Rugged, comfortable, and just plain fun, the Cleary Meerkat is the ultimate ride for adventurous riders ready to tackle the world around them. From paved jungles to the neighborhood pump track or basic single track, the Meerkat is built and designed for kids who need a true multi-use bike that isn’t just capable but excels in a wide range of riding styles.
Built to last, the Meerkat features a vibration dampening steel frame, an internally geared hub (no derailleur to deal with!), and is topped off with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. You’d to hard-pressed to find a 24 inch bike that comes close to the durability of the Meerkat!
Cleary Meerkat 24 Overview
RATING: Exceptional for multi-use riders
BEST FOR: Adventurous or rugged riders on paved and all-terrain paths. Its durable build makes it a great option to pass down through several kids.
SEAT HEIGHT: 25″ – 32″
WEIGHT: 28.3 lb. (with pedals)
GEARS: 5-speed internally geared hub (no derailleur)
SHIFTER: Sturmey Archer trigger shifters
BRAKES: Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Provides a smooth ride that our testers loved
- Internally geared hub – no finicky derailleur
- Steel vibration-absorbing frame
- Responsive Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
- Highly adaptable frame – can convert to a regular derailleur and is suspension corrected to maintain geometry if suspension fork is added
- Heavier than similarly priced bikes
- Fewer gears less ideal for true trail riding
Cleary Meerkat Video Review
Want to watch the Cleary Meerkat 24 in action on paved and dirt trails? See how it handles in our video review!
Cleary Meerkat 24 – Results of our Test Rides
Having tested six different 24 inch bikes in just the past year, it’s always interesting to hear what our kid bike tester thinks upon completing his maiden voyage on a new bike. Cool, fast, and fun are common expressions used, but for the Meerkat, he excitedly declared it to be “comfortable and smooth!”
He was right. I decided to take a ride on the Meerkat myself and quickly understood what he meant. The Meerkat feels strong and sturdy. And yes, absolutely comfortable underneath you as you ride. Cleary’s unique combination of lightweight steel construction paired with kid-friendly modern geometry provides a smooth and confidence-inspiring ride.
From the neighborhood pump track to longer paved bike paths, the Meerkat is sure to be your child’s right-hand man and help them build their riding skills and confidence as it guides them through a variety of riding conditions.
What type of rider is the Cleary Meerkat 24 best for?
The Meerkat 24 is hands down the most durable and rugged 24 inch bike on the market. With its steel frame, internally geared hub, and hydraulic disc brakes, the Meerkat is built like a tank, but rides and performs like a luxury Land Cruiser.
If your little rider tends to take the long path just so they can get an extra jump in, or screams in delight as they fly down that steep grassy hill for the 10th time, the Meerkat will be right up their alley.
With components suitable for a wide range of riding, the Meerkat 24 is best for riders who regularly ride on both paved and dirt trails. While the Meerkat does provide a comfortable ride for anyone, its trigger shifters and hydraulic disc brakes make it better suited for average to more aggressive riders. Its weight also makes it less suitable for timid riders.
Another strong reason to consider the Cleary Meerkat is if you want a bike that you can easily upgrade with time. Coming standard with tubeless-ready rims as well as a suspension corrected frame, the Meerkat can easily be converted into a top-notch mountain bike.
Need more gears than the five provided? The frame also comes with mounts for a derailleur if you wanted to replace the internally geared hub with a standard derailleur and cassette.
What size child fits on the Meerkat 24 inch bike?
With the seat reflector removed, the seat height of the Meerkat ranges from 25″ to 32″. As a result, the bike is a best fit for kids with inseams ranging from 22″ to 26″. While kids with 26″+ inseams will fit on the Meerkat, it will provide very little room for growth and the larger Meerkat 26 inch bike is a much better option.
Our main tester has an inseam of 25.5″ and had the seat of the Meerkat set to 29″. His seat is set 3.5″ above his inseam, which is certainly on the higher side, but he was still able to touch the ground with his toes.
Cleary Meerkat Performance on Paved
For a bike that is built as durable as a tank, it certainly doesn’t ride like one! Smooth and steady, the Meerkat was as well-loved for riding around the neighborhood as it was on longer-distance paved biking trails. From jumping curbs to going for 5+ mile bike rides, the Meerkat didn’t skip a beat.
With our group of neighborhood testers, the Meerkat was well-loved. In fact, we often had kids fighting over whose turn it was to ride it!
The gearing on the Meerkat was plenty suitable for racing on the long flat straightaways as well as the mild uphill climbs. The Meerkat’s Kenda low-profile tires (more in the tire section below) also does a great job of eliminating the standard “rumble” often heard and felt with all-terrain tires.
Meerkat 24 Performance on Dirt
The beauty of the Meerkat is that it performs just as well, if not better, on all-terrain trails. That is where its steel frame really shines.
While bumps and jumps along the trail are certainly still felt, the rigid, sharp vibrations that can send up the frame are greatly minimized. The often hand-numbing chatter of a trail is softened, leading to an overall smoother ride.
From basic dirt trails around the park to flowy single-track trails, the Meerkat is right at home. While its weight and limited gears do limit its use as a true mountain bike, the Meerkat’s brakes and frame make it one of the most trail-capable, multi-use bikes we have tested.
The Cleary Meerkat’s hydraulic disc brakes were more than capable for everything (and likely much more!) we threw at it. With the confidence of top-notch stopping power at their fingertips, our testers didn’t hesitate to take on steeper terrain or tackle a turn a bit faster.
The Meerkat’s frame is also suspension corrected and the rigid fork could easily be swapped out for a suspension fork (more details in the frame section below).
Is the Meerkat 24 comparable to a true trail bike with air suspension? Absolutely not, but the Meerkat’s smoothing effects were noticeable by our young testers, especially compared to other rigid aluminum frame bikes.
Cleary Meerkat 24 Build and Components
Vibration Absorbing Steel Frame vs. Aluminum Frame
While aluminum frames are standard amongst high-end bikes, Cleary Bikes uniquely built their entire lineup with steel instead of aluminum. Why? Although steel is heavier than aluminum, it offers a more forgiving ride.
Aluminum is much more rigid than steel, so it can’t absorb the vibrations from trails nearly as well as steel frames. In fact, this is why almost all rigid forks on bikes (even high-end aluminum bikes) are built with steel versus aluminum.
Like steel frames, steel forks can absorb vibrations much better than aluminum. Our testers were able to notice and verbally expressed the “smoother” ride offered by the Meerkat as compared to other 24 inch bikes with aluminum frames.
Steel frames also do not dent as easily and provide for a solid frame that’s durable enough to last through several kids. On the other hand, if the paint on a steel bike were to chip, the steel frame could begin to rust with time (aluminum frames won’t rust), so it’s best to always store your bike indoors and away from the elements.
Suspension Corrected Frame
Often times, kids can advance much quicker in their riding than parents expect. If the confidence-inspiring Meerkat does help your child move on to more aggressive riding before they outgrow the bike, Cleary designed the Meerkat’s frame to be suspension corrected.
A suspension-corrected frame allows the rigid fork of the bike to be swapped out for a suspension fork without affecting the geometry of the bike. A short-travel fork with a straight 1 1/8″ steerer tube and 80mm or less travel is compatible with the Meerkat 24. A 9mm quick-release axle is also required to mount the front wheel.
While Cleary doesn’t currently have Meerkat suspension forks available on their site (they are working on it), if you reach out to their customer service ([email protected]), they are more than happy to help you find a compatible fork from other retailers.
Meerkat 24 Weight vs. Competitors
The Meerkat we tested weighed in at 28 lb. As a comparison, the similarly-sized aluminum Pello Reyes comes in at 22 lb. A large portion of the additional 6 pounds of the Meerkat is due to its steel frame.
Although the Meerkat certainly weighs more, the weight difference wasn’t too noticeable as the Meerkat feels very balanced and planted while in use.
For really timid or petite riders, however, the added weight of the Meerkat could be problematic. While heavier bikes typically affect younger riders on 14″ and 16″ more than older riders, ideally a child’s bike should be as close to 30% of the child’s weigh as possible.
As a reference point, our main 9-year-old tester weighed 63 lb. at the time of testing, putting the Meerkat at 44% of his weight. The Pello Reyes (w/o suspension fork) would be 35% of his weight and the Prevelo Alpha Four just 33%.
Throughout our extensive testing on the Meerkat, our 63 lb. experienced and confident tester had no issues with the weight of the Meerkat. If he were a more timid rider or if we lived in a hilly area in which a lot of climbing was to be expected on every ride, a lighter bike would likely be a better option.
5-Speed Internally Geared Hub
Derailleurs are often seen as a necessary evil in the world of geared bikes. They allow a bike to change gears, but due to their low positioning on the bike, they often get out of alignment and need to be tuned, repaired, or even replaced.
To meet their goal of creating a durable and rugged kids bike, Cleary Bikes chose to forgo a derailleur in place of a 5-speed internally geared hub.
Internally geared hubs allow all the intricate gearing mechanisms to be safely tucked away within the sealed rear hub. As a result, they need very little maintenance and rarely, if ever, need to be repaired or replaced.
Internally geared-hub vs. standard derailleur
So if your little grom is super adventurous and is likely to accidentally smash the derailleur against a rock or jump, those concerns can quickly be put to rest with the Meerkat. If your child is forgetful and is likely to drop their bike down on a derailleur, the Meerkat’s internally geared hub is a great alternative for that as well!
Less Gears in Internally Geared Hub
The one downside of the Meerkat and its internally geared hub is that it only has 5 gears, versus the 7 or 8 found on similarly-priced bikes. Our testers found the 5 gears to be more than suitable for tackling steep jumps at the bike park as well as for long rides on paved trails.
For true trail riding where riders are likely to face long uphill climbs, the higher and lower range of gears found on 24 inch bikes, such as the Pello Reyes or the Prevelo Alpha Four would be beneficial.
The Meerkat features a Sturmey Archer trigger shifter activated by two levers. The lower thumb lever is pushed to switch to a lower gear, while the upper lever is pulled with the index finger to jump up to a higher gear. The levers were easy to pull and push without any complaints from our testers.
Another advantage of an internally-geared hub is that the gears can actually be changed at anytime, not just when the bike is in motion like on a traditional bike with a derailleur.
Kenda Tires and Tubeless Ready Rims
The Meerkat’s 1.95″ Kenda low-profile tires allow for a smooth ride on paved surfaces while still providing plenty of traction on all-terrain surfaces.
If you plan on riding mainly on all-terrain surfaces, the Meerkat will fit tires up to 2.35″ wide. True trail warriors will also appreciate that the Meerkat’s rims come tubeless ready. The tires are not tubeless-ready, but many parents have converted the stock tires without any major issues.
Tekro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
For ultimate stopping power, the Meerkat 24 comes equipped with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes are great for aggressive riders as they quickly provide a lot of stopping power with very little effort.
Considering hydraulic brakes are typically only found on kids bikes specifically for true trail riding, the Meerkat is truly a great base for young riders with the potential to move up to more technical rides.
Cleary Meerkat 24 vs. Competitors
While the Meerkat’s unique features (steel frame, internally geared hub) don’t allow for a direct head-to-head comparison with other brands, there are certainly other notable models worth mentioning.
Pello Reyes vs. Meerkat 24
The Pello Reyes is designed for the same multi-surface rider as the Meerkat. For those tackling both paved and all-terrain surfaces regularly, the Reyes and Meerkat should be top on your list. Both bikes have suspension-corrected frames and KRAD low-profile all-terrain tires.
- Reasons to buy the Reyes over the Meerkat: Lighter weight aluminum frame, 9 speeds vs. 5 speeds
- Reasons to buy the Meerkat over the Reyes: Internally geared hub, steel frame, hydraulic disc brakes (Reyes has mechanical)
Cleary Scout 24 vs. Meerkat 24
The Cleary Scout is the true mountain bike big brother to the Meerkat for young groms set on tackling trails, is it also several hundred dollars more expensive. For those riding basic trails, the Meerkat is absolutely suitable (although you may want to upgrade to more all-terrain tires), but for true trail riders, the Scout is a better option.
- Reasons to buy the Scout over the Meerkat: 10 speeds vs. 5 speed, air suspension fork included, higher-quality chromoly steel frame, larger rear brake rotors (160 vs. 140mm), wider handlebar
- Reasons to buy the Meerkat over the Scout: More affordable, internally geared hub, smoother ride on paved surfaces
Priority Start 24 vs. Meerkat 24
The Priority Start is built for a completely different type of rider than the Meerkat as it is really designed for city-dwellers, but it is worth mentioning since it also has an internally-geared hub.
- Reasons to buy the Start over the Meerkat: Lighter weight aluminum frame, more affordable
- Reasons to buy the Meerkat over the Start: 5-speed versus 3-speed on Start, hydraulic disc brakes vs. v brakes
Cleary Meerkat 24 Bike Review Bottom Line
The only 24 inch bike on the market to offer a steel frame, hydraulic disc brakes, and internally-geared hub trifecta, the Cleary Meerkat is as unique as it is awesome. For your little ripper who is chomping at the bit to take on every jump he comes across, whether on dirt or in the driveway, the Meerkat offers endless hours of fun with unmatched durability.