Hailing from Andorra (a tiny country nestled between Spain and France), we happily embrace the Commencal Ramones 16 on this side of the pond! While Commencal bikes are less well-known in America, this European bike brand is well-established in the mountain biking world for crafting high-quality bikes without unnecessary bells and whistles, and thus at a more affordable price point.
With wide Crown Gem tires, wide handlebars, and mechanical disc brakes, the Commencal Ramones 16’s simplicity shines on the trails, but it does have less room for growth than we would like. Read our full review for all the details of what we loved (and didn’t) about this trail pony.
Commencal Ramones 16″
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Trail-loving kids in at least 4T pants.
SEAT HEIGHT: 20.8″ – 24.25″ (Minimum seat height can be lowered to about 20″ if you cut the extra seat post provided.)
WEIGHT: 18.5 lb.
BRAKES: Dual Hand Brakes (mechanical disc), No Coaster
GAIN RATIO: 3.1
TIRES: Vee Tire Crown Gem 16 x 2.25
- Mechanical disc brakes for great stopping power – no coaster brake!
- Wide handlebars for stability and maneuverability on the trails
- Wider tires for better grip on dirt trails
- Lower gain ratio for easier hill-climbing
- Heavier than similarly priced bikes
- Smaller cockpit limits growth
Commencal Ramones 16 Review – Results of our Test Rides
Over the years, we’ve tested two versions of the Commencal Ramones 16 – the 2017 model and the 2020/21 model. From the single track of the Wasatch front to the rooty Texas trails, our little shredders have loved this little rig and found it exceptionally easy to pound out the miles or stop on a dime.
For its price, the Ramones 16 has a lot to offer, but like most bikes, does have a few limitations to be aware of. We’ll discuss all the pros and cons below.
Sizing – Taller Minimum Seat Height
The Commencal Ramones 16 has a seat height range of 20.8″ to 24.25″. (If you’re trying to get that saddle to its lowest point, be sure to grease the seat post. Ours didn’t come greased and we initially thought the minimum seat height was higher because it was difficult to twist in the seat tube.)
Compared to other 16″ mountain bikes, the Ramones’ minimum seat height is about 2″ higher. (The Prevelo Zulu Two, Early Rider Seeker, and Park Cycles 16 all have minimum seat heights of about 18.5″.) Be sure to measure your child’s inseam to determine if they are tall enough to fit on the Ramones.
Note: Our Ramones came with two seat posts, and by cutting the extra seat post provided, you can lower the minimum seat height to about 20″. More on that below!
Experienced Pedal Bike Riders
If your child is already a confident pedal bike rider, their inseam can be about 2″ shorter than the minimum seat height, or about 18.5″. Tip toes while sitting on the saddle will allow for the most efficient leg extension while pedaling.
First Time Pedal Bike Riders
If this is your child’s first pedal bike, it’s much easier to learn to pedal if they can touch the ground with their full foot while sitting on the saddle. This allows for easier stops and starts, and less likelihood that they will fall over if they lose their balance.
As a result, if your child is just learning how to pedal, you would want your child’s inseam to just about match the minimum seat height (just under 21″).
Geometry Limits Room for Growth
In addition to having a taller minimum seat height compared to other bikes, the geometry of the Ramones also provides less room for growth. As a result, kids are likely to outgrow the Ramones faster than other 16″ bikes.
Geometry (the shape and angles of bike’s frame) is one of the hardest things to get right, especially with kids bikes. And even more especially with smaller kids bikes.
Compared to other 16″ bikes on the market, the Ramones 16 geometry is hands-down better than the vast majority, but not quite as dialed-in as those on our Best 16″ Kids Mountain Bikes list.
So while our kid shredders really do love this bike, there are a few aspects of the geometry that we are hoping to see changed for future iterations. While minor, these changes could have a significantly positive effect on how a child fits on the bike over time.
COCKPIT, BOTTOM BRACKET, and CRANK ARMS
The issue with limited growth stems from a (1) shorter cockpit, (2) higher bottom bracket, and (3) longer crank arms.
Because of the combined effect of this trifecta, the best-use seat height range for the Ramones 16 is smaller than for other high-end bikes we have tested. We specifically tested this bike against the Prevelo Zulu Two, which is the most similar bike on the market, although a bit more expensive.
On the tall-end, the shorter cockpit is the issue. Our tallest tester is 44.25″ and comfortably rides with the seat post set to 22.5″. At this point, the cockpit is already a bit cramped for her. We don’t see the maximum seat height of 24.25″ as very feasible with this short cockpit.
As a result, the best-use seat height range is pretty narrow, only about 20.8″ to 22.5″. For reference, the Prevelo Zulu Two has a minimum seat height of 18″, but has a longer cockpit and is currently a slightly better fit for our 44.25″ tall rider.
44.25″ Tall Rider on Ramones 16 vs Prevelo Zulu Two
On the short-end, because the Ramones 16 has a high minimum seat height compared to other similar bikes, we wanted to see if we could lower the minimum seat height to widen the Ramones’ seat height range and allow a child to begin riding the bike sooner.
The frame of the Ramones 16 can accommodate a much shorter seat post, bringing the seat height all the way down to 18.75″. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The higher bottom bracket and longer crank arms presented some challenges with a lower seat height.
With a shorter seat post from another bike, we set the seat to 20.25″ for our 42.5″ tall tester. Her knee angle was a bit cramped at the high pedal stroke but definitely manageable.
42.5″ Tall Rider on Ramones 16 with Shorter Seat Post
While we haven’t been able to test the Ramones on an even shorter child, we don’t anticipate the bike being a good fit for a rider needing a seat post lower than 20″ (due to the higher bottom bracket and longer crank arm combo).
So all in all, the bike performs like a champ, but the geometry of the 2021 model does seem to limit the fit on the bike more than we would like for the price.
As a note, the seat post does not have a quick release, so you’ll need an Allen key to make any adjustments.
The Commencal Ramones sports some of the best kids MTB tires on the market – Vee Tire Crown Gem 16 x 2.25″. A wider tire has a bit more volume, allowing you to lower the tire pressure a bit for added grip and a slight feel of suspension coming from the squish of the tires. We’ve also consistently seen our kid testers more easily tackle small obstacles (like rocks and roots) when riding with wider tires.
Mechanical Disc Brakes – Great Stopping Power
Are mechanical disc brakes enough, or are hydraulic disc brakes best? Because hydraulic disc brakes offer the most stopping power, some may think that hydraulic disc brakes are always better. But with small kids bikes, that’s just not true.
The Ramones 16’s high-quality Tektro mechanical disc brakes offer plenty of impressive stopping power. For kids on a 16″ bike, hydraulic disc brakes are not necessary. We’ve even seen them to sometimes have a little too much stopping power.
The mechanical disc brakes on the Commencal Ramones 16 are perfect for the speeds a 3 – 5 year old will be reaching. It’s also worth noting that the power needed to stop a bike with a lightweight kid riding it is far less than for a 150 pound adult. The Ramones’ mechanical disc brakes are an ideal set up for developing groms, and the brake levers are exceptionally easy to pull.
Solid stopping power is certainly important for safety, but it also does wonders for a kid’s confidence. Knowing they can stop quickly empowers kids to be adventurous and try things they may not attempt on a lower-quality bike.
One thing on our wish list for the Ramones’ next iteration involves the brake cables. The brake cables on the Ramones are not internally routed. After a few rides and transporting the bike in our car, two of the plastic clips attaching the cable to the bike frame broke off, leaving the cable flapping loosely away from the bike.
If this happens, it’s an easy fix with new clips. It’s also a very necessary fix because riding with your brake cable that loose is not at all safe. We hope to see a more durable fix with the next model.
Low Gain Ratio for Easy Climbing
With just one speed, the Ramones 16 is set in a relatively lower gear with a 3.1 gain ratio. (The Prevelo Zulu Two has a 3.8 gain ratio.) This lower gain ratio will make it easier to get started pedaling and easier to climb. It will, however, limit top speeds on cross-country and downhill terrain.
Realistically, there is no perfect single gear. It really depends on where you will be riding most of the time. If your shredder will be tackling a variety of terrain, including climbs, pump tracks, skate parks, and baby jump lines, a lower gain ratio will certainly be beneficial.
So where wouldn’t we recommend a 3.1 gain ratio? If most of the time you will be doing shuttled downhill runs or long flat straight aways where gaining and maintaining speed is important.
Saddle is Cushioned and Kid-Sized
The saddle on the Ramones 16 is one of its best features! Certainly not an afterthought, this kid-sized seat is railed for adjustments, and perfectly cushioned for comfort. The matte-black, channeled design is subtly stylish and makes me wish it were bigger and I could put in on my own bike.
If you are looking for a little more room in the cockpit as your rider gets taller, you could move the saddle back slightly on the rails.
Commencal Ramones 16 Bottom Line
The Commencal Ramones 16 is both high-quality and reasonably priced for your little shredder’s first shredding machine. With wide tires, wide handlebars, and Tektro mechanical disc brakes, our kid testers quickly built confidence on the trail and on the pavement. If your kid will regularly be switching back and forth from single track to the BMX or skatepark, the Ramones 16 is an ideal choice.
There are limitations to the Ramones’ sizing, so be sure to read our detailed sizing section above.
For additional options for little shredders, check out our list of best 16 inch mountain bikes for kids.