The vast chasm between 24″ kids mountain bikes and XS or S adult mountain bikes has once again been bridged! Enter the Prevelo Zulu Five. The Zulu Five is a comfortably capable and playfully proficient 26″ kids mountain bike suitable for a wide range of riding.
From shuttling single-track to building confidence on intermediate and advanced technical trails, the Zulu is your little grom’s go-to riding buddy. In this review, we’ll cover everything you need to know before you purchase the Zulu, including how it compares to other similarly-sized mountain bikes.
Prevelo Zulu Five Overview
BEST FOR: Intermediate to advanced riders looking for an exceptional “all mountain” mountain bike capable of tackling everything from flowy bike parks to chunky single track
SEAT HEIGHT: 29″ – 34.25″
WEIGHT: 27.5 lb. (with pedals)
GAIN RATIO: 1.36-5.94
FORK: Spinner 300 AIR w/ 120mm travel, lockout, and adjustable compression
BRAKES: Tektro Hydraulic w/ 160 mm rotors
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
TIRES: Kenda Regolith Pro 26 x 2.4, Tubeless Ready
RIM: WTB i27 Tubeless Ready
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 66 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees
WHEELBASE: 1,061 mm
What we love about the Prevelo Zulu Five
- Built specifically for kids top to bottom, everything from crank arms to grips and shifters are specced for smaller riders
- Backed by Prevelo’s top-notch, no-nonsense customer service
- Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors (front and back) for quick and powerful braking
- Wide 1x gear range (10 gears) for taking on steep inclines or dropping down challenging descents
- Slack head tube angle for confidence on the downs and a steep seat tube angle to help keep the front end down during climbs
- Easy to reach and activate Microshift Advent X Pro trigger shifters
- Dropper post compatible (stealth cable routing)
- Rims come tubeless ready (cores are in the box)
What you should know about the Prevelo Zulu Five before you buy:
- The Zulu Five is currently not available in the upgraded HEIR model
- Prevelo will install a dropper post for you upon checkout if desired (Kind Shock 75mm travel), but it does raise the minimum seat height 4″.
- Be sure to adjust the air fork prior to riding – ours came very stiff
Prevelo Zulu Five Review – Initial Thoughts
Due to a long and snowy winter season here in Utah, we haven’t yet been able to put the Zulu Five to the test on our favorite single-track trails, but as soon as we do, we’ll be updating this review with the Zulu’s performance as well as fit with different sized riders.
For our initial test rides at our local bike park, we put the Zulu Five to work with our 57″ tall, 11-year-old tester. Once the bike was properly adjusted (air fork and tire psi were really high out of the box), he eagerly began riding his favorite lines and felt right at home on this hardtail.
While he still needs a lot more time in the saddle to regain his MTB legs for the spring and summer, the Zulu confidently lead him over every roller and easily popped over every jump.
When on true single-track, we anticipate the Zulu Five to be a trail eating beast, especially when pointed down choppy trails. Like the 24″ Zulu Four (be sure to read our extensive review), we expect the Zulu Five to be an exceptional bike, especially for aggressive, more playful riders.
What type of rider is the Prevelo Zulu Five the best fit for?
In the realm of MTB types, we would place the Prevelo Zulu Five in the “all-mountain” category – best for young groms ready to continue to up their game with more challenging and technical terrain.
With a 66º head tube angle (HTA) and 1,061 mm long wheelbase, the Zulu is more downhill focused than other kid-specific 26″ mountain bikes, including the woom OFF AIR 6 (69º HTA, 1,060 mm wheelbase) as well as the Trailcraft Timber 26 (68º HTA, 1,026 mm wheelbase). If your little grom is eager to plow through chunky rock gardens and magically seems to find every little jump along the trail, the Zulu is the perfect bike for them.
The Zulu Five is also a solid choice for new trail riders who may not be as experienced on the trail, but are adventurous by nature. By placing riders in a semi-upright position, this Zulu is aggressive enough to allow for experienced riders to really lean-in to the bike, but not too aggressive as to turn off progressing riders.
What type of rider is the Prevelo Zulu Five not a great fit for?
Based on our experience with the 24″ Zulu Four, as well as the geometry of the Zulu Five, we don’t anticipate the Zulu Five being the best choice for really timid riders. The more upright positioning of the woom OFF AIR 6 is likely better, but keep in mind that the woom 6 is a slightly bigger bike (see size section below).
If steep and consistent climbs are unavoidable in your area, the slacker HTA and higher weight of the Zulu Five isn’t ideal compared to other 26″ mountain bikes (the more XC-focused woom is a little more than 2 lbs. lighter and less slack). To help compensate for the slack HTA, the Zulu’s 74º seat tube angle does help put the rider on top of the pedals to maximize pedaling efficiency.
Prevelo Zulu Five Size and Fit Recommendations
The seat height on the Zulu Five ranges from 28.6″ – 34.2″. Our 11-year-old tester with a 27″ inseam comfortably rode the Zulu Five with the seat height set to 31.5″ (3″ above its minimum). Six months ago, he also tested out the smaller 24″ Zulu Four which he also set to 31.5″ (its max seat height). While he fits on both, you can clearly see that the larger Prevelo Five has much more room in the cockpit.
As a result, if your child is already on a Zulu Four, keep in mind that the Zulu Four and Five do overlap in size. If they are riding the Zulu Four at a seat height over 28″, they may already be ready to move up to the Five.
Zulu Five vs. woom OFF AIR 6 Sizing
The minimum seat height of the Zulu Five (28.6″) is 2″ lower than the woom OFF AIR 6’s (30.7″), and the reach is shorter. As result, the woom OFF AIR 6 feels and rides like a bigger bike. Between the two, our tester felt more comfortable on the slight smaller Zulu Five.
On the high-end of the growth range, the shorter reach and lower minimum seat height does mean that kids are likely to outgrow the Prevelo sooner than the woom. But even though the woom provides more room for growth, the Zulu Five’s geometry still makes it a better bike for aggressive riders.
Zulu Five Geometry
With a 74º seat tube angle and a shorter reach, the Prevelo Zulu Five places the rider in a semi-upright position that hits that sweet spot of not too tight in the cockpit, but not stretched out. With plenty of room to lean-in, yet not too much room that they feel like they are reaching too far, the Zulu Five allows for plenty of playfulness, without compromising comfort on both the uphills and the down.
Pointed up, the 74º seat tube angle helps to keep the legs directly over the pedals to produce a more efficient pedal stroke. This rider’s pedal position (more above the bottom bracket and not as much over the rear tire) helps the rider to keep their weight forward on the climbs. This keeps the front wheel more planted, compensating somewhat for the slacker 66º head tube angle.
Headed down, the 66º HTA allows the Zulu to more easily take on chunky bits of trail without being bounced off course. The Zulu’s wide 700 mm bars also provide a wide base to assist in maneuverability and control at speed.
Compared to the woom, you can certainly see the difference in geometry between the “all-mountain” Zulu and the more XC-focused woom OFF AIR. While the bikes have essentially the same wheelbase, the Zulu is slacker, with a steeper seat tube angle, wider handlebars, as well as a 2″ lower minimum seat height.
|Prevelo Zulu||woom OFF AIR 6|
|Weight||26.6 lb.||24.3 lb.|
|Head Tube Angle||66º||69º|
|Seat Tube Angle||74º||71º|
|Seat Height||28.6″ – 34.2″||30.7″ – 38.2″|
|Handlebar||700mm wide, 20mm rise||680mm, 20mm rise|
|Wheelbase||1,061 mm||1,060 mm|
Prevelo Zulu Five Components
Microshift Advent X Drivetrain
With plenty of gearing options for the climbs as well as the descents, the Zulu Five’s 10 gears has your little grom covered. With an 11-48 cassette and a 1.3 to 5.9 gain ratio, the Zulu has plenty of teeth to dig into during the climbs as well as the gearing to still provide power when headed down.
|Prevelo Zulu||woom OFF AIR 6|
|Cassette||11 – 48||11 – 36|
|Gain Ratio||1.3 – 5.9||1.7 – 5.6|
Equipped with a clutched Microshift Advent X derailleur, the derailleur stays pretty tucked up and out of the way considering the bike’s large 48 cassette, but in really rocky terrain it could get bumped around. Built with full metal construction and attached to the frame via Prevelo’s derailleur hanger, the derailleur is well equipped to take a beating.
The derailleur is paired with Microshift’s Advent X Pro shifters. Designed specifically for mountain biking as well as for kids, the Advent X Pro has light lever action as well as a larger silicon traction pad on the thumb trigger.
Air Suspension Fork
The Spinner 300 26 Air fork with 120mm travel has lockout and adjustable compression. The fork provided plenty of squish during our tests around the bike park and neighborhood, but we’ll have to report back on how it handles chattery trails once the snow melts.
Like essentially all air forks found on sub-$2,000 kids bikes, the Spinner 300 fork does have some limitations. When set to 25% sag for our lighter weight testers, the fork was not able to extend to the full 120mm. Due to lower PSIs needed to get to the 25% sag, our more aggressive tester was also easily able to come close to bottoming out the fork by just doing a rear wheel lift.
When trying to find the right balance between getting full extension but also proper compression, we ended up pretty close to 120mm, but not quite exact. As our testers grow and gain weight, we anticipate this being less of a problem. But even without full extension, the fork works great and shouldn’t be considered a reason not to buy the Zulu as this is a common issue on all air forks for kids.
Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Built for downhill adventures, Prevelo equipped the Zulu with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors on the front and rear. Providing plenty of stopping power at the rider’s fingertips, rest assured that your little grom will be able to stop when needed.
With that power, as kids get more aggressive in their riding, we highly recommend encouraging them to use 1-finger braking – meaning to brake using just their index finger. For most riders, the brake lever will need to be moved inward on the handlebar (away from the grip) in order to properly position the brake lever.
Rims and Tires
The Zulu comes with grippy 2.4″ wide Kenda Regolith Pro Tubeless Ready tires on WTB i27 Tubeless Ready rims. To help protect the rims, the bike is shipped with tubes, but tubeless valves are included in the box to easily convert the tires.
The stock pedals on the Zulu are sturdy plastic with decent plastic cleat. The pedal work great for getting started, but we highly recommend for more aggressive riders to upgrading to pedals with metal pins.
While Prevelo does offer their top-notch metal HEIR pedals with rounded metal pins for $95, be aware that the are actually smaller than the stock pedals provided and may be too small of a platform for some taller kids on the Zulu Five. The face of the stock pedal is 100mm long x 100mm wide while the HEIR pedal is 100mm long and only 74 mm wide.
Dropper Post Compatible
The Zulu comes dropper post compatible with stealth routing ports beneath the bottom bracket . Prevelo currently offers the Kind Shock hydraulic air-sprung dropper with 75mm of travel for $190 which they will install prior to shipping for no additional charge. (Dropper post option can be found in the “Customize” section when ordering.)
How does the dropper post affect the seat height of the Zulu Five?
The 75mm dropper raises the minimum seat height 4″, which raises the minimum seat height to 32″. Since both of our testers were riding with the saddle height at 31″, we have yet to install a dropper post on the Zulu Five.
Prevelo Zulu Five Comparison Chart
Throughout this review, we compared the Zulu to the woom OFF AIR and have hopefully shown the vast differences between the two bikes. To round out our review, we also threw the 27.5″ Pello Roovi into the comparison chart below as it is also a kid-specific bike designed for kids who outgrew their 24″.
We have only tested their pre-production model (see our Pello Roovi review), so we can’t speak toward the final version. But based on our experience, we anticipate the Zulu being better for aggressive riders due to its slacker head tube, larger fork travel, and lower climbing gear.
|Prevelo Zulu||woom OFF AIR 6||Pello Roovi|
|Seat Height||29″ – 34.25″||30.7″ – 38.2″||28″ – 37.25″|
|Gain Ratio||1.3 – 5.9||1.7 – 5.6||1.9 to 6.3|
|Drivetrain||Microshift Advent X||SRAM X5||Shimano Altus|
|Air Fork||Spinner 300, 120mm||woom 90mm||RST F1RST 100 mm|
|Brakes||Tektro, 160mm rotors||Promax, 160/140 rotors||Tektro, 160mm rotors|
|Head Tube Angle||66º||69º||67º|
|Seat Tube Angle||74º||71º||74º|
|Handlebar||700 mm wide, 200 rise||680 mm wide, 20 mm rise||680 mm wide, 20 mm rise|
|Wheelbase||1,061 mm||1,060 mm||1,066 mm|
Prevelo Zulu Five Bottom Line
The perfect pony for young aggressive groms who are ready to move on from their 24″ mountain bikes, the 26″ Prevelo Zulu Five is the perfect mix of playfulness and technical ability. Its Goldilocks combination of light weight, large gear range, slack head tube, and narrow q-factor make it the perfect bike for intermediate to advanced single-track warriors.