Frog Bikes is a UK-based company that specializes in lightweight, aluminum bicycles for kids. Featured models range from balance bikes, hybrid bikes, dropbar road bikes and even track bikes. We reviewed a similar bicycle from Islabikes called the Beinn a few months ago, and the Frog Bikes 55 is targeted towards a similar crowd but with a lower price point.
We have a Frog Bikes 55 in hand for testing from the company's "hybrid" category. For Frog, the term hybrid refers to kid's bikes that have flat bars, but can work on both pavement or dirt. These bikes have multiple gears and rigid forks to keep things simple, but allow them to expand their riding capabilities.
This model comes in five iterations which are the Frog 52, Frog 55, Frog 62, Frog 69 and the Frog 73 with the number in the model name referring to the targeted rider's inseam length in centimeters. Both the Frog 52 and 55 feature 20″ wheels (406mm ETRTO), while the other models move to 24 and 26″ wheels.
Frog Bikes 55: The Frame
Frog Bikes focuses on lightweight bikes and it all starts with a light frame. The company chooses an aluminum frame for the platform, paying special attention to offering appropriate size Q-factors (the spacing between the rider's pedals).
Frog enlisted the help of bicycle engineer Dimitris Katsanis (of Team Great Britain Olympic fame) to creeate a bike with a narrower Q-factor in an effort to fit young riders' small bodies and narrower hips. Frog assembles all bikes in its UK factory in order to keep a direct hand on quality control.
Frog Bikes pairs the aluminum frame with a rigid aluminum fork to help keep things simple and lightweight. The fork is color-matched to the frame.
Out of the box, the one thing we really noticed was that the frame features long chainstays. It's a stretched out look and ride, with room for fenders, bigger tires and mud, especially behind the bottom bracket. On our tape measure, they measure out to be around 37.5cm, a good 5.5cm longer than the chainstays on the Islabikes Beinn 20 Small with the same wheel size.
By pushing out the wheel that far, perhaps at the expense of climbing traction or turning radius, the chainstays can stay narrow by the cranks, allowing for the narrow Q-factor that Katsanis prioritizes. Our rough measurements estimate about a 136mm Q-Factor. That's narrower than most adult road bikes, but because it's constrained by the 68mm-wide bottom bracket standard, still proportionally wide for a rider about two thirds the size of an adult. For comparison, the Frog Bikes 55's stance appears about 1cm narrower than the Islabikes Beinn.
There's plenty of attention to detail and some thoughtful options. There's fittings for the included fender and optional rear rack. The derailleur hanger is replaceable, thankfully, which provides some insurance for the inevitable drive-side spill.
Frog Bikes 55: The Build
To pair with the lightweight alloy frame and fork, Frog Bikes selects components that provide an ergonomic fit and keep things light, simple and affordable. The drivetrain is a Shimano 8-speed setup with a right hand thumb shifter. This helps the rider prepare for lever-based shifting as they get older (no more twisting grips). The 32 tooth chainring and the 12-32 cassette should provide enough climbing ability for the rider learning to tackle real hills.
The all important stopping duties are handled by Tektro V-brakes which provide plenty of power and modulation. Bars, grips and levers are all appropriately sized for smaller hands.
As an added bonus, Frog Bikes includes extras with its bikes like pedals with reflectors, a bell, mudguards and a very useful extra set of Kenda tires that have a bit more meat on them, should your young one advance from paved multi-use trails to dirt or singletrack.
The Frog Bikes 55 is available in six colors including red, purple, orange, black and Team Sky black or Team Sky white. We're not sure how well the Team Sky color schemes are selling right now, with all the recent bad press, but Frog Bikes was started in the UK, and Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and the team have inspired many of all ages.
Our test bike weighs 19.3 pounds, 0.1 pound lighter than listed weight, with the road tires. The Kenda knobbies and fatter inner tubes add 160 grams (0.35 pounds) to the overall build.
Frog Bikes 55: Initial Ride Impressions
Young cyclists, whether they are recreational cyclists or future cyclocross stars, may not discriminate between crank lengths, frame geometry or tire clearance—that's usually what a parent cares about—it's the color and design that impress a child.
To that extent, Frog Bikes has paid attention to the details, with frog-themed or branded chainguards, saddle, headset cap and crankset. It's not lost on the little ones, even if a parent may not really notice. But we're here to talk mostly about ride impressions, not looks, and although it's not cyclocross season yet, our young tester has given the bike a few miles.
The Frog Bikes has been a capable, do-it-all machine for real world riding, not just one specific type of riding. It does not boast the turn-on-a-dime agile ride of the similar Islabikes Beinn, and isn't a mountain bike or BMX bike either but can handle that type of riding just fine, as far as a kid is concerned. It's almost like a touring or gravel version of a kid's bike—a do-it-all machine.
The stretched-out geometry certainly is noticeably more relaxed than other rigs we've seen and ridden, even to our young tester, which makes it a little easier to ride straight on busy streets, and a little more challenging to rail a tight hairpin in a kid's ’cross race. It also makes going fast with confidence less of a challenge.
The build kit really shines here. The components all work well together, are appropriately sized, and intuitive. The 114mm cranks are certainly child sized and encourage spinning—but one could argue that the older riders (seven years old) on a bike of this size might benefit from a bit longer cranks. For comparison, Islabikes specs 127mm cranks on its Beinn Large, but either length seems more size-appropriate than the much longer cranks found on many BMX bikes.
The lightweight frame and build certainly doesn't discourage attempts at getting a bit of air.
At $430, the Frog Bikes 55 is a pretty compelling value. With included touch-up paint, bell, fender and an extra set of tires and tubes, there's quite a lot included in the price. Also, Frog Bikes works with local retailers, making shipping to your local store for assembly possible.
Frog Bikes has followed Islabikes' lead in building lightweight, appropriately sized bikes and components, and is doing so at a lower price point but at a higher weight. The Frog Bikes 55 is nearly two and half pounds heavier than the $499 Islabikes Beinn Small. That weight difference will be a bit smaller when comparing to a $549 Beinn Large—a more fair comparison—but it's worth noting that two pounds is a more noticeable difference for a kid than an adult, especially when barriers are involved. However, with an extra $120 in your pocket, creative shoppers might be able to shed some of those two pounds with some strategic weight weenie buys, or just keep the money for many post-ride ice cream stops.
Either way, with its kid-friendly size components and cyclocross-worthy rubber, it's is a giant step up from a department store bike and likely to make any rider a lucky, happy and healthy kid.
That makes the Frog Bikes 55 worth its weight in gold.
Frog Bikes 55 Specs:
MSRP: $430 USD
Frame: aluminum 11" frame
Drivetrain: Shimano 1x8
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tourney RD-FT55, 8-speed
Shifters: Shimano Alivio right hand gear lever
Brakes: Tektro 836AL aluminum V-brake
Brake Levers: Tektro aluminum JL510-TS V-brake levers
Bottom Bracket: 110.5mm sealed
Cranks: 114mm aluminum
Chainring: 32T steel
Cassette: Shimano 12-32 8-speed
Handlebar: Frog Bikes aluminum straight bar, 460mm
Grips: Frog Bikes locking slim grips
Stem: Frog Bikes aluminum 40mm
Seatpost: aluminum 250mm, 27.2mm with quick release
Saddle: Frog Bikes saddle 136mm
Rims: aluminum 20"x1.5" 28 holes, quick release
Hubs: aluminum 28 holes
Tires: Kenda 20"x1.5" hybrid tires
Extras: pedals, bell, reflectors, mudguards, extra set of Kenda K1153 20"x1.75" tires
Warranty: 5 years frame and fork, 2 years on all other parts
Weight (claimed): 8.8 kg/19.4 pounds, 19.3 pounds actual with road tires, 19.65 pounds with knobbies
More info: www.frogbikes.com