There aren’t many kids fat bikes on the market, and generally this is for good reason. Fat bikes are heavy and not ideal for every day riding.
That said, there are plenty of families who need a kids fat bike for niche riding either in sand or in snow. For those select families, there is the Mongoose Argus Trail.
With roots in BMX racing, Mongoose is a name that has been in the cycling industry for decades. It is true that they sell their products through big box stores, but they also build quality, high-end bikes as well.
My son and I enjoyed our experience taking the Mongoose Argus out on our local trails. At this time of year, they are exceptionally sandy, so the Argus was in it’s ideal environment.
Taking the Argus out was a different experience than the norm and we both had fun. Mongoose has given the “go-ahead” to do a long term review to assess the handling and function of the Argus once winter comes. So if you’re curious about how the bike performs in the snow, stay tuned…..
Review In A Nutshell
- Unique 24-inch 4″ Fat Tires
- Component Build is Functional
- All Weather Capable
- Weight Inhibits Riding Ability
- No Suspension is Rough for Summer Riding
Buy at Mongoose.com
The Mongoose Argus Trail Frame
The Mongoose Argus Trail frame is comprised of 6061 aluminum. There is also a steel version sold at a slightly lower cost.
Current head, seat tube, and reach measurements provide comfort and stability. Mongoose has provided an aluminum, rigid fork with quick release dropouts for a 9mm x 135mm hub in the front
. The rear end of the bike also has quick release dropouts with 190mm hub width. The torsion and stiffness from fat wheels and hubs paired with quick release skewers might allow for some flex, but when riding mellow trails, the setup seemed to do just fine.
If you were wanting to replace the rigid fork with a suspension fork, then you would probably be hard pressed to find a fat fork that would fit. The bike has a 1 1/8th straight headtube.
Most mountain bike steerer tubes are designed for tapered headtubes. If the diameter is 44mm then Cane Creek does make a headset to adapt a tapered fork to the headtube.
Really, this frame is most likely a back up bike for a family of enthusiasts that want their child to join the fat biking they do in the winter. While the Mongoose Argus Trail is trail worthy, there are other bikes that do trail riding better.
I am excited to take my son fat biking this coming winter and provide a complete review. Kid sized fat bike frames are rare so taking him out this winter will be a unique experience. With that said, it was fun seeing my son experience something truly different on the dirt.
Components Of The Argus Trail
One of the main components of any bike is the drive train. The Argus’ drive train uses a 2×8 system with a Microshift derailleur in the front and a Shimano Tourney in the rear.
Both derailleurs use Shimano shifters. A Sunrace cassette and KMC chain round out the drive train.
To be honest, I don’t think my son has ever used a front derailleur until now. One-by systems have all but taken over the mountain bike market.
Mongoose made a sound decision considering the weight that a child must pedal. Especially in the snow. Having a wider gear range makes for a versatile bike that can conquer the terrain. Shifting worked out of the box and functioned well.
The wheels are built from Xposure rims and hubs. Those rims are paired with 24×4 Chao Yang tires.
Mongoose utilizes house branded parts to cover contact points like the grips, pedals and seat. The stem and handlebar are also branded as Xposure components.
The stem is quite long. It could be swapped for a shorter stem to add some downhill stability. Moreover, the fat tires kind of drag in the dirt, a shorter stem could slow down the steering too much, so maybe we will try it out and test for the long-term review.
The components as a whole function as they should. The drive train is setup for either snow or sand riding and my son seemed to ride comfortably.
Mongoose’s website just says “aluminum” for their unbranded brakes. Mechanical disc brakes make use of 160 mm rotors.
They slowed my son’s riding down when needed but functioned as any mechanical brake set would. They are not hydraulic and even I could feel that when testing myself. The job is getting done but there is more arm pump and fatigue when wrestling more weight with a lower grade brake system.
How Does The Argus Ride?
Fat tires tend to make riding very stable. Albeit slow, but stable.
My son has grown to like down hill riding better than cross country. When we climb he lets the complaining come flying out.
This bike doesn’t help that situation. Luckily, we have tow ropes to mitigate the complaints.
The weight of the bike is nearly 34 pounds (15.04 kg) and it shows. That is almost as heavy as MY full suspension fat bike.
As you can imagine, my 70-pound child really struggles pushing 50% of his body weight uphill with the Argus. The Trax tow rope was an absolute must with this bike.
Climbing on dirt would have been beyond my son’s physical ability for a sustained ride without the tow rope. I am apprehensive to take him in the snow, because it is that much harder.
Hopefully some training will allow him to be able to climb on his own for some of the ride. Sticking to flat nordic type trails for fat biking in the snow might be our best bet.
Gradual climbing up our neighborhood trails was OK for a while. Eventually he would tire out and need the tow rope.
The components all functioned well with minimal adjustments needed and served their individual duties. The traits of handling and stability will most certainly transition to snow riding as well.
Downhills were mediocre on dirt. Snow is a different story and we will have to wait and see what the future holds.
My son was apprehensive to let loose with the rigid platform. He did say that he noticed a difference in the handling with the big tires and it felt kind of like his Kawasaki KLX 110.
My son moved downhill pretty quick, but not as rapidly as on his Trailcraft. He managed to get through the rocky, technical sections of our local test run and did have a smile on his face. It is still a rigid bike and that shows in the speeds and ability to descend.
With that said, the bike handled as a fat bike should. My son was able to adapt his riding to match the needs of the machine. It’s a fat bike! My son is also still a child and I don’t want to torture him too much. We will definitely stick to mountain biking with his Trailcraft, but I am excited to get my son out on some decent snow rides.
In addition, with 24-inch wheels, my son’s bikes are getting big enough that I am able to ride them without damaging anything. I’m not taking them off jumps or going for sustained rides, but just trying to get the feel and experience of the machine.
The Mongoose Argus Trail handled my excursions with ease. The bike carried my body weight well, did not flex, and is durable. This bike will outlast my son’s use because of it’s strength and componentry.
Bottom Line: Kids on Fat Bikes Make for Unique Fun
Very few bike companies build 24-inch fat bikes. I don’t know of many that go smaller from there either.
The Mongoose Argus Trail is most certainly a unique bike that meets the needs of an extreme niche. The component build is competitive, keeps cost down, and functions as needed.
The rigid frame works well for snow and sand riding but loses ability in comparison to a suspended mountain bike. In the end, bikes are fun and if you are a fat biking family then I would highly recommend picking up an Argus to get your budding pre-teen out there with you having snowy adventures. The Argus just so happens to be capable enough for trail riding too.