Sea Otter Classic: For the Kids
The new 26″ Cleary Meerkat debuted at the 2021 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California and BETA snagged one for review:
On the opposite end of the price spectrum from the Trailcraft Maxwell is the Cleary Meerkat. This 26-inch model is a new addition this year, on top of the 24-inch Meerkats. Although these aren’t necessarily the sorts of bikes that you’d be loading onto the chairlift at Whistler, they’ve got something the Trailcraft doesn’t. Cleary built the Meerkat around a 5-speed Sturmey Archer hub. If you’re just getting your 7- to 12-year-old on their first multi-speed bike, the 5-speed hub is a good half-step until they get their first true mountain bike. It’s safe for them to shift while pedaling or not, it’s safe for them to lay (or throw) the bike on the ground on either side, and it’s safe to go bouncing down a rough trail without threat of the chain derailing. The Sturmey Archer 5-speed hub doesn’t drag or hesitate like some multi-speed hubs do, and it’s far lower maintenance than a traditional derailleur setup.
The Meerkat runs hydraulic disc brakes, which might seem like overkill for kids not riding rowdy terrain, but the goal here is to make the experience of riding feel easy, safe and intuitive. Just like shifting an internally geared hub, stopping is easier with hydraulic disc brakes, whether you need them or not. The only thing missing on the Meerkat is front suspension, but the bike will take it if you decide to upgrade down the line. It was specced with a rigid fork to keep both the weight down and the price down.
Given that many big-brand 24-inch kids’ bikes are going for close to $500 without the perks of the internally geared hub or hydraulic disc brakes, I was expecting to see a price much higher than the $745 (currently on sale for $680) price tag for the Meerkat 26 and $685 ($630) for the Meerkat 24.
Read the full article here: https://www.betamtb.com/gear/sea-otter-classic-for-the-kids/