed the bike.

We then got a TCX 26 and did the same change, becuase again, drop bars meant too long a reach.