Early Rider Hellion 20″ long-term review

We've had the bike for about 10 weeks and managed to ride almost 300km on various terrain including singletracks and a blue downhill trail.

What's cool?

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike

The overall fit and finish is astonishing and on par or above adult bikes in the same price range.

Bike has relatively aggresive geometry, which is more downhill focused, but still comfortable for longer climbs.

  • Seat Tube Length: 245 mm
  • Effective Top Tube Length: 445 mm
  • Head Tube Length: 100 mm
  • Chainstay Length: 335 mm
  • Wheelbase: 880 mm
  • Seat Tube Angle: 73°
  • Head Tube Angle: 67°
  • Standover Height: 535 mm
  • Handlebar Width: 560 mm
  • Crankarm Length: 127 mm
Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike

Bike is designed for kids from 5.5 to 8 years of age or 117-135cm of height respectively. My son is 112cm tall and handles the bike without any problems.

Stock bike already comes with high quality components:

  • Fork: RST Spex 20", 80 mm suspension
  • Stem: Ritchey OS, reach 35 mm, clamp 31.8 mm
  • Handlebars: Ritchey OS, width 560 mm, rise 18 mm
  • Grips: EARLY RIDER, Lock On Kraton, 92 mm
  • Headset: EARLY RIDER 1 1/8", semi-integrated, cartridge
  • Seatpost: Ritchey 30.9 x 225 mm
  • Saddle: EARLY RIDER Wing
  • Crankset: Samox 127 mm NQF direct mount, 30 t
  • Pedals: EARLY RIDER aluminium platform pedals
  • Brakes/Brake Levers: Shimano Deore BR-MT500, 160 mm, BL-MT501 brake lever
  • Shift Lever: Shimano Deore M6000 Rapidfire RH, 10-speed
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Zee SS, 10-speed
  • Cassette: Sunrace, 10-speed, 11-36t
  • Chain: KMC X10
  • Rims: Double Wall 28 hole, Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres: Vee Crown Gem Skinwall 20 x 2.25"

Cherry on top are the fixed 15mm and 12mm axles both front and rear.

The claimed weight is 9.6kg without pedals.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike rear fixed axle

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the RST Spex air fork. I was worried whether the fork will be sensitive enough to work even under such a light kid (he weighs only 17kg) and won't be just a dead weight on the bike. Luckily, it's possible to adjust the fork in a way, that he's able to use the whole travel. Compression and rebound adjusters are functional as well. They have only about 6 clicks of range, but each click causes a significant change. The last click is a full lockout. We use 2 clicks of compression from fully open for regular riding.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike with RST Spex air fork

One week after getting the bike for his 5th birthday

The hydraulic Shimano Deore brakes with 160mm brake rotors work flawlessly so far. Braking strength is more than sufficient for such a small kid and he learned to modulate the brakes rather quickly. This also solved our main problem with the previous bike, where his hands would get tired from the mechanical V-brakes way too quickly. Now he's able to complete the whole trail without stopping.

What could be improved?

Unfotunately, the bike wasn't flawless out of the box. The internal cable routing for rear derailleur enters the frame on the right side, making the cable bend way too sharply. The original Shimano Deore shifter had way too long free throw and the little one couldn't shift to lower gears. I've fixed the issue by replacing the rear bowden with a longer one and replacing the shifter with Shimano Saint 10spd shifter. It has much longer levers and almost no free throw. Now he's able to shift up 3 gears at once.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike internal cable routing

The chainline was not properly adjusted from the factory which caused issues with shifting to the largest and smallest cog. Moving one bottom bracket spacer from one side to the other solved this problem.

Our mods

We have already made some mods that made the bike much lighter and better overall.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike rear wheel

We have removed the heavy BMX tubes that came in the wheels and replaced them with tubeless valves and Stan's NoTubes sealant. This took the weight down by about 450 grams. Fitting the rear wheel was a bit fiddly, as the hole in the rims wasn't drilled very preciselly and the wheel kept loosing pressure. I've fixed this by using some extra rubber washers cut from and old tube.

We have replaced the Shimano Deore shifter with Shimano Saint, as described above. The combination of Shimano Saint shifter and Shimano Zee rear derailleur is completely bulletproof and I've been using in on my Ibis Mojo HD for years. The Shimano Saint shifter enables him to shift down 2 gears at once too.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike

The original Early rider pedals were fine, they had nice large plaform and the bearings were smooth. The pins were cast from aluminum together with the platform though, so they wore out rather fast and junior's feet started to slip. We replaced the pedals with Xpedo Traverse 9, that we already had from the previous bike.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike with Xpedo Traverse 9 pedals

The original 560mm aluminum handlebars were replaced with 620mm carbon ones. I wanted to cut them down to the original width, but the wider bars suited my son better and helped with his "elbows out" position. Another 145 grams saved.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike with carbon handlebars

Another planned mods include carbon seatpost, as the stock one is rather heavy and replacing the front brake rotor for a 180mm one, as he's picking up speed every ride. Target weight is below 9kg including pedals.

Conclusion

Early Rider Hellion 20" is a splendid kids bike, after minor details were taken care of. My son is making huge progress every week and is able to ride increasingly difficult trails on it.

There's no way around it, this bike is not cheap. High quality light kid bikes hold their price really well and they can be sold easily once the kid outgrows the bike. The final financial hit can equal to the one of a cheap bike that's left in a garage, because it was difficult to sell for a reasonable price. It there another sibling down the line, the choice is even easier.

If you liked this review or our videos, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also check out our biking experience from balance bike to singletracks by the age of 5 here.

Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike Early Rider Hellion 20 inch kids mountain bike
Published 26.07.2020 by Peter Pech

  1. BikerDad

    Outstanding review. My son has the belter 16 and he has already outgrown tit (he’s 4.5). I’m looking at the Helion HT 20″. I’m not a bike geek and don’t have enough time to research all the cool stuff out there!

    Couple of questions:
    1. Which brakes did you use? Deore for Front & Rear? Both the same PN? Ordering from Amazon is hit/miss because of the possibility for the products changing but the link remaining the same.

    2. The pedals linked are white — the ones you used were black. Did you Xpedo Traverse Size 9. Just wanted to confirm

    3. Did you switch to the 180m rotor yet? Which one?
    4. The shifter…the amazon link has ‘right’ and 10speed…can you provide the PN pls?

    Thx for the awesome review…

    • admin

      Hello,

      1. we’ve kept the original Shimano Deore that came on the bike. They have been faultless so far.
      2. Amazon might have changed the color, but yes, it’s Xpedo Traverse 9. We are still very happy with the pedals
      3. nope, we stuck with the 160mm and they are fine. 
      4. yes, right and 10 speed is correct. There is no other Shimano Saint shifter available really, only the SL-M820 https://amzn.to/2MDfVpP

      Hope this helps

  2. Kris

    Hi Pete,

    I came across your posts and videos while researching bikes for my (soon to be) 8-year-old son.

    We hadn’t looked at higher-end bikes his first pedal bike, but I’ve been looking at Early Rider bikes for his next one (a 24′). I know this review is of the Hellion, but I can also see you have experience with other Early Rider models.

    I’m trying to work out whether the Belter or Seeker (Hellion not being considered) would be the best model for my son. I would put the expected use at:

    Tarmac/Asphalt | 40-50%.
    Well-trodden (dirt footpaths), e.g. woods | 30-40%
    Off-path (grass, off paths in woods, etc.) | 10-20%

    I’d be grateful for any advice you might be able to provide.

    • admin

      Hello Kris,
      from my understanding the main difference between the Belter and Seeker are the tires. With your use case, I’d personally go for the Seeker. They are both amazing bikes, but I think Seeker is more versatile.
      Have a nice day!

  3. KD

    Hello, i just read your great review. My son is also riding a Hellion 20″ now. As you mentioned in your review, the Bike is great, but some parts could be improved. I’m also looking forward to reduce the weight of the Bike, while removing the tubes, seatpost etc… Did you reuse the original Vee Crown Gem (not tubeless ready), with your tubeless kit?

    Best regards

    • admin

      Hi, yes, the tires work fine with Stan’s NoTubes sealant. The only problem we had was with the valves, as the rims wren’t drilled very nicely. They do slowly leak some air, but it’s ok.

  4. Ulises

    Amazing build.
    Pete,

    I wonder where did you get the fork as I cant find it in EU and what’s the width of the fork? I have a set of GEM 20 x 2.6 and a 20 x 2.4 .

    I would like to use them but it all depend on the fork.

    Thanks and keep joyfull.

    Ulises

    • admin

      Hello Ulises,

      we’ve bought a complete bike with the fork included. bike24.de carries the fork, but it’s out of stock now.

      All best,
      Peter

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