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Having a low weight, controls the ideal size for young hands, and geometry that is designed for kids, the Boardman JNR Hybrid 24in Wheel is a value offering for the budding young cyclist. It's well made and equally well kitted out, and its ability to take full mudguards, a rack and knobbly tyres makes it quite a versatile machine too. It looks like it wouldn't be out of place in our best children's bikes buyer's guide.
At a smidge over 10kg the JNR 24in doesn't have much weight to it – at least in the real world rather than just on the scales. This means my nine-year-old daughter, Isla, felt completely at home on it.
Watching her riding around on it on the local pump track, or the gravel track that runs around the park, I could see that the geometry worked for her whether she was sat in the saddle rolling along, tackling descents at speed, or getting out of the saddle to climb.
In her words, she said that it was easy to ride.
The geometry looked to spread her centre of gravity out well, and the lengthy wheelbase brings stability that boosted her confidence at speed, or when she was riding on a gravel track with a loose surface underneath her.
The steering is neutral, helped by the wide handlebar, and the very short stem doesn't put a lot of weight out front.
But it's that low overall weight that is the key, making the Boardman extremely manoeuvrable, especially at slow speeds. Isla is quite a cautious girl, and doesn't have her older brother's fearlessness, so when she was tackling the pump track or when we were trying out trails in the local woods, she would tackle the technical sections slowly. Meanwhile, her brother was bombing around in the background on the bigger JNR 26in, being reviewed soon.
The fact that the bike felt great in her hands gave her the confidence to take her time. This in turn boosted her confidence, so that she could then start to ride faster and take on more challenges.
In an urban environment, while she isn't yet strong enough to lift the front wheel up onto a full-height kerb while riding, she could at least lift it enough onto a dropped kerb when joining the pavement from an angle.
The bike's neutral handling and low weight gave her the added confidence to take her hand off the handlebar to signal even when in traffic.
The Boardman JNR 24in has an aluminium frame with triple-butted tubes that have differing wall thicknesses along their length.
The tubing is thicker at the ends to cope with higher stresses and thinner towards the middle to allow some flex for comfort. We may only be talking tenths of a millimetre here, but triple butting is something we normally only see on higher-end adult road bikes, so to see it on a kid's bike is impressive.
The fork pairs a steel steerer with aluminium blades. These are lighter than the blades of the all-steel forks that are often fitted to children's bikes.
The welding has a smooth finish throughout and the shiny blue finish with neat orange details looks flash.
All the cables run externally, which makes it easy for parents to fettle, adjust and replace them, and the threaded square taper bottom bracket hasn't shown any reliability issues in the mud- and salt-covered roads and trails Charlie was riding on.
You'll find mounting points on the frame for a bottle cage, and it'll even take full mudguards and a rack.
The JNR comes with Microshift's Advent rear derailleur and shifter.
The 1x system means only one shifter is required, and its size easily works for smaller hands.
The index finger shifts to a larger gear while a thumb-shifter goes the opposite way, with the child's hand on the bar at all times for stability.
Neither lever requires a huge amount of pressure, and they are much easier to use than the Gripshift setups used on a lot of children's bikes.
The 9-speed cassette has a range of 11-42T and is paired to a basic Prowheel chainset with a 32T chainring.
It's a good spread of gears, although there are quite big jumps at the larger end of the cassette.
That said, most young children have yet to develop a narrow cadence range, so it's not much of an issue.
While the 26in model gets disc brake, our 24in bike comes with V-brakes.
That does take away some initial braking performance in the wet, but the Tektro 855 AL-EN callipers are powerful, and that power is achievable because the Tektro TS325A levers work a treat with small hands.
The rest of the components are simple aluminium pieces that will stand up to plenty of abuse. The handlebar has a slight rise to give it a bit more height, while its 540mm width helps to keep the steering neutral.
The 50mm stem has a rise/fall of 10°.
A quick-release seatpost lets you easily adjust the saddle height with the 250mm post offering plenty of length.
The Boardman-branded saddle offers a decent amount of padding for all kinds of riding, and my daughter found it comfortable for rides of around 90 minutes while wearing normal leggings.
The 24in wheels have double-walled aluminium rims paired to alloy hubs, both of which are laced with 28-spokes.
It's a strong build, as we had no issues with trueness after two months of testing on rough trails and potholed roads. The 1.5in VEE Speedster tyres have a relatively smooth centre section, so they roll quickly on flat surfaces, with a slight shoulder tread to give a little bite off road.
They are absolutely fine for road use or on trails in summer when things are dry and firm, and there's room for knobbly tyres should you want to upgrade for the winter.
At £380 I consider the JNR 24in to be good value for money. You can pick up much cheaper bikes off-the-shelf, but the Boardman balances an attractive price along with that quality frame, a low weight and decent finishing kit.
The Giant ARX 24 that I reviewed a while back is a little pricier at £399 for the cheaper of the two models, £425 for the other. It has an aluminium alloy frame and fork, and much of the rest of the kit is also pretty similar. The 12-32 cassette means you don't get quite the spread of gears of the Boardman, though at just over 9kg the Giant is a little lighter.
Frog Bikes are a popular choice for many aspiring cyclists. Its Frog 62 is a 24in hybrid with an aluminium frame and fork, an 8-speed groupset and it comes with mudguards fitted.
It costs £500 and is nearly a kilo lighter at 9.25kg.
Overall, Boardman's JNR 24in offers good value, being just a touch cheaper than some of its competitors. It's a well specced bike overall and thanks to the weight and geometry it's a fun and easy bike to ride.
A well-made, versatile hybrid bike that is well kitted out for the money.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman JNR Hybrid Bike - 24 inch Wheel
Size tested: 24 inch wheel
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Headset: Semi-Inegrated NECO H124 1" Aheadset
Bottom Bracket: FSA. - BB-7420ST
Cranks: Prowheel 32 Tooth - 140mm crank and double chainguard
Rear Derailleur: Microshift M6195M 9 Speed
Shifter: Miroshift SL-M8195 Advent 9 Speed
Cassette: Microshift CS-H093 9 Speed 11-42 Tooth
Chain: KMC Z9
Brake Lever: TEKTRO TS325A
Front Brake: TEKTRO 855 AL-EN V-Brake
Rear Brake: TEKTRO 855 AL-EN V-Brake
Handlebar: Boardman JNR Alloy - 25.4mm - 540mm wide
Stem: Boardman JNR Alloy 50mm - 10 degree rise
Saddle: Boardman JNR
Seat Post: Boardman JNR Alloy 25.4mm x 250mm
Pedals: Wellgo 9/16"
Weigth: 10.0 KG
Hubs: Formula Alloy QR
Rims: Double Wall Alloy
Tyres: Vee Rubber, Speedster 24" x 1.5"
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?
Boardman says: "The JNR 24" shares many of the same attributes as the JNR 20". A lightweight alloy frame and fork, V-brakes with short-reach levers for smaller hands, a junior-specific saddle and fast-rolling tyres are all there to inspire confidence and make the cycling experience engaging and enjoyable.
However, the 24" version builds on these features by adding a nine-speed groupset and wider ratio cassette, which opens up even more exploration opportunities. Rack and mudguard mounts on the frame mean the 24" is incredibly versatile; they can load up for those longer family rides or stop the spray and soggy bottom when the weather turns wet."
I reckon that the bike's low weight and its wide spread of gears combine to deliver a bike that is fun for a child to ride on all kinds of terrain.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Boardman's JNR range starts with a 12in balance bike and continues through 14in and 20in hybrid bikes. Also alongside this 24in model is a 26in Hybrid we're testing soon and a 26"in JNR ADV, which is a drop-bar gravel bike that costs £480.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The frame and fork are well made with smooth welds and a smart-looking paintjob.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Lightweight triple-butted, smooth-weld aluminium
Fork: 1in triple-butted, smooth-weld aluminium blades with a chromoly steel steerer
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is well suited to a child's physiology.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height and reach are well within the child's height limits suggested by Boardman.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Overall comfort was good, which was helped by the quite voluminous tyres.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
There didn't seem to be any issues with stiffness.
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 balanced handling inspires confidence when being ridden on tricky terrain or on descents.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wide tyres help comfort, and my daughter got on well with the shape of the Boardman-branded saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
There are a good spread of gear ratios which help on the climbs as well as on the flat.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The drivetrain has a good range of gears, and the shifter buttons are easy to use with smaller hands.
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?
They are a tough set of wheels that stood up to general abuse well.
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?
Good tyres for general riding with decent levels of grip and rolling resistance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The kit is basic but effective, with the wide handlebar aiding the neutral handling.
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's cheaper than the Giant and Frog mentioned in the review, though not by a huge amount.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a little bit heavier than the others I've compared it to, but in the real world that doesn't make a massive amount of difference as the Boardman JNR 24in still feels light. It comes with good quality kit as well, all fitted to a high-quality aluminium alloy frameset.
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!