The value of a bike is more than the price. The woom Off AIR 5 isn't the cheapest kids' bike but it's the kind of bike that could be a valuable part of a lifelong pursuit of cycling. It's built by parents who know what kids need in a bike. It's put together with quality parts that make it a joy to ride. Above all else it's a bike that disappears under a child and lets them get on with learning to ride instead of fighting with the bike.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Sized for kids
9 speed trigger shift gearing
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In 2013 two fathers, Christian Bezdeka and Marcus Ihlenfeld, joined forces to build bikes for kids in a garage in Vienna Austria. The Woom bike company was born. The story is a familiar one for the few companies out there who dedicate themselves to bikes for kids.
Christian and Marcus are passionate about bikes and want to share that with their own kids. Looking at what was available led them to believe they had something to offer the world community. Seven years later Woom offers 12 bikes spanning a range of ages from a year and half up to 14 years old. I took a look at the woom Off AIR 5 designed for the most dedicated of young mountain bikers in the 7-11 age range.
The woom Off AIR 5 frame uses the most current technology available to build a high-end aluminum frame. Butted and hydroformed tubing saves weight where possible and allows for precise shaping. On adult bikes, this is somewhat standard but kids' bikes often lack attention to detail.
The original Woom Off models had a carbon fork paired with the high-quality aluminum frame. In the woom Off AIR models, there is a 4.5lb, in the size for the Woom Off 5, suspension fork upfront. Like a quality adult hardtail mountain bike, the suspension is adjustable depending on rider needs. Turn the adjuster all the way and it locks out completely. If you'd like to swap in the suspension fork to a non-air Woom Off it is available alone as a $269 (~£208) upgrade.
When it comes to the geometry of the woom Off AIR 5 there is plenty of thought about what will help young riders most. Comparing the woom Off AIR 5 to another 24"-wheel bike the wheelbase is almost 2" longer. When you lengthen the wheelbase of a bike you add stability at the expense of snappy handling. This isn't a bike designed for tight switchbacks but for stability at speed. There's also a kinked, dropped, top tube that makes for a low standover height on what is an otherwise large bike for a 24"-wheel frame.
More than any other place it's the spec sheet that sets the woom Off AIR 5 apart from the competition. Woom is offering a combination of components that almost doesn't exist on other bikes in the market.
Upfront you've got a 28-tooth narrow-wide chainring. Combined with the 28 tooth chainring is 9 speed 11-34 gearing in the rear. For my own riding, I always look for at least a 1:1 ratio for off-road riding. For kids, 1:1 is the minimum both on-road and off. It can be hard to find but any kid that rides anything other than flat roads will appreciate it.
Control of the shifting at the handlebars happens via a SRAM trigger shifter with a SRAM x5 derailleur moving the chain at the back of the bike. Next to the trigger shifter, there are front and rear brake levers controlling Promax hydraulic disc brakes. There are 140mm rotors both front and rear. The brake levers, cranks, and grips are all sized appropriately to make it easy for small hands.
I didn't ride the woom Off AIR 5. It's actually well-built, and big enough, that it's not impossible but I elected not to try it out. What I can report is how my boy did when riding the woom Off AIR 5.
The first ride was around the neighborhood. A few blocks to make sure everything was working as it should. The disc brakes and thru axles meant an easy setup but I wanted to make sure everything was perfect.
My boy is a tall 8-year-old and has been riding a 24"-wheel bike for about a year now. The woom Off AIR 5 is a pretty big bike. The long weelbase and large 2.35″ Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires really drive home the bulkiness of it. Even with the low standover height, and weight that matches his other much smaller bike, I wasn't sure how he would do with the size of the woom Off AIR 5. As it turns out he had no complaints and was able to ride without ever seeming to notice the size of the bike. From my vantage point, it looked more stable under him than his previous bike.
The next ride I took him on was a mellow trail ride. It's a short section that I love to do on my gravel bike and I thought it would be a good test of the Woom. It's not technical but it has plenty of rocks and rough stuff. My boy isn't a mountain biker and this was his first time riding off-road. The trail uphill consisted of the normal amount of complaining about riding up a hill. The descent consisted of pure joy and the only one who was nervous was me.
Notice there was no mention of the actual bike. It disappeared under him. The bike wasn't once mentioned either on the way up or the way down. He'd never been on a rocky trail, and he often gets nervous on short road descents, but he was going around 15mph down the trail with no nervousness. There's no way I could ask for more of any bike.
Woom bikes (pronounced something like vroom and less like womb) are not the least expensive bikes on the market. High-quality frames, thoughtful design, and great components are all items that put an upward pressure on the price. Remember though, value is more than price.
The time in a child's life when a Woom bike is appropriate is when a parent sets a life trajectory. If you care about bikes and you want your child to care about bikes then consider getting them the right tool for the job. Woom claims that children learn up to three times faster on their bikes than competitors. I'm not prepared to back up that claim one way or the other but a good bike will help a child concentrate on learning to ride. Spending time on the bike shouldn't be about the struggle of getting it to work. It's hard enough to learn something new. Don't add in equipment issues.
Start looking at 9 speed, suspension fork, hydraulic disc bikes, and Woom will look like a pretty good deal. There are only a few other options in the same league and Woom is a deal compared to them. Woom also offers a 40% trade-in program to help with the second bike as a kid grows. Even still, I'd recommend selling the Off Air 5 privately. High-quality kids bikes hold their value in a way that is unheard of for adult bikes.
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