With plus size tires, mechanical disc brakes, and a design that oozes the cool factor, REI’s Co-Op Cycles REV Plus line offers great performance for a reasonable price point. Whether your child simply wants the coolest bike to ride around the neighborhood, or you’re looking for a budget-friendly, entry-level mountain bike for beginning trails, the REV Plus models have you covered. The REV Plus is offered as a 20″ and 24″ bike.
REI Co- Op REV Plus 20 and 24 Overview
RATING: 24″ – Highly Recommended; 20″ – Recommended
WHEEL SIZES: 20″ and 24″ only
SEAT HEIGHT: 22″ – 27.5″ (20″), 25.25″ – 31.5″ (24″)
WEIGHT: 24.5 lb. (20″), 28 lb. (24″)
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
BRAKES: Mechanical Disc
GEARS: 6-speed (20″), 7-speed (24″)
SHIFTERS: Shimano Tourney Revo Twist
DERAILLEUR: Shimano Tourney
TIRES: 20″ x 2.6 and 24″ x 2.6
What We Love About the REI REV Plus Line
- Great quality and aesthetics for the price – clean welds, matte paint, quality Shimano and Tektro components
- Comfortable, semi-upright body positioning which most kids prefer
- Extra-wide 2.6″ tires that provide the coolness factor that kids love as well as extra cushioning on the trails
- Can pick up already assembled and with a great warranty and return policy at your local REI store
What You Should Know Before You Buy
- Only available in 20″ and 24″ sizes. REI also has a second line of REV kids bikes (link to our review), with thinner street tires designed specifically for city and neighborhood riding.
- These bikes are heavy for a mountain bike, so they are best for the everyday neighborhood rider who only plans on hitting basic trails on occasion
- There are no mounts for a water bottle on the frame, which is why our testers are often wearing hydration packs in our pictures
- A kickstand is not included (they aren’t recommended for mountain bikes), but one can likely be installed at your local REI for a fee (easier to install on the 24″ than the 20″)
- For true mountain biking (anything above basic green trails), REI offers their REV DRT Kids’ bike (24″ wheel size only) which features hydraulic disc brakes and a coil suspension fork
- The REV 24 model is much easier to upgrade than the 20″. The 7-speed on the REV can easily be upgraded to a trigger, but the 6-speed on the 20″ cannot. The 20″ also doesn’t have a lot of clearance between the bottom of the pedals and the ground to allow for non-plus tires. Non-plus tires on the 20″ will lower the bike and likely cause pedal strike.
REI Co-op REV Recreational Mountain Bikes – 20″ and 24″
REI’s Co-op Cycles REV Plus recreational kids mountain bike line offers a unique mix of mountain-bike styling and technical capability at a mid-range price point. Available in 20″ and 24″ sizes, the 20″ model is listed on their site as the “REV 20 6-Speed Plus” (to distinguish it from the single-speed 20″ REV), while the 24″ is simply listed as “REV 24“. Although the 24” is not labeled as a Plus like a 20″, both bikes have beefy plus-size 2.6″ wide tires. We will refer to them both as REV Plus throughout this review.
REV Plus 20″ vs. 24″
|Age Range||5 to 8||7 to 10|
|Seat Height||22″ – 27.2″||25.25″ – 31.5″|
|Weight||24.5 lb.||28.2 lb.|
|Brakes||Mech disc||Mech Disc|
|Tires||20″ x 2.6″||24″ x 2.6″|
In this review, we’ll first cover what type of riders the REV Plus bikes are best for, followed by what works great on the REV, what is good considering the price, and finally what needs some improvements.
REI REV 20 Plus and REI REV 24 Plus – Kids Mountain Bike Review
We put both sizes of the REV Plus to the test with multiple testers (aged 4 to 10) in a wide variety of riding situations. From neighborhood riding to basic single-track trails, we put the REV Plus through the wringer to see how well it performed, especially considering its lower price tag.
What type of rider is the REV REI Plus kids bike best for?
We found the REV Plus recreational mountain bike line is best for two types of riders:
(1) multi-use riders sticking to basic trails (both paved and all-terrain),
(2) developing single-track riders who are on a budget, but with a knowledgeable adult willing to put some work into upgrading the bike.
Multi-Use Riders – Paved Rides
If your young rider wants the look of a mountain bike but plans on riding it around town just as much as they are on basic dirt trails, the REV Plus is a great option. The REV offers a comfortable, semi-upright body position, 6-gears for navigating hills, and plenty of stopping power with mechanical disc brakes.
While the wide plus-size tires of the REV Plus aren’t ideal for paved riding due to their higher rolling resistance (be sure they are fully inflated!), for shorter rides around the neighborhood, they work just fine. Much to our surprise, our testers actually had no complaints while riding on smooth terrain.
Our petite 8-year-old tester and our very tall 4-year-old tester were able to ride several miles on flat terrain on the REI REV Plus 20 (which weighs half their 50-pound body weight!) without complaint. While he certainly wasn’t breaking speed records, he easily pedaled, shifted, and stopped the bike without concern.
Multi-Use Riders – Basic All-terrain Trails
On basic all-terrain trails, the REV Plus bikes really shine for exploring riders. In addition to proving a wider contact patch, the 2.6″ wide plus-size tires also provide cushioning from the bumps along the way (especially when properly lowering the PSI – see tires section below).
The large “monster tires” of the REI REV 20 Plus actually gave our younger testers a confidence boost as they believed the tires could roll over anything the trail could throw at them!
The semi-upright geometry of both REV Plus bikes also helped to boost confidence by providing plenty of room for young riders to “lean into” the bike while taking on jumps or just riding aggressively in general.
All in all, for the average neighborhood rider who loves to hit up the local pump track or build small dirt jumps themselves, the REI REV Plus is the perfect bike that won’t break the bank. For those looking to take to the hills, the REV’s heavyweight, basic components and low range of gears prevent it from being a true trail-worthy bike capable of tackling longer rides or extended elevation gains.
Developing MTB Riders
If you’re already committed to hitting the trails, but don’t have the budget for an $800+ mountain bike, the REV Plus can be a great starting point. With a few tweaks, both the 20″ and 24″ models can be a solid starter bike for young riders taking on basic to intermediate single-track trails.
Our 8-year-old experienced tester was able to successfully ride the 20″ Plus (without any upgrades) on a 3-mile trail with about 200 feet of elevation gain without any major concerns. While he didn’t rave about the bike (admittedly he is used to riding higher-end bikes), he didn’t overly complain about it either.
The shifter on the REV Plus was clearly not ideal for quick, responsive shifting. While our test rider was able to shift gears, the bulky grip shifter on the 20″ was challenging to operate which resulted in delayed shifting during the ride.
Our older tester on the REI REV 24 Plus, which comes with the same Shimano RevoShift shifter, didn’t struggle as much but thought it was “annoying” to use compared to other bikes.
All of our testers, however, made it very clear that they did not like the hard grips! As a result, for more technical riders (or anyone really) we highly recommend swapping out the grip shifter for a trigger shifter, as well as upgrading the grips while you’re at it. The sooner the better!
The gearing range of these bikes was also a bit lacking, especially when factoring in their heavyweight. Both the 20″ and the 24″ models have a pretty narrow gear range for tackling aggressive climbs. While powering up short hills wasn’t an issue, pedaling up long, extended climbs was clearly a challenge.
With a 14-28t cassette and a 30t chainring on the 20″ (6-speed) and a 14-34t cassette with a 36t chainring on the 24 (7-gears), neither bike has a really low granny gear. So even if you swap out the shifter, the REV Plus really isn’t ideal for young riders who regularly tackle major elevation gains.
To save on weight, you may be able to swap out the plus size 2.6″ wide tires for narrower and lighter knobby tires, but this will likely only work well on the 24″. The REV 20″ doesn’t have a lot of clearance for the pedals and the derailleur to begin with, so if you were to put on narrower tires, you will be at a much higher risk for pedal strike or smashing the derailleur.
REV Components Breakdown
As a whole, the REI REV Plus are great bikes, but like all bikes in their price range, some components of the bikes are better than others. So whether you’re planning on using the bike as a multi-use neighborhood bike or a single-track pounding pony, here’s what we found works well on the bike, what is okay, and what could use some improvements.
Frame and Geometry
Starting off, the REV Plus geometry is solid and offers a comfortable, semi-upright position that most kids prefer. Whether your young rider wants to sit up and cruise or aggressively lean into jumps or turns (as shown in the MTB section above), the REV happily complies.
In fact, the frame design and geometry of the REV Plus is almost identical to the woom OFF. While the woom OFF’s overall build and components absolutely make it worth the $400 jump in price, the REV Plus offers a similar body position and setup.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
The Tektro mechanical disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power for basic and intermediate riders. Previous models of the REV Plus (prior to 2022) came with lower-end mechanical disc brakes we didn’t love. But the current Tektro brakes on the 2022 bikes that we tested offer solid stopping power. Both the 20″ and 24″ come with 160 Tektro rotors on the front and rear wheels.
Shimano Tourney Derailleur – Works, but hangs low
While our testers didn’t love the grip shifter on the REV Plus (explained more below), the Shimano Tourney derailleur shifted as expected with no chain derailments.
For those who plan on taking these REI bikes on trails, the derailleur does hang pretty low, especially on the 20″. On technical terrain, the derailleur on the 20″ did get bashed around a bit, but continued to shift like a champ. As a result, we would love to see mounts for a derailleur cage added in the future.
As a comparison, look at the difference between the distance between the bottom of the derailleur and the ground of the REV Plus 20″ and the woom OFF 20″ when in high gear. The high-end SRAM X5 derailleur on the woom 4 has much more clearance than the Shimano Tourney.
As you can see, if you were to put shorter tires (non-plus) tires on the 20″, the derailleur would hang even lower, which would increase the risk of the derailleur being damaged during a ride.
Although the same derailleur is used on the 24 REV, the taller tires provide more clearance and wasn’t an issue (shown below in the gearing section).
Gearing – Good, but no “granny” gear
With only 6 or 7 gears in the drivetrain, the REV Plus’ gear range is pretty narrow for a true mountain bike. With only a 14-28t cassette on the 20″ and a 14-34t on the 24″, neither bike has a granny gear to allow kids to pedal up steep or long climbs. As a comparison, the high-end Prevelo Zulu has an 11-48t rear cassette which provides a lot more climbing power.
If you are in need of a granny gear on a mid-range kids mountain bike, you’ll be hard pressed to find one. The components required to add really high or low gears on a kid’s bike are quite expensive. Upgrading the gearing on a bike can also be quite expensive, so don’t plan on that being a quick and easy solution. The easier solution is to get yourself a TowWhee tow rope and tow your kids up those long hills.
Handlebars – A bit long for young riders
The handlebars on the REV Plus bikes are pretty wide considering they aren’t built for really aggressive riders. The 20″ Plus has a 590mm bar while the 24″ has a 680mm. The handlebars on both REV sizes are wider than their comparable sizes on the higher-end woom OFF, Prevelo Zulu and Specialized Riprock mountain bikes.
For younger riders working on becoming more nimble and agile on their ride, cutting the bar up to 80mm or so (depending on the rider) is definitely worth considering.
Tires – Great cushioning, but heavy
The 2.6″ wide tires are wider than the tires found on most high-end kids mountain bikes. The woom OFF, Prevelo Zulu, and Specialized Riprock all have 2.25″ or 2.35″ wide tires.
The wider tires of the REV Plus come with pros and cons. As a benefit, they provide more cushioning and a wider contact patch (which is especially great for snow biking), but on the flip side, they add significantly to the weight of the bike.
Although we do recommend swapping out the tires for lighter-weight slimmer tires for petite or timid riders, for more aggressive riders, the cushioning benefits of the larger 2.6″ tires shouldn’t be overlooked.
First, the wider tires have a wider contact patch with the ground. While this isn’t ideal for riding on paved surfaces (it increases the surface area, making rolling less efficient), it can help increase traction while on all-terrain surfaces.
In order to get the full benefits of the wider tires, it is important to reduce the PSI of the tires. A lower PSI will allow the tire to spread out under the weight of the rider, thereby increasing the contact with the ground.
To show the difference, we had our 10-year-old rider ride the REV Plus 24 through a puddle of water when the tires were at full PSI (tires firm to the touch) as well as at a lower PSI (tires softer, with some squish). We then measured the width of the track the tires made. As you can see, the tires with reduced PSI made a lot more contact with the ground.
How much should you lower the PSI? It really depends on your riding conditions as well as the weight of the rider. A rule of thumb (taught to us by our friends at SimplyMTB) is that the tires should feel like the soft “squish” of a ripe orange when pressed on by the rider. Since kids weigh less than adults, they won’t be able to press down on their tires as hard, so make sure that they are the ones feeling for the “squish” feel of an orange (not you!).
In addition to increased traction, the wider plus-size tires hold a larger volume of air, which can be used to provide a suspension-like feel while riding if the air pressure has been properly reduced. Like an air fork, the air in the tires can compress after a jump or when going down a curb and then quickly pop back up. This provides a “bouncy”, suspension-like effect for the rider and can really smooth out the bumps in the ride.
Getting the PSI right to get the full suspension effect does take some trial and error. In the image above, the PSI of the front tire is a bit too low, but the back looks okay.
The correct PSI is more of a feeling than an exact number. Too high and you won’t be able to take full advantage of the cushioning effect, and too low you are at risk of pinch flats (when the rim pinches the tube and pops it). The “correct PSI” can also vary due to the weight and skill level of the rider. The best option is to keep adjusting it until it feels right.
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Weight – The REV is a Heavy Beast
The REV Plus recreational mountain bikes are undeniably heavy. For timid and new riders, this weight is going to be a major limiting factor. Coming in at 24.5 lb., the 20″ Plus is likely to weigh half of the rider’s weight. At 28 lb., the REV 24 is slightly better considering older riders weigh more and can take on more bike. But it’s still not ideal for long rides or timid riders.
If your child is really timid or petite, a lighter-weight, similarly-priced bike, such as the Polygon Premier XC, would be worth looking into. Keep in mind, however, that in order to get a bike that is significantly lighter, like the woom OFF, you will need to greatly increase your budget.
|Bike||Weight (20″)||Weight (24″)||MSRP|
|REI REV||24.5 lb.||28 lb.||$399+|
|Polygon Premier XC||22.6 lb.||25.7 lb.||$399+|
|Btwin Rockrider ST900||~24 lb.||27.1 lb.||$399+|
|woom 4 OFF||17.2 lb.||18.9 lb.||$799+|
As mentioned previously, swapping out the 2.6″ wide tires on the REV Plus for narrower and lighter 2.2″ or 2.3″ tires can help to decrease the weight. Keep in mind, however, that narrower isn’t always lighter, so make sure you check the weight of the tires before you make the swap.
According to the REI’s spec, the REV 20″ and 24″ Plus are equipped with Kenda Slant Six Sport tires. The 20×2.6 tires weigh 574g each and the 20×2.6 weigh 720g. So if you are changing tires to save on weight, make sure they weigh less than the tires that come stock.
Shimano RevoShift Grip Shift – Switch to Trigger is Possible
The Shimano RevoShift grip shifters on the REV Plus were challenging for all of our testers to use. For basic riding in which the rider really doesn’t need to shift that much, the shifter works fine. But for young riders on more technical trails which require faster and regular shifting, we RevoShift is really limiting.
The main issue with the RevoShift is its wide diameter twisting barrel. In order to shift, a young rider’s hands must wrap around the wide barrel, and then twist the entire barrel. For small hands, this requires significant effort while also requiring them to release or greatly decrease their grip from the handlebars.
An easy and relatively inexpensive fix is to swap out the RevoShift for a trigger shifter. We’ve had feedback that the 7-speed MicroSHIFT Mezzo Thumb-Tap works on the REV 24 (your local REI may be able to do this for you), but not on the REV 20″ since it is a 6-speed. We are not aware of a shifter that is easy to swap out on the 20″ (you may also have to replace the cassette and drivetrain), but please let us know in the comments if you do!
While trigger shifters have a steeper learning curve than grip shifters, trigger shifters require less physical effort to engage and don’t require kids to remove their grip from the handlebars in order to shift.
While switching to another grip shift may be tempting, we are not aware of another shifter that is compatible with the rest of the drivetrain and is also easier to use.
Grips – Switch to Softer Grips
The grips on the REV Plus are pretty hard. All of our testers disliked them! We recommend swapping them out for more pliable grips, which are readily available online.
REI Co-Op Cycles REV Plus Bottom Line
An amazing bike for the price, the REI Co-Op Cycles REV Plus 20 and 24 are a great option for adventurous city slickers as well as basic trail riders. The REV Plus is a great bike for multi-use riders (those sticking mainly to paved, with some trail) as well as a great base to build up into a trail-worthy pony.
While heavier than we would like, the REV offers great geometry for progressive riders and easy, affordable upgrades (after purchasing) are available to help increase performance.
For more 20 inch bike options, read our 12 Best 20 Inch Kids Bike list. Or, if you’re interested in a more serious mountain bike for more aggressive trail riding, check out our list of the best 24 inch mountain bikes.