Offering great features within a mid-range price point, the Raleigh Rowdy 20 is a great bike for aggressive riders ready for adventure. While built with lower-end parts than other top picks, it’s super light for its price and has responsive dual-hand brakes. Learn what we love about the Rowdy in our review!
Raleigh Rowdy 20
BEST FOR: Aggressive riders who want to do tricks and explore terrains beyond the beaten path.
SEAT HEIGHT: 25.25″ – 29.9″
WEIGHT: 21 lbs.
GEARS: 6-speed/Shimano Grip Shift
- Quality bike for a very decent price
- Sturdy frame and tires great for exploring off the paved trails
- Lightweight compared to other 20″ bikes in its price range
- Low/flat handlebars limit the “best use” to aggressive riders and limit the comfortable seat height range
Raleigh Rowdy 20 Review – Results of our Test Rides
The Raleigh Rowdy 20 is a durable and affordable option for young, adventurous riders looking to ride hard and get aggressive off the beaten path. For a price tag under $300, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lighter bike with higher-quality components for your tough little explorer.
Sticking to paved trails was not something that our tester wanted to do on the Raleigh Rowdy 20″. From riding up and down grassy hills, to riding over rocks and through uneven packed dirt, off-roading was on this 6-year-old’s mind and the Rowdy lived up to the task.
With wider, knobby tires for traction and stability and low handlebars to allow riders to aggressively lean in and shift their weight easily, the Rowdy is designed and ready to perform for a 6-year-old’s off-roading dreams. While not as stable or nimble as the Cleary Owl which our tester recently fell in love with, for its much lower price tag, the Rowdy performs impressively.
The short story is this: kids with inseams ranging from 22.5″ to 25″ are generally a good fit for the Rowdy 20. If your child is just outside these ranges, read further to learn about the Rowdy’s size limitations.
Perhaps the most important spec to consider when fitting your child for a bike is stand-over height. If your child slides forward on the bike during a crash, he’ll need enough clearance between the top tube of the bike and his crotch to avoid serious injury. While Raleigh recommends 1″ of clearance, we adhere to general industry standards of at least 2″. With a stand-over height of 20.5″, we recommend that kids with an inseam of 22.5″ or greater ride the Raleigh Rowdy 20.
At this age and on a 20″ bike, kids should have the seat height set to about 3″ or even 4″ above their inseam. It’s a good seat height fit when a child can touch the bike with his tiptoes while sitting on the seat. With a seat height range of 25.25″ – 29.9″, this would technically put the child’s inseam range from about 21.25″ to 25.9″, but as with most all kids bikes, you need to be careful with the manufacturer’s recommended size range. Just because a kid can fit on a bike, doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for him.
Child’s Inseam to Seat Height Comparison
Our 6-year-old tester with a 21.6″ inseam was a great fit on the bike when set at its minimum seat height (25.25″). The problem here was that he really only had 1″ of standover height clearance, not the recommended 2″. The Raleigh Rowdy 16 would likely be a better option for him.
Our 7-year-old tester with a 24.4″ inseam easily cleared the top tube and was a good fit on the Rowdy, but doesn’t have a whole lot of room to grow on the bike.
Our 10-year-old tester with a 25.75″ inseam falls within Raleigh’s height guidelines and needed the bike set to the maximum seat height, but was clearly too big to ride the Rowdy 20. Kids his size should be on 24″ bikes, which is why you need to be careful about manufacturer’s suggested height ranges. While he enjoyed messing around on the bike and was able to ride it without any problems, he was very cramped and had to scrunch his back to reach the handlebars – the Rowdy 20 is simply too small for him.
Based on our testing, we would recommend that the good child inseam range is 22.5″ to 25″, not utilizing the low end of the seat height range due to standover height issues nor the high end of the seat height range simply because kids that size are too big for the Rowdy’s bike frame.
With an aluminum frame and weighing in at 21 lbs., the Rowdy’s weight is pretty average for a 20″ geared bike but pretty great for its price. While high-end brands like the woom 4 (17.5 lbs.) and Prevelo Alpha Three (18.9 lbs.) are significantly lighter, they also come with a much steeper price tag. Additionally, other really nice (and still more expensive!) bikes weigh just about as much as the Rowdy, like the Guardian 20 inch (21.5 lbs.), or even weigh much more, like the Cannondale Trail (25 lbs.).
The Rowdy’s knobby tread tires are 2.125″ wide, perfect for surfaces varying from paved sidewalks to packed dirt trails.
The Rowdy 20″ is designed to be an aggressive bike for kids that are looking to ride hard and be adventurous. It is not ideal for timid or even average kids who will just be casually riding the neighborhood.
The handlebars of the Rowdy are some of the lowest we’ve ever seen on a kid’s bike. As you can see in the far right image of the graphic below, the handlebars aren’t just low, they are bordering on flat. This style of handlebar is pretty rare on a 20″ kid’s bike, but works fine for the right-sized, aggressive kid who will benefit from leaning forward to stabilize himself for jumping off curbs, sailing down hills, and tackling off-road terrain.
Rowdy’s Low and Flat Handlebars are Best for Aggressive Riding
Rider’s Position on Bike
The flat handlebars combined with the wheelbase and top tube length of the Rowdy position the rider in a slightly aggressive stance. (Great for adventurous or experienced riders, not great for timid riders.) The comfort level of this aggressive stance is greatly affected by the height of the child as well as their riding temperament.
Our adventurous 6-year-old tester that is 47.75″ tall was able to lean in with ease and comfort to achieve a body position that was well-suited to his off-roading plans. Our 8-year-old non-aggressive tester that is 51.5″, however, was not as fortunate. With handlebars that were so low, her back had to arch at a strange angle in order for her to ride the bike. She wasn’t comfortable and didn’t ride it for long.
Raleigh Rowdy Has a Moderately Aggressive Body Position
The dual handbrakes on the Rowdy are fully adjustable to allow you to customize the fit for your child. Easy to reach and easy to activate, the Promax V-brake Youth Levers get the job done. The Rowdy’s also do not have coaster brakes, which is great for older riders.
Grip Shift and Gearing (Gain Ratio)
In general, shifters on kids’ bikes are pretty average – they aren’t super easy to twist, and do require some effort on the part of the child rider. The 6-speed, Shimano Revo grip shifter on the Rowdy 20 is made by a reputable brand and performs no better or worse than you would expect. At this price point, we don’t have any complaints!
Kids riding 20″ bikes probably won’t bother to shift gears much anyways, so the Shimano system will work just fine for most kids and be a nice introduction to the world of multi-speeds.
Rowdy 20’s 6-Speed Shimano Revo Grip Shifter
With a gain ratio ranging from 2.57 to 5.14, the 6-speeds of the Rowdy nicely cover the range of gears needed to tackle hills or ride flat roads. With only 6 speeds, rather than 7 or 8 like some other 20″ bikes, kids have less to worry about. But remember, there are very few kids riding 20″ bikes that actually need to shift gears. For most kids, it’s just one more thing to think about.
For our testers, they tended to find a gear they felt comfortable in, and then just leave it there. Unless I was prompting them to shift gears, they just didn’t want to hassle with it. Especially on the Rowdy, where our 6-year-old just wanted to do tricks and be a daredevil, he had to spend most of his focus on not falling over! He definitely didn’t have the mental capacity to handle thinking about gears at the same time as he was calculating how to navigate a packed dirt rut.
For kids that will continue to do more advanced riding as they get older, it may be nice to introduce them to the idea of gears and shifting on a 20″, but don’t stress out if it takes your kid a while to want to use the gears, or to be able to use them properly.
Ease of Assembly
If you know your way around bikes, the Raleigh Rowdy won’t be much trouble for you to assemble. If, however, you are an average parent, you will probably want to get some assistance from your neighborhood bike guru or bike shop.
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find another bike at this price point with the quality and durability of the Rowdy 20. While its low handlebars and aggressive body position are not ideal for timid to average riders, the Rowdy really does rock for adventurous little riders. For other 20 inch bike options, check out our list of our favorite 20 inch bikes for boys and girls.