As kids grow older, they often grow more adventurous in their riding. If your kid loves to venture from paved trails with the family to tackling neighborhood dirt trails, the Trek Precaliber 24 may just be their perfect next bike.
Stylized like a mountain bike, the Trek Precaliber is designed for kids who are antsy for a bike with a cool “shock”, but who don’t actually need the expensive components found on a true mountain bike. And for those who want to save a little on weight and price, the Precaliber is also offered without the suspension fork for $30 less!
From sizing recommendations to the Precaliber’s overall capabilities, our review covers everything you need to known to confidently purchase online for your little rider.
Trek Precaliber 24 Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Everyday adventurous riders on paved or very basic dirt trails. Fork on suspension model is not designed for true mountain trails and is only meant for casual riding.
SEAT HEIGHT: 26″ – 30.5″
WEIGHT: 25 lb. – w/o suspension, 26.5 lb. – w/ suspension (weights with pedals but w/o included kickstand)
GEARS: 8-speed with Shimano Tourney Grip
BRAKES: Dual Hand Brake (no brand)
- High quality frame with clean welds
- Low center of gravity design (child sits low on the frame)
- Available with or without suspension
- Suspension is functional for around town but is not ridiculously heavy (adds about 1.5 lb.)
- Four different color options
- Assembly and tune-ups available at local bike shop
- Low-end components (Shimano Tourney, non-branded brakes)
Trek Precaliber Video Review
Prefer to watch the Trek Precaliber 24 in action? Check out our video review right here!
Results of our Test Rides
To facilitate this review, we purchased a 2021 Trek Precaliber 24 with suspension from our local dealer and put it to the test on a wide variety of terrains. This review focuses mainly on the suspension model, but the suspension and non-suspension versions of the Precaliber share all the same components except for the fork, handlebar and hubs (more about these differences below).
Trek Precaliber 24 Rigid and Suspension Models
What type of rider is the Trek Precaliber 24 best for?
Trek Precaliber with Suspension
The perfect combination of not too technical, yet not too basic, the Precaliber with suspension is an ideal bike for adventurous neighborhood riders who never plan to actually ride in the mountains.
Providing the cool off-road look of a true mountain bike that kids love, but without the expensive high-end components that parents don’t want to pay for, the Trek Precaliber 24 is a win-win! It’s hands-down the best “recreational mountain bike” we’ve ever tested.
To be clear, the design and quality of the Precaliber’s frame is trail-worthy, but its lower-end hand brakes don’t provide the stopping power necessary for true single track riding. Additionally, the “casual use only” labeled fork isn’t designed to handle the strain from mountain trails.
However, the suspension fork does a bit more than just look cool. It’s a huge win for kids because it helps them to easily pop-up their front tire when doing jumps and hops. It also adds a bit of appreciated cushioning on the landing.
Rigid Trek Precaliber (No Suspension)
For those looking to save on some weight, Trek also offers a non-suspension version of the Precaliber 24 that comes with a rigid fork. Weighing just under 2 pounds less than the suspension version, it may be a better option for lightweight riders who don’t plan on getting really aggressive on the bike.
With the same 2.25″ wide tires as the Precaliber with suspension, the non-suspension version is also capable of hitting basic dirt trails.
Performance and Use
From powering up jumps at the DIY neighborhood bike park, to cruising through snow and mud along paved bike trails, our testers were quickly at home on the Trek Precaliber 24.
While riding up hills, the grip shifter didn’t skip a beat, and the v-brakes had no problem bringing the bike to a stop. The 2.25″ wide knobby tires were the perfect match for snow and dirt but weren’t overly noisy or rough while on paved surfaces.
All in all, we were very impressed by the Precaliber’s performance and fit, and it easily ranks as our favorite recreational mountain bike (i.e. a bike with a suspension fork that’s not designed for real mountain biking).
What size child fits on this Trek 24 inch bike?
The Trek Precaliber 24 is a best fit for kids with inseams ranging from 24″ to 28″.
The Precaliber has a seat height range of 24″ to 30.5″, but its minimum seat height should be considered to be much closer to 26″. When the seat is placed in its lowest possible position, the handlebars are much too high for the rider and makes for a very uncomfortable and awkward fit.
As you can see in the image above, our 6-year old tester with a 22″ inseam can sit on the Precaliber with the seat height set to 24″, but the bike was much too big for him. Our taller 8-year-old tester below, with an inseam of 24″, was a great fit with the seat height set to 26.5″.
On the higher end, our 9-year-old tester with a 26.5″ inseam still fit comfortably on the Precaliber with the seat set to 29″.
Lightweight Bikes Bolster Confidence
Lightweight bikes can be a tremendous help for young riders. Ideally, a 24 inch bike should weigh less than 30% of a child’s weight.
Less weight not only bolsters confidence in their riding abilities, but also helps kids grow or maintain their love for riding! Heavier bikes are more challenging to balance, and are a lot harder to maneuver.
Trek Precaliber 24 with Suspension
As one of the few larger bike manufacturers that actually post the weight of their kids’ bike online, Trek certainly deserves a lot of praise! Trek’s listed weight for the Precaliber 24 with suspension is 26.31 lbs., which is about what we got on our scale with 26.5 lbs.
Surprisingly, the suspension model only weighs about 1.6 lb. heavier than the non-suspension model. To help offset the weight of the suspension fork, the suspension Precaliber model features an upgraded alloy handlebar and hubs (versus steel on the non-suspension model).
Compared to recreational mountain bikes in its mid-$300 price range, the Trek is truly a lightweight. The REI Co-op REV Plus is built for a similar rider (but with plus-size tires instead of a suspension fork) and comes in at 28.2 pounds!
When compared to lower-end 24 inch bikes with a suspension fork, the Precaliber comes out winner again. The $299 BikesDirect Gravity 24″ comes in at 29.3 lb., while the $220 Schwinn Ranger 24″ comes in at 30 lb.
Although heavier than higher-end true mountain bikes (such as the $800 24 lb. Pello Reyes), neither of our riders commented on the Precaliber’s weight and had no problems catching air around the neighborhood.
Rigid Precaliber 24
We did not have a chance to weigh the Trek Precaliber without suspension, but its listed weight is 24.73 lb. Compared to other non-suspension 24″ bikes, the Trek is similar in weight to other bikes for neighborhood riders under $400. At $399, the Priority Start 24 is a bit lighter at 23.3 lb., while the $379 Guardian Ethos is slightly heavier at 25.5 lb.
While having less of a “mountain bike” style, the Priority Start 24 and Guardian Ethos are also great bikes for neighborhood riders. The Priority is unique as it contains an essentially maintenance-free internally-geared hub paired with a belt-drive, while the Guardian features a unique SureStop braking system that allows kids to easily and safely stop on a dime.
Suspension Fork for Casual Riding Only
Suspension forks on kids bikes can add up to 4 lb.+ of weight. That’s a lot – especially for a 7 or 8 year old rider. As a result, we typically only recommend bikes with suspension forks for kids who are aggressively riding true mountain bikes, and who need the extra cushioning well-made forks can provide.
But suspension forks look cool, kids want them, and Trek knows this! As a result, Trek made a clever and commendable move and put a featherweight “casual riding” suspension fork on the Precaliber 24.
While the Zoom branded fork is not designed for true mountain biking (it clearly says so on the label), the fork does provide enough bounce to allow kids to tackle small jumps (not drops!) without adding a lot of weight to the bike.
So if your little one loves to jump curbs or even over cracks along the sidewalk, the extra $30 for the suspension fork is worth the investment.
Drivetrain and Gearing
This Trek 24 inch bike comes with a Shimano Tourney 8-speed grip shifter and derailleur. According to Shimano, the Tourney series is “a basic component set for entry sports bikes and riders”.
As the lowest level of components in Shimano’s mountain line, the drivetrain certainly has room for improvements, and for really ambitious riders and parents, they could be swapped out.
For the average rider for whom the Precaliber is designed, our main complaint is with the Tourney’s bulky shifter. The large bump of the inside portion of the grip shift is too large in diameter for most kids to comfortably place their hand around it.
As a result, most kids adjust their grip to the side of the shifter, which still allows them to shift, but places their hand farther away from the brake lever. In order to brake, kids must then angle their fingers across the grip. While not a deal-breaker, it does make braking more challenging for small hands.
This same shifter, however, is very common on bikes in the Precaliber’s price range and can also be found on the Specialized Hotrock 24, the Cannondale Quick and the REI REV Plus.
Lower Gain Ratio than Higher-end Kids Bikes
The gain ratio of the Trek Precaliber 24 ranges from 1.9 to 4.9. From long paved trails to powering up dirt ramps, the Precaliber’s range presented no problems for our testers.
For those looking for a higher top gain ratio to bust out long distances on flat terrain, be aware that the Trek’s 4.9 max gain ratio is significantly lower than other brands with ranges that max out between 6 and 7.
The woom 5, Prevelo Alpha Four and the Pello Reyes all have higher ranges, BUT they are also much more expensive and are designed for beginning trail riders versus casual neighborhood riders.
Brakes Are Basic and Non-branded
The v-brakes certainly aren’t high-end, but they provided plenty of stopping power throughout our test rides. The brake levers are child-sized and adjustable to minimize the reach for younger hands.
Compared to Tektro v-brakes, the Precaliber’s v-brakes require a little more effort to pull and don’t feel as solid. Because quick stopping is essential to true mountain biking where kids can quickly reach high speeds, brakes with more stopping power are ideal for aggressive trails.
Pedals Have Wide, Grippy Platform
The Precaliber comes standard with Bontrager’s satellite platform city pedals. Our testers enjoyed the grip and wider platform the pedal provided, but they certainly have a unique style to them. One of our kid testers thought they didn’t look enough like “mountain bike pedals.”
Swapping the pedals out, however, is quick and easy with any 9/16 thread pedal set.
The Precaliber (suspension and non-suspension) both come in Radioactive Red as well as Magenta. Although we wanted the Radioactive Red it was out-of-stock so we ended up with the Magenta which oddly enough looks pretty red!
As a comparison, here’s a side-by-side image of Trek’s Radioactive Red and Magenta. The Red is certainly lighter and brighter than the Magenta.
The suspension version of the Precaliber 24 is also available in white with pink and orange accents as well as a black with yellow and green accents.
Trek Precaliber 24 vs. Specialized Hotrock 24
The Trek Precaliber is uniquely positioned between the more expensive true “kids mountain bike” models and the budget super cheapo models. For parents who want a quality bike with the mountain bike look, but don’t want to pay for high-end components, the Trek Precaliber is your best bet.
The Specialized Hotrock 24 is the most common comparison to the Trek Precaliber 24, but it’s significantly more expensive with an MSRP of $450. While it has a more capable suspension fork, it has the same brakes and Tourney derailleur as the Precaliber, which limits its use to the same basic trails the Precaliber is meant for.
Trek Precaliber with Suspension Comparison
|Features||Trek Precaliber 24||Specialized Hotrock 24||REI REV 24+|
|Model||Trek Precaliber 24 Suspension||Specialized Hotrock 24||REV REV 24 Plus|
|Weight||26.5 lb.||28.2 lb.|
|Brakes||Dual hand||Dual hand||Mechanical disc|
|Gears||8-speed/Grip Shift||8-speed/Grip Shift||7-speed/Grip Shift|
|Components||Shimano Tourney||Shimano Tourney||Shimano Tourney|
|Suspension Fork||Zoom, 45 mm (for casual use only)||SR Suntour XCT-JR, 50 mm (okay for basic trail riding)||None, plus size tire for added cushioning|
Trek Precaliber 24 vs. Trek Roscoe 24
If you are looking for a true 24 inch beginning mountain bike from Trek, we would recommend looking at the Trek Roscoe. While the Roscoe costs $499 and does not have a front suspension fork, it is more capable for true trail riding.
In place of the suspension fork, the Roscoe has plus size tires that add cushioning for the entire bike. The bike also comes with Tektro mechanical disc brakes as well as upgraded Shimano Altus trigger shifters. The rear derailleur on the Roscoe, however, is also Shimano Tourney like the Precaliber.
Trek Precaliber Rigid vs. Other Bikes
If you’re looking to save some weight with Precaliber’s rigid model, you’re getting a pretty good bang for your buck when compared to other bike shop models.
Trek Wahoo: The Trek Wahoo is lighter and has upgraded Shimano Altus components, but it also costs more and features a much narrower tire designed for mainly pavement riding. The shifter on the Wahoo is also trigger versus grip, which can be more challenging for some riders.
Cannondale Quick: The Cannondale Quick has better brakes than the Precaliber, but still features the Shimano Tourney grip shifter and with 7 versus 8 speeds.
Guardian Ethos: For those planning on sticking mainly to pavement, the Guardian Ethos is another bike to consider. It is slightly lighter and less expensive than the Precaliber, but comes with a street tire versus and all-terrain tire.
The Guardian also features its unique SureStop braking system that allows kids to activate the front and then the rear brake by pulling one brake lever.
Trek Precaliber 24 Rigid Comparison
|Features||Trek Precaliber 24||Trek Wahoo 24||Cannondale Quick 24||Guardian Ethos|
|Model||Trek Precaliber 24||Trek Wahoo 24||Cannondale Quick 24||Guardian Ethos|
|Weight||26.5 lb.||21.1 lb.||25.5 lb.|
|Brakes||Dual hand||Dual Hand||Promax V-pull||SureStop|
|Gears||8-speed/Grip Shift||8-speed/Trigger||7-speed/Grip Shift||7-speed/Grip Shift|
|Components||Shimano Tourney||Shimano Altus||Shimano Tourney||Shimano Tourney|
Local Bike Shop Assembly and Support
Another major benefit of purchasing a Trek is professional assembly at your local bike shop. From brake levers to tire pressure and shifting, you can rest assured that your Trek comes ready to roll from day one. Most local bike shops also include a complimentary tune-up after several months.
When purchasing a Trek online you have the option to pick up the bike at your local bike shop already assembled. If you don’t have a local Trek dealer, some models are available to ship directly to you, but you would have to assemble the bike yourself.
Trek Precaliber 24 Bottom Line
Offering great quality and performance for the price, the Trek Precaliber 24 is an amazing bike for kids eager to tackle ambitious jumps and trails around the neighborhood, but not quite ready to hit real mountain bike trails.
Coming with or without suspension, the Precaliber also offers that look and feel of a real mountain bike, without having to pay for high-end components.