You don’t have a fortune to spend on a bike for your child, BUT you also recognize the value of providing them with a lightweight, durable, and high-quality bicycle.
If that describes you, then the Pello Rover 20″ should be high on your list. For the price, the Rover offers an exceptional build including Tektro mechanical disc brakes, SRAM drivetrain, tubeless-ready wheelset, and an optional air-sprung fork. (If that was all Latin to you, know this: the bike is built with high-quality parts).
This particular mix of parts also makes the Pello Rover an excellent all-around bike. It’s not an aggressive mountain bike nor is it a road bike. What it IS, is a bike that can tackle dirt trails, fly off curbs, transport your child to school, and win in the neighborhood races.
It’s this unique level of capability and versatility that adds up to a bunch of bang for your buck.
Review in a Nutshell
- Exceptionally well priced for what you get
- Tektro mechanical disc brakes
- Tubeless-ready wheelset (Alex rims)
- Lightweight, especially with the rigid aluminum fork
- Optional Spinner Air Grind 40mm air-sprung suspension fork
- Easy-to-learn, easy-to-operate 7-speed drivetrain
- Externally routed cables
Price & Where to Buy:
- With rigid fork: $499
- With suspension fork: $639
Pello Rover Detailed Review
How The Pello Rover Performs In Different Situations
How highly we would recommend the Pello Rover is highly-dependent on the type of riding you intend to use it for. We’ll briefly look at how the Pello Rover performs in different types of situations.
As An All-Around Hybrid Bike
As an all-around bike, the Pello Rover excels. In fact, it might be the best all-around 20-inch bike out there. This is a bike that can truly do a little bit of everything.
It’s practical enough to ride to school, light enough to ride long distances, and burly enough to go off-road. There aren’t many bikes that can work so well in so many situations.
The Kenda K-Rad tires have low-knobs that roll quickly on the pavement but also have enough grip for gravel roads and mild dirt trails. Tektro mechanical disc brakes offer superior stopping whether community around town in rain or playing at the local skills park.
Not many parents can afford (or would even want) to buy multiple bikes for their child. If you want to get ONE BIKE that can do it all, the Pello Rover is that bicycle.
As A Mountain Bike
By adding an optional 40mm air-sprung suspension fork (more on that later), the Pello Rover moves from capable all-arounder to a true mountain bike. And a very affordable mountain bike at that!
The Rover performs well on buff singletrack and at the pump track. The fork does a good job of absorbing bumps and vibration and the disc brakes provide superior braking power on big downhills when compared to v-brakes.
That said, for serious mountain biking, the Pello Rover is not as capable as bikes like the Prevelo Zulu Three, Spawn Yama Jama, or the Trailcraft Blue Sky 20 with their 80mm travel forks, hydraulic disc brakes and mountain bike specific geometry and design. (Keep in mind these options are quite a bit more expensive as well).
The handlebars are slightly narrower than what we would prefer on a 20 inch mountain bike (500mm vs 600mm) and the stem is a bit longer than we’d like (60mm vs 40mm).
Additionally, the Kenda K-Rad 20×1.95 tires, while great for riding on gravel roads, are a bit narrow and lack the aggressive tread we would prefer on a mountain bike intended for trail riding.
Fortunately, if you are willing to make a few upgrades–wider handlebars, shorter stem, beefier tires–the Pello Rover can make a capable mountain bike at a very affordable price.
As a An Around-Town Bike
Almost no kids ride exclusively on pavement (which is why we like the versatility of the Pello Rover). It allows kids to manage uneven sidewalks, curbs, and cruise across grass fields.
Even when sticking solely to paved roads and trails, the Kenda tires roll reasonably fast and the 7-speed drivetrain allows kids to keep up for long distances.
Still, if your child spends the vast majority of their time biking on paved roads and trails, and does little off-road riding, you may be better off with a lighter, more road-oriented bike like the Woom 4 or the Early Rider Urban 20.
Capable Tektro Disc Brakes Are Far Superior to V-Brakes Found on Most 20″ Bikes
Regardless of the type of riding your child is doing, disc brakes blow old-fashioned v-brakes out of the water. They’re safer and more efficient.
The Tektro mechanical disc brakes on the Pello Rover are entry-level disc brakes, but they do a good job of stopping and perform well even when wet (unlike v-brakes).
Mechanical disc brakes lack the modulation of hydraulic disc brakes but are also easier to maintain than hydros which is nice especially on a kids bike.
The Tektro brake levers are appropriately sized for small hands and are easy to pull.
Optional Air Fork Opens Up Possibilities
If your child is spending at least as much time off-road as they are on pavement, adding the optional air fork ($140) makes a lot of sense.
Unlike the cheap, heavy, and clunky forks you find on most kids “mountain bikes” the Spinner Grind air-sprung fork adds a lot of capability and comfort for a minimal weight penalty (about 2 pounds).
It offers 40mm of travel that helps kids take their riding to the next level. On bumpy and rough trails, suspension makes things much more comfortable. A comfortable child equals a happy and enthusiastic child. They’ll also be able to ride faster on downhills and make it over bigger obstacles.
The fork also offers a lockout switch and adjustable air pressure. Make sure you spend a little time getting it set up properly initially–you’ll need a shock pump, but it’s easy to do.
Who shouldn’t add the suspension fork? If your child is mainly riding around town and on pavement, don’t bother. The suspension will only add weight with minimal benefit. Even if your child is occasionally riding mild dirt trails, the standard rigid fork will be fine.
Tubeless Ready Wheelset Means No More Flats (Well, Almost)
One thing that really sets the Pello Rover apart from the competition is the tubeless-ready wheelset. This is something that’s basically non-existent on other bikes in this price range.
We LOVE tubeless tires for several reasons. First, they mean your child is far, FAR less likely to get a flat tire. Considering that kids are often pretty oblivious to what they are riding over or through, this can save a lot of time and aggravation.
Tubeless tires also allow your child to ride with less air pressure in their tires. This is particularly important if they are riding on trails or gravel roads. Lower tire pressure improves traction and dampens vibration.
The bike ships with tubes, so if you want to run in tubeless (which we highly recommend), you’ll have to set it up tubeless yourself. This is relatively easy to do (just buy some rim tape, sealant, and watch a YouTube video). Or, you can drop it off at your local bike shop and they’ll do it for you for around $50.
7-Speed Drivetrain Helps Kids Ride Further, Faster
Chances are, this will be your child’s first bike with gears. Fortunately, the Pello Rover makes this a fairly painless (and even exciting!) transition.
The SRAM 3.0 grip shifter is easy for small hands to operate and quicker and more intuitive to learn than trigger shifters. The numbered display helps kids understand which gear they are in, and which direction to turn the shifter. Although we generally prefer trigger shifters, there is a lot to be said for the easy learning experience that the SRAM grip shifters provide.
7 speeds offer more than enough range for children to ride hills and flats. The chainring up front has 32 teeth, and the rear cassette offers 12-32 teeth. For the bike geeks out there, the gain ratio is between 2.02 and 5.3. (Feel free to double-check my math).
The last thing of note is that the rear derraileur has a shorter cage than a standard derraileur so that it doesn’t get hit when riding rocky terrain.
A Word On Weight
With the rigid fork, the Pello Rover weighs 20.3 pounds. This makes it SIGNIFICANTLY lighter than many 20 inch bikes on the market. The Trek Precaliber, for instance, weighs nearly 24 pounds, and big-box store bikes will weigh even more than that.
That said, there are definitely lighter options on the market as well. The Woom 4 weighs 16.9 pounds. If your child is particularly small or petite, we’d recommend sticking with a lighter bike.
If you choose the suspension fork, you’re looking at an additional 2 pounds. While a bit heavy, this still keeps the bike on-par with other suspension bikes. The Zulu Three HEIR, for instance, weighs just over 22 pounds as well. If you do choose the suspension fork, we reccomend getting a tow rope, like the TowWhee, to help give kids a boost when going uphill.
All-Around Quality Components
The Rover, like all Pello Bikes, is built with high-quality components. The company really hasn’t cut corners anywhere.
In addition to the components we’ve already mentioned, we’d be amiss not to point out the Cane Creek headset, ergonomic saddle, large, capable platform pedals, and the quick-release seatpost collar.
In general, the Pello Rover is appropriately sized for kids ages 6-8. In the pictures here, you can see my 6.5-year-old son who wears a 6T pant. He comfortably fits on the bike but still rides with the saddle lowered most of the way.
Of course, the best way to know if your child will fit on this bike is to measure their inseam. The Rover has a 23.5″ standover height and a 25.5″ minimum seatpost height. This means your child should have AT LEAST a 23.5″ inseam and ideally closer to 24.5″.
Externally Routed Cables
If we’re going to be really picky (that’s our job), we’d prefer that the Pello Rover offered internal cable routing. Internal routing, which can be found on competitors like the Prevelo Alpha Three, helps keep derraileur and brake cables clean and tidy.
That said, the externally routed cables shouldn’t be a deal breaker and is one of those things that probably helps Pello keep their prices super competitive.
What’s to love about the Pello Rover? The price, the price, the price!!!
Seriously, you guys, Pello has offered an amazingly rad little package for the price they are asking. I don’t know of another bike that offers tubeless-ready wheels, disc brakes, and brand name components at this pricepoint. If you’re a bargain hunter, you’ll love the Pello Rover.
Comes in Orange or Pink
Pello is well-known for their signature orange frames, but they recently added pink as well. This is huge for pink-loving girls (like myself), as well as any kid who isn’t crazy about orange.
Compared to the Pello Reddi 20″
If you’re already sold on buying a Pello, you might be wondering about the differences between the Pello Reddi 20” and the Pello Rover 20″. It’s actually pretty unusual for a kids bike manufacturer to offer multiple products in the same wheel size.
Simply said, the Pello Reddi is better for younger or smaller kids (ages 5+) and the Pello Rover is better for older or taller kids (ages 6+). The Reddi has a lower standover and minimum seatpost height, so it fits kids with shorter inseams. It’s also a singlespeed which keeps the weight down and keeps things simple for kids who might not yet be ready for the added complexity of gears.
For more information on the Pello Reddi, read our detailed review.
To give a fair apples-to-apples comparison, we’ll compare the Pello Rover with rigid fork to other all-around bikes; and we’ll compare the Pello Rover with suspension fork to other “mountain bikes.”
Pello Rover w/ Rigid Fork vs Competition
Some of the closest competitors to the Rover (with the rigid fork) are the Prevelo Alpha Three, the Cleary Owl, and the Woom 4. We’ve also included info on the Pello Reddi.
|Bike||Price (MSRP)||Weight (lbs)||Frame Material/Design||Drivetrain/Shifters||Brake System||Rims||Tires|
|Woom 4||$449||16.9||Alu Alloy||SRAM||V-brakes||Supa Dupa Hoops (In-House)||Kenda Small Block 8|
|Cleary Owl 20||$485||21.0||Steel||Sturmey Archer Internal Hub||V-brakes||Alex||Kenda|
|Prevelo Alpha 3||$499||18.9||Alu Alloy||Shimano||V-brakes||In House||Kenda Small Block 8|
|Pello Reddi||$389||17||Alu Alloy||Singlespeed or SRAM Internal Hub||V-brakes||Alex||Kenda K-Rad|
|Pello Rover 20||$429||18.5||Alu Alloy||SRAM||V-brakes||Alex||Kenda K-Rad|
Pello Rover w/ Suspension Fork vs Competition
WIth the suspension fork, the Pello Rover competes most closely with the Prevelo Zulu Three (non-HEIR version), Early Rider Trail 20, and the Kona Honzo 20.
To compare to even more 20″ mountain bikes, read our post on the Best 20″ MTBs.
|Early Rider Trail 20"||$899||20.5 lbs||Alloy||Spinner Grind, 50 mm||Hydaulic disc brakes (Avid Level T)||SRAM X5 trigger, 9-speed|
|Kona Honzo 20||$675||Alloy||Spinner Grind, 50 mm||Hydraulic disk brakes (Tektro Tektro HDM286)||Shimano Touey, 7 speed|
|Prevelo Zulu Three (non-HEIR version)||$899||23 lbs||Alloy||SR Suntour, 80mm travel||Hydraulic disc (Tektro)||Shimano ZEE, 10 speed|
|Pello Rover 20 w/ Air Fork||$639||22.3 lbs||Alloy||Spinner Grind, 40 mm||Mechanical disc (Tektro)||Sram X4, 7-speed|
|Weight / 20.3 lbs (w/pedals & bell) (w/suspension 22.3lbs)||Brake Levers / Tektro-micro levers, aluminum|
|Frame / 6061 aluminum||Rims / Alex-MD25 Tubless Ready, 24h|
|Fork / Lightweight aluminum straight blade or optional Spinner Air Grind Suspension Fork = 40mm of travel||Spokes / Stainless Steel, black, Aluminum nipples|
|Headset / Cane Creek-aluminum 1-1/8″ threadless, cartridge, w/ seals||Hubs / Aluminum quick release with seals, Front and rear|
|Stem / Aluminum Ahead 60mm, 10°||Tires / Kenda K-Rad 20×1.95, presta tube|
|Handlebar / Aluminum 20mm rise, 500mm wide 10 degree sweep||Cranks / Pello custom-aluminum 3-piece 127mm; BCD 104mm|
|Grips / Lock-On, Kraton w/o flange, closed end||Chainring / Aluminum 32t w/AL chain guard|
|Saddle / Cionlli-child proportional saddle sizing||Cassette / 12-32 tooth|
|Seatpost / Aluminum micro adjust||Bottom Bracket / Cartridge with sealed bearings|
|Brakes / Tektro-mechanical disc front and rear (140mm rotors)||Pedals / Child proportional resin flats with ball bearings|
|Rear Derailleur / Sram-X4 short arm||Shifter / Sram 3.0 Comp-7sp|
We HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Pello Rover 20″ for parents who are looking for one bike that can do it all. It also offers extraordinary bang for your buck, so if you’re a value-conscious consumer, this is a top pick.
Want to Do More Research?
If you want to do more research before making a purchase, check out these resources as well.
Disclosures: We received a bike from Pello in order to facilitate this review. We did NOT receive any monetary compensation, and all opinions are our own. We always strive to provide honest and helpful reviews for our readers. Links are affiliate links.