It may come as something of a surprise to you (well, it did to me) to hear that Frog Bikes ‘only’ dates back to 2013. It feels like it has been around for a lot longer than that. What does this mean? I have no idea. Maybe it’s testament to how the company hit the ground running with a clear remit and well-executed range of bikes. It didn’t feel like a newcomer.
- Price: £745.00
- From: frogbikes.co.uk
- Tested by: Alis
That’s not to say that Frog Bikes hasn’t changed over the years. It almost has a range refresh as frequently as big brand adult bikes do. Every couple of years or so, Frog Bikes revisits its geometries (in 2014, 2016 and 2020–21 so far). And every year sees at least one or two new components being specced.
The most recent significant component improvements include new brake levers, off-road tyres and better gear cabling (all 2020), and the FrogFit suspension fork (in 2019). The Frog MTB 62 featured here is its 24 inch wheel mountain bike with 60mm travel suspension fork, hydraulic disc brakes and 11–40T 9-speed drivetrain. It’s also available with red decals and cabling, as well as the blue seen here.
For some reason, 24 inch wheel bikes seem to be the hardest nut to crack when it comes to designing – and speccing – one that works as a cohesive whole. With 20 inch wheel bikes, the pressure’s off a bit when it comes to speccing adult-alike components. Bikes with 20 inch wheels are allowed to be kids’ bikes. Bikes with 24in wheels seem to want to ape adult bikes, arguably too early. Just like kids themselves in many ways…
Obviously 26 inch wheel bikes have a few decades of adult mountain bike know-how/stock/tooling/etc., to call upon which makes things a whole load easier for designers. It must be really hard to concoct a 24 inch wheel mountain bike that ‘works’, both in a functional componentry sense and in a bike handling sense. And for what it’s worth, Frog has done a really good job of pulling it off.
The Frog MTB 62 is not perfect, but I can sense that perfection may well be impossible to achieve on an off-the-peg, mass-market 24 incher. To get to the point, there are only two components that we weren’t entirely happy with on the Frog MTB 62: the tyres and the stem.
You can roll your eyes all you want, but that 60mm stem is too long. It’s like running a 100mm stem on an adult bike. It just feels wrong and put all kinds of weight in the wrong place at inopportune times. Sticking a 35–40mm stem on would improve no end of things.
The tyres are merely mediocre. Somehow lacking off-road for traction and comfort, while also being harsh and draggy on firmer surfaces. The first thing we’d do is swap them out for something like a Schwalbe Hans Dampf or (for milder, drier terrain) a Kenda Small Block Eight.
One of the main things that many of you will be interested in is whether or not the suspension fork is any good. It’s not declared anywhere, but the 65mm travel FrogFit is almost certainly a reworked Manitou. And it is a decent fork as long as you set it up with functional rebound in mind, rather than sag. Put simply, it’s all too easy to run the fork too soft (by setting it up with a focus on ‘correct’ sag) whereupon the rebound and the air spring profile no longer work well. Essentially the fork compresses and… doesn’t extend. This results in scary front end handling as well as just general harshness. It’s not an issue for heavier riders, but lighter riders will need careful set-up. Basically, check if the fork extends during riding. If it sinks and stays sunk, put more air in.
The contact points were fine. The bars were a tad on the narrow side (580mm) but not unrideably so. The brakes worked well throughout the test. The drivetrain was broad-ranging and easy to operate.
Putting the components to one side for a while, let’s talk about the Frog MTB 62’s geometry. Although to my eye the bike looked a bit on the short side in terms of reach and relatively steep in the head angle dangle, these fears never proved to be much of an issue for the rider.
The bottom bracket was a nice height for stability. So too the relatively lengthy chainstays similarly helped with the bike’s overall stability on challenging terrain. Not only was the relatively short reach and lofty front end not much of an issue, they arguably helped keep the bike that little bit more loft-able and nimble up front.
The Frog MTB 62 really seemed to shine on steep, but relatively straightforward terrain. Going uphill was very much the bike’s forte. Even though it may not have the weight weenie stats that some would prize, it doesn’t really matter. Gearing and stance are more important. It has easy-ish gearing, which is obviously a contributory factor, but it’s more that the chainstay length and the not-slack seat angle put the rider in a really efficient, comfortable and well-balanced position on the bike.
When it comes to going downhill, the Frog MTB 62 loves to bomb it in a straight line, down pretty much anything. The highish front end and the suspension fork that actually works (so long as it has enough psi in it for the internals to function properly) are real boons for gravity plummeting.
And let’s not forget the brakes. Arguably we did forget about the brakes because the harsh tyres were the things that seemed to give out before we got anywhere near the limits of the brakes. To be brutally honest, if ropey tyres are the price you have to pay for getting the FrogFit suspension fork on a bike, we reckon it’s a price worth paying. One or two new tyres is a much more reasonable upgrade purchase than trying to source a similarly well performing 24 inch suspension fork.
The Frog MTB 62 kind of reminded us of a dirt jump bike or pump track bike. It was super confident and super responsive on the right terrain. One caveat to this is that its Achilles heel was twisty singletrack or anything very cornery. The bike’s relatively short front centre (and that stem) did cause a few sketchy tucky moments on the trails.
That said, it was mainly an issue for riders at the taller end of this particular bike’s height spectrum. Such lanky kids should probably look to get on the 26 inch wheel Frog MTB 69 model that has a longer front end for not much reduction in standover.
The wheels and the drivetrain were not really noticed during the test period, which is a good sign about the bike rather than a bad sign about our testing practices. They just worked and required zero attention.
To be honest with you, dear reader, we didn’t have as high expectations for this Frog MTB 62 as we did with the other two kid’s mountain bikes in this feature. No doubt brand snobbery has the biggest part to play here, but it also just didn’t quite look like a sorted bike. Turns out, that’s just the way it is with 24in wheel mountain bikes. They always look weird!
Out on the trails, the Frog MTB 62 really won us over and proved our prejudices were exactly that. It may not look ‘cool’ or ‘right’, but the MTB 62 just flipping bombs uphill and downhill and keeps coming back for more. While £745 is still not a cheap kid’s bike, it does compare extremely well to far more expensive rival brands’ offerings.
Specification Frog MTB 62
- Frame // 6061 aluminium
- Fork // Frog Bikes Junior Specific, 65mm travel
- Wheels // KTSN3 hubs w/ 24H double-wall rims
- Front tyre // Kenda K1134, 24 x 2.1in
- Rear tyre // Kenda K1134, 24 x 2.1in
- Chainset // Frog Bikes, 127mm w/ 32T
- Drivetrain // Shimano Alivio/Acera 9-speed w/ SunRace 11-40T
- Brakes // Tektro hydraulic w/ 160/140mm rotors
- Stem // UNO, 60mm length
- Bars // UNO, 580mm riser
- Grips // Lock-On
- Seatpost // Aluminium, 27.2 x 250mm
- Saddle // Frog Bikes Junior
- Bottom Bracket // Thun, square taper
- Size tested // 24in wheel
- Sizes available // 14in, 16in, 20in, 24in wheel
- Weight // 11.43kg
Geometry Frog MTB 62
- Head angle // 69.5°
- Effective seat angle // 74°
- Seat tube length // 317mm
- Head tube length // 85mm
- Chainstay // 416mm
- Wheelbase // 985mm
- Effective top tube // 505mm
- BB height // 257mm
- Reach // N/A
|Tested:||by Alis for Issue 145|
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