Prevelo Zulu Three 20″

Pedal Bike Review

The Prevelo Zulu Three 20" Kid's Mountain Bike is a top-notch, trail-worthy bike that will get your kids addicted to biking!

View on Prevelo’s website

Product Specifications

MSRP: $899

Recommendation: Exceptional

Seat Height: 22.8" - 28.0"

Weight: 23.4 lb.

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Tire Size: 20" - geared

Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Speed/Shifters: Trigger

Suspension: Front

Handlebar: Low

Cassette: 11 - 34t

Chain Ring: 32t

Geared Bike Type: Exp. Cross Country

Gain Ratio: 1.99 - 6.12

Wheelbase: 827 mm

Available Online: Yes

Review

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.

Overview

There’s a saying that goes, “If you get your kids addicted to bikes they won’t have enough money for drugs when they are older.” If you want to help feed their addiction, you better start them off with a good bike. I’d say the Prevelo Zulu Three is the gateway drug of mountain bikes. Put your little one on this bike and watch for that look on their face. You know, the one that says, “Mom! Dad! Watch this!” The look of pure joy, happiness, stoke, excitement, and wonder.

It’s that same look that kids have on Christmas morning when they walk out to the living room and see that Santa has been to their house. It’s magical. That’s the look my 6-year-old had when he threw his leg over the Zulu Three and started pedaling around the neighborhood. It was the first time he had ridden a bike with a suspension fork and gears. He finally felt like one of his older brothers and dad!

Six-Year-Old on Prevelo Zulu Three

Three shots of a six-year-old riding trails on the Prevelo Zulu Three 20" mountain bike.

Size and Performance

The main thing I was a bit worried about was having my son go from his 16″ Commencal Ramones bike up to the bigger 20″ Zulu Three. Although he’s almost too big for the 16-inch bike, he’s comfortable with it and knows how to ride it pretty well. He’s been riding dirt trails and pump tracks and gets around great on it.

His older brother has a 20″ Commencal Ramones that is fully rigid with no gears that he’s tried a couple times and it still seems to sit a bit high for him and he’s a bit wary about riding it. Cornering is a bit awkward and he doesn’t have the confidence to pick up much speed on it.

As soon as he hopped on the Zulu Three, my son was pedaling around with confidence. He was riding it like he was still on his 16″ bike. With a seat height range of 22.8″ to 28″,  it was a perfect fit for his 20″ inseam (he’s 48″ tall and in size 6 clothes). He was going fast and turning looked effortless. Within a couple minutes he was jumping off the curb and trying to “pop a wheelie.”

I attributed the confidence and that at-home-feeling he had to the low stand over and bottom bracket of the Zulu Three. It really helps kids feel like they are “in” the bike vs. riding on top of the bike. Think of it like having to sit up on a chair while floating downstream in a kayak or even just sitting on top of the kayak, versus actually sitting down inside of it. When your legs and hips are down inside the kayak and only your upper body is up above it you are more stable, have more control, and you are a lot more confident. Especially when the water gets rough. It’s the same story with bikes.  In fact, for this very reason Prevelo’s mountain-specific Zulu line is specifically built with a lower center-of-gravity than their everyday and light trail riding Alpha line.

Prevelo’s Zulu Three Best for Ages 6 to 8

Three shots of a 6-year-old riding dirt trails on the Prevelo Zulu Three 20" kid's mountain bike.

Geometry

Not only is the Zulu Three low, but the other angles and measurements are spot on as well. There is plenty of reach to allow room to move around and control the bike while standing and gives your child room to grow as well.

Handlebars: The bars are nice and wide at 560 mm to give kids good steering control and to be able to stay in a good stable riding position.

Chain Stay: Short chain stay measures at 342 mm. This keeps the bike snappy and playful when sending off jumps or small root drops and allows the front end to get up and over obstacles easily.

Head Angle: Head angle is trail ready at 68 degrees. It’s 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.

Wheelbase: Wheelbase is measured at a nice long 827 mm to give plenty of stability at speed and when things get rough.

To sum it all up, good geometry = confidence and fun!

Zulu’s Stable, Low Center-of-Gravity Geometry

Side shot of the Prevelo Zulu Three Kid's Mountain Bike without a rider and then with a rider, showing overall low center-of-gravity design.

Suspension

We picked up the bike ready to take to the trails. The only thing I had to do was set the seat height which was easy thanks to the quick release, and set the pressure up on the fork. Having that air fork is so nice for kids. The cheaper coil forks only work if your child is right at the perfect weight for the coil, and even then they don’t work that great. I explained this in the review on the Zulu Four but I will mention it here again.

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. Having the ability to adjust for weight makes the difference in having suspension that works vs. a rigid fork that just looks like you have suspension. The Suntour Spinner 300 Air Fork also has a lockout for when you find the need to stop squishing over things for a moment.

Prevelo Zulu Suntour Spinner 300 Air Fork

Three image collage showing off suspension system of Prevelo Zulu Four. 1) Air fork suspension system, 2) suspension weight adjustment knob, 3) 6-year-old rider tearing it up on the trails

Weight

Weight is a big issue with kids’ bikes as well. With pedals, the Zulu Three weighs just 23.4 lbs. A bike from the local department store can weigh 40 lbs. or more. Yes, this is a big deal. Imagine pedaling a bike that weighs as much as you do uphill for a few miles. Sound fun to you? Yah me neither.

Brakes

If you’re gonna go fast you also need to be able to stop. Just like the Zulu Four, the Three comes with a great set of hydraulic brakes with tons of stopping power and good modulation too. 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.

Zulu’s Promax Hydraulic Brakes with 160mm Rotor (front and back)

Prevelo Zulu Three's Promax Hydraulic Brakes with 160mm Rotor (front and back)

Shifting

The shifting on the Zulu Three is super smooth and crisp. The Shimano SLX rapid fire shifter is awesome! The Shimano ZEE Shadow RD+ rear derailleur has a clutch to keep the chain tension over bumpy terrain and through shifts. The cassette has a range of 11-34t giving plenty of range, while the chain ring is a 32t narrow-wide with an alloy ring guard. I have yet to see a dropped chain even through the bumpy stuff. My son has been able to conquer most climbs and keep plenty of speed on the downhills.

Shimano Rapidfire Trigger Shifters and ZEE Derailleur

Shimano Rapidfire Trigger Shifters and ZEE Derailleur on the Prevelo Zulu Three Kid's Mountain bike

Tires and Saddle

Kenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 × 2.1 tires provide plenty of grip in loose and hardpacked dirt.  I was also impressed with the Prevelo padded, child-sized saddle.

Zulu Three’s Performance Tires and Saddle

Close up shot of Kenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 × 2.1 tires on the Prevelo Zulu Three and padded saddle

Prevelo Zulu Three 20″ vs. Zulu Four 24″

The Zulu Three is the little brother to the Zulu Four, which is the 24″ version. Just because the Three is the smaller of the two bikes doesn’t mean it’s any less of a bike though. You still get the same lightweight aluminum frame, real air fork with lockout, hydraulic disc brakes with kid specific levers, Shimano ZEE 10-speed drivetrain, and SLX RAPIDFIRE Plus shift lever. You still get an 11-34T cassette too, giving your little rider a fighting chance at getting up and down the trails.

The Zulu Three is very similar to the Four. They mainly differ in just size.  The Three has a seat height range of 22.8″ to 28″ while the Zulu Four has a range of 26″ to 32.6″. Feel free to read over the review on the Zulu Four as well.

6-year-old on the Prevelo Zulu Three and 8-year-old on the Prevelo Zulu Four stopped on a mountain bike trail.

Bottom Line

My son loves riding the Prevelo Zulu Three! He’s trying new things and is trying trails that he would have been too scared to do before and is having an absolute blast!  If you want to get your kids hooked on bikes, the Prevelo Three would be a great way to get them into it. This is a trail-worthy bike that allows you to take your little one mountain biking with you – without worrying about him having a good enough bike. As long as your little one has the confidence and skills to ride it, there really isn’t anywhere they couldn’t go on the little Zulu Three.

MSRP: $899

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: August 29, 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.