Bike review: Cuda Kinetic M24 youth's bike

Cuda Kinetic M24


In the past we've reviewed several bikes for toddlers or pre-school kids, but very few for the pre-teens. They're a tricky bunch to cater for, what with those unpredictable growth spurts and their status as prime candidates for any badly-fitting rustbucket being thrown out of the family's shed.

So obviously the key is a degree of adjustability to ensure the bike fits for as long as feasible and, as with all kids' bikes, a large dollop of durability to handle the inevitable knocks and scrapes. This Cuda (short for Barracuda, a brand that may be familiar to some) scores well on both counts and has a few features you might not expect at this price.

First up – and importantly for this ever more fashion-conscious age group – it looks cool. The black alloy frame with lime green decals and matching cable outers, grips and saddle went down well with both our testers. "Looks like a proper bike," was perhaps the most knowing comment from 11-year-old Joel. Like an old pro he then lifted it up and was relieved to find it considerably lighter than his previous one-geared hand-me-down. 

Being able to adjust the saddle height (and bar height thanks to some extra headset spacers) was a major plus too. Joel fitted the bike in the mid range of adjustment, while his friend Jordan from the same year at school needed everything cranked down to its lowest point. It's a 13in frame but the sloping top-tube will fit quite a few different height children.

Up front there's a suspension fork with a couple of inches of rudimentary travel; it's not supple (who'd expect it to be at this price!) but does take the edge off repeated slamming into kerbs and potholes. And we mean repeated. The V-brakes are simple to adjust and come with short-reach levers for little hands, while the 18-speed transmission comes from Shimano and has so far worked without fault. The wheels are 24in – one size down from adult 26in – and seem well made and robust.

In all there's not much to dislike about this Cuda. It doesn't weigh a tonne, there's enough adjustment to fit one kid for a couple of years, the gearing and wheels are spec highlights and, best of all, it left our test duo beaming after 12-mile country rides that had previously left them grimacing. A really decent price and we reckon it should hold good resale value.

Review: John Kitchiner