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Cleary Scout Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike Review

When it comes to bike adventures, our family loves mountain biking best. My son is very fortunate to get to test lots of very nice mountain bikes. The latest one he’s been riding is the newest iteration of the Cleary Scout.

Mountain bikes provide an opportunity for us to get out into the woods as a family, to exercise our bodies, and to enjoy each other’s company. Having durable, capable bikes means that we get to enjoy more of those happy moments and spend less time maintaining the equipment. These are the experiences that we live for.

Does this describe your family too? Then the Cleary Scout is a great addition to the stable of family bikes.

The aluminum, front suspended bike will handle most types of terrain with the exception of the most extreme downhills. It comes in 20″, 24″, and 26″ versions.

Unique to Cleary’s lineup is the aluminum frame on the Scout. Most of Cleary’s other frames are steel with exception of the Scout and soon to be new Gecko. This is a recent change due to prohibitive costs of materials which has enticed Cleary to switch to aluminum for the two frames weight vs. cost factor.

Our son was able to test the Cleary Scout 26 for a month and enjoyed testing this capable mountain bike. Read on to learn more about our experience…..

CS26 P Descends
P descending down Hulls Gulch (our backyard trail) aboard the Cleary Scout 26.

Review In a Nutshell

Pros:

  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Dropper post compatible and internal routing
  • Appropriate, modern geometry
  • Capable mountain bike
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Component spec is a bit lower end

Price and Where To Buy:


Cleary Scout 26 Video Review

Cleary Scout Has a Durable, Aluminum Frame

The Scout is built from lightweight 6061 alloy. The weight of the frame feels light and maneuverable.

The frame comes in one color, intergalactic green. Sort of a dark green with a sparkle finish. It looks snazzy!

Note that our test build came with some extras as it was a demo bike sent by Cleary. This includes the orange grips and pedals; these components will be different on the stock bike.

The Scout 26 frame fit my 9-year-old, 5’5″ son quite well. Being a 26-inch bike, it’s a bit bigger than my son’s current 24 inch Trailcraft.

The reach on the frame fit my son well and he is tall enough that he was able to raise the PNW dropper post about half-way up its travel. So, the bike is still a bit big, but that’s how most parents like to buy a bike anyhow.  

The CLeary Scout 26
The Cleary Scout 26

Sizing: A fairly wide range

The frame fits kids with an inseam between 25” and 29″ (65.6 cm and 73.7 cm). That equates to somewhere between 9 to 12 for most kids.

The Cleary Scout fit my 9-year-old son with a modern, slack, hard tail look. A head tube angle of 69 degrees and a seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees are angles moving towards current hard tail trends for adult bikes, but still maintain a “cross-country” position that allows for fast pedaling and quick handling. Although he is on the short end of the seat post travel, it fit him comfortably and he was able to maneuver easily and ride big climbs in addition to fast, tear inducing descents.

My son has plenty of room and time to grow with a frame of this size. The top tube is 514mm or 20.24 inches. My large size mountain bike has an effective top tube length of 640mm or 25.2 inches. That is just 5 inches between myself and my huge kid.

Soon he will be riding my bikes! Compared to his previous ages, it seems the bikes are starting to last a bit longer as growing slows down and riding increases. This is even more of a reason to invest in a good bike at this age.

Internal Routing And A Dropper Post

The newest rendition of the Scout has not only been built with a new material, but internal routing was added through the main triangle of the frame’s design. Both the right brake and shifter routing wrap around the head tube to the left side and insert into the down tube.

The dropper post cable is routed around to the right of the head tube. All cables run down clean and exit a large port just below the bottom bracket and connect to their respective components.

Having a dropper post for mountain biking may be one of the best innovations in cycling for the past 20 years. All of the technology that bikes have these days is astounding.

There are a few brands out there, but the majority of kids bikes cannot accept an internal dropper post. As sizes increase this phenomenon decreases.

As mentioned previously, the Cleary Scout 26 we received had a few different parts from stock, including the PNW dropper. While the PNW does not come standard on the Scout, it’s a good example of how you could upgrade the bike after the fact.

This handsome hard tail was fun for my son to ride and together they coasted down the trail. My son has primarily been on a full suspension and was caught off guard by the rigid rear end for a moment.

Once he got comfortable with the seat down, descents around and over rock piles became fun again. The Scout is a durable, capable machine.

CS 26 Dropper
A PNW Loam Dropper kept the downhills fun and playful.

The Component Build

The supply chain issues we have seen over the last few years may have had an effect here, but the Scout came with a few parts that I did not recognize. Most of the small bits, like grips, stem, top cap, pedals, and handlebars are Cleary house branded including the appropriately size 152mm cranks. (This is a change from the old Scout which was often criticized for having cranks that were too long).

A few items like the pedals will most likely be swapped out with upgrades so your son or daughter will have better contact with the bike. Wheels are Alex rims paired to 28 spoke hubs and Contact Mtn tires. The build we received had CST Patrol tires instead.

The drivetrain is comprised of a Sunrace shifter, cassette and rear derailleur.

C26 parts
A general view of the various parts on the Scout 26.

We did have a few issues with ghost shifting and had to dial in the barrel adjuster to get the system functioning again. Overall, the 1×10 system worked, but a higher end drive train would be a game changer on this fun frame. Moreover, boost spacing vs. standard spacing would open up options for wider tires, more durability and a stout build.

Like the choice to move to aluminum, a reduction in weight and expense was one of the end goals. Building the bike with standard spacing allows Cleary to access parts to match 26-inch wheel standards at a lower price point. If anything is holding the Scout back, it is the component spec, but those things can be changed.

Considering the size of the frame and current industry trends, it does make me wonder if the frame would have been better served with boost spacing and through axles, vs. standard spacing and 9mm wheel skewers. There may have been some added weight, but the wheels and frame would have been more robust. Again, the cost-benefit of standard spacing must have won out.

Upgrading Components

I had never heard of the brakes stocked on the Scout. NUTT hydraulic 160mm disc brakes mostly served their duty, but we did have one issue.

I could not find the time to do a full bleed on the NUTT brakes, but “burped” the lever several times before going riding with my son. The quick solution allowed us to get through our rides, but each time the brake faded by the end and needed air pumped out again.

A Suntour 100mm air fork provided front suspension. When setting sag to my son’s weight the fork seemed rigid for him. If I tried to reduce some pressure it would not rebound all the way back. With sag set properly it appeared to be working in the video playback.

My son mentioned it felt a bit rigid and harsh. We have tested this fork for a 24 inch bike, the Pello Reyes and it worked decently. It seems to be the same here. It works decently but an upgrade might be in order if your kiddo likes a plush fork.

The Trail Rides

Being that this frame is a used bike, it could have been ridden hard and we just were not aware of the condition. The brakes were the most inhibitive component to my son’s test rides. Everything else served its purpose, but the lack of brake at the end of each ride was a challenge for him.

Climbing was easy and he didn’t need any towing. Descents were an absolute blast with exception of the fading brakes at the end.

The bike is capable and intended for off-road adventure. The bike can carve through turns, hop jumps and rocks and handle varying trail obstacles. The Scout is an affordable hard tail mountain bike.

Cleary 26 P and K
The little guy is getting pretty fast as he grows and the wheels get bigger.

While testing, my son drove the bike down through rocky, technical sections of trail, over large rock features, along swooping and flowing singletrack and the bike was stable and quick. He accelerated with ease and kept up with me on each ride. I really enjoyed seeing him experience a hard tail again.

ReRide Considerations

The Scout is a great mountain bike for a budding trail adventure buddy. Cleary has made choices that supports long term sustainability in operations like the move to aluminum for a few frames. They also give back to the community and help children in need.

Cleary offers the ReRide program. An incentivized option to receive a rebate if you send back the used bike once your child or children have outgrown the bike. This allows one to use their rebate on a new purchase of another Cleary model while the company provides refurbished bikes to kids in need. This is a great program that helps others out and kids need bikes more now than ever before!

The bike comes with a lifetime warranty which is always a nice insurance. If you would like to deck out your little adventure buddy’s new ride, their website also has several parts and accessories available for purchase including replacement parts.

CS26 Up High
Flowing under the sun is always a great day.

Cleary Scout vs The Competition

A close competitor to the Cleary Scout, would be the Woom OFF AIR. The two are close in price ($1,049 for the Woom 6, and $1,190 for the Scout 26).

So how do they compare? The Woom OFF Air has the slight edge, in our opinion. It’s slightly cheaper, lighter, and has a nicer air fork, brakes, and drivetrain. It also has a thru-axle for added stability and safety.

That said, the Cleary Scout has internal routing for a dropper post where the Woom does not. The Scout also has more travel in the front fork (100mm vs 90mm for the 26″), although this is somewhat offset by the fact that the Suntour fork is more difficult to compress.

The Scout also wins out at the moment (summer 2022) due to default. The Woom OFF is out of stock currently and has been for a while.

Bottom-Line: A Hard Tail Mountain Bike That Meets The Budget Of Serious Bike Families

The Cleary Scout is a beautiful bike with an ability to carry your kiddo into the woods and over the trails to that view point you have always wanted to share with your little friend. The components are robust enough to last for some time, but a serious bike family will want to upgrade parts for reliability and comfort. Don’t let our experience with a well-used demo bike deter you.

The overall build is an affordable addition to the market and will meet the needs of budding NICA racers the world around. With its durability and light weight design, the Scout will provide years of joy and riding. Most of all, the Scout still brings a smile to bright young faces and that is worth everything.

CS26 P Climbs
See you down the trail.

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About The Reviewers

The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.

Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.

If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!

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