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Friday, December 13, 2019

Review: Woom 5 off

Bowen's been mountain biking enough that I bought him wider tires for his Woom 4. Of course, while corresponding with Woom about the maximum tire size I could fit on the 4, the owner casually mentioned that the Woom 5 off was going to be available soon.  He met the height requirement (50") right on his birthday, so I ordered the Woom 5 off. We expected to hold on to the bike for several years between Bowen and Boen, so I ordered a pair of "road" wheels as well so we could easily swap between mountain bike and road bike configurations.

The salient features of the Woom 5 off vs the regular version (other than the $200 premium) are the carbon fork and the disc brakes. The off also comes  with wider ties, suitable for mountain biking. I'm well known for my dislike of disc brakes. However, I hate the cantilever/V-brakes that come with the regular Woom bikes even more: those are even worse!

My lack of experience with disc brakes meant that putting together the bike was an unusually bad experience, culminating with Woom sending me off to the local bike shop to resolve a persistently bad brake rub situation that turned out to be partly my fault (I didn't realize that the big plastic piece that came with the wheel was the disc brake side axle washer), and partly theirs (the rotor was out of true). Woom paid for the work, which turned out not to be expensive ($18), but obviously made me feel very good about company. The spoke protector was also out of alignment, and they had sent me 2 left-sided pedals instead of a left and a right! This was an unusually poor experience, but Woom made everything right.

The bike is light and Bowen loves it. The easy stopping power of the discs meant that his hands no longer hurt on steep off-road descents, which was one of the main reasons to go with a disc brake! The wide tires are surprisingly light, and if you're not a stickler like me for maximizing your kid's experience with cycling, I'm not sure it's worth the expense of an extra set of wheels to get the lower rolling resistance of road bike tires. (Though I could be wrong --- if Bowen decides to go touring on his single this would be an essential purchase anyway!)

Color me impressed. It's extra expensive, but if you have more than one kid in the family, it's probably worth springing for the disc brake version of the Woom bikes rather than the regular. The reduction in hassle compared to cantilever/V-brakes in itself would be worth it.


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