Wide handlebars, a long wheelbase, and trigger shifters make the Prevelo Alpha Three ideal for beginning mountain bikers or adventurous city riders. Designed with the confident and aggressive rider in mind, the Alpha Three provides a natural, smooth and stable ride for the skatepark, the pump track, or simply every neighborhood obstacle your kid can find!
With all-terrain tires and a super lightweight frame, this 20″ Prevelo pony is also right at home on dirt trails and beginner single track. But is this “do-it-all” bike right for your developing rider? Read the review below to see how this 20 inch bike compares to other top brands.
Prevelo Alpha Three Overview
BEST FOR: From aggressive day-to-day riders to those just getting starting on single-track, the Alpha Three is a high-quality bike with a wide range of uses.
SEAT HEIGHT: 20.7″ – 25.5″
WEIGHT: 18.9 lb.
GEARS: 9-speed with Microshift trigger shifters
BRAKES: Tektro Dual Hand Brake
- Lightweight, low center-of-gravity frame is nimble and responsive
- Trigger shifters allow for quick and easy shifting for adventurous riders
- Narrow Q-factor for maximum leverage on pedals
- Multi-terrain tires excel on a variety of terrains
- Top quality components
- Double thumb trigger shifters can be more difficult to learn to shift with than grip shifters
Prevelo Alpha Three Review – Results of our Test Rides
Our resident 6-year-old tester is quiet by nature, but certainly feels the need for speed the minute he sits on a bike. Aggressive and eager to ride, he doesn’t just ride bikes for us, he truly puts them to the test.
From steep downhills, jumps and curbs (and puddles), to standing on his seat while riding or sliding through a tight turn this kid is eager to test any bike we’ll give him. But now, after testing over 20 bikes over the last 2 years, he’s finally met his soulmate.
Working as one, it’s amazing to see him fluidly ride the Prevelo Alpha Three through the neighborhood and parks. In the month he’s tested out the bike, he’s quickly surpassed his older brothers in skill and determination to ride.
Geometry and Weight
With a lightweight aluminum frame with a low center-of-gravity, and wide and low-rise handlebars, the Prevelo Alpha Three is perfectly balanced for young ambitious riders. Weighing just under 19 lbs., the Prevelo is light, but its overall geometry makes it exceptionally nimble. Compared to other 20″ bikes, our 6-year-old tester raved about how easy it was to steer and how well “it did what [I] wanted it to do!”
The overall body position on Alpha Three is on the aggressive side, meaning the rider is leaned forward more when holding the handlebars. This positioning allows the rider to more easily shift their weight around, allowing more adventurous riders to tackle various obstacles.
Timid or beginning riders who are likely to stick to casual riding tend to prefer bikes with a more upright position, as more of their weight is centered over their hips (which they are accustomed to when walking or running).
Compared to the Guardian 20 inch and the Islabikes BEINN 20″ Small (no longer available in the US), the Prevelo is the most aggressive as it has a longer frame that extends the space between the seat and the handlebars, stretching out the rider. The Islabike is the most upright and the Guardian is in-between.
Aggressive Geometry of the Prevelo Alpha Three
Size – A Smaller 20″ Bike
With a seat height range of 20.7″ to 25.5″, the Prevelo Alpha Three is in the smaller range of 20″ kids bikes. It was a great fit for our main 6-year-old tester in size 6 clothes with a 21″ inseam and still allowed for plenty of room for growth.
Our 5-year-old tester in size 5 clothes with a 19″ inseam was easily able to sit and pedal the bike, but the bike was too long for him to feel comfortable. The 16 inch Prevelo Alpha Two was a better fit for him.
Our second and taller 6-year-old tester with a 24″ inseam fit on the 20″ Prevelo Alpha Three just fine, but it provided little room for growth. While you wouldn’t want to buy this bike for a child this size, if he already owned the bike he could still ride it comfortably for several more months.
It’s important to note that seat height doesn’t always tell the whole story – the size of the frame needs to be considered as well. Based on the actual seat height range and the long reach of this bike, the Alpha Three’s “good fit” inseam range is 20″ to 24″, while its “best fit” inseam range is from 21″ to 23″.
For kids with inseams greater than 23″, we would recommend checking out the larger 24-inch Prevelo Alpha Four. To learn more about finding the best bike fit for your child, check out our guide on proper bike sizing.
Compared to other 20″ bikes, this Prevelo bike is mid-range in frame size, with the Guardian 20 inch being taller and the Islabikes BEINN 20″ Small being smaller. Even though they have similar seat height ranges, our 5-year-old tester was much more comfortable with the shorter reach on the Islabikes BEINN 20″ than the larger Prevelo.
Prevelo 20″ Slightly Big for a 5-year-old in Size 5 Clothes
Gearing & Shifters
The Alpha Three is an 9-speed bike with a gain ratio of 1.9 to 6.7. This wide range will easily allow kids to tackle hills previously deemed “too hard” as well as quickly gain speed on flat surfaces without having to excessively spin the pedals.
Trigger Shifters vs. Grip Shifters
One of the main differences between the Alpha Three and other high-end bikes is that it features trigger shifters versus grip shifters. Trigger shifters are much better for aggressive riders as they generally allow for faster shifting and help riders keep their handlebars straight when riding at faster speeds. With grip shifters, kids can apply too much force while shifting, which can cause them to accidentally and unexpectedly rotate their handlebars.
Grip shifters (also called twist shifters), however, allow kids’ fingers to remain on the handlebars to shift and only require them to twist up or down to shift. On the flip side, trigger shifters require kids to slightly loosen their grip on the handlebar to shift gears. Trigger shifters have two buttons – one button for the index finger to shift up and a second button for the thumb to shift down.
While trigger shifters generally take less force to activate, they are less intuitive for kids and have a steeper learning curve. Grip shifters are typically harder to activate but are more intuitive and easier to learn. Prevelo designed this bike for more aggressive riders and/or beginning mountain biking which make trigger shifters the best option for the Alpha.
Trigger Shifter Test Performance
As expected, our 6-year-old tester had some trouble getting started on the trigger shifters, but once he figured it out, he LOVED them. Already having experience learning the basics of shifting with a grip shifter, the transition to a trigger shifter was relatively easy for him.
Based on our experience, however, learning how to use gears for the first time on a bike with trigger shifters is generally more challenging than on a bike with grip shifters. Being a more aggressive rider than most kids his age probably factored into his ability to pick this up so quickly. Kids more on the timid side may feel uncomfortable releasing the handlebar grip to shift the trigger shifters.
Our 5-year-old tester, on the other hand, didn’t even attempt to shift the gears as he was already stretched out on the bike and was too anxious to try to shift gears when he couldn’t see the levers.
New MicroShift Drivetrain for 2021
As of Spring 2021, the Prevelo Alpha Three now features a 9-speed MicroShift short cage drivetrain with accompanying MicroShift trigger shifters. This Prevelo bike previously had an 8-speed Shimano Acera. While we have not tested this new drivetrain, we are confident in Prevelo’s commitment to spec’ing its bikes with exceptional components.
A short cage drivetrain means that the derailleur doesn’t hang so low to the ground. This is exceptionally important on 20″ and 24″ kids bikes because their small wheel diameter causes the to derailleur lower to the ground than on an adult bike. A low derailleur is more likely to get damaged, so this short cage is a huge benefit for less bike maintenance!
While the previous Shimano trigger shifter used the thumb and forefinger to shift, the MicroShift trigger shifter is double thumb, which means the thumb is used to shift up and to shift down. While this is a common style of trigger shifter, be aware that it may be confusing for some kids to remember which trigger button is which.
That said, our kid bike testers use both styles of trigger shifters and successfully transition between the two styles depending on what bike they are riding. If your child is having difficulty remembering how to shift up or down, you may want to spend a little extra time coaching them on the ride.
V-Brakes Offer Great Stopping Power
The Alpha Three comes with Tektro v-pull brakes. Quick and effective, the brakes were very responsive when put to the test by our 6-year-old tester. From making skid marks to slowing down at the bottom of a big hill, the brakes were easy to reach and easy to activate.
If the Prevelo Alpha Three is your child’s first experience with quality hand brakes, be sure to have them walk next to the bike and practice activating the brakes to get a feel for how much effort is needed to stop the bike – prior to riding the bike. Kids moving up from lower quality bikes often apply too much force to the brake lever, which causes them to stop faster than anticipated, which can lead to a crash.
Easy-reach Brake Levers on the Prevelo Alpha Three
Prevelo Alpha Three vs. Other Bikes
The Prevelo, Pello, and Guardian are all great bikes that we love, but all three are ideal for different types of riders.
The Prevelo Alpha Three is the most aggressive of these three bikes and is the best for intermediate to advanced riders who are likely to engage in more adventurous riding.
Whether around the neighborhood or on groomed trails, the Alpha Three is superb at allowing kids to really throw their weight around on the bike, while the trigger shifters will help them shift faster and easier. For true mountain biking, however, the Prevelo Zulu Three (also a 20″) is an ideal choice.
The Pello Rover has wider tires and the option of a front suspension fork. Perfectly designed for aggressive riders who want to regularly adventure on paved and non-paved terrain, its twist shift gears allow them to easily tackle moderate inclines.
The Guardian 20 inch is the perfect bike for neighborhood riders, especially those who live or ride around hills where shifting gears and stopping correctly and quickly is essential. The Guardian is certainly capable of going on longer rides like the others, but its slightly higher weight makes it less appealing. For the price, however, the Guardian is a great bike for basic all-around riding.
Prevelo Alpha Three Comparison
|Prevelo Alpha Three||Pello Rover||Guardian Original 20|
|Bike||Prevelo Alpha Three||Pello Rover||Guardian 20" Geared|
|Best for:||Intermediate to aggressive riders ready for adventure.||Developing aggressive riders - on and off trails.||All-around basic riding especially around hills.|
|Seat Range||20.7" - 25.5"||22.5″- 27.5″||22.5" - 28"|
|Weight||18.9 lb.||20.5 lb.||21.5 lb.|
|Gain Ratio||2.1 - 6.7||2.02 - 5.3||2.1 - 5.1|
|Read our Review||You're reading it!||Pello Rover||Guardian Original|
Prevelo Alpha Three Bottom Line
Christmas came early for our 6-year-old tester, his mom, and even me! We’ve never seen him so happy as when he’s on his Prevelo Alpha Three. Exceptional from top to bottom, the Prevelo is the ultimate ride for adventurous riders in at least size 6 clothes.