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Age suitability: 5 years +
Key features: 8 gears, 20” wheels
Frog Bikes was founded in 2013 by parents Jerry and Shelley Lawson, who had struggled to find good-quality, lightweight and affordable bikes for their two children. Rather than scaling down adult cycles, the couple took a child-centred approach to bike design, reconfiguring everything from the frame geometry to the components to make the ride as comfortable and enjoyable for children as possible.
The result is that every aluminium-framed Frog bike features child-size handlebars, easy-to-reach brake levers and patented shorter cranks, which reduce the space between pedals, making pedalling more efficient.
Six years on, and Frog Bikes has won multiple accolades for innovation and design, including a Red Dot Design Award in 2018. Made in the UK, Frog bikes are stocked by around 1,800 retailers worldwide. The company only sells bikes through select independent retailers, which ensures a professional and quality service for customers, as well as a correctly sized and assembled bike for your child.
There are a handful of children’s bike brands such as Islabikes, Hoy Bikes and Squish that are comparable with Frog bikes, but Frog Bikes’ research and their bikes’ specs, features and widespread availability put this company ahead of the pack.
How did you choose the correct model and size?
Frog bikes are sized by the rider’s leg length rather than age. There’s a handy guide to measuring your child’s inside leg on the brand’s website. Once you’ve got this measurement, you use the online table to find the best wheel and frame size for your child. However, Frog Bikes strongly recommend that you buy your bike in person from your local Frog dealer, so that the bike will be built and checked by a qualified mechanic, and will be as safe as possible to ride.
To find the perfect size and model for your child, the dealer will use their professional experience, along with the FrogFit app, which takes into account arm length, inside leg measurement and a rider’s confidence level. They will also build the bike for you and adjust the seat post and brakes so they are exactly right for your child.
We went to our excellent local independent bike workshop, Lunar Cycles, in north London, where a fleet of Frog bikes are available for test rides. We explained that Tyler, our six-year-old son, is a confident two-wheeler cyclist who mostly rides on paths and roads.
Hanry, owner and manager of Lunar Cycles, immediately identified the best bike for him – a Frog 52, a hybrid bike for kids with a minimum inside-leg measurement of 52cm (20”), a wheel size of 20” and a frame size of 10”.
The Frog 52 is billed as the perfect all-rounder as it has two sets of tyres, one for paved surfaces and mountain bike tyres for off-roading. There are no girls’ or boys’ versions – it’s available in eight bright colours and patterns, including purple, red, orange, pink and, Tyler’s firm favourite, bright green.
Tell us about the frame of the Frog 52 bike?
It’s lightweight, but exceptionally sturdy because it’s made from heat-treated aluminium alloy. Unlike the frame of the Specialized Hotrock 20, the tubes have a uniform thickness (they don’t taper off), which I think makes the bike look basic – although it’s anything but. In fact, the frame’s geometry is based on tests involving child riders. Both the frame and forks come with a 5-year warranty.
Does it have suspension?
No, it doesn’t, yet the bike handles bumps well, especially when the mountain bike tyres are in use. Even with the standard tyres, the bike can easily mount kerbs and roll down them. Sadly, my son is a sucker for suspension and is decidedly unenthusiastic about riding the Frog 52 bike, despite it being much lighter and easier to manage than a bike with suspension.
What are the tyres like?
There are two sets of tyres included with this bike – one regular set for riding on roads, paths and pavements and a second, wider set for use on mud, tracks and tough terrain. Both are brilliant at what they’re designed to do – the wire bead tyres that come fitted on the bike wheels are great for smooth surfaces and grip the concrete paving around our house in both wet and dry conditions. They are robust enough to handle grass and gravel for short distances, but the knobbly, chunkier mountain bike tyres are superb at tackling rocks, muddy fields and wet ground for hours at a time.
How lightweight is the bike? Can your son lift it easily?
At a featherweight 8.54kg, this bike is around 4kg lighter than a bike that has suspension. It makes a huge difference to the handling – Tyler is confident steering and manoeuvring the bike from the moment he hops onto the saddle and can lift the bike up from the ground and over kerbs with minimum effort.
He’s able to push it along crowded pavements with ease and can turn tight corners, confident that he won’t topple over. Importantly, the light weight of the bike makes it much less of a hassle for parents to pull along or carry when their child is too busy eating an ice cream to pedal!
Is it easy to adjust?
Yes, you can alter the quick-release seat post quickly and easily without using tools – which is handy when your child has a growth spurt, or his younger brother wants a turn while you’re at the park.
How long will the bike fit your child?
The saddle on every Frog bike can be raised by 10cm, giving your child plenty of growing room and ensuring the bike will last several years. At 6 years old, Tyler is using the bike with the saddle raised a few centimetres on the seat post, so he could have been using it from the age of 5.
Taking into account how fast he grows, the bike should fit him until he’s about 7 years old. It could last even longer if we raise the handlebar stem, but to do that we’d need to buy a Frog Bikes stem riser adapter, which comes complete with 4 spacers to ensure the stem is the perfect height. Raising the stem can also mean swapping the brake cables for longer ones – a procedure Frog Bikes recommends is carried out by a trained mechanic or the stockist who supplied the bike, so this would likely involve an extra charge.
Does the Frog 52 bike feel safe?
Yes, it feels very safe as Tyler looks like he is in control of the bike at all times. Unlike heavier bikes, which he sometimes struggles to control, especially when turning tight corners and even when pushing them along the pavement, this one seems very well behaved.
I’m far happier watching him pedal through the park, follow paths and bump up and down kerbs on the Frog 52 than on his heavier, front-suspension mountain bike, as I know that if he were to fall off, this bike isn’t likely to hurt him if it falls on top of him.
When Tyler needs to slow down or stop, he can easily engage the reliable Tektro brakes by pulling the small, easy-to-reach levers without his hands having to leave the handlebars. And because the bike comes with reflectors and a bell, I know Tyler can be seen and heard while out and about.
However, I do have a safety gripe about the lack of space for Tyler’s front bike light on the handlebars between the stem, brake levers and gear shifters. We ended up having to place a very small, rubber-mounted light around the top of the stem, which wasn’t as safe as using a properly positioned standard front bike light.
Is the Frog 52 a good ‘big bike?’ to transition to?
Because of the gears, I’d say it’s probably better as a second ‘big bike’ – it’s not suitable for a child transitioning from a balance bike or a small bike with stabilisers. The Frog 52 is more suited to children who are already confident pedalling a 2-wheel bike who want the added thrill and challenge of gears.
What do you think of the gears on the bike?
The Frog 52 has 8-speed, rapid-fire, easy-change, thumb-shifter gears. I prefer these to grip-shift gears as there’s no need to move your hand on the handlebar to change gear and, since grip-shift gears require some wrist strength to move, and most children haven’t yet developed that strength, I think gears that can be changed using just a thumb are the most logical choice. But Tyler doesn’t share my view and prefers the grip-shift gears on his other bike.
Is the Frog 52 bike comfortable to ride?
Yes, very, according to Tyler, who was happy pedalling to school on the bike on only his second day in the saddle, probably because it’s child-specific and cushioned enough to minimise any bumps in the road. But perhaps the biggest factor in increasing his enjoyment is the patented Frog cranks which reduce the distance between the pedals to increase comfort and efficiency. These work a treat – I notice Tyler’s knees don’t splay out when he’s riding and he goes much faster with less effort on this bike than on his other one.
What’s the steering like on the Frog 52 bike? Does it have steering limiters?
It seems very responsive; Tyler is able to turn the bike with ease using very little pressure and can confidently steer it with one hand while indicating with his other hand. This model doesn’t have steering limiters.
How easy is it to transport?
Very – thanks to the quick-release front wheels that can be easily removed and reattached. The only potential snag is the need to disconnect the front brakes along with the wheel as it takes practice to reconnect them both safely. But instructions for doing this are included with the bike, and we got the hang of it after a few attempts.
Is there an alternative model for a child who wants to race on hard surfaces or only rides off-road?
Not in this size. But this bike is a genuine all-rounder and can be used on and off-road thanks to the dual set of tyres.
Is there a kickstand?
No, a Frog bike doesn’t come fitted with a kickstand, but we bought one – you can buy them at a Frog Bikes dealer or online. Once fitted, the kickstand supports the bike well and Tyler has no difficulty flipping it down and back up. However, when the kickstand is in the up position, it’s a snug fit on the Frog 52, and I struggle to get my size-5 shoe into position to move it down to the ground. It’s definitely designed for children’s feet!
Does the Frog 52 come with mudguards?
Yes, and they’re very good – full-length, made of tough resin, and black so they don’t show up the dirt.
Are any other accessories included?
Included with the Frog 52 is a bell, front and rear reflectors, wheel reflectors, paint plasters (so you can cover up scratches and nicks on your frame) and frame protector patches. There are loads of other Frog accessories available to buy online or from Frog Bikes dealers, including lights, pannier racks, Frog hoodies, cycle jerseys, high-vis vests and the reflective Frog rucksack, which comes stamped with the distinctive green frog in a mud splat.
How long do you reckon this bike will last?
Thanks to the quality and durability of its frame and the simplicity of its components, I think this bike could last three children around two years apiece. And because Tyler’s comes in gender-neutral green, it can be passed between brothers and sisters with no arguments over it being too girly or boyish.
How well do Frog Bikes hold their value?
Exceptionally well – you can get up to 75 per cent of the bike’s value at resale, which is definitely worth bearing in mind if you’re deliberating about forking out £325 for a Frog bike. There’s also a Frog part-exchange scheme through Frog stores called LeapFrog, which allows you to trade in your outgrown model and buy the next size up, or a different style, such as a road or mountain bike.
Are there any other ways to get a Frog bike?
Yes. You can rent a Frog bike by the month from The Bike Club. It’s a great option if your child is likely to outgrow a size in the near future or if you can’t afford to buy a bike outright.
A thoughtfully designed hybrid bike that offers young riders the chance to tackle totally different terrain simply by switching tyres. The durable yet lightweight frame, patented cranks and easy-to-reach brake and gear levers make bicycling a pleasure and well worth the high price. Children will love the bike’s speed and agility, while their parents will appreciate the bike’s safety features, longevity and resale value.
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