Got yourself a baby shredder? Then they likely need the Prevelo Zulu Two! With modern MTB geometry, wide grippy tires, wide handlebars, and front and rear hydraulic disc brakes, the Zulu will make all your MTB parent dreams come true. And of course your kid’s dreams too!
Like all of Prevelo’s bikes, the Zulu Two boasts high-end components paired with exceptionally kid-friendly design. If your goal is to develop your child’s MTB skills on legitimate trails, there’s not a better companion than this rad little pony. Is it right for your little grom? Probably, but read our review below just to make sure. 🙂
Prevelo Zulu Two Overview
BEST FOR: Confident pedal bike riders who are ready to begin tackling beginning and intermediate mountain bike trails
SEAT HEIGHT: 18″ – 25.25″
WEIGHT: 17.15 lb. (rigid), 17.95 lb. (with optional airfork)
BRAKES: Tektro front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
- Kid-friendly, modern MTB geometry
- Lightweight for a mountain bike
- Wide, grippy tires
- Hydraulic disc brakes for maximum stopping power
- Wider handlebars for better steering control
- Optional air fork
- Exceptional design and quality
- Heavier than a neighborhood bike
- Hydraulic disc brakes can be too much stopping power in some scenarios
Prevelo Zulu Two Video Review
Want to see what kid shredders are capable of with the Prevelo Zulu Two? You can watch this little bike in action in our video review right here!
Prevelo Zulu Two Review – Results of our Test Rides
We know better than anyone that the right bike can make all the difference in a child’s ability to grow as a rider. As our Baby Bike Tester has become more confident, more aggressive, and more likely to prefer dirt over paved trails, we were super stoked to get her on her first “true” mountain bike. Our primary tester is 3.5 years old, 42″ tall, and has 10 months of pedal bike experience under her belt at the time of testing.
Performance – Do You Need a 16″ Mountain Bike?
We spent 6 weeks this summer giving this true mountain bike a true test in one of the best locations for mountain biking in the world – Park City, Utah! From the trails and jump lines of Trailside Bike Park to every pump track and bike skills park we could find along the Wasatch front, our 3-year-old ripper dominated the dirt. The Prevelo Zulu Two was the perfect tool to light her summer on fire!
But how much does a 3 or 4-year-old need a real mountain bike? The answer to this question is really dependent on where (and how aggressively) you will be riding.
Prevelo also offers the equally amazing Alpha Two bike, which could be classified as a multi-use bike for aggressive kids. Our little nugget has rocked the skatepark, paved pump tracks, and basic dirt trails on her beloved “purple bike”.
Prevelo Zulu Two vs. Alpha Two
So why did we opt to ride with the Prevelo Zulu Two mountain bike in Utah this summer? What difference did it make?
(1) Tires: With lots of loose “moon dust” dirt on the dry trails, the wider, grippy tires provided much needed traction to prevent skidding out on trails that were anything but packed dirt.
The wider tires also provided more cushioning than narrower tires when we encountered rock obstacles on the trails.
(2) Hydraulic Disc Brakes: We usually ride in Fort Worth and Bentonville, where cross-country riding is the norm and downhill can easily be avoided. But in Utah, downhill is the norm and must be embraced with open arms. The quick stopping power of the Zulu’s hydraulic disc brakes put my mama heart at ease as this kid adventured down her first downhill trails.
To be fair, for 99% of riders, we don’t think a 16 inch mountain bike needs hydraulic disc brakes. And there are potential drawbacks, which we discuss in more detail below.
(3) Modern Geometry: With a longer wheelbase, slacker head tube, and steeper seat tube, the Zulu is designed to keep your child’s weight centered in the bike and offer increased stability on the trail. (More details on this below.)
While this modern mountain bike geometry can only help developing shredders, realistically the everyday riding geometry of the Alpha Two would be just fine on most terrain a child this age has the ability to tackle. That said, if you’re into mountain biking yourself, all this talk about angles certainly increases your own stoke to get your kid on this bike!
The Innova MTB 2.1″ wide tires are significantly beefier than the Alpha Two’s 1.5″ wide tires. While the primary benefit that we experienced was with added traction on loose dirt, extra cushioning was an important secondary benefit as our little rider became more aggressive.
Attempting her first mini drops and jump ramps, softened landings were certainly welcome. And on slightly more technical rides where a tow rope came into play and rocks littered the path, those wider tires made the bumpy sections more manageable.
With a PSI range of 35 – 65, you certainly have wiggle room to lower the psi for additional cushioning.
Air Fork – Do You Need It?
Since we’re on the topic of cushioning, you may be wondering about a front suspension fork. The Prevelo Zulu does have an optional 60mm travel air fork that comes standard with the Prevelo Zulu Heir model.
For $799, the hardtail Zulu Heir may fulfill all your MTB parent dreams and may be helpful for the truly advanced grom that is already rocking downhill and technical terrain. For our 3-year-old, and for most 3 and 4-year-old MTBers, you probably don’t need to feel guilty about not springing for an $800 mountain bike.
Front and Rear Hydraulic Disc Brakes (No Coaster Brake!)
Prevelo’s Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are one of the features that transform this little bike into a tiny little shredding machine. High-end adult mountain bikes have hydraulic disc brakes, so you might be hoping your mini ripper can have the same!
In our experience, high-quality V-brakes would do the job for a kid who weighs under 50 pounds and isn’t speeding downhill over 20 mph in the rain. But we still love the authentic feel of hydraulic disc brakes on our kid’s first mountain bike. Sure, you’re paying more for them, but realistically this bike is about your kid and also about you. 🙂
As other high-end touches, the brake levers are easy to reach and engage, and the brake cable is internally routed in the bike’s frame.
Make Sure Your Child Understands More Braking Power
As a note of caution – these hydraulic disc brakes are likely much more powerful than any bike brakes your child has experienced before. We highly recommend helping your child understand their stopping power before you let them loose to rip on the trails.
Because 3, 4, and 5 year olds who will be riding this bike are still often confused between left and right, there is added potential for them to engage just the front brake at high speeds or on the downhill. Our little nugget did endo on one occasion, but it was at slow enough speeds that she wasn’t injured.
When using a tow rope, you will want to be cognizant of the strength of the Zulu Two’s brakes. While we use a tow rope frequently and couldn’t live our bike life without it, we did have one crash during our 6 week testing period. Our little tester panicked upon reaching a mild rock garden and braked full force. Her stop was so complete and so sudden that I had no time to react and actually fell over.
In the end, make sure to take the time to help your child understand the Zulu’s incredible braking power, and if you’re towing them, keep that strength in mind yourself! Also don’t feel like your child needs hydraulic disc brakes at this age.
If you want them (we totally feel you!), the Zulu’s got them! But if you’re looking for a slightly more economical option, the Alpha Two has great quality Tektro V-brakes that may be better for some kids.
Braking Advice From Prevelo
We reached out to Prevelo to ask if they had any tips to share for young riders who may need a bit of guidance with the power of hydraulic disc brakes. They offered three great suggestions! The effectiveness of these tips will depend in part on your child’s developmental stage. The following tips are directly quoted from Prevelo.
1. Move the brake levers towards the center of the bar. This will encourage the rider to brake with one or two fingers, which can cut down on jabby brake habits.
2. One habit that will cut down on the risk of a downhill endo is to teach the rider to keep their body weight back on the bike while going downhill. This will reduce the risk of an endo and improve the overall bicycle handling and safety while going downhill.
3. Don’t use [a tow rope] on any terrain that could spook a child. It’s better for children to get comfortable with spooky obstacles in situations that don’t require a [tow rope]. The [tow rope] attaches high on the front of the bike. Because of this, if the front wheel stops, or catches an obstacle, it can rotate the bike up and forward.
Modern MTB Geometry
Modern mountain bike geometry isn’t just for Mom and Dad. As a brand focused ONLY ON KIDS, Prevelo designs its mountain bikes with as much precision as Santa Cruz or Specialized does for the adults.
A longer wheelbase, slacker head tube, and steeper seat tube come together to make the Zulu Two an actual mini mountain bike. Not just by calling it a mountain bike. Not just by adding brand name components and calling it good.
But also by frame geometry and design and perfecting how it will affect the body position of your little grom – for everything from pedaling efficiency and proper shifting of weight, to maximum stability and control on the uphill, the downhill, and everything in between.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Prevelo’s Zulu mountain bike to the geometry of the Prevelo Alpha multi-use bike.
If you’re interested in why “modern” MTB geometry matters, Worldwide Cyclery does a great job of explaining it simply.
The Zulu’s handlebars are also about 1.5″ wider than the Alpha’s, adding to its suitability for trail riding.
At 17.15 pounds, the Prevelo Zulu Two is a little over 2 pounds heavier than the Alpha Two. While this is impressively lightweight for a mountain bike, 2 pounds can make a big difference for a small child. If you’re trying to decide between the Zulu and the Alpha, this should probably be your main point of focus.
For our Baby Bike Tester who weighs 42 pounds, the Zulu is 41% of her body weight, while the Alpha is 35% of her body weight. As a sturdy and aggressive rider, she can handle the extra weight just fine. But watching her ride the Zulu on pumptracks with consistent ups and downs, she was noticeably less nimble on the inclines than she is on her lighter-weight Alpha. The weight did weigh her down a bit.
That said, it’s a trade-off. You’re not going to find a 16″ mountain bike with these same exceptional features and design that weighs less. If you want the wider tires, hydraulic disc brakes, and modern geometry, then you just have to deal with a few extra pounds over the Alpha.
But if your child is mainly going to stick to the neighborhood, packed dirt trails, or paved pump tracks, the lightweight Alpha would likely be a better choice.
Gearing – Single Speed
If you’re a mountain biker yourself, you’ll know how imperative shifting is for the constant elevation changes involved in singletrack. So 16″ mountain bikes pose a unique problem because they are all single speed!
At this age, a child simply doesn’t have the developmental capacity to ride a bike and make shifting choices. (Of course there may be exceptional kids out there, but we’ve speaking to the average kid.) Our 3.5 year old is still trying to master the difference between her front and rear brake.
Prevelo chose a mid-range gain ratio of 3.8 for the Zulu Two’s single gear. For this age, a 3.8 gain ratio is pretty ideal. (It’s the same gain ratio as the Alpha Two.) Easy enough to get started, but geared high enough that a child won’t be spinning their wheels and getting nowhere.
Two words of advice: TOW ROPE. If you will be doing any sort of climbing (even mild grade!), we highly recommend investing $40 in a tow rope. We promise that it will completely change your family bike life, especially with a young rider, especially with a single speed bike.
Sizing – Who is the Prevelo Zulu Two Best For?
With a minimum seat height of 18″, the Prevelo Zulu Two is a best buy for experienced pedal bike riders with an inseam of 16 – 17″, allowing for maximum time for growth.
Our 42″ tall 3.5 year old has an 18″ inseam and is riding with the seat height set to 20 1/8″ inches.
Other High-End Features of the Prevelo Zulu Two
Everything about the Prevelo Zulu Two is impressively designed for the littlest shredders and their shredder parents. As mountain bike parents ourselves, we couldn’t get enough of watching our youngest on this perfect and tiny bike.
While we’ve already covered the most important features of the Zulu Two, here are a few additional high-end features that we wanted to mention. When you’re paying almost $500 for a kids bike, every feature counts!
Railed Saddle: The Zulu’s saddle is comfortably padded, and narrow to fit under a child’s small frame. For minor reach adjustments, you can move the saddle forward or backwards on its rails.
Axle Bolts: Front and rear axle bolts are recessed into the frame so they won’t get scratched when your child inevitably throws their bike on the ground. Why does this matter? Exposed and protruding bolts can scratch kids legs.
Three-Piece Cranks: Most kids bikes have 2-piece crank sets. The Prevelo Zulu (and Alpha) Two Prevelo have 3-piece cranksets. These are stronger, lighter, and offer more adjustability (as well as the ability to repair if needed) than 2-piece cranksets.
Bottom Line on the Prevelo Zulu Two
From your child’s first berms and jump lines to long uphill climbs with a tow rope, the Prevelo Zulu Two is completely dialed to help your little shredder find their flow. Developing future Queens and Kings of the Mountain, right here.