Hayes JUNIT Offers Performance Mountain Bike Components For Kids

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Hayes (who you’ll remember for brakes, but which is part of the whole Manitou/ProTaper/Sun-Ringle group) has just launched a full range of performance mountain bike components designed specifically for young riders. While we’ve seen smaller brake levers and smaller bikes for years, Hayes reckoned that there wasn’t anything out there for the new generation of bike park-riding, head-high hucking youngsters who are so all annoyingly good. There are small helmets and small pads available, but few suspension forks set up for lighter weight and smaller wheels. Generally, kids have to wait until they’re at least big enough for cast-off 26in wheeled frames.

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One of the Commencal team bikes. Yes, there’s a team…
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Just do the comparative head-height maths and think if you’d ride that


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20in kids’ fork with 15mm thru-axle. Don’t see that every day


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No cheapo hubs here either. This is all top drawer stuff


Now, though, Hayes has produced what it calls ‘JUNIT’ – or J-Unit, for its Junior-specific range of components. It consists of suspension forks (in 20in and 24in, wheels, hydraulic brakes and a clever handlebar/grip system. All designed for lighter riders and shorter hand reach.

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Luckily, there’s already a pretty good range of 20in and 24in tyre treads

Manitou JUNIT Machete
A key component of the JUNIT system is that the Manitou Machete 20in and 24in suspension forks offer complete adult functionality and adjustability, yet specifically tuned for kids. Manitou has tuned the fork for lighter riders – so that it actually moves – but still kept grownup features like the 15mm thru-axles and damping controls.

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It’s a Manitou Machete, but just shorter and for lighter riders

Dominion Brake with SFL (Short Finger Lever)
Building off the award-winning Dominion A4 hydraulic brake, Hayes’ product development team set out to design a brake system specifically for any rider with smaller hands. Dominion SFL (Short Finger Lever) maintains all the power and feel of the A4 design, fitted with a specifically smaller designed and narrower brake lever optimized for small hands.

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Grown up hand for scale
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Life can be tough with short fingers…

Another component of the JUNIT system is the new SUNringlé Düroc wheels. Offered in both 20in and 24in, JUNIT Düroc are high-quality, tubeless ready wheels for kids.

Sun Ringle makes tubeless wheels to suit too.
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Teeny brake, but it’s also holding the grip on. And wait, that’s not a normal handlebar…

JUNIT ProTaper Handlebar system

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The handlebar tapers down to 15mm, making the 23mm grip grippable

JUNIT ProTaper MTB handlebar and grip is the final part of this system. Engineering began by researching anthropometric data from a NASA database. Hayes determined the average hand size of a 6-10 year old which set the team into motion. Normally, grip diameter is a result of adding material to a standard handlebar size. For the JUNIT ProTaper handlebar system, Hayes began by determining the ideal grip diameter and worked inward. The result is a handlebar and grip with a 23mm outside diameter that’s ideal for a smaller hand. The JUNIT ProTaper handlebar and grip are specifically designed to be used together. By comparison, a normal adult grip measures around 31-33mm in diameter.

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The grip and shim are one-unit, with a single end cap.

We’ve seen smaller grips and tapered bars in the past (Juliana was one of the first) but it’s usually just in the final grip bit of the bar, otherwise you can’t find brake and shift levers that’ll fit round the smaller bar. In a bit of ingenious thinking, Hayes has made its ProTaper bar 15mm all the way down, but the 23mm grip extends inwards, giving a normal width for components to bolt on to. And even more cleverly, the clamp of the components also serves to tighten down and secure the (split) grip so that it stays in place. A ‘normal’ ish outer collar adds the final piece of security.

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720mm bars should be wide enough for most. That was wide in 2005…
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We do love the Hayes ‘Crosshair’ system of grub screw for aligning calipers

Dominion Brake, not just for kids

The Dominion brake used in the JUNIT setup is the same hydraulic brake in its grown up line, only with a specific shorter finger lever. Hayes is aware that this might also appeal to adults with shorter fingers, so it’s not specifically a JUNIT brake. There’s a new colour for the regular Dominion brake too, this dark copper colour.

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The Dominion Short Finger Lever can be used with either the 2 or 4 pot calipers
The regular Dominion
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The brake clamp is the inner securing anchor

So, is this just the preserve of pushy parents and competitive dads? Only time will tell, but it should fit the ‘high-price but high-resale-value’ model that makes Islabikes so appealing for parents willing to invest initially. The quality and regular serviceability should mean that the components should keep working long into the secondhand market.


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“Hey kids, can you teach me some tricks please?” Action photos by Alan Davis. 

To learn more about the JUNIT collection, visit www.HayesDiscBrake.com.

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And there are stickers!



Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (4)

    How wide are the JUnit bars?

    710mm going by the numbers printed on that pic above 🙂

    That seems quite wide for a 9yo…

    (The bars on mine are 720’s)

    You can always trim them down… There’s enough slim bar there to chop them down to 610mm and still have the slim grip in place.

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