Budget Pick

Guardian 24″ – Ethos

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Lightweight, durable and equipt with Guardian's revolutionary SureStop breaking system, the Ethos line is a great bike at a great price.

RATING: Highly Recommended

BEST FOR: Neighborhood to everyday riders in at least size 8 pants who want a durable and reliable bike. More aggressive riders or those who plan on changing gears frequently would benefit from upgrading to the Original line which includes an easier-to-use Shimano shifter.

SEAT HEIGHT: 25" – 33"

WEIGHT: 25.5 lb.

GEARS: 7-speed

Geared Bike



Highly Recommended


25.5 lb.

Seat Height

25" – 33"

Frame Material


Tire Size


Geared Bike Type


Brake Type

Dual Hand (No Coaster), SureStop




7/Shimano Grip Shift

Gain Ratio

2.31 – 5.6

Hand Brake Type


Available Colors

Blue, Black

Pros & Cons

  • Patented SureStop braking system for faster and more controlled braking
  • Low center-of-gravity design for better balance and maneuverability
  • Great quality build for the price
  • Fun, kid-approved designs
  • Basic grip shifter (as compared to the Original's upgraded shifter), can be hard to use
  • Steel frame has the potential to rust if paint were to chip

Guardian Bikes Review

By the time kids reach the age of 8 or 9, most are either really into biking or have lukewarm feelings about it.  With scooters and hoverboards becoming more and more popular, bikes can often get a second seat with tweens.  Having an 8 and 10-year-old myself, I ‘ve witnessed the problem firsthand.  My kids do enjoy riding bikes and will gladly go on family bike rides, but long gone are the days of them begging us to go riding.  That was… until we got the Guardian 24″ Original.  Now they fight over whose turn it is to ride it – the “loser” has to ride the $1,200 mountain bike!

SureStop Brakes help Build Confident Riders (8-year-old Rider Shown)

8-year-old riding Guardian 24" kid's bike in red and black

Why a Guardian?

In the words of my 10-year-old daughter, “I love the brakes!  It’s so much easier to only worry about one brake lever.” My kids’ expensive mountain bikes have really nice hydraulic disc brakes and really are AMAZING bikes, but unless we’re headed up the mountains, they both prefer the Guardian simply because of how easy it is to brake.  I was surprised that the brakes on a bike could make that much of difference, so I hopped on the beloved Guardian and tested out the brakes myself.

Within a few minutes, I understood their perspective.  Braking with SureStop brakes provides a similar feeling to braking in a new car with an advanced braking system versus an older car with a standard braking system.  Not only is it easier to brake faster, you feel MUCH more in control of the car.  As a result, you’re a more confident driver in a car with advanced brakes and driving is more fun as well.

How does the SureStop system work?

Guardian’s unique braking system allows the rear and then the front brake to be activated sequentially with the pull of ONE brake lever.  Once the lever is pulled, the back brake is activated.  Once the rear brake has engaged, the SureStop system on the rear brake pad then activates the front brake.  This sequential stopping system allows the bike to stop faster and with more control.  It also prevents kids from going over the handlebars when accidentally braking with just the front brake.

Graphic showing three steps to Guardian's SureStop braking system. Step One: Child activates brake lever, Step Two: Rear Brake Engages, Step Three: Rear brake activates front brake.


Guardian’s Original vs. Ethos Line

Guardian’s 24″ bike is available in their premium “Original” line and their new, budget-friendly “Ethos” line.  Both 24″ bikes come as 7-speeds with grip shifters and are equipped with SureStop brakes.  This review is based on the “Original” model, but we’ll be updating it with additional information on the 24″ Ethos bike later in the year.

The lighter Guardian Original line is best for riders who plan on riding longer or more challenging rides, those who ride more aggressively, as well as those who simply want the best quality components. If your child plans on changing gears on a regular basis, the Original line’s Shimano grip shift is a worth the additional price as it is MUCH easier to shift with. Guardian’s Ethos is a great choice for those mainly riding around the neighborhood and around town as well as those on a tighter budget.

Quality & Assembly

In addition to Guardian Bikes’ superior braking system, they’re built with quality components that will last for years to come.  Both lines of bikes come with a kickstand, while the Original also comes with an upgraded threadless headset, Shimano shifters, and an aluminum frame.

Guardian’s 24″ Original’s Components are High-Quality

Collage of features on Guardian bikes: threadless headset, Shimano Grip shifter with view window, kickstand, and quality, smooth welds.

In order to ensure quality and ease of assembly, every Guardian Bike is checked, tuned, and re-packaged by Guardian’s own mechanics in California BEFORE they are shipped out to customers.  Bikes are NEVER shipped straight from the factory to the consumer. All the bikes we’ve received from Guardian were ridiculously easy to assemble, were put together in less than 15 minutes, and required no additional tuning once assembled.


Ideally, a bike should weigh less than 40% of a child’s weight, but that’s often hard to achieve for kids. (For reference, most adults ride bikes that are no more than 20% of their weight!).  The Guardian 24″ Original weighs 23 lb. while the Ethos weighs 25.5 lb.  Compared to similarly priced bikes, Guardian Bikes are several pounds lighter.

Higher-end brands are lighter than Guardian, but don’t come with Guardian’s SureStop braking system, and do come with a heftier price tag.  Guardian Bikes also weigh more than higher-end brands due to their double walled, high-spoke-count wheels.  Built to withstand anything kids can throw at them (even stairs!), Guardian’s durable wheels are sure to stay true.


The Guardian 24″ geometry is slightly leaned forward, which is typical of most standard 24″ bikes, like the Prevelo Alpha Four below. Specialty bikes, like road or mountain bikes, are much more leaned forward. The Guardian places the rider’s body in a position that’s not too aggressive and not too upright, and that’s comfortable while still allowing kids to shift their weight around when needed.

Guardian 24″ Body Position is Slightly Leaned Forward10-year-old girl riding the Prevelo Alpha Four and the Guardian 24" Original. Both bikes put the rider in a slightly leaned forward position.

Brake Levers and Shifters

The brake levers and braking system on the Ethos and Original are the same, but their shifters are different.  The Original has an upgraded Shimano shifter that is easier for kids to use.  The upgraded shifter is also narrower, making it easier for kids to wrap their hand around the grip shifter.  The narrower grip also places their hand closer to the handlebars, thereby making the brake lever easier to reach.

Guardian 24″ Original’s Upgraded Shimano Grip ShifterGuardian's Original line has an upgraded Shimano shifter that's more narrow and also makes the brake lever easier to reach.

To offer you a lower price, the Ethos line does not have the upgraded Shimano shifter but a standard Shimano shifter that is commonly found on less-expensive bikes. It requires more effort to twist to shift and is also wider in diameter.  Being wider, kids often place their hands to the side of the grip shifter, versus over it.  As a result, their hands are farther away from the brake lever, making it harder to reach.

Based on our experience with various testers, kids with a hand length around 5″ or more had no problems reaching the brake lever. For the average rider who shifts more for fun than necessity, the Ethos shifter will likely work just fine, but for those who need to shift out of necessity, the upgraded Original is worth the additional expense. 

Guardian 24″ Ethos Shifter

The more budget-friendly shifter on Guardian's Ethos line has a grip shift knob that forces kids to grip the brake lever at an angle.


Confused about which size is best? While a child’s height is generally a good indicator of fit, Guardian has recently released a new avatar-based sizing guide to help you visualize and confidently determine which size bike frame is best for your child.  Their RideSizer technology will allow you to see how your child will grow on the bike and predicts how long before they outgrow the bike.

The recommended bike size comes is displayed right away, but their estimations are presented via a chart that is emailed to you (via Guardian). Based on our experience, it works great, but if you have a child with a long torso and shorter legs, be sure to check their inseams against the bike’s minimum seat height to ensure a great fit.  It’s a super cool tool, give it a try below right here on our site.

Bottom Line

Safe, lightweight, and fun to ride, Guardian’s line of bikes truly stands out. Whether cruising the neighborhood or enjoying extended family bike rides, your child will be in good hands with a Guardian.


FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

Disclosure: Links used are affiliate links.
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