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 kids’ smaller 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
SEAT HEIGHT: 28” – 33.25″, with extended seat post to 37.25″
WEIGHT: 24.5 lbs (27.1 lbs w/suspension fork), with pedals
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
- Unique combination of a small frame and larger 27.5″ wheels offer a “29er” like feel for kids, allowing the bike to more easily roll over varied terrain
- Phenomenal geometry for aggressive riding around town as well as taking on intermediate single track (with upgrade air fork)
- Rigid fork is included in the box when you select the air fork upgrade, so you can always swap if you wish
- Like all Pello Bikes, the Roovi offers really great quality components for a fair price
- Rims come tubeless ready – rims are pre-taped and ready for sealant
- 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.)
- The Roovi comes with Kenda Small Block 8s that are great for basic trail riding, but for really chunky terrain, we recommend upgrading to true trail tires (frame fits tires up to 2.25″ wide)
- While the minimum seat height is 28″, we found the “better fit” minimum seat height to be about 30″
- The Roovi is not routed for internal dropper posts, but can be fitted with an 30.9 diameter external dropper
Pello Roovi Review – Results of our Test Rides
Throughout our testing, we put the Pello Roovi to the test all over the Salt Lake Valley and through the mountains of Park City. The Roovi began its life with us as a rigid “all-terrain” bike and eagerly took our testers on paved rides around town, as well as to pump tracks and ramps at the skatepark.
To get a full view of the capabilities of this bike, we then threw on some knobby tires and a suspension fork and put the Roovi to work on the rowdy descents and extended climbs of Park City’s famous trail system. As an added bonus, the Roovi also gave one of our testers his first taste of lift-assisted downhill glory.
In addition to a variety of riding styles, we also also tested different versions of the Roovi: (1) with a rigid fork and Kenda tires (teal bike), (2) with air fork and Maxxis MB tires (also teal bike), (3) air fork with stock Kenda tires (orange bike).
In this review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Roovi so you can confidently decide whether this awesome pony is the right bike for your little grom.
Who is the Pello Roovi Best For?
- Kids who can ride with a saddle set to at least 30″ (inseam ~26″ to 27″) who need a great all-around bike – one bike that works as an efficient commuter around town as well as a rugged beast on the trail (with fork and tire upgrades)
- Beginning to intermediate MTBers who need an efficient bike for tackling hills, both up and down, especially those tackling chunky terrain who would benefit from the larger 27.5″ wheels
- Kids who love to crank out the speed on the straightaways – the Roovi has the highest top gain ratio of 6.3 as compared to the Prevelo Zulu Five and woom OFF 6 AIR
- Bike-packing families. The lightweight, efficient, and rugged build of the Roovi makes it great for pounding out miles without being slow rolling like a traditional MTB. The Roovi also has two sets of water bottle mounts (one in the triangle, one below the downtube).
Who is the Pello Roovi Not and Ideal Fit For?
- Really timid kids riding the Roovi on the low end of the seat range (below 30″ or so), may be intimidated by the larger wheels of the Roovi
- Really aggressive groms who are all about the downhill. The 100mm air fork and 67º headtube angle may leave jump line riders and thrill seekers wanting more.
- Super playful riders who a “flickable” MTB bike may prefer a similar-sized bike with 26″ wheels, such as the Prevelo Zulu Five or woom OFF 6 AIR.
What size child fits on the Roovi?
The Pello Roovi has a frame that is sized appropriately for a child outgrowing their 24″ bike, but is paired with larger 27.5″ wheels instead of the typical 26″. The seat height ranges from 28” – 33.25″ out of the box, but by swapping the saddle to the included longer seat post, the maximum seat height extends to 37.25″.
Our 10-year-old, 4’8.5″ tall tester below had outgrown his very beloved 24″ Pello Reyes six months earlier, and was a perfect fit for the Roovi. He rode with the saddle set to 31″, three inches above the minimum of 28″.
Shorter kids can certainly ride the Roovi, but we found that most small riders who fit on the lower end of the seat height range (about 28″ to 30″), were a bit too small to comfortably handle the larger 27.5″ wheels and preferred similarly sized bikes with 26″ wheels.
Here you can see our 9-year-old tester who is riding the 24″ Reyes (on the left) and the Roovi (on the right). The saddles on both bikes are set to about 28.75″.
While this younger and shorter rider certainly fit on the Roovi, the frame was a bit of a stretch for him. The longer stretch paired with the larger 27.5″ wheels of the Roovi, made it more challenging for him to maneuver. As a result, he much preferred the smaller 24″ Reyes. As a result, due to the larger wheel size, we don’t recommend the Roovi for kids who need the ride with the saddle lower than 20″.
Two years later, this now 11-year-old tester is several inches taller and is a great fit on the Roovi with the seat height set to 31.5″. With longer arms, the reach is more manageable and the larger wheels are not longer a challenge to maneuver.
Standard Roovi vs. Upgraded “MTB” Roovi
One of the major selling points of the Roovi is its versatility. With the standard rigid fork, the Roovi is an aggressive neighborhood bike that performs great on longer paved rides as well as playful days at the paved bike park.
With air fork and tire upgrades, the Roovi is transformed into a legitimate kids mountain bike. If you will be tackling blue and black single track, the upgrade to an air fork is absolutely worth it.
Pello Roovi Standard vs. MTB Upgrade
|Roovi||Roovi MTB Upgrade|
|MSRP||$699||$699 + $299 fork|
|Fork||Rigid||RST F1RST 100mm air fork|
|Tires||Kenda Small Block 8, 27.5×1.95||**Maxxis Ardent, 27.5 x 2.25**|
|Weight||24.5 lb.||27.1 lb.|
|Head Tube Angle||69º||67º|
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.
Pello Roovi Performance
To experience the full spectrum of the Roovi’s versatility, we put it to work in three different configurations for three different riding styles.
- Neighborhood and Paved Use – 100% stock bike with rigid fork and Kenda tires
- All-terrain Use (city and basic trail use) – Upgraded air fork, but stock Kenda tires
- Mountain Bike Use (intermediate to advanced trail use) – Upgraded air fork and MTB tires (we swapped out the tires on our own)
Neighborhood and Paved Use
Straight of the box, the Roovi is perfectly packaged to deliver a smooth, fast ride around town. Its lightweight build, paired with hydraulic brakes and trigger shifters gave our testers plenty of control to confidently push their limits and take on new challenges.
With the rigid fork, the Roovi’s 69º head tube angle also positions the front wheel a bit closer to the rider, which helps to provide more responsive steering.
The all-terrain Kenda Small Block 8 tires are perfect for all-terrain riders as they roll smooth on pavement without being sluggish, yet still have enough traction to take on basic dirt trails. If your young rider needs a bike that is great around town, but also capable for basic off-road adventures, the standard Roovi is the perfect bike – no upgrades needed!
All-Terrain Use with Air Fork
For those young riders chomping at the bit to try out new tricks on the bike, we would highly recommend upgrading to the air fork. In addition to adding an extra level of “cool factor”, the suspension fork helps to turn the neighborhood around them into a DIY bike park. From wheelie contests to catching air off a ramp, adding an air fork certainly kicked our testers’ playfulness up a couple notches.
Pello sells the Roovi with an optional 100mm RST F1SRT air fork with lockout and adjustable rebound for an additional $299. If you select the air fork at purchase, the Roovi will come with the air fork installed. As an added bonus, a rigid fork will also be provided in the box, if you ever need to switch back.
With the air fork installed the Roovi’s head tube angle is shifted to a slacker 67º, which positions the wheel slightly more in front of the bike and away from the rider. With the weight of the rider less “on top” of the front wheel and more “behind” it, the slacker head tube angle can help the bike roll over roots, rocks, and various obstacles on the trail.
In terms of performance, the RST fork performed like a champ on chunky terrain and over jumps without any concerns. If you prefer to upgrade with your own suspension fork, the Roovi is compatible with forks with 28.6mm steerer with a 1.5″ taper.
The air fork does add roughly 2.5 pounds to the bike. So if you plan on using the Roovi for any extended paved rides, the weight savings and increased efficiency of the rigid fork is likely worth the effort.
MTB Use with Upgraded Tires and Air Fork
To morph the Roovi into a trail-eating machine, the tires and the rigid fork should both be upgraded. While the Kenda Small Block 8 stock tires work great around town and on basic trails, they don’t provide enough bite for true trail riding.
To test out the Roovi’s trail-worthiness, we upgraded the tires to 2.25″ wide Maxxis Ardent cross country tires with a tubeless set up (rims on the Roovi come tubeless ready!). The extra width and bigger knobs provided plenty of grip for our dry trails.
Do the 27.5″ tires make a difference on the trail?
One of the major selling points of the Roovi for MTB kids is its larger 27.5″ wheels versus 26″. Like 29ers for adults, the larger wheel equates to less rolling resistance over obstacles, which in theory makes it easier to plow up and over them. But do they really make a difference on the trail?
Due to the large number of variables between a 26″ and 27.5″ bike, including geometry, gearing, weight distribution etc., it’s impossible for us to give a definitive answer. But what we do know for sure is that our test shredders quickly became enamored with the Roovi. Our testers had no problem climbing up chunky terrain and eagerly took on black diamond trails with the confidence they gained on the Roovi.
If you are sold on 27.5″ wheels for your young rider, the Roovi is pretty unique in that it offers kid-size components, a narrower q-factor, shorter cranks, and a lighter build along with the larger wheel size. While tweens and teens can technically “fit”on a extra-small or small adult bike, the adult-sized components on the bike typically make it less efficient for small bodies.
The wider q-factor on adult bikes requires kids to splay their legs out while pedaling, versus pedaling straight down, while the longer cranks will create a tighter knee bend on the top stroke. For example, the similarly priced Trek Marlin 8 in an extra-small frame with 27.5″ wheels has 170mm crank arms (vs. 162mm on the Roovi) and also weighs about 30 lbs., versus the Roovi’s 27.1 lbs.
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 range, the power of the Roovi’s brakes instilled a lot of confidence in our testers, especially our 10-year-old on his first taste of the lift-assisted life.
1 x 9 Shimano Drivetrain and Trigger Shifters
The 1 x 9 Shimano Altus drivetrain offered smooth and quick shifting for all of our testers. The Roovi comes equipped with an 11 – 36T cassette paired with a 32T chainring, resulting in a gain ratio range of 1.9 – 6.3 (162mm cranks).
The 1.9 granny gear of the Roovi is a bit higher than similarly-sized 26″ kids mountain bikes by woom and Prevelo. The woom OFF 6 has a low gear of 1.7, while the Prevelo Zulu is the lowest at 1.36. For some riders, a larger cog for a lower climbing gear would be beneficial, but our riders climbed plenty of elevation during our test period and never complained about needing a lower gear.
On the high end, the Roovi’s 6.3 is drastically higher than the woom’s 5.6 and the Prevelo’s 5.94. We found this higher gear to be particularly useful when used on paved and all-terrain rides where our testers could really power out speed on longer straightaways.
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.
Pello Roovi 27.5″ Kids Bike Bottom Line
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 of rolling over trail obstacles compared to 26″ wheels.