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