With 27.5″ wheels, but sized like a 26″ kids bike, the Pello Roovi occupies a unique space in the kids bike marketplace. Nicknamed “the 29er for kids”, the Roovi is designed for kids sizing up from a 24″ kids bike. With a bike frame sized appropriately for small bodies, but larger wheels to better clear obstacles, the Roovi fits like a kids bike, but offers the advantages of larger wheels usually only found on adult bikes.
Available with either a rigid or air fork, this versatile kids bike is equally fantastic for neighborhood explorers as it is for kid shredders on legitimate single track. Read our full review below to discover if it’s the right bike for your child.
Pello Roovi Overview
MSRP: $699 rigid fork, $998 air fork
SEAT HEIGHT: 28” – 33.25″, with extended seat post to 37.25″
WEIGHT: 24.5 lbs (26.8 lbs w/suspension fork), with pedals
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
BRAKES: Tektro Hydraulic Disc, 160mm rotor front and rear
GAIN RATIO: 1.9 to 6.3
SHIFTERS: Shimano Altus M2000 Rapidfire, 9sp
DERAILLEUR: Shimano Altus M2000
TIRES: Kenda-Small Block 8, 27.5×1.95, presta tube (can take up to 2.25″ wide front and rear)
RIMS: Alex-aluminum-DP 21, 32h, Tubeless Ready
OPTIONAL AIR FORK: RST F1RST, 100mm travel
HANDLEBARS: 680 mm
What we love about the Pello Roovi
- Larger 27.5″ wheels offer the benefits of a “29er for kids” – the only kids bike on the market (that we know of) to do so!
- Phenomenal geometry, and easy to upgrade to a mountain bike with optional air fork and optional Maxxis tires
- Like all Pello Bikes, the Roovi offers really great quality components for a fair price
- Rims come tubeless ready
- Hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors provide solid stopping power
What you should know before you buy
- 27.5″ wheels aren’t necessarily better for every kid, just like a 29er isn’t better for every adult rider. (More commentary on this below.)
- While Pello offers an optional air fork and wider/knobbier Maxxis tires, the rigid version of the Roovi with Kenda small block 8s is a great base bike if you prefer to do your own upgrades
- While the minimum seat height is 28″, we found the “better fit” minimum seat height to be about 30″
Pello Roovi Review – Results of our First Test Rides
We tested a prototype of the Pello Roovi during the summer of 2021. The bike in these pictures is basically identical to the final production model, with the exception of the optional air fork. The bike we tested had a RockShox fork (due to COVID supply chain issues), but the Roovi will ship with an RST F1RST fork installed if you choose this option.
Over the course of a month, we tested the Pello Roovi all over the Salt Lake Valley and through the mountains of Park City. Our primary 10-year-old test rider glided through neighborhood rides to Grandma’s house, as well as pump tracks and ramps at the skatepark. He got plenty of climb time in as he ascended the elevations of Park City’s famous trail system, and especially loved the rowdy descents that followed those climbs. He also got his first taste of lift-assisted downhill glory.
This review is based on the prototype Roovi, and we will update the review with any changes we see once we get a chance to test the final production model.
Rigid vs. Air Fork – Which Do Need?
The Pello Roovi is available with a rigid aluminum fork or with an RST F1RST air suspension fork. The upgrade to an air fork costs $300, and also adds about 2 pounds.
With a rigid fork, the Roovi is an aggressive neighborhood bike. With an air fork, the Roovi is transformed into a legitimate kids mountain bike. (Although you may also want to upgrade to wider, more knobby tires depending on the terrain you’ll be riding.)
If you will be tackling blue and black single track, the upgrade to an air fork is absolutely worth it. If you are sticking to the neighborhood or mild dirt trails, it’s not worth the extra cost and weight.
Not sure if you need the air fork? No worries, you can always upgrade later. The RST air forks are also sold separately and can be purchased at a later date. (You could also upgrade to another brand, just contact Pello for the specs you’ll need to match.)
The RST fork has a great reputation in the mountain bike world, but because we did not test the bike with the RST fork, we cannot speak to its performance compared to other air forks we’ve tested.
Sizing – Transitioning from a 24″ to a 27.5″
The Pello Roovi is exceptional for many reasons, but its primary selling point is its 27.5″ wheels paired with a smaller frame. This is the most compelling reason to buy, and if the benefits of larger wheels won’t help your rider, you’re better off with a 26″ kids bike like the Prevelo Alpha Five or the MTB-focused Prevelo Zulu Five.
What bike to get a child after a 24″ bike can be a difficult problem to solve. Many parents want the advantages of larger 27.5″ wheels and push their kids into an XS or S adult bike with a frame that’s bigger than ideal. The difficulties of managing a larger frame can offset the benefits of the larger wheels.
The Pello Roovi has a frame that is sized appropriately for a child outgrowing their 24″ bike (like a traditional 26″ kids bike frame), but is paired with larger 27.5″ wheels.
Our primary tester was 10 years old and 4 foot 8.5 inches tall. He had outgrown his very beloved 24″ Pello Reyes six months earlier and had transitioned to riding a 26″ mountain bike. He was ecstatic to get back on a Pello bike, and this 27.5″ Roovi was an absolutely perfect fit.
For reference, while the Roovi’s minimum seat height is 28″, he rode with the saddle set to 31″. After trying the bike with other riders, we discovered the most comfortable minimum seat height is really 30″, as the first 2″ of seat post are a bit too low for most kids that size to handle the larger wheels.
Here you can see our 9-year-old tester who is riding the 24″ Reyes with the saddle set to 28.75″, and the Roovi set about the same.
While this younger and shorter rider certainly could ride the Roovi, he much preferred the fit of the smaller Reyes as it was easier for him to maneuver. When we are able to evaluate the final production model of the Roovi, we will test the bike with additional small riders to get an even better feel for the best time and height for the most ideal transition to the larger Roovi.
So Who is the Pello Roovi best for?
Just like 29 inch wheels aren’t the best option for every adult rider, a “29 for kids” is a great option for some kids, but would be too much bike for others. So who is the Pello Roovi best for?
The primary benefits of larger wheels are (1) ease of rolling over obstacles and (2) increased traction. However, those larger wheels have a trade off in less maneuverability, especially on tight sections of technical trail or tight switchbacks or berms.
So if the benefits of larger wheels match your family’s style of riding, the 27.5″ wheels of the Roovi might just be a game changer for your shredder. But if the cons of larger wheels (less maneuverability) just aren’t something you think your kid is ready for, you should probably go with a standard 26″ mountain bike like the woom OFF Air or Cleary Scout.
Also keep in mind that more skilled and confident riders will better be able to handle the larger 27.5″ wheels, while timid or petite riders will most likely be better off with 26″ wheels. (See the sizing section above for further reference.)
Geometry and Performance
After shredding for six months on a 26″ kids mountain bike, the test period on the 27.5″ Pello Roovi was an unexpected and welcomed upgrade for our 10-year-old rider.
While the 26″ bike and the 27.5″ Roovi are similar in size and have the same minimum seat height, the Roovi is the only 27.5″ kids bike we’ve ever tested. As a result, it’s impossible for us to isolate the actual effect of the larger wheels, as differences in frame design and overall geometry also come into play. But what we do know for sure is that our test shredder quickly became enamored with the Roovi.
While on the Roovi, uphill climbs seemed to require less effort and traction was solid on the Utah moon dust. He felt more confident than ever before on technical trail features, like the Black Diamond Mr. Much Rocks trail at Trailside Park in Park City.
With a slack 67-degree head tube, long 1066mm wheelbase, and wide 680mm bars, our test rider was able to bomb downhill on both blue and black trails with confidence and control. Despite the slack head tube, he also had no trouble climbing those blue and black trails to earn the downhill.
In line with modern adult mountain bikes that are adopting a slacker head tube, the Pello Roovi features a more upright 74 degree seat tube. This combination keeps the rider over the bottom bracket and more of their weight forward, putting them in a better seated pedaling position.
Pello Roovi Components Round-up
We’ve been testing and riding Pello Bikes for many years, and we’ve always been impressed with the quality of the components they spec, without charging an arm and a leg. The Pello Roovi is no exception.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with front and rear 160 mm rotors offer exceptional stopping power for kid shredders. Tested on aggressive downhill trails along the Wasatch front, the power of the Roovi’s brakes instilled a lot of confidence in our 10-year-old who was getting his first taste of the lift-assisted life.
1 x 9 Shimano Drivetrain and Trigger Shifters
The 1 x 9 Shimano Altus drivetrain was praised for its smooth and quick shifting by our 10-year-old test rider. A cassette with a range of 11 – 36T paired with a 32T chain ring results in a gain ratio range of 1.9 – 6.3.
The 1.9 granny gear is a bit higher than 26″ kids mountain bikes by woom and Cleary. The woom OFF 6 has a low gear of 1.7, while the Cleary Scout’s is the lowest at 1.4. We do wish the Roovi had a cassette with a wider range for a lower climbing gear, but our rider climbed plenty of elevation during our test period and he never complained about needing a lower gear.
On the high end, the Roovi’s 6.3 is more drastically higher than the woom’s 5.6 and the Cleary’s 5.5. While this will come in handy for pedaling on the downhill, our kid testers have never complained about the highest gear on the woom or Cleary being too low.
The trigger shifters are a thumb/forefinger set-up, which some of our test riders preferred over a double thumb set-up. It’s really a personal preference, but also something you kid will get used to quickly.
A numbered window indicating which gear you’re in is a small bonus which you don’t normally find on larger bikes. While kids can certainly shift “by feel” like adult riders, visually seeing the gear you’re in can be helpful for some kids still mastering the art of gears.
If you’re a mountain biking parent, you know that the derailleur hanger will certainly come in clutch sooner or later with the beating kids give their bikes! And Pello actually includes a spare derailleur hanger should your first one need to be replaced.
During our testing period, the chain did fall off a few times. However, in discussing this with Pello, we learned that the final model will have their custom crankset with a double alloy chainring guard that the prototype bike didn’t have. This should prevent chain drop.
Rims Tubeless Ready, May Need to Upgrade to Wider Tires
High-quality Alex rims come tubeless ready to make the conversion to tubeless as easy as possible for those using the Roovi as a mountain bike.
While the 1.95″ Kenda small block 8s will work great for some riders, you may want to upgrade to wider, knobbier tires better suited for your local trails. We trail tested the Roovi with 2.25″ wide Maxxis tires provided by Pello, which provided great traction on the Utah moon dust trails, and good cushioning over the chunky stuff.
Pello will be offering Maxxis tires as an upgrade (most likely Maxxis Ardent 27.5 x 2.25). The Kenda small block 8 tires will come installed on the Roovi, and the Maxxis upgrades will come rolled in the box.
Dropper Post Routing
Whether or not the Pello Roovi will be offered with a dropper post when it initially launches has not yet been finalized, but the plan is to have a dropper as an option.
However, the Roovi’s frame does have ports on the seat tube for routing dropper cables, so you could install one on your own.
Bottom Line on the Pello Roovi
The Pello Roovi is an exceptional bike that our kid testers had an absolute blast riding through the neighborhood and bombing down single track. That said, the larger 27.5″ wheels of the Roovi are most beneficial for confident kid shredders who value the added ease in rolling over obstacles and increased traction compared to 26″ wheels.