Trek Roscoe 24 review: great little trail bike

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The Trek Roscoe 24 sports 2.8in fat tyres, a 1x drivetrain and a wide-range cassette, sloping top tube, note how the rear brake calliper is tucked into the frame to help prevent damage from laying the bike down.

  • Brand: Trek
  • Product: Roscoe 24
  • Price: £575.00
  • From: Trek Bikes
  • Review by: Barney

Children are fickle creatures. Just when you think that you can just buy one bike and hand it down when necessary, that becomes a problem – one of them doesn’t grow as fast as you thought; the other grows too much; one of them has become sufficiently gung-ho that bikes last a matter of weeks, or end up upended in the bottom of ponds, or tied to rope swings… the inventive ways that kids can surprise you is a constant source of delight/dismay. Still, it occasionally becomes necessary to make yet another foray in to the world of kids’ bikes.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Wisconsin-based cycling behemoth Trek has a range of kids bikes to suit all tastes. The Roscoe 24 takes its name from the more grown-up Roscoe bikes in the Trek range, but apparently ‘designed from the ground up for kids’. Well alrighty then. Let’s find out what that means in Treksville.

It’s a chonkin’

First up, the bike is pretty cool looking. Suave red and black. Neat profile, fully rigid, with some pretty chonkin’ tyres. The frame is made from “Alpha” aluminium, apparently. According to Trek, this is their ‘most advanced aluminium ever’. From what I can gather this is less about the alloy itself, and more about the hydro forming and shaping of the tubes to yield the best profiles with the most comfort and the lightest weight. Which is nice. It’s certainly sleek.

There’s a gap between the bottom bracket and the downtube which allows for semi-internal hose routing to maintain those lines. The fork is also alloy, with lines that flow smoothly from the frame down to the axle. The hub is a formula 100mm QR number, which is lashed via 28 spokes to an enormously wide (comparatively) alloy rim and Chen Shin (me neither) 24×2.8 tyres. It’s the same story at the back, except the rear hub is a boost 141 model. For those unfamiliar (as I was) this boils down to a regular Boost rear hub – except that instead of a 12mm thru-axle, it uses QR end caps.

Where’s the drop?

As might be presumed on a kids bike with all of the tyre wideness, the bottom bracket is a special wide number too – an old-school cup and cone job (don’t believe Trek’s website that says it’s a cartridge) with a whopping 131mm tapered axle, on which is firmly thrust some 152mm cranks with a 28t chainring. The BB drop is 58mm, which is pretty substantial on a kids’ bike – more on that later.

The chain is hauled around an 8 speed 11-34 tooth cassette by a Shimano Tourney rear mech controlled by an Altus shifter. Stopping is handled by some Tektro MD-M280 mechanical discs and 160mm rotors, controlled by small throw levers.

The rest of the kit has a lot of ‘Bontrager’ on it – stem, seat post and bars are all from Keith’s stash, with kidsized saddle, pedals and grips providing the contact points. Over all, a solid package. But, dear reader, how does it ride? We despatched our most unicorn-festooned 7 year-old tester, Alis Marsh, on a mission to find out.

The ride

It’s funny how some kids (people) can be immune to the vagaries of geometry, whereas others will be hyper-alert to every degree of change. Alis’ old bike, a hand-me-down from her big sister, was a case in point. Eliza loved it in all its aspects (until a disastrous trip to Llandegla proved just how big she was for it), but when we handed it down to Alis, she complained of feeling perched on top of the bike, and of not feeling in control. A swift investigation of geometry yielded some possible clues – the cranks weren’t long enough for her, at 140mm, and nor was the BB drop at 15mm. Although these are not uncommon geo figures on kids bikes at all, Alis struggled to get much power down thanks to the short cranks, which was amplified by the very short BB drop. And thanks to this last, she only felt safe with the saddle slammed, which gave her practically no leverage, and a feeling of pitching over the bars.

Perfect geometry

Here, then, the Roscoe is absolutely perfect. The longer 152mm cranks let her put the power down more effectively, and the substantial bb drop (58mm) lets her climb on with ease, and run the saddle at a reasonable height. Comfortable pedalling, and a feeling of being in the bike rather than on it, coupled with a decreased chance of flying over the bars are the result. This is a massive win in my book.

Cush confidence

The lack of a fork on lumpier terrain is not the problem is might be thanks to those enormous tyres, although the shallow tread isn’t ideal in the mud. The tyres are perfect for dry conditions, though, and the whole bike is geared up for playing around on fairly easy tracks and paths. For soggier parts of the test we swapped the tyres out for some burlier Hans Dampf 24in tyres with a 2.4in carcass, which worked much better in the glop and during faster cornering. This slightly narrower tyre carcass also served to lower the BB even more for increased slithery confidence, and although I was worried about pedal strikes, this has been ill-founded; Alis has had no issues in this regard whatsoever.

I admit I’m generally not completely sold on tyres as large as 2.8in for kids’ bikes. I understand the appeal from a comfort perspective (and the cartoony looks also help) but I suspect the boost QR hub and the ultra-wide bottom bracket – which both worked absolutely perfectly, I should say – were only there to increase the clearances for the tyres. A slightly narrower tyre (such as the 2.4s I added) would still give the requisite Cush, and further might let Trek get away with a cartridge bottom bracket and a more conventional 135mm rear hub. But I’m not an engineer, so I eagerly await your angry letters pointing out the error of my ways. I also initially wondered whether such chunky tyres might also be heavy, so I weighed them. They’re a shade over 700g each – not too shabby at all, considering I’m running tyres twice that weight on my full suss.

Gear up

The gearing is somewhat agricultural (there are cheaper bikes available with better spec., at least on paper) but performed flawlessly. The gears were easy enough to select with small hands, although if I was being nit-picky the throw when shifting up was a little high. Alis had to use her wrist to push the lever enough to shift gears, but she swiftly because used to it. The range is pretty good, too. Alis finds she can winch up most things by just sitting down and flailing away – her preferred style (and mine, if I’m honest).

Brake down

The only real issue we found was with the Tektro mechanical brakes. Even after allowing a very generous bedding in period, they were lacking in power. I attempted to move things along by trying to ride the Roscoe down some inclines myself and hauling on the anchors, but they resolutely refused to improve. The return spring you work against to activate them also seems to be rather stiff. Couple that with the springs in the levers, and it becomes tough to stop in good time on anything even remotely steep. They’re fine with enough forward planning and on nothing too vertiginous, but forward planning isn’t exactly high on the list of the average 7 year old’s attributes. Would different pads help, maybe? Less stiff return springs? Better yet, a hydraulic upgrade would be a much better bet for little hands. I eventually swapped the brakes on our test bike for some Tektro hydraulics I had knocking around, and they were a revelation. Alis was immediately more confident with her braking in pretty much all situations (except berms. She still hates berms).


The Roscoe 24 has superb geometry, probably the best of any kids’ bike I’ve investigated. It’s impossible to overestimate how confidence inspiring a decent geometry can feel to kids when they’re starting out on their MTB journey. Couple this with a great, sure-footed feel and some basic (but perfectly functioning) kit, and you’ve got a great little trail bike that’s only let down by the brakes.

Trek Roscoe 24 Specification

  • Frame // Alpha Aluminium
  • Fork // Trek Aluminium
  • Wheels // Formula hubs (F-100mm, R-141mm QR), 28 spokes, alloy rims
  • Front Tyre // Chen Shin 24×2.8
  • Rear Tyre // Chen Shin 24×2.8
  • Chainset // Alloy 152mm, 28t
  • Drivetrain // Sunrise Cassette, Shimano Tourney mech, Altus shifter
  • Brakes // Tektro MD-M280
  • Stem // Bontrager 60mm
  • Bars // Bontrager alloy, 580mm
  • Grips // Kids’ Kraton
  • Seatpost // Bontrager alloy, 250mm
  • Saddle // Kids’ 24” size, padded
  • BB // Cup and cone, 73x131mm
  • Size Tested // N/A
  • Weight // 11.6kg

Geometry of Trek Roscoe 24

  • Head angle // 70°
  • Effective seat angle // 72°
  • Seat tube length // 310mm
  • Head tube length // 105mm
  • Chainstay // 410mm
  • Wheelbase // 985mm
  • Effective top tube // 532mm
  • BB height // 269mm
  • Reach // 355mm

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Review Info

Brand: Trek
Product: Roscoe 24
From: Trek Bikes
Price: £575.00
Tested: by Marsh Jnr for 3 months

Barney Marsh takes the word ‘career’ literally, veering wildly across the road of his life, as thoroughly in control as a goldfish on the dashboard of a motorhome. He’s been, with varying degrees of success, a scientist, teacher, shop assistant, binman and, for one memorable day, a hospital laundry worker. These days, he’s a dad, husband, guitarist, and writer, also with varying degrees of success. He sometimes takes photographs. Some of them are acceptable. Occasionally he rides bikes to cast the rest of his life into sharp relief. Or just to ride through puddles. Sometimes he writes about them. Bikes, not puddles. He is a writer of rongs, a stealer of souls and a polisher of turds. He isn’t nearly as clever or as funny as he thinks he is.

More posts from Barney

  • This topic has 18 replies, 11 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Rich_s.
Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Trek Roscoe 24 review: great little trail bike
  • johnnystorm
    Full Member

    Chen shin tyres, Cheng Shin innit? As fitted to the classic Raleigh Mustang way back when. Now called CST and their jazzy tyres are branded Maxxis…

    Full Member

    Had one of these for my littlest until recently – really weird shape to ride, underpowered brakes, harsh grips, very straight bars, tyres felt very odd to ride on as an adult (I’d ride it to and from school for her). Before that we had a Cannondale Cujo 20 which was vastly better.
    Trek say it’s suitable for 129cm-150cm but I doubt that very much, probably nearer 135 or more at the bottom end, and especially given the 152mm cranks which are way too long and got swapped for some short Frog ones.

    Free Member

    Rich – I put it to you that if you’re riding it at all, and at tyre pressures suitable for a 7yo then yes, it’ll definitely feel *very* odd to ride 😀

    Tester Alis is currently 132cm, and has had the bike for a few months now; I’d be surprised if she was much bigger than 129cm when we got it.

    The crank length was absolutely perfect for her – the ones she’s graduated from were far too short. I guess it goes to show that every kid is different.

    Free Member

    152mm crank for a 132cm child is like the average UK male using a 210mm crank.

    Considering there’s a slow but progressive movement to suggest that we should all be on shorter cranks I cant help but feel we’re giving kids a poor deal.

    Full Member

    Kids bikes are getting better but crank length still too long in most cases. 140mm cranks are more appropriate for the height range that Trek’s aimed at.

    Youngest a11y starting riding a 24″-wheeled Vitus from around 130cm (now 141cm). Spec its way better than the Trek, cheaper to buy too: 140mm cranks, hydraulic brakes which work, decent Schwalbe tyres, a half-decent suspension fork, and 1×8. Only change I made was a 11-40t cassette to increase the gear range. Slacker 67deg HA, whole bike very confidence-inspiring. Weighed at 12.0kg with pedals and a fatter 2.35″ Smart Sam on the front, so only 400g heavier than the Trek despite suspension fork.

    I’ve got a Vitus Nucleus 26 stashed away for when she’s ready for it. Frustratingly that’s specced with 165mm cranks… same length cranks I use at 188cm on my XL Geometron! I’ll be looking for a set of 152mm cranks for it.


    Free Member

    I’m convinced shorter cranks & lower BBs on kids bikes would be far more confidence inspiring for them.

    How do they get on with the wheel size? I know larger has benefits in some areas & 24″ isn’t really 24″ but that’s like you running a 32″ wheel.

    I’m inclined to keep my kid running a bike more in proportion to an adult bike for longer than most people would.

    Full Member

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that seemed expensive, heavy and very weird geometry (why bars so high and long fork / head tube?) That Vitus looks much better thought out. And I seem to remember 150 ish cranks were about right for the tiny 26er I brazed up for my youngest many years ago (pre clutches and narrow-wide so I also made a braze on chain device thingy).

    Full Member

    I’m convinced shorter cranks & lower BBs on kids bikes would be far more confidence inspiring for them.

    Yep Frog should take note on this, especially on their Frog 62. BB is so high that to get good pedaling, too far to get a foot comfortably on the ground.

    As from from above Vitus much better thought out in both there mtb and their Frog 62 equiv

    Cannondale have a super low BB in their kids bikes and no super daft over suspension corrected fork like that Roscoe and short 130mm cranks.

    Kids Cujo 24 | 7 to 12 Bikes | Cannondale

    and better version with wider range gears decent shifter etc:

    Kids Cujo Race 24+ | 7 to 12 Bikes | Cannondale


    Full Member

    Well, what we replaced it with was this. Under me, on a pump track, like it’s on rails. She’s vastly more confidence in it than the Trek, and that’s despite me building it 😁

    View post on

    (The tyre comment was actually because under cornering it almost felt like it had a belt of steel that was flat, and when leaned over it just felt… odd. Her previous Cujo 20 definitely didn’t feel like that (2.6″ tyres) and I’ve ridden all of their bikes to school from a Rothan to a 27.5″ Scott!).

    Full Member

    ^ That pump track at Reigate/Redhill?

    Full Member

    I can’t recommend Hoy bikes highly enough. My 9 year old has just graduated from a Hoy Bonaly 24 to a Bonaly 26. I’ll be putting a fatter grippier tyre on for front for winter though. He loves it.

    I did look at the Treks but the kids bike seem to stop at 24″ wheels.

    Free Member

    My youngest loves his Roscoe. I ride my Farley with him and he feels invincible on his mini fat bike.

    It works for us.

    He has some mega heavy/treaded Kenda El Capos on it.
    I guess they were emptying every warehouse they could find in time for last Christmas.

    Full Member

    Also have the Vitus in 24” guise for my 9y/o and echo all the above. Trek Roscoe was on the short list but when I saw one in the flesh the geometry was just odd, plus the spec poor value compared to the Vitus. The Vitus is a great value little bike, confidence inspiring. Gets used daily for the school run as well as trail centres, XC trails and shredding the local woods.

    Full Member

    ^ That pump track at Reigate/Redhill

    Not quite – it’s in birkenhead 😏

    Full Member

    ^ That pump track at Reigate/Redhill

    Not quite – it’s in birkenhead 😏

    No worries, wasn’t that sure of was RR.

    Full Member

    @didnthurt – Hoy Bonaly 24 and 26

    Yep lovely bikes and nice move on from the previous Evans Pinnacle Kauri 26″ bike, though bit less stand over.

    Who ever was doing design for Evans’ Pinnacle and Hoy 24″/26″ kids bikes done and doing excellent job

    Full Member

    Mate’s older son has one of these and it’s fantastic. The fat tyres give him plenty of grip on the rocky, rooty, gravel tracks where we ride.

    Full Member

    …one other thing, the SunRun cassette fitted to ours used to snag one tooth on the (IIRC) 15t sprocket when it was in a higher gear. Now, that wasn’t often for her, but it was annoying.

    Replaced it with a Shimano alternative and it worked perfectly.

    Always knew I should have got her a Cujo 24, but her ladyship demanded pink 😁

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)

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