Guardian 20″ 6-Speed

Guardian 20″ 6-Speed

A bike, especially a child’s bike, is only as good as its brakes.  Without the ability to quickly and efficiently stop, a bike is unsafe at any speed.  Stopping can also be problematic as brakes on front tires have the inherit the danger of propelling the rider over the handlebars.  Teaching kids to only use their back brake helps, but certainly doesn’t resolve the issue.  In fact, the improved efficiency of brakes as well as easy-pull, child-size levers, have actually increased a child’s chance of being injured while braking.
Guaridan overview

SureStop Braking Technology

Seeing the need for a change, Guardian Bikes set out to create a safer braking system.  Similar to anti-lock brakes for bikes, Guardian Bike’s developed SureStop, a revolutionary new braking system for bikes that not only eliminate the dangers of going over the handlebars, it allows bikes to stop much faster and safer than ever before.

Only available for kids on Guardian Bikes, SureStop allows the rider to engage both brakes via one right-handed brake lever.  The brake lever first activates the rear brake.  Once engaged, the rear brake then activates the front brake.  By forcing the bike to brake the back tire first, Guardian’s SureStop technology essentially eliminates the risk of being thrown over the handlebars.  With both the front and rear brake always engaging, bikes also stop faster and with more control.

When testing out high-end bikes with testers, we have witnessed kids accidentally brake hard with their left hand, resulting in them going over the handlebars.  Although we are sure to instruct kids to always “BRAKE WITH YOUR RIGHT!”, accidents still happen.  Simply knowing that braking with their left hand is not an option on the Guardian is a huge plus in our book.

Guardian Brakes2

To put it to the test, we had 5 and 7-year old testers test out the brakes on a 2015 WOOM4 and Guardian 20″ 6sp.  The brakes on the WOOM are very efficient, easy-to-use with a standard braking configuration, the right-hand braking the rear tire and the left braking the front.  Guardian bikes, with SureStop only have one right-handed brake lever.

Guardian Brakes1

Our testers and their parents loved the system from the get-go.  Our five-year-old tester, who is not yet experienced enough to brake with the left appropriately, loved being able to stop faster on the Guardian as compared to the WOOM4 (she only brake with her right). Our seven-year-old, who is more experienced, enjoyed the simplicity of the Guardian. While she knows how to appropriately brake with dual-levers, she preferred only having to brake with one.  With both brakes always engaging, both riders were able to stop faster on the Guardian.

Frame, Gears and Geometry

More to offer than just a great braking system, Guardian Bike’s frames are also lightweight with a low center-of-gravity.  Built on a long wheelbase, the Guardian has a slightly more aggressive geometry than the WOOM and Specialized (older model shown), while still being comfortable for beginning riders.  The lower frame designs of the Guardian and the WOOM provided a comfortable fit for our five-year-old, while the Specialized was slightly too big.  For our seven-year-old, the WOOM and Guardian were on the smaller side for her, while the Specialized was a good fit.  The current Specialized 20″ frames are similar to the one shown here and are taller than the WOOM and Guardian.

Guardian compare2.pdf

Besides braking, the main difference we found between the WOOM4 and the Guardian was their gearing.  The Guardian is a 6-speed (29-38 cassette) with a Shimano grip shift and a 127cm crank arm. The WOOM is an 8-speed (32-34) with SRAM trigger shift and a 120 cm crank arm.  With more gears, the WOOM4 performed better on hills, but our 5-year-olds fingers were not long enough to shift the triggers.  She also had trouble with the grip shifts on the Guardian, while our seven-year-old had no issues with either set up.

Guardian side shots

Braking aside, we found the shorter wheelbase and additional gears on the WOOM4 make it slightly better suited for a smaller, lighter or more timid rider, while the Guardian is better fit for a taller rider, more athletic rider. The Guardian would also be a great choice for beginning riders who don’t plan on tackling many hills.  Both bikes, are well-built with high-end components and are hands-down better than the majority of bikes found at our local bike shop.

Bottom Line: Safe, lightweight and fun to ride, Guardian’s line of bikes is simply amazing. Whether cruising the neighborhood or enjoying extended family bike rides, your child will be in good hands with a Guardian.

Availability: Guardian Bikes are available directly through their website, on Amazon and at several local bike shops (mainly in California).  Their bikes are also currently only available in 20″ wheels.  The 6-speed is available in two colors for $399 while their single-speed, also available in two colors, sells for $319.

      • Melissa

        Hi there, my son is turning 4 in July, and is currently on a Woom2, which he loves. He is a tall boy, just past 43″ tall, and sure to grow another inch by the end of this summer. He’s fine on his Woom2 this year, but by next summer he will need something bigger. I am planning to buy it for Christmas this year (planning ahead so I can save) and I am torn between the Guardian single speed, the Islabikes Beinn small, and the Woom4. I don’t know if he’s ready for gears. At 4, he will likely not understand the concept, and possibly at 6, for sure by 7, he will need something bigger anyway. I like the braking system on the Guardian, but I’m not sure about the more aggressive body position, although he is a pretty confident rider. We usually ride about 4-5 miles on our longer rides with him, and he does the hills on the Woom2 just fine. It’s all pavement. Suggestions?

        • Wow, that’s a long ride for a 4 year-old, way to go mom! If he can ride the WOOM2 for 4-5 miles without any issues, then I wouldn’t worry about getting a bike with gears, which the Islabikes and WOOM4 both have. As you pointed out though, it won’t hurt to have them as he doesn’t need to use them, but if you expect him to grow quickly and not use them, I wouldn’t invest in a geared bike. As a result, the Guardian single-speed would be a great fit for him. The bike does have a more aggressive position as compared to the WOOM2, but he should be fine considering he is a confident rider. With 20″ bikes, even the WOOM and Islabikes are more aggressive as compared to 14″ and 16″ bikes which are set up for first time pedal bike riders. My tall now 7 year-old boy outgrew his 20″ Islabikes when he was 6 and only rode it for two years, so I agree that by the your son is 7, he will be ready to move up to a 24″.

          • Melissa

            Thanks! We rode 4 miles again last night and he looks downright ridiculous on the 14″ wheels now. I think I’m ready to upgrade him already. I measured his inseam this morning, and it was 18.5″. It looks like the only bike of the 3 he will fit on is the Beinn small, but I see Islabikes has a gearless Cnoc 20 now, although it’s not in stock. I really want to avoid gears. I don’t know what to do. Also, he only weighs about 39 lbs., so the Guardian seems heavy for him. Suggestions?

            • Melissa

              Also in the running is the Pello Reddi, which is more within my price range.

              • Kelsey Leonardsmith

                How about the 20″ Norco Samauri?

              • Melissa

                I’m not sure he would fit on it and I don’t have any local dealers in my area to test it out.

            • I think the Pello Reddi would be a good fit. I went on several rides with a really tall 5yo on the Reddi and he did amazing on it. He jumped from a 14″ to a 20″ as well. The bike is very well made with top notch components and brands often reserved for adult bikes. The new CNOC 20 would also be a good choice, but since it is not yet available, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the Reddi.

              • Melissa

                I ordered the Reddi last Friday and it arrived tonight! I can’t wait to see how he does with it. It looks fantastic! I was worried that the quality wouldn’t be as good as our Woom but it’s top notch! I can’t wait to read your review of it to see your experience. Islabikes look amazing as well but the Pello bikes look so similar and they are less expensive. Although I think if they would have offered the Cnoc 20 in

              • Melissa

                that new green color I couldn’t have passed it up. Love that color!

              • Agreed, the quality on the Pello’s are truly top-notch! So far, I don’t have any complaints with the Pello. Our testers love it!

      • Stephanie

        Hi. I’m struggling to get my almost 7-year-old to ride a pedal bike with confidence after a bad experience on a terrible bike left her scared to ride. We corrected the problem somewhat with a TykesBykes balance bike – which she loves – but after a year, we know she’s ready for a pedal bike and will do well with the right one. Given that she’s timid, nervous and extremely cautious, would you recommend the Guardian 20″ or the WOMB4 for her? I am leaning toward the Guardian but would love your opinion. She is almost 7 years old, 48 inches tall, and has an 18 1/2 inseam. Thank you!

        • Michelle

          I just got the guardian for my 6 yr old and he loves it. However,

        • If she is really cautious and due to her bad prior experiences, I would be try to get a bike with a minimum seat height as close to her inseam as possible. With a 18.5″ inseam, the WOOM4 would be a better fit than the Guardian as it minimum seat height is an inch shorter at 21″. The Islabikes CNOC 20″, however has a minimum of 20.5″ (two inches less than the Guardian) so it probably going to be the best fit. It is also more of a beginner bike than the WOOM4 and the Guardian as it has more upright positioning and no gears. If you prefer gears, then I would go with the WOOM4. I would be sure to remeasure her inseam before you order to be sure.