In the 1970s, the Schwinn Stingray was all the rage. Every BMXer wanted the sturdy frame, banana seat, raked fork and “moto-style” design that could handle the rough BMX tracks of the day.
Jump the proverbial kicker ramp of time and land in the “now” and the Krate Evo harkens back to that era with a fun design mimicking the Stingray. A steel frame, banana seat, slick rear tire, moto-style handlebar, and a suspension fork round out the main features of the build that is sure to make every child of the 70s reminisce.
But how does the bike measure up to other modern kids bikes? Find out in this review.
Review In A Nutshell
- Nostalgic design
- Fun to play on
- Outdated geo
- Coaster brake
Price & Where To Buy:
- $199.99 List
- Check Price at SchwinnBikes.com
- Price not available at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2023-12-03 at 08:14) – More info
A Design for the Ages
As mentioned above, the Krate EVO truly embodies the aesthetic and look of the Schwinn Stingray. Every 10-year-old boy in 1978 either had that bike or wished he had that bike. Component features like the banana seat, moto-style handlebar and upright frame geometry directly resemble the first BMXers.
Parents who grew up in that era will reminisce. It may even be enticing enough to buy one for your kiddo if those fond memories of freedom and bliss with neighborhood friends come rushing back all at once.
The Build That Makes The Bike
The bike frame itself is made of steel. The material is strong and lasts a lifetime if you take care of it. The Krate Evo has dual top tubes joined at the headtube and run down into the seat stays creating a beautiful, nostalgic aesthetic.
Unlike many “budget” bikes you might find at big box stores, the Schwinn Krate Evo is durable and made to last. We appreciate that it won’t end up in a landfill anytime soon.
The Durability Comes At A Cost–Weight
Now for the drawback. The same steel frame that is surely durable it is also extremely heavy–25 pounds!
Bikes of yester-year might conjure nostalgia for some, but the rest of us will just see kids struggling to ride. There is a mindset among some parents out in the world that if their kids ride heavy bikes for 17 miles, they will just become stronger cyclists.
In truth, that weight is a severe hindrance for kids. It makes it harder to learn to ride, to power up hills, and simply to handle.
It might be okay just goofing off in the driveway or cruising around the neighborhood, but this is not the bike for long bike rides.
Good Ol’ Banana Seat
As mentioned, the banana seat is just that, a banana seat with supports mounted to the rear of the seat and the seat stays. This allows little riders to position their weight further back over the rear axle keeping the frame maneuverable.
There is a quick release seat collar. Unfortunately, because there are also rear mounts on the seat, it does take a tool to raise or lower the seat.
The moto-style handlebar, that can still be found on BMX bikes today, provides an upright body position so the little riders are comfortable and relaxed. This way my son’s favorite part of the bike.
Like other 16 inch bikes, the single speed drive train has no gears and keeps things simple. The gearing is a bit higher than many 16 inch bikes, which may make it more challenging to learn to pedal and to ride uphill–but makes it a blast for speeding down the sidewalk at full speed.
Provides Plenty Of Room To Grow
The Schwinn Krate EVO has more adjustability and room to grow that most kids bikes. It’s geometry is more like a BMX bike and bigger kids will have fun using it for tricks–even after they’ve technically outgrown a 16 inch bike.
The bike is advertised for kids ages 3 to 5, but I found that to be a bit off. The bike was WAY too big for my 3.5 year old nephew, but my 8 year old had a blast on it. The best fit will be for kids around 5 years old.
The minimum seatpost height is 20″ which means that for brand new pedalers, their inseam should be AT LEAST that long as well. Even then, the reach to the handlebars may be too long.
If your child is using the bike with training wheels, then you should be able to fit them on the bike at a younger age. (You don’t have to be able to touch the ground with training wheels).
As we already mentioned, the seat can adjust upward or downward and offers 4 inches of inches of adjustability. Kids should be able to get a couple of years of use out of this bike.
Training Wheels & Coaster Brake Can Be A Hinderance
We generally encourage parents to teach their kids to learn to ride through a succession of balance bike to pedal bike. This progression should never include training wheels and should introduce a hand brake as early as possible.
Training wheels limit the learned ability of balance, a key factor in learning how to ride a bike. If kids learn on a balance bike (or a pedal bike with pedals removed), they should take to pedaling (sans training wheels) quickly and easily.
The Krate Evo does come with training wheels if that is something that you’re looking for in a bike. Some kids do learn to pedal with them on and that’s OK. Otherwise, it’s easy to leave the training wheels off–and will save a bit of weight.
In conjunction with balance bikes, we promote the use of hand brakes from the get-go. This allows children to learn safe braking from an early age and prepares them for larger bikes that will inevitably have hand brakes.
The Krate Evo has a coaster brake. Like the other components, Schwinn is trying to match the nostalgic ethos of the Stingray and a coaster brake follows suit.
Coaster brakes are more of a hindrance at such a young age, but are cheap, easy to maintain and come equipped on several big box store bikes. Coaster brakes can be fun.
I wouldn’t mind having a “klunker” style bike with a coaster for just that – klunking around town. I am not a 5-year-old just learning how to ride though.
Practicing a track stand with the coaster brake
Our son who has already had years of practice using hand brakes, did have a bit of fun playing around with the coaster brake. He could skid and trackstand, and for a “play bike” the Schwinn Krate Evo is great. It’s just not the bike for serious biking.
While the suspension fork on the Schwinn Krate EVO looks cool, and your kiddo is likely to drool over it, we think this bike would have been better if they’d skipped it. In fact, we always recommend parents skip a suspension fork unless you’re buying a high-end mountain bike with an air fork.
Suspension forks that come on cheaper kids bikes are hard for kids to compress (they don’t weigh enough), and more critically: they are HEAVY. While kids may think they look cool, they’re just not worth the extra wieght.
So, Do We Recommend The Bike?
The nostalgia of the Krate Evo certainly harkens memories of the Stingray. Time has passed since the hey-day of that era though. Technology has improved and bikes have changed.
We highly recommend choosing a bike for your child that includes a freewheel (no coaster), dual handbrakes, modern geometry, and that comes in many pounds lighter lighter.
Of course, the best kids bikes also cost $100+ more than the Krate Evo. Many parents don’t want to spend that much, and the Krate Evo offers a much cheaper alternative. Just be aware that it comes with older technologies like a coaster brake, a slick rear tire, quill stem, and bolt axles.
We would whole-heartedly recommend the bike to anybody whose child already has a lighter weight school commuter or BMX racing bike, and just wants another “toy” to play around on in the driveway. For that purpose, the Schwinn Krate EVO is a ton of fun.
Bottom-Line: The Schwinn Krate Evo is a Nostalgic, Durable Bicycle
The Krate Evo might have an antiquated design, but it certainly brings back memories for several parents. In addition to that, the build is durable and won’t fall apart like most bikes from the big box stores.
If you’re looking for a fun bike for your little to pedal around the neighborhood and not concerned about weight or newer technologies, then this bike might just check those boxes. For everyone else, leave the past in the past and invest in a high-quality modern kids bike.
FTIC Disclosure: Schwinn provided this bicycle for the purpose of testing and review. We did not receive any monetary compensation and all opinions are our own.
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!