Next gen kids bikes: YT and Whyte take kids' bikes to the next level

Do eight-year-old kids really need full-suspension bikes? Definitely not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great feature to have on a bike.

Read more: Best kids bikes – balance bikes and pedal bikes

Last year YT showed us something special, a new prototype kids’ bike that 10-year-old ripper Harry Schofield had been testing for them. Based on the YT Jeffsy trail bike, it brought 140mm travel, top-end components and suspension designed for lightweight riders into the hands of children. Great for Harry, but what about the rest of us with kids?

Well now YT has brought the bike to production: called the YT Jeffsy Primus JP, the new bike comes with 24in or 26in wheels and costs £1,599 to £1,699, depending on the wheelsize. YT says it’s been designed to fit riders from 135cm to 160cm, which means it’s targeted at kids from eight to nine years old in 24in-wheeled guise, stretching up to teenagers in the 26in-wheeled bike. 
The smaller-wheeled bike delivers 130mm travel through its Manitou McLeod shock, while the 26in dishes out 140mm of travel 
with a RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock.

Full suspension may be OTT for kids but there’s no doubt that it increases their comfort and speed and opening up more trails to ride. YT’s focus is certainly on the gravity side of mountain biking – almost all its bikes prioritise descending over climbing – so it’s perhaps no surprise to see its first grom bike in full production.

The Primus has been designed from the 27.5in YT Jeffsy trail bike, although naturally YT has reworked the suspension kinematics and changed the geometry to suit smaller riders. The shock has been shrunk down in terms of eye-to-eye length and stroke and there’s a lighter tune too.

The components look equally sorted, with a SRAM SX 12-speed drivetrain complete with 10-50t cassette and small 30t chainring for less powerful riders. There’s YT’s own Postman dropper in diddy 100mm drop on the 26in bike, Maxxis Minion tyres, and SRAM Guide R brakes with custom short-pull levers.

This is a proper bike then, and you have to pay proper prices for it. The question is then, how many parents will be willing to shell out £1,600 for a 10-year-old’s bike that’ll be outgrown in a few years? YT concedes this market really isn’t very big, you need a committed mountain biker who wants their 
kid to have the best bike possible.

“It’s too much to say it’s a passion project but we did want to make a real performance mountain bike and not a toy bike – it’s a definitely a real bike for small people,” says Oliver Junggeburth from YT. We couldn’t agree more – it’s the most advanced kids’ bike we’ve seen.

The next big thing

If the YT Jeffsy Primus is the most desirable bike for 10-year-olds, the Whyte T-130 SR Youth V2 does it for the teenagers. It’s more money at £2,299, but it’s the next logical step for committed kids once they’ve outgrown 26in wheels.

The T-130 SR Youth is essentially an extra small version of the brand’s T-130 platform, meaning it comes with 130mm travel and a Fox Performance 34 140mm fork. This bike marks the crossover for Whyte into adult bike territory, meaning there are no small kids’ components here, instead everything is small-adult sized, from the 100mm dropper post to the 760mm bar and 35mm stem.
Whyte’s philosophy is that its kids’ bikes are absolutely core to the brand and you only have to look at the range on offer on its website to figure that out: everything from 20in pedal bikes up to the E-150 RS Youth V1 e-bike at £5,250.

Read more: Best electric mountain bikes – all you need to know

Just like YT, Whyte says it wants to make kids’ bikes that are just as capable as its adult bikes. Whyte make less money on these bikes because of that. It’s not altruism, though, this is a long-term investment in the brand that Whyte hopes will build loyalty and repeat customers.

Retro bikes

Jumping on the YT Primus JP 26 feels eerily familiar. Running a tape measure over the bike and rummaging through some back issues of mbr reveals the geometry is remarkably close to the best bikes from a decade back. Take the Orange Five from 2008: just like the YT, it had a 26in wheel and 140mm travel – it also had a long-for-its-time 1,124mm wheelbase in size large, which is just 20mm more than the Primus. Boy, have we come a long way.