Lightweight with trigger shifters, hydraulic disc brakes, and a low cage derailleur, the Zulu Four is a perfectly packaged bike for young mountain bikers ready for adventure.
Seat Height: 26" - 32.6"
Weight: 25.7 lb.
Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
Tire Size: 24"
Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Speed/Shifters: 10 sp/Trigger
Chain Ring: 32t
Geared Bike Type: Exp. Cross Country
Gain Ratio: 2.0 - 6.3
Q Factor: 5.1"
Wheelbase: 939 mm
Available Online: Yes
Kelly from Haven Outdoors authored this review for Two Wheeling Tots. Kelly is an avid mountain biker and a father of four and certainly knows his way around bikes and kids.
For the past 25 years or so I’ve been pretty stoked about mountain biking. Over those 25 years I’ve seen a lot of changes and improvements to the bikes that we ride. Now I have kids of my own that are getting out on the trails with me. While I don’t think they need a $6,000 carbon bike to be able to ride and learn on, I also don’t think they should have to suffer trying to ride a department store bike either.
My 8 year old has been riding the Prevelo Zulu Four over the past few weeks and I think Prevelo has hit the sweet spot with this bike. They’ve really packed a lot of value into this 24” wheeled rig (also available in a 20″). While $899 isn’t really pocket change for most of us, it’s also not highway robbery either. Especially when most adults are paying double to 8 times that much on their personal bikes. And if you really think about it, your child who is just beginning should be on a nicer bike than you anyway. You have already developed a skill set that can overcome weaknesses of a less that perfect bicycle. Just sayin’.
Frame & Geometry
Let’s start out with the frame and geometry. Reach is long to allow your grom plenty of room to move around when standing on the bike. This also gives them room to grow so they can get a good 2-3 years out of it. The longer wheelbase and low bottom bracket is extremely confidence inspiring. On one of our rides my kid said, “Dad! I can’t believe how fast I am going, but it doesn’t feel like I’m out of control!” He continues to get faster and faster each time we go out.
Another factor that helps out in the control department is the well-put-together cockpit. The bars are wide enough at 580 mm to allow your kid to get into a correct riding position with their elbows out and give them more stability and steering control. The 60 mm stem is a good length to provide quick steering feedback without getting twitchy. If your kid is on the smaller end of the spectrum, when purchasing this bike you could look at getting a shorter stem of around 30-40 mm and throw the 60 mm stem back on when they get a bit taller.
The chainstays measure at a short 391 mm, allowing for the bike to feel playful and inspire kids to be able to pop off of small jumps or obstacles in the trail. It makes for getting the front wheel off the ground much easier as well when dropping off square edge drops or roots and getting over rocks and other things in the trail. My son has even been able to start learning manuals on this bike. With a 68.5 degree head angle your kid will be able to have fun on flatter trails but also not feel like they’re going to flip over the bars when things get steeper. My son was able to ride a few steep lines that he never did before largely due to the geometry of this frame.
This bike is pretty light. With pedals, the Prevelo Zulu Four weighs in at 25.7 lbs. A lot of department store bikes weigh over 40 lbs. Can you imagine trying to ride a bike that weighs almost as much as you do? Good luck making it up any sustained climbs.
Thank the fine people at Prevelo for specing this bike out with parts that work too! They provided a real air fork that you can adjust with the same pump mom and dad use for their forks. Kids come in all sizes and shapes, which means they also vary in weight. Having a fork that works for a 100 lb. kid won’t even move for a kid that weighs 40 lbs. Being able to adjust this makes the difference in having suspension that works vs a rigid fork that just looks like you have suspension. The Suntour XCR 24 fork also has a lockout for when you find the need to stop squishing over things for a moment.
Then there’s the brakes. For kids to be confident going fast on their bikes, they need to be able to stop. Prevelo kitted the Zulu out with legit hydraulic brakes that stop on a dime and even have enough modulation to them to not send your youngster over the bars or straight into a skid when they start slowing down. 160 mm rotors provide plenty of surface area to slow things down quickly. Also important to note about these brakes is the short reach. Kids have small hands and they need to be able to reach the brake levers without taking their hands off the grips. My son is able to keep his hands on the grips while using only 1-2 fingers to easily pull the levers in with. Have you ever watched a kid riding a bike with brake levers that are 3 inches away from the grips? Now imagine that kid trying to ride a bumpy trail at speed with that same bike.
The next thing I would note is the smooth-shifting one by ten drivetrain. The Shimano SLX rapid fire shifters work great. The Shimano ZEE rear derailleur has a clutch to keep the chain tension over bumpy terrain and through shifts. It also has a short cage to provide plenty of clearance. The rear cassette has a range of 11-34t giving plenty of range, while the front sprocket is a 32t narrow wide with an allow chain guard. For a lot of the trails we ride, this set up has worked fine. However, riding some of the steeper trails in the Wasatch Mountains here in Utah, I would probably get a 28t ring up front or get a bit larger cog on the rear cassette. A bigger range rear cassette though would mean putting a longer derailleur cage on, and it would have more risk of getting hung up on trail debris.
Cranks, Tires & Pedals
The crankset was well thought out with a 140 mm crank length. Prevelo kept the Q-factor narrow as well for the smaller riders in mind.
Tires are great! The Kenda Small Block Eight Pro 24 x 2.1 provide confidence and grip through a variety of conditions. We haven’t experienced any punctures as of yet either. The saddle is comfortable and sized just right. We didn’t bother trying to use the provided pedals and just threw on my kid’s pair of Race Face Chester pedals that can be purchased for 40 bucks. This was really the only thing on the entire bike that wasn’t trail worthy. But to Prevelo’s credit, at least they included pedals. Once you become an adult you don’t get pedals with your bike. I guess it’s all part of growing up.
If you are looking for a quality bike that your kids can have a blast on, I would highly suggest checking out the Prevelo Zulu Four. You might just gain a life long riding partner.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: July 17, 2017
FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. Prevelo Bikes provided products to Two Wheeling Tots LLC to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is an affiliate of Prevelo Bikes and all included links to Prevelo are affiliate links.