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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Impressions: Woom 4

Bowen's been asking for a bike with gears forever, ever since he started spinning out his Woom 3 on the way back from school. The logical next bike for him was the Woom 4. The other major competitor, the Benin 20 costs $100 more, and isn't appreciably better (it weighs more, for one!).

The Woom 4 comes with SRAM 8 speed grip shifters and mini-V brakes. Like the Woom 3, the Woom 4's brakes come preadjusted and work correctly out of the box, which is rare to find with V-brakes from any manufacturer, let alone from a kids bike. Out of the box I found several interesting features:
The bike comes with a chain-catcher installed on the inside of the bottom bracket. This is a nice touch! Since there's no front derailleur, it is possible for an aggressive kid to hop the bike and cause the chain to fall off. On the outside, the pant-leg protector would keep it from derailing, so on the inside they put a chain catcher. Both front and rear wheels have quick releases, and the grip shifter has a gear indicator labeled from 1-8. In practice, Bowen looked at it a few times while learning to shift but after that will probably never use it again.
The seat came a little low, but Bowen wanted it even lower, so I removed the rear reflector (I installed a light right away, so the reflector was redundant) and gained another quarter inch to lower the seat. I also removed the front reflector, installed a handlebar bag, and installed a front light. No computer was needed this time, since Bowen's aunt recently upgraded to a Vivoactive 3 and gave Bowen her old Vivoactive.

Well, Bowen got on it and for his first ride rode to the local library and back. Those 20 inch wheels definitely rolled a long quite a bit better, and he exceeded his past speed limit of about 9mph with his new gears. When he was done, he told me that I would like to ride his single to school and back home again from now on. Coming from him, that means the bike is recommended, and I probably shouldn't have put off giving him a bike with gears for as long as I did. I now worry whether he'll end up going too fast on that bike, but a quick calculation indicates that even in top gear he still only has 65 gear inches. At 90rpm that's still less than 20mph, which is still fast but not horribly scary. I'd be much more worried about big descents.

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