Nimble, lightweight, and with a wide range of gears, the Prevelo Zulu Four is quite simply a killer mountain bike. If your little grom dreams of plowing through rock gardens at speed, or hitting jumps and drops like it’s nothing, the Prevelo Zulu is the perfect pony for them.
Based out of Southern California, the Zulu was born and bred to take on the chunky and steep terrain that surrounds its home stomping grounds. Since its inception, Prevelo’s founder, Jacob Rheuban, has been tweaking and fine-tuning the Zulu while spending hours on the trail with his own young sons (who currently still ride the Zulu 20″ and 24″).
But how does it compare to other 24″ mountain bikes on the market? In this review, we put the Zulu Four to the test with the woom OFF AIR 5 and Fezzari Lone Peak 24 to find out. From gearing to suspension forks, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the Prevelo Zulu Four.
Prevelo Zulu Four Overview
BEST FOR: Young groms ready to progress on more aggressive single-track. Not too aggressive, not too laid back, the Zulu is the perfect bike “all-mountain” bike for intermediate to advanced riders.
SEAT HEIGHT: 26″ – 31.5″
WEIGHT: 25.4 lb. (Zulu), 23.3 lb. (HEIR)
GEARS: 10-speed (Zulu), 12-speed (Zulu HEIR)
GAIN RATIO: 1.36-5.94 (Zulu), 1.31 – 5.94 (Zulu HEIR)
FORK: ZULU – Spinner 300 AIR w/ 100mm travel, lockout, and adjustable compression; ZULU HEIR – HEIR 24 Air fork with 100mm travel, lockout, adjustable compression and rebound
BRAKES: Radius Hydraulic w/ 160 mm rotors
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
TIRES: VEE Crown Gem 24×2.25″
RIM: ZULU – WTB Tubeless ready, ZULU HEIR – Stan’s Crest Tubeless Ready
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 66 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees
WHEELBASE: 1,002 mm
What we love about the Prevelo Zulu Four
- Fine-tuned for young groms, every component on the Zulu is hand-selected to fit young riders (Prevelo’s founder, Jacob Rheuban, hits the single track regularly with his own young sons on their Zulus).
- Backed by Prevelo’s top-notch, no-nonsense customer service
- Both Zulu models have true trail-worthy 100mm air forks
- Hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors provide plenty of stopping power
- Wide 1x gear range for tackling steep inclines or bombing down challenging descents (Zulu has 10 gears, HEIR has 12)
- Head angle slack enough to feel confident going down but steep enough for the front end of the bike to stay down and glued to the trail while climbing
- Quick and responsive Microshift Advent trigger shifters (Zulu) or SRAM GX Eagle (HEIR)
- Dropper post compatible (Prevelo will install for you if you order dropper at time of purchase)
What you should know about the Prevelo Zulu Four before you buy:
- It comes in two models, the Zulu and the Zulu HEIR. The main upgrades to HEIR models are the suspension fork and rims, which play a major role in shedding about 2 lbs. off the HEIR (as compared to the Zulu)
- The air fork on the Zulu can be a bit finicky for lighter-weight kids who need to run at lower PSI’s. The HEIR fork performs better at low PSI’s, but the Zulu’s fork is still top-notch
- While both forks have 100mm of travel, lockout, and adjustable compression, only the HEIR’s fork has adjustable rebound
- The derailleur hangs pretty low on the Zulu, so it can be bounced around during technical rides
Prevelo Zulu Four Review – Results of our Test Rides
REVIEW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What type of rider is the Zulu best for?
- What type of rider is the Zulu not a great fit for?
- Size and Fit Recommendations
- Zulu vs. Fezzari Lone Peak vs. woom OFF AIR
- Zulu Components and Frame Geometry
- Optional Upgrades
- 24″ MTB Comparison Chart
- Prevelo Zulu Four Bottom Line
This review is based on our tests with the 2022 Prevelo Zulu Four. We did not test the HEIR, but will be pointing out differences between the two models when needed. Both models share the same frame but come with a different fork, drivetrain, and rims.
For this review, we put the Prevelo Zulu to the test with three different riders of various ages and skill levels. A 51″ tall 7-year-old who is just getting started mountain biking, a 55″ tall experienced, yet cautious 10-year-old, and a 55″ tall experienced and adventurous 11-year-old.
What type of rider is the Prevelo Zulu Four the best fit for?
The Prevelo Zulu Four is an “all-mountain” kids mountain bike specifically designed for young groms ready to take on more challenging and technical terrain. With a 66-degree head tube angle and 1,002 mm long wheelbase, the Zulu has more cards in the downhill camp than other 24″ kids mountain bikes, while still being squarely in the “all-mountain” category.
We found the Zulu to be ideal for more adventurous riders who are all about the downhill. When pointing down, the Zulu truly works its magic as it quickly, efficiently, and confidently leads young riders down challenging terrain.
If techy blues, ambitious jump lines, and massive rock gardens are on the menu, the Zulu HEIR is worth the additional $500+ upgrade. While the air fork on the Zulu performed great for our testers, we were not able to get the full 100 mm of travel out of the fork (more about this below), but Prevelo has assured us this is much less of an issue on the HEIR’s upgraded fork.
What type of rider is the Prevelo Zulu Four not a great fit for?
When pointed up, the Zulu is still a workhorse, but not as confident. For those riders sticking to mainly XC riding as well as those who are consistently taking on 500+ ft. elevation gains with every ride, a more climb-friendly, XC-focused bike such as the woom OFF AIR, may be a better option. This is especially true for lightweight, petite riders.
Throughout our several-month testing period, our lightweight 68 lb. 10-year-old tester consistently climbed more efficiently on the woom OFF AIR than the Prevelo (the woom is just less than 3 lbs. lighter than the Prevelo).
This weight difference was enough for him to often give preference to the woom OFF AIR, especially when heading out for longer riders. For shorter, more technical rides (or for shuttled downhill rides), however, he preferred the Prevelo.
On the other hand, our more athletic and aggressive 75 lb., 11-year-old tester, preferred the Prevelo for all types of rides as he felt the added weight on the uphill was worth it for improved performance on the downhill.
All in all, the Prevelo really isn’t a bad bike for anyone! The real question (which hopefully this review will answer) is if the Zulu is the best bike for the type of rides your little grom plans on hitting.
Size and Fit Recommendations
The seat height on the Zulu Four ranges from 25″ to 31.5″ (both models). Based on our tests, we anticipate the Zulu being a great fit for kids with inseams ranging from 22″ to 26.5″.
As a point of reference, our 10-year-old with a 26.5″ inseam rode the Zulu with the seat maxed out at 31.5″ (seat set 5″ above his inseam), while our 51″ tall 7-year-old tester with a 24″ inseam had the seat height set to 27.5″ (3.5″ above her inseam).
To get a good feel for the Zulu, we put it to work on in a wide variety of riding styles. From chunky single-track to double-track and bike parks, we also did a side-by-side comparison with the similarly priced woom OFF AIR 5 and Fezzari Lone Peak 24.
How well does the Zulu descend?
Like a champ. All three of our testers preferred the Zulu on the downhill as compared to the woom OFF AIR and the Fezzari Lone Peak. Whether on single track or at the local bike park, the Zulu held its line and rolled on through everything from chunky rock gardens to wood bike park features.
With every seemingly difficult obstacle effortlessly handled by the Prevelo, you could see the confidence grow in our testers’ eyes. While on the Prevelo, our more timid 10-year-old was able to easily roll over a feature he previously hesitated on.
All in all, the slack 66-degree head tube angle certainly did its job on the downhill. Keeping the bike firmly planted and the front tire tracking resulted in a fun, confidence-building ride (more about head tube angles below). As a result, amongst our testers, the Prevelo was the bike of choice for rowdy downhill trails or for hitting up the bike park.
How well does the Zulu climb?
With 10 gears and an 11-48t cassette, the Prevelo is well-equipped to climb. Once in the proper gear, the Zulu’s granny gear helped our riders steadily climb up the trail. With easy-to-use trigger shifters and a 74-degree seat tube angle to keep the child’s weight over the pedals, our testers had no problems putting the Zulu to work on an incline.
Due to its slacker head tube angle, however, the Zulu was a bit harder to maneuver while climbing at slower speeds. Compared to bikes with a less slack head-tube angle (like the woom OFF AIR) navigating through narrower sections or extended rock gardens of the uphill portions of the trail took more effort and concentration.
While this certainly doesn’t make the Zulu a “bad” climber by any means, it is something to consider if long extended climbs will be commonplace. For our 10-year-old tester, we found the woom OFF AIR to be better for him whenever a lot of climbing was on the schedule (500+ feet elevation gain) and/or if the uphill was chunky. If the climbing trail is on double-track, smoothly groomed single-track, or even mildly techy green trails the Prevelo did just fine for him.
Zulu Four vs. Fezzari Lone Peak vs. woom OFF AIR
While all three 24″ mountain bikes are designed for young groms the same size, their build and components do result in better performance in different riding conditions. Looking at numbers alone, the Prevelos and Fezzari lean more towards “all-mountain” bikes, while the woom is more of a XC bike. Bikes, however, are more than about numbers, which is why we performed several side-by-side tests with various riders.
|Prevelo Zulu||Zulu HEIR||Fezzari||woom OFF AIR 5|
|Weight||25.39 lb.||23.24 lb.||30.6 lb.*||22.3 lb.|
|Head Tube Angle||66||66||67||69|
|Seat Tube Angle||74||74||73||70|
While not stated in this chart, all three bikes have high-quality air-suspension forks and hydraulic disc brakes, so we won’t be highlighting those differences as we saw no significant differences. For a more in-depth comparison, a more comprehensive comparison chart of these bikes can be found at the end of this review.
Zulu vs. Fezzari Lone Peak
The Lone Peak’s 67-degree head tube angle is a bit less slack than the Prevelo, but it also easily chewed through rough terrain. Like the Prevelo, the Lone Peak certainly helped our riders build confidence in tackling larger obstacles on the way down.
However, the extra 5 pounds of the Lone Peak (as compared to the Zulu), did seem to factor into the overall maneuverability of the bike. With more bike to handle, everything from trail riding to practicing manuals was noticeably more tiring on the Lone Peak.
Those extra pounds were really evident on the uphill. Even though the Fezzari has 12 gears versus the Zulu’s 10, both bikes are geared very similarly.
They both have a 30t chainring, but the Lone Peak has an 11-50t cassette versus the Zulu’s 11-48t. (The Zulu HEIR is a 12-speed with an 11-50t cassette). Based on our tests, the slightly smaller low gear of the Fezzari wasn’t enough to compensate for climbing with 5 additional pounds of weight.
The slack 67-degree head tube angle was also noticeable during climbs. When climbing up single-track, our 10-year-old tester constantly seemed to veer off trail while on the Lone Peak. This wasn’t because the steering was twitchy, but rather the opposite. The slower and “heavier” steering (partially due to the slack head angle) made it hard for him to quickly maneuver the Lone Peak at slow speeds through rocky sections of the trail.
Zulu Four vs. woom OFF AIR 5
The Zulu Four and the woom OFF AIR 5 are both phenomenal mountain bikes that excel in different terrain. The Prevelo crushes it on the downhill and is a better bike for downhill focused and/or aggressive riders willing to work a bit more to get to the top.
The woom OFF AIR is best for riders who need a slightly more efficient bike for longer rides or for powering up significant elevation gains. We found the OFF to be a better climber for two main reasons – it’s lighter and has a steeper head tube angle.
The woom OFF AIR 5 comes in at 22.3 lb., which is three pounds lighter than the Zulu’s 25.39 lb. (the HEIR is 23.24 lb.). While seemingly not a significant jump in weight, for our lightest 60 lb. 7-year-old tester, 3 pounds is 5% of her body weight. As a comparison, that’s the same as a 160 lb. adult adding 8 pounds to their bike.
While an adult may not notice the added weight as much on the downhill, they will certainly notice it on the uphill! Kids also don’t notice the weight as much on the downhill, so when getting playful at bike parks or when long climbs can be avoided via a tow rope or shuttling, the downhill stability of the Prevelo is worth the added weight.
The woom OFF AIR has a 69-degree head tube angle versus Prevelo’s 66. The steeper head tube angle of the woom OFF allows kids to keep more weight on the front tire while climbing. More weight on the front tire allows for greater traction, which results in more “bite” with less slipping (more about head tube angles below).
Digging a little deeper, it is worth noting that the Prevelo has a wider gear range than the woom as well as a lower “granny gear”. The lowest gain ratio on the woom is 1.9 while the Prevelo’s is 1.36 (or 1.31 on the HEIR). Even with this difference, we found the weight savings of the woom to be more beneficial on climbs, especially for lightweight kids.
Which bike would we choose for our riders?
If we had to pick one bike for each of our three different test riders, we would choose the Prevelo for our 11-year-old, more aggressive rider (as long as he wasn’t doing really long XC rides). The woom OFF AIR is a more appropriate bike for our petite, more timid, (yet experienced) 10-year-old tester.
For our more aggressive 7-year-old tester, it all depends on how much climbing she plans on doing. The more climbing their family plans on riding (500+ elevation gains), the more likely we would choose the woom. If they plan on sticking to trails with more rolling hills or hitting up skills parks, then we would go with the Prevelo.
Prevelo Zulu Four Components and Frame Geometry
Air Suspension Fork
When you have kids in the saddle, they are applying significantly less weight to an air fork as compared to an adult on an adult bike. As a result, engineering a quality suspension fork that fully compresses and rebounds under the weight of a sub-100 lb. individual isn’t quite cold fusion, but close.
Several high-quality air-suspension forks have hit the market over the past couple of years, but essentially all of them (including the forks on the Prevelo, woom, and Fezzari) don’t offer the same cushioning abilities available on adult bikes. This isn’t to say that the Spinner fork on the Zulu is bad – it’s not. It works and is on par with the other forks found on similarly-priced 24″ mountain bikes.
That being said, after testing out the suspension forks on all three of these bikes, we found it impossible to set the sag to 25% and still get full extension on any of the air forks. When the PSI was lowered to get the 25% or even 15% sag on all of the forks, there wasn’t enough pressure in the chambers to allow the fork to fully extend.
On the Zulu Spinner 300 fork, we were only able to get 65mm of travel when set to 25% sag (set to a 68 lb. kid). Even when set to 25%, our test rider still couldn’t bottom out the fork.
Even after trying countless bunny hops and drops at the bike park, he could never exert enough force on the fork to even come close to bottoming it out. When we tried to lower the PSI even more, the fork became unusable as it wouldn’t extend at all.
On the flip side, in order to get the full 100 mm extension on the fork, we had to raise the PSI so high that the travel became more limited as even more pressure was required to compress the fork. So much so that our testers got even less travel out of the fork.
To reiterate, this was an issue on all three bikes. As a result, although the Prevelo Zulu has a 100mm fork as compared to the woom and Fezzari’s 80mm fork, this shouldn’t be a determining factor in your decision. In some cases, the 80mm forks actually provided more travel than the 100mm fork. In the end, our testers couldn’t tell the difference between any of the forks and all three forks actually provided up to 35% less than their stated travel.
While we did not test out the fork on the Zulu HEIR, Prevelo has assured us that the HIER fork is worth the added expense and responds more favorably under lower PSIs than the Spinner 300 on the standard Zulu.
This, of course, shouldn’t persuade you from purchasing a bike with an air fork. If your child is riding rugged single track or hitting up the bike park, the pros of a high-quality air suspension fork far outweighs the cons.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
As a bike built for downhill adventures, Prevelo equipped the Zulu with hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors on the front and rear. While our testers found the Tektro hydraulic brakes on the Fezzari to be slightly more responsive, the Radius provided plenty of stopping power.
The brake lever mount on the Prevelo is hinged to allow you to easily adjust the position of the lever on the handlebars to how your child brakes. Out of the box, the brake lever is set up for multiple-finger braking (3 or 4 fingers on the lever).
For more advanced single-finger braking, the hinged brake mount can be moved and repositioned inbound (towards the center of the bike) without having to remove the shifter or the grip.
Slack Head Tube Angle (HTA)
The head tube angle of a bike is the angle at which the fork touches the ground (if it extended that far). A more “slack” headtube angle pushes the front tire forward, further away from the rider. A less slack head tube angle moves the front tire closer to the rider and more “under” the bike.
The Zulu features a slack 66-degree head tube angle which positions the front wheel much more forward on the bike and also increasing the wheelbase. The forward position of the wheel keeps the bike much more stable and planted on the downhill and helps it to roll over larger rocks and roots with greater ease.
On the flip side, when headed uphill, the slack HTA isn’t as efficient as it allows less of the rider’s weight to be placed over the front tire. With less weight on the tire, the front wheel is more likely to slip as it can’t get as much traction.
This can particularly be an issue with young riders who already have minimal weight to shift around. Because most young riders lack the extended physical and mental stamina of an adult, the less they have to “work” the bike, the more effort they can put into climbing.
The Zulu is pretty slack compared to the bikes we already mentioned. The Fezzari Lone Peak has a 66 HTA, while the woom OFF AIR has a 69 HTA. The only other 24″ kids mountain bike we found with a 66 HTA (or less) is the full suspension Trailcraft Maxwell 24 (66 HTA) and the Commencal Clash with a 64.5 HTA.
Seat Tube Angle
The seat tube angle (for you purists, we are talking about the effective seat tube angle) is the angle at which an imaginary line that starts on the saddle and runs through the bottom bracket makes contact with the ground. A steeper seat tube angle will position the rider more “on top” of the pedals, while a slacker seat tube angle will position them closer to the rear tire.
The Zulu has a steeper 74-degree seat tube angle, which helps to center the rider on the bike. This central position helps riders to be able to lean into a climb to help keep weight on the front tire. As a result, the steep seat tube angle helps to counteract some of the negative effects of slack head tube angles when climbing.
To throw a wrench in the review, the woom OFF AIR actually has a slacker 70-seat tube angle, which by itself is not beneficial for climbs.
The slacker seat tube angle of the woom is partially there to allow for more room in the cockpit as the rider grows (which is not an issue for adult bikes). As a child gets taller and raises the seat post, the slack seat tube angle allows the saddle to also move further back on the bike in order to provide more space in the cockpit for the rider to lean into the bike.
In the end, these differences are pretty minor. As shown below, there are only minor differences in the rider’s position on the woom vs. the Prevelo.
The Zulu comes equipped with a Microshift Advent X trigger shifter and derailleur. As a double-push trigger, our testers had no concerns reaching both buttons with their thumb. The corresponding Microshift Advent X derailleur easily navigated through the 10-speed 11-48t teeth in the cassette.
One concern we did have with the Microshift Advent derailleur is that it hangs pretty low to the ground. When in its mid-range gear (when the arm of the derailleur is hanging straight down), it comes pretty darn close to the ground, making it more susceptible to getting banged around on a chunky trail. The SRAM derailleur on the woom doesn’t hang down as far, but it also doesn’t have to navigate as large of a cassette. The Fezzari’s derailleur hung down just as low as the Prevelo’s.
To help provide a wider base for standing on the downhill, the Zulu has slightly longer 140mm crank arms as compared to the woom OFF AIR’s 130mm. The longer crank arms allow the pedals to be farther apart when oriented parallel on the bike, which provides a wider standing base.
Rims and Tires
Both Zulu Four models come with tubeless-ready VEE Crown Gem 2.25″ and tubeless-ready rims. The Zulu has WTM rims while the HEIR has upgraded Stan’s Crest rims to help bring down the weight. The tubeless setup comes standard on the Zulu, while it is an upgrade on the Fezzari. The woom OFF does not come tubeless ready and it is not available as an upgrade.
Tire-wise, the Fezzari has 2.6″ wide tires which contributes slightly to its weight. The woom OFF AIR, however, has slightly wider tires than the Prevelo at 2.35″, but not enough to be noticeable.
Prevelo HEIR Footport Pedals
While the Prevelo Zulu ships with sturdy plastic pedals, Prevelo offers their custom metal pedals with rounded pins as an upgrade for $95. The rounded pins allow for plenty of grip without the risk of injured shins from standard pins.
Both models of the Zulu are dropper post compatible with routing ports integrated into the frame. Prevelo currently offers a Kind Shock hydraulic air-sprung dropper with 75mm of travel for $190. When purchased at check-out, Prevelo will install the dropper prior to shipping for no additional charge.
How does the dropper post affect the seat height of the Zulu?
Because kids are constantly getting taller, properly fitting a dropper post on a kids’ bike can be a bit tricky. Due to the shorter seat tube on kids’ bikes, finding a dropper post that does not significantly increase the minimum seat height can be a challenge.
The Kind Shock hydraulic that Prevelo offers raises the minimum seat height 1″ and extends 75mm or about 3″. As a result, only those kids who ride with the seat height set to at least 30″ (about 4″ taller than the minimum seat height) will be able to use a dropper on the Prevelo Zulu Four. If you are interested in an after-market dropper, the Zulu is compatible with 31.6 mm droppers.
Prevelo Zulu Comparisons Chart
|Prevelo Zulu||Zulu HEIR||woom OFF AIR 5||Fezzari Lone Peak 24|
|Seat Height||26.25″ – 32″||26.25″ – 32″||28″ – 34″||26″ – 32″**|
|Weight||25.4 lb.||23.3 lb.||22.3 lb.||30.6 lb.***|
|Gain Ratio||1.36 – 5.93||1.30 – 5.93||1.9 – 5.97||1.14 – 5.19|
|Drivetrain||Microshift Advent X||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM X5||SRAM SX|
|Air Fork||Spinner 300, 100mm||HEIR 24, 100mm||RST, 80 mm||SR Suntour XCR-Air, 80mm|
|Brakes||Radius, 160mm rotors||Radius, 160mm rotors||Promax, 140mm rotors||Tektro Hydro, 160mm rotors|
|Head Tube Angle||66||66||69||67|
|Seat Tube Angle||74||74||70||73|
Prevelo Zulu Four Bottom Line
From bombing down more advanced single-track to getting playful at your local bike park, the Prevelo Zulu Four is the perfect noble steed for your little grom. With confidence-building geometry, the Zulu will quickly progress your young rider from hesitating on obstacles to charging through them. For those young riders who are all about the downhill, yet need a low granny gear to help power up the uphills, the Zulu is the perfect 24″ mountain bike for the job.