Recently, while waiting in the lift line at Deer Valley, I overheard a pro mountain biker comment to his friend, “I wish we had bikes like that when we were kids.” He was commenting on my son’s Trailcraft Maxwell 24. A full suspension mountain bike with the ability to get up the mountain and the right build to make going down an absolute blast.
The Maxwell has a lightweight frame that fits the bill. This mountain bike comes in three sizes with various component options: the Maxwell 24 (24″ wheels), the Maxwell 26 (26″ wheels) and the Maxwell 275 (27.5” wheels).
Like all Trailcraft bikes, the build is top notch. The Maxwell offers adult bike quality in a scaled down package.
Our son has been testing the Trailcraft Maxwell 24 for the past few months and was immediately enamored with the full suspension package. This bike has unlocked some serious riding potential with jumps bigger than ever before, a deeper desire to ride more often, and a general fitness level that I didn’t know was possible for an 8 year old.
Read on to learn more about our experience…..
Review In A Nutshell
- Full suspension adds cushion to rocks, roots, landings and everything in between
- High level component build
- High quality air sprung suspension fork and shock
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Through axle up front (but none in rear)
- Heavier than a hardtail
Price: $3,199 – $5,599 (Components and Size)
Trailcraft Maxwell Video Review
Reasons You May Want a Full Suspension Bike For Your Child
The rigors of mountain biking can really dish out serious abuse. As a family that loves mountain biking, it has been challenging for our littlest member to keep up on the climbs, descents, and undulations in between.
For P, mountain biking has been the family activity that he has grown up with. There have been a few full suspension 20 inch rigs he has tested, but none that he has been able to call his own.
He has often been vocal about his distaste for rough, rocky trails and commented on his desire to obtain his own full suspension bike. Let’s be honest, that is mountain biking….it’s rough. I love the rocks!
A full suspension bike can alleviate the fatigue and wear from rough trails (as I am quickly relearning with my new hard tail). It will allow kids that are doing adult sized rides to enjoy the same benefits as their parents. Yes, there may be a little more weight, but it’s worth the extra effort to be comfortable and in control.
Climbing will always be the biggest challenge but having suspension that helps the wheels track over rocks and ledges keeps the traction from slipping. A lighter weight package like the Trailcraft Maxwell 24 also provides the ability for our youth to continue to forge out on adventurous cross-country rides while enjoying the benefits of modern suspension and geometry built in.
If your family is into the bike park scene or just the downhill aspect of mountain biking, then your kids will definitely appreciate the added comfort on the downhills. Not only does suspension add a little pop into the jumps, but it also reduces their fatigue allowing them to ride longer and faster over rough terrain. We found this to be the case with our son. He has all but started dropping me on the jump trails.
Trailcraft has been part of the “high-end” kid’s bike community since it’s iteration. Even just a few years ago, kids were generally relegated to cheap, heavy bikes with either coaster brakes or coil sprung forks that really didn’t seem to work. As children get older it does become easier to find legitimate parts and builds that will stand up to the rigors of mountain biking, but typically it has been with the caveat of lots of weight or riding a rigid bike.
Trailcraft has a large selection of components and builds one can order with their kiddo’s sweet whip. There are several house-branded components from kid-sized cranks and bars to the stem, seat, seat post and headset.
There are also options to change some parts like the seat post from a rigid one to a dropper and carbon wheel upgrade. The most important factor is that these components have been designed and tooled to fit the appropriate age and size of the rider.
The build my son is riding, the TrailCraft Maxwell 24 Pro, came with a Shimano Deore drivetrain. There are several variations one can choose from, but this has been my personal go-to for decades.
I don’t mind the SRAM drivetrains but do feel that Shimano’s gear seems to last longer and perform more consistently. My son has not had any troubles with the trigger shifter or derailleur thus far. That’s just the way we like it!
A clutched derailleur and single, narrow-wide front chain ring keep chain duty in line (pun intended). In conjunction with the trigger shifters, the shifts are smooth and concise on each cassette ring.
This is most certainly a component set found on adult bikes and generally runs at adult prices. I’d rather have gear that truly functions versus constant repairs for cheaper parts.
Other components like the Stans Crest wheels and Kenda Booster Pro tires are top notch. This tubeless system offers copious amounts of traction and keeps rolling resistance to a minimum.
The wheels are durable and have stood up to several downhill days along with weekly cross-country riding on the local trails for several months and have not needed a truing.
The frame itself is aluminum with modern geo angles and a four-bar suspension design. The lava red-orange paint scheme chosen is easy to spot on the mountain and really adds to the flair of the whole bike.
I did accidentally drop my personal bike onto my son’s bike and chipped the top tube paint. I have had a hard time matching the paint and finding someone that can help me repair it. Sorry dude.
The only other issue we’ve had with the bike was that the crank bolt fell out fairly quickly after buying the bike. My son was on a group ride without us and another Trailcraft dad had to help tighten it up.
The kicker was that this dad had his son’s crank bolt fall out also, so this clearly isn’t an isolated issue. Trailcraft does sell a replacement bolt on their website (which we had to order), and I’d recommend buying a couple.
The Nitty-Gritty Of The Suspension Components
The suspension is certainly one of the highlights of this bike and works flawlessly thus far. My son has been pleading and begging for a softer ride ever since he demoed a Spawn Rokkusutta at Whistler a few years ago. With more time in the saddle and larger rides on the horizon, we decided it was time to give him the comfort he so longingly desired.
The Maxwell 24 Pro comes with a Rockshox Reba fork in the front. With 120mm of travel this fork is big enough, but not too big for an 8-year-old.
The fork and shock both came setup and tuned for our son’s weight. I did check the sag and made some micro psi adjustments with the shock pump, but overall, rebound and sag were set and ready to go. The fork is plush through its travel but offers noticeable support through small bumps and keeps my son riding high in the travel.
The rear shock, a Rockshox Monarch R, is quite similar to the matching fork. With matching travel of 120mm, the shock works in conjunction with the fork and the pivot kinematics to provide a supple ride that supports the rider through rough terrain and keeps the rear end tracking over small bumps while remaining plush on bigger hits.
Neither the fork or shock have high or low speed compression knobs. Both do have rebound knobs for adjustment and that keeps things relatively simple. Honestly, my kiddo is small enough, I don’t know that I could accurately fine tune shocks for his weight if his suspension did have those added compression adjustments.
Suspension has been a game changer for my son’s riding ability. He has gone on longer rides, rougher rides and finished with a big smile.
This bike has compelled him to join a new youth riding group and go on rides with friends instead of with just mom and dad. He has jumped further, gone faster and blasted a few tires in the rocks all because this bike and its suspension have enabled him to ride harder.
Stopping is just as important as being able to propel forward on a bike. As previously mentioned, the dual suspension quality of the Maxwell has enabled the bike to roll through rougher terrain more efficiently with greater speed.
Part of that experience is having quality brakes that can withstand the rigors of rough riding and greater speeds. Beyond that is the ability to modulate and feather the brakes to maintain momentum and get the maximum efficiency from one’s brakes.
The Shimano Deore XT brakes found on the Trailcraft Maxwell Pro 24 are top notch with only one other level above them. My son has been able to modulate his hydraulic disc brakes through rough, loose, and steep berms in the bike park.
He has been able to descend straight-aways down hills with the proper speed and braking power to slow for the turns ahead. These brakes are one of the many components I also spec on the majority of my bikes.
Modern features of mountain bikes include slacker headtube angles, steeper seat tube angles, dropper posts, wider handlebars, tapered headtubes, wider hubs, and through axles vs. quick release. Our children’s general size doesn’t necessarily require all of these added features of durability and torsional stiffness, but they are nice. The Trailcraft Maxwell 24 is a different story.
The Maxwell 24 has a 15mm through axle on the front wheel to match the Reba fork. The rear end, however, has a quick release skewer on a 9mm axle. It would be nice to at least see a 12mm quick release skewer in the back, but its not a deal breaker.
The through axle in the front still helps the bike to track and remain stiff in corners overall and the rear end is built quite robust with the quick release. If this was a true downhill frame only, I would want my son on through axles front and rear, but this bike is a do-it-all design that is keeping the weight down so the trade-off is worth while.
The Maxwell’s designers understand the industry and sport. Keeping weight down, especially for smaller humans, allows one to pedal longer and truly enjoy the experience. Although weights are coming closer to that of adult bikes, the Trailcraft Maxwell 24 is lighter than some hard tail and fully rigid 24” bikes.
I sincerely thought my son would struggle when transitioning from his Trailcraft Blue Sky 20 to this much bigger, full suspension rig. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Part of that reasoning is because of the lightweight build. He is able to throw the bike around and maneuver easily and that is quite apparent as he passes me on the downhills now.
Things To Consider
The Maxwell 24 is expensive. It costs as much as a true adult mountain bike. Also, it is heavier than some high-end hard tails and fully rigid 24” mountain bikes.
These are cons, but with good reason. The expense is really quite affordable when you consider the design, build and component specs. I have a similar full suspension frame that cost another $2500 for a similar build with a carbon front triangle. Full suspension bikes will always weigh more than hard-tails due to the weight of the suspension and linkage.
General enthusiasts that want a nice bike for their children will understand. It’s a bit like the e-bike controversy within the industry. Some have dissenting opinions, but there are several people who want their children to have bikes as nice as themselves.
That’s who the Maxwell is for. If you like to mountain bike and want your kid to like mountain biking, then buy them a nice bike. I know the expense is a challenge and not feasible for everyone. Nicer equipment lasts longer, is more durable, and easier to ride. That is the truth of the matter.
The Trailcraft Maxwell 24 has transformed my son’s riding ability. His skills immediately started progressing and the last few months have been an absolute blast to ride with him.
I no longer have to wait on the bike park runs down the mountain. The number of laps has increased. The number of smiles and giddy giggles have increased.
Trailcraft builds high quality frames with top-notch component specs that will last and provide durability. These bikes have a big resale value and for good reason. The design is that of an adult mountain bike and is created by veterans of the industry.
I am excited to see the mountain tops, lake views, and aspen forests of Idaho with my son. We have a full summer planned with rides and bike park days ahead.
I know we will see his skills progress on his Trailcraft even more as we explore and adventure deeper into the woods. I hope you can bring your kids along too.