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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.