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Photo: Jeff Barber

My 6-year-old son is both a shredder and a gear head. I have no idea where he gets it. đŸ˜‰

SDG Components recently started selling their Junior Pro Kit for kids like my son who need or want higher quality, better fitting components for their mountain bikes. The kit comes with a handlebar and grips, saddle, and pedals, all color-coordinated and ready to rip.

Installation

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SDG offers the kit in pink, blue, green, and black.

If you have a child under the age of 10 years old, chances are they’re into watching YouTube videos of other kids unboxing new toys. So it should come as no surprise that as soon as I brought the Junior Pro kit home, it was a race to pull every piece out of the box. Unfortunately in the melee we lost the included small — but crucial — nylon shims that make it possible to mount 22.2mm brake levers and shifters to the 19mm bars.

Luckily, Dad is a pack rat when it comes to bike parts and I was able to scrounge up some shims and electrical tape to get the job done. SDG uses a narrower, 19mm diameter at the bar ends to allow for smaller diameter grips to fit smaller hands. The difference is noticeable, though chances are the controls you’re moving over are made for bars with a larger diameter. So keep the shims!

I needed to buy a new stem to install the bars on this Islabike.

We installed the bars on an Islabike Creig with 24-inch wheels, a bike which ships with a very thoughtful component selection for kids. Unfortunately that means the stem features a 25.4mm diameter clamp size, while the SDG handlebar requires a more common (and adult-friendly) 31.8mm clamp. The clamp size doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in terms of performance or fit in my opinion, but the bottom line is I needed to buy a new stem to make the bars fit. I ended up buying this $10 stem from Amazon and it worked out great (looks good too).

The transition to the grip shift is a little awkward, but I haven’t heard any complaints from my little guy.

Since the grips are lock-on, they install easily; the hardest part was getting the friction grips off the old set of bars! The SDG grips flare out a bit at the inside which is good for control, but makes a slightly awkward transition to the grip shifter on the bike.

The pedals and saddle both went on quickly and with no adjustments necessary.

The parts

All of the components in the SDG Junior Pro kit appear to be high quality, on par with what most of us run on our own bikes.

Pedals

The composite pedals (310g) are designed for smaller feet with less surface area than an adult-size pedal. This reduces the chance of pedal strikes on the ground and to the shin, plus it cuts unnecessary weight which is always welcome when it comes to kids’ bikes.

With replaceable pins, the pedals are grippy and easy to maintain. Ours are still spinning fast and smooth despite the bike being left out in the rain on occasion.

Handlebar and grips

For starters, the SDG Junior Pro handlebars look great. They have a nice, fairly aggressive 20mm rise, 8-degree upsweep, and 5-degree backsweep to get kids used to a more natural mountain bike stance. At 650mm wide, they’re a good bit wider than the stock bars on most kids’ bikes. Of course you can trim them down to fit smaller kids or smaller bikes, but paired with a short stem, they are pretty baller.

As mentioned above, the grips are lock-on with a single clamp and feature a narrower diameter for smaller hands. Most kids won’t wear gloves when they ride, so having a comfortable grip with a high-friction surface can be a game changer. The grips are lightweight (55g) and make swapping components easy.

Saddle

Watching my kids ride mountain bikes, it seems they don’t spend a lot of time in the saddle. Still, adult saddles aren’t designed for kids’ bodies. The SDG Junior Pro saddle is smaller than a standard saddle, though it’s not overly padded like the ones you often see for sale in department stores.  Perhaps the most kid-friendly feature is the cordura padding on the sides to protect the saddle from damage when the bike is carelessly dropped on its side.

Riding the bike

Perhaps the biggest mountain bike skill kids need to develop early on is confidence, and the SDG Junior Pro kit offers a noticeable boost. While some may disagree, I believe that when you (or your bike) look good, you feel good. My son was seriously stoked to upgrade the pedals, saddle, and bars on his bike in his favorite color, and with parts that look similar to those on his dad’s bike. I’m not exaggerating when I say his demeanor on the bike changed with this component swap.

Gettin’ after it like a mountain biker.

The wider bars have taken some getting used to, and the upshot is we should be able to get a few more months use out of his current bike before he outgrows it than if we had stuck with the narrower bars.

Without dedicated, grippy bike shoes, kids need all the pedal grip they can get, and it seems the SDG Junior Pro pedals do a good job sticking to regular sneakers, even in damp conditions.

Cordura side panel.

As far as durability goes, we haven’t broken a single component yet which is truly saying something for a bike that gets ridden down stairs, over ramps, and crashed on sidewalks.

At $149.95 (available from online retailers), the SDG Junior Pro kit is fairly priced, especially if you consider purchasing all the components separately. If your kid is riding an inexpensive department store bike, chances are the components are not only difficult to work on and heavy, they’re also probably not sized specifically for kids. In that case, this kit is a huge upgrade and can even extend the useful life of a bike by a season or more.

Thanks to SDG Components for providing the Junior Pro kit for review.

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