woom 5 Supra Review
*The woom 5 Supra is no longer made and has been replaced by the woom OFF, a top-notch, ultra-light, beginning mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes.
When shopping for a 24″ bike, a good majority of parents (and kids!) look for one thing, a shock. If a bike has a shock on it it must be better right? “Dang! You got shocks, pegs… lucky! You ever take it off any sweet jumps?” But like Napoleon learned, shocks aren’t always what they appear to be. The vast majority of shocks used on kids bikes are simply dead weight. Providing very little dampening, negatively affect the handling of a bike (the bad ones) and adding up to 10 lb. to a bike, shocks often do more harm then good. Yet they are found on almost every 24″ bike on the market. In fact, Cannondale, Specialized and many more high-end brakes don’t even offer a rigid 24″ bike (that’s not a road bike). Why? Shocks greatly increase the perceived value of a bike. Parents and kids want a shock, so companies slap one on (more than often a cheap one), over charge for it and watch them fly out the door.
*The current woom 5 Supra weighs 17.8 lb.*
The woom 5 Supra, is a different breed of bike. Designed for peak performance, it comes complete with everything a young pre-mountain bike rider needs and nothing it doesn’t. Lightweight, low center-of-gravity geometry, 8-speed with SRAM trigger shifters, pinned pedals, knobby 24″x1.75″ Kenda Small Block 8 tires, and for an added bonus, a carbon fiber seat post. Coming in at a mere 20.25 lb. (on our scale which is often on the heavier side, 18.4 lb. listed), the woom 5’s light and nimble construction make it one of the best mountain bikes for kids learning to shred.
As a comparison, Specialized top 24″ mountain bike*, the Hotrock 24 XC Boys Disc (MSRP $660), weighs 28 lb., and while it does have a front shock and disc brakes, for most kids riding a 24″ frame, the extra 10 lb. they add are simply not worth the added weight (*the weight for the new $1,550 Hotrock XC Pro is not yet available). Easier to balance at lower-speeds (which younger riders often prefer when tackling rocky terrain and tricky switchbacks), light weight bikes help kids learn the basics while building their confidence. While they certainly have their place, shocks are best left for more advanced riders, whose basic skills set won’t be as affected by the increase weight. This was evident in our testers beginning mountain biking class. As the only kids in the class not to have a shock on their bikes, their bikes were not only 10 lb. lighter than many of the name-brand bikes in the class, they were also easier to maneuver.
Like the Hotrock 24 XC, the woom 5 Supra also has a SRAM X4 trigger shifters with a 11-32 cassette and a 36t chain ring. Throughout our tests, the gear ratios were the perfect blend for street and trail riding. SRAM’s trigger shifters, however, did take some getting used. Used to grip shifters, which require a simple twist up or down, SRAM triggers require kids to push one of two buttons with their thumbs to shift (shifting with your index finger only works for Shimano shifters). Not having to loosen their grip on the handlebars to change gears, the trigger shifters are certainly better for aggressive riding, but the learning curve was much greater than that of grip shifters.
For those not as interested in the technical aspects of the bike, a simple comparison to Walmart’s $100 NEXT full-suspension clearly shows why the woom is easier to ride. Side-by-side, the NEXT has a much higher bottom bracket (where the crank arm attach to the frame) then the woom. This increases the center of gravity of the bike, making it significantly more top heavy and harder to gain and maintain your balance. The narrower wheelbase and upright handlebars of the NEXT also force the rider to sit upright. Lastly, the NEXT weigh 15 pounds more than the woom. For a 70 pound child, the NEXT is 51% of his body weight, while the woom is 29%. For a 180 lb. adult, this is equivalent to riding a 91.8 pound bike vs. a 52 pound bike.
woom vs. Trek MT 200
Compared to Trek’s only rigid 24″ mountain bike frame bike, the Precaliber (MSRP $299, previously the MT 200), the woom also once again has a lower bottom bracket, has flat, lower center-of-gravity handlebars, and is 10 pounds lighter. To be fair, newer models of the MT 200 are slightly lighter, but not much. Designed for the everyday neighborhood bike rider, the Precaliber is a big step up compared to the NEXT, but for those looking for an entry level mountain bike, the rigid Precaliber shouldn’t be on your list.
woom vs. Islabikes
Two great bikes from two amazing companies, but which one is best? Similar in geometry and weight, the Islabikes BEINN 24″ is the closest bike on the market to the woom 5 Supra, but they do have some distinct differences. While the woom is slightly lighter, the BEINN 24″ frame allows for a shorter minimum seat height. Since older, experienced riders simply need to be able to put their toes on the ground to get on the bike, a rider with a 22.5″ inseam can fit on a BEINN 24″, but would be a stretch for the woom.
*The current woom 5 Supra weighs 17.8 lb.*
The gearing, shifters and tires of the bikes, however, are the main distinguishing factors between the two. The Islabikes has a SRAM grip shifter, while the woom has a trigger shifter. Grip shifts are easier to learn, but can be problematic for aggressive riders. The Islabikes also has narrower 24″ x 1.5″ Kenda Small Block 8 tires, which are better suited for paved surfaces as compared to the Supra’s wider 24″ x 1.75″ Small Block 8.
The BEINN and the Supra also have different gear ratios. While the both have a 11-32 cassette (the number of teeth on the rear chain rings), the Islabikes has a 33T chain ring while the has a 36T (front). While slight, the smaller chain ring makes it easier to get started to pedal, but doesn’t allow riders to ride as fast. In the end, both bikes were loved by our testers, but the Islabikes is better equip for kids who ride mainly on pavement while the woom is better for kids who ride all-terrain.
Designed for peak performance, the woom 5 Supra comes complete with everything a young pre-mountain bike rider needs and nothing it doesn’t. Light weight, easy to balance and even more fun to ride, the Supra is the perfect bike for helping young shredders learn the basics and build their confidence on and off the trails. For those everyday, neighborhood riders, the woom 5 is also a great pick.