Guardian 24 Inch Bike Review

Whether cruising the neighborhood or on a long family ride, Guardian 24 inch bikes are an exceptional option for budget-minded families. With kid-friendly designs in both traditional boy and girl colors, durable builds and construction, as well as the proprietary SureStop braking system, there is a lot to love about Guardian Bikes.

In this review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 24″ Guardian bikes, including sizing, ease of assembly, and comparisons to similarly-priced bikes.

*Guardian Bikes previously offered two lines of bikes – Airos and Ethos. They now only offer one model similar to their old Ethos line.*

young rider on the Guardian 24 kids bike

Guardian 24 Inch Bike Overview

RATING: Highly Recommended

MSRP: $339

BEST FOR: Neighborhood riders in size 7/8 pants. Great for timid riders as well as adventurous riders sticking to paved surfaces.

SEAT HEIGHT: 25″ – 33″

WEIGHT: 25.5 lb.

SPECIFICATIONS

GEARS: 7-speed Mega Range
FRAME: Steel
GAIN RATIO: 2.45 – 5.6
BRAKES: Surestop Dual Hand
TRAINING WHEELS: Optional, $39

PROS:

  • 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
  • Height adjustable handlebars to allow the bike to grow with the child
  • Double-walled rims can take a beating and still stay true and roll straight

CONS:

  • Heavier than other (more expensive) bikes we recommend

Guardian 24 Inch Bike Video Demonstration

Want to see the Guardian 24 inch bikes in action? Check out our video review to learn why kids and parents both love Guardian Bikes. Please note that this video points out the differences between the older “Airos” and “Ethos” models. As of 2023, the Guardian 24″ bike is very similar to the previous “Ethos” model.

Guardian 24 Inch Bikes Put to the Test – Our Complete 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 by the time your child is ready for a 24 inch kid’s bike.

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 Bikes 24 inch bike.  Now they fight over whose turn it is to ride it – the “loser” has to ride the $1,200 mountain bike!

10 year old rider on the Guardian 24 kids bike
A very tall 10 year old on the Guardian 24

There’s just something different about Guardian Bikes – kids just love them! Whether it’s the fun color schemes or the cool SureStop braking system, Guardian bikes are sure to get your kids outside and riding.

What type of rider is the Guardian 24 best for?

Guardian bikes are designed specifically for the average neighborhood rider who sticks mainly to paved surfaces. The smooth rolling tires on the Guardian provide plenty of traction on sidewalks, roads, compact dirt trails, and even grass!

Girl riding black and pink Guardian 24 inch bike on a country road
6-year-old tester, 50.5″ tall

With a natural, semi-upright body position, the Guardian 24 positions the rider upright enough to be comfortable for longer rides, while also being leaned-in enough to give aggressive riders room to shift their body weight around on the bike.

What type of rider is the Guardian 24 NOT ideal for?

Guardian’s unique braking system does not allow the rider to brake the front and rear brake independently.  The front brake won’t engage until the rear brake does.  As a result, Guardian bikes are not ideal for more technical riders, such as mountain bikers or even more advanced road riders, who need the ability to use their brakes independently. 

Guardian Bike’s Patented SureStop Braking Technology

While there’s a lot to love about Guardian bikes, they are different from every other kid’s bike on the market due to their patented SureStop braking system. This 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. 

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.

This sequential stopping system allows the bike to stop faster and with more control.  It also prevents kids from going over the handlebars by accidentally braking with just the front brake.

How does it feel to brake on a Guardian Bike?

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.”

Easy reach lever on Guardian Bikes. It's only one lever - the right lever.

My kids’ expensive mountain bikes have really nice hydraulic disc brakes and are AMAZING bikes, but unless we’re headed up the mountain, 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 a 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 (bike!).  As a result, you’re a more confident driver in a car with advanced brakes and driving is more fun as well.

How Do Guardian’s SureStop Brakes Work?

Guardian’s system works via a proprietary rear brake pad that responds to the friction created between the brake pad and the tire’s rim when the rear brake engages.  The friction between the rim and the brake pad pushes the pad slightly forward.  When the pad slides forward, it pulls on the attached wire that then triggers the front brake to engage.

Picture with diagram showing how SureStop brakes work. 1. Rear brake pad slides slightly forward due to friction from rim. 2. Wire on brake is pulled which triggers the front brake.

Is the SureStop System Safe?

Yes!  With one lever to pull, we have found the SureStop system to be easier for younger kids to navigate than dual-braking systems.  With no fear of braking wrong, there is less hesitation from kids when it comes to braking.

Many parents have expressed concerns over having both brakes dependent on one braking system.  If the SureStop system itself were to fail, the rear brake would still engage, just not the front brake.

child riding down a curb on a Guardian 24 inch kids bike

Over the past several years we’ve tested and owned almost 20 different Guardian Bikes and have never had the system fail while a child was riding.  During this time, the brakes on two of our very old and well-loved Guardian bikes have needed to be repaired, but there is no braking system in the world that won’t ever need maintenance.

That being said, if the rear brake itself were damaged or bumped out of alignment during a fall and stopped working, then both brakes would not work because the rear brake couldn’t activate the front brake. Caliper brakes, however, don’t just stop working out of the blue.  They can be damaged during a severe fall, but stopping randomly while riding a bike?  We’ve never heard of that happening in our 10+ years of bike testing.

Just like with any bike, it’s a wise practice to check your brakes before starting a ride, and especially after any crashes.

What size rider fits on the Guardian 24?

The Guardian 24 has a seat height range of 25″ to 33″ and is a good fit for kids with inseams ranging from 23″ to 30″. Like all kids’ bikes, the bike will feel a bit too big for kids riding with the saddle at the lowest, and a bit too small for those riding with the saddle at the highest position. Guardian’s official height recommendation is 49″ to 57″.

Here you can see test riders at opposite ends of the sizing spectrum. Our 6-year-old rider is 49″ tall. She has the saddle set almost to its minimum, and the handlebars are at their lowest point. Our 11-year-old test rider is 57″ tall (with shoes on), has the saddle set close to its maximum at 31.5″, and the handlebars are raised to their highest point.

49″ Rider vs. 57″ Rider on Guardian 24

Side by side sizing comparison of 49" rider and 54" rider on Guardian 24" bike.

If your child is already on a 20″ Guardian bike, the Guardian 24″ is designed to be a best fit for kids outgrowing the Guardian 20 SMALL. If your child is outgrowing a Guardian 20″ LARGE, the larger Guardian 26″ was designed to be the next step in sizing.

Sizing Comparison: Guardian 24 vs. 20 Large

If you’re torn trying to decide on sizing between the Guardian 20″ large and the Guardian 24″, here’s a helpful size reference. Our 6-year-old rider is 49″ tall, has a 22.75″ inseam without shoes, and is 59 lbs. She barely fits on the 24″ with its saddle at its lowest point, but is still a very comfortable fit on the 20″ L and has several more inches of growth on that bike.

While she has successfully ridden the Guardian 24″ to and from school several times, it is noticeably more difficult for her to manage and she prefers the smaller Guardian 20″ L.

49″ Rider on Guardian 20″ Large vs. Guardian 24″

Comparison of 6 year old riding Guardian 20 large and Guardian 24.

Sizing Comparison: Guardian 24 vs. 26

Are you trying to decide between the Guardian 24 and Guardian 26? While they are somewhat similar in size, the Guardian 26″ is noticeably longer and taller .

Our 8-year-old test rider here is 53.75″ with shoes on. She has the Guardian 24 seat set in the middle to 28″. The Guardian 26 has the seat set to its minimum of 28.1″. While she fits fine on the 26, she greatly preferred the Guardian 24.

53.75″ Tall Rider on Guardian 24″ vs. Guardian 26″

Side by side sizing comparison of 54" rider on Guardian 24" and 26" bikes.

Our 10-year-old rider is 57″ tall and is maxed out on the sizing for the Guardian 24, and has the saddle set to 30.4″ on the Guardian 26 (minimum is 28.1″). She prefers the longer and taller Guardian 26 over the more compact Guardian 24.

57″ Tall Rider on Guardian 24″ vs. Guardian 26″

Side by side sizing comparison of 57" rider on Guardian 24" and 26" bikes.

While you could transition a child growing out of the Guardian 24 to the Guardian 26, the overlap is sizing doesn’t provide the best room for growth.

Check out the comparison chart below to see the differences between Guardian’s size range.

Guardian Bikes Models and Sizes

Size20″ Small20″ Large24″26″
Review20″ Small Review20″ Large ReviewYou’re reading it!26″ Review
Est. Age5+5+7+8+
Seat Height20.8″ – 26.8″22.5″ – 28.5″25″ – 33″28.1″ – 36″
Child’s Height43″ – 51″45″ – 53″49″ – 61″52″ – 62″
GearingSingle Speed6 Speed7 Speed7 Speed

Notable Guardian 24″ Bike Components

Child-Friendly Shifter

Guardian does an exceptional job of simplifying braking for kids, and they’ve also implemented a system to simplify learning how to shift gears properly. The “Man in the Window” indicates which gear you should be in if you’re going up a hill, down a hill, or on a flat road. He moves each time you twist the shifter.

Collage showing three images of Guardian's grip shifter window, with a red diagram of a man pointed up hill or downhill, depending on what gear you're in.

How much do Guardian 24″ Bikes Weigh?

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″ bike weighs 25.5 lb. which is several pounds lighter than other budget-friendly 24″ bikes, such as the 28 lb. Retrospec Koda 24.

Higher-end brands that have aluminum frames are lighter than Guardians, which have a steel frame. 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.

Threaded Headset – Height Adjustable for Growing Kids

The Guardian 24″ Bike features a threaded headset that allows you to raise the handlebars as your child grows. Raising the handlebars prevents your child from having to slouch down to reach the handlebars when the seat height is raised.

Collage showing Guardian 24 inch bike with headset set to shortest and tallest position

Quick Release Seat Post and Kickstand

To keep seat changes quick and easy, the Guardian 24 comes with a tool-free, quick release seat post clamp. Considering how fast kids grow, we love not needing to track down the right tool whenever a seat needs adjusting. Every Guardian also comes with a pre-installed kickstand to help keep the bike upright, free of dings, and out of the way.

Padded and railed saddle of the Guardian 24 inch kids bike

Assembly is Impressively Streamlined and Easy

In order to ensure quality and ease of assembly, every Guardian Bike is assembled, tuned, and packaged by Guardian’s own mechanics in their Indiana factory BEFORE they are shipped out to customers. 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.

To ease in assembly, Guardian bikes come with color coded stickers to make the parts you do have to assemble (essentially putting on the handlebars, pedals, and front wheel), quick and easy.

Collage showing Guardian 24 inch bike easy assembly stickers on the pedals and headset

Guardian 24 Inch Bike Bottom Line

Safe, lightweight, and fun to ride, the Guardian 24″ bike truly stands out. Whether cruising the neighborhood or enjoying extended family bike rides, your child will be in good hands with a Guardian and SureStop brakes, all for an incredibly fair price.

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.

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