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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When she did need it, the braking was good, courtesy of alloy V-brakes mated to CNC machined braking surfaces on the rims.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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-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.
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.)
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.
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
Handlebar Giant Youth, 500mm width
Stem forged alloy Ahead
Seatpost Giant Sports, 27.2 x 300mm
Saddle Giant Youth
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About the tester
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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!