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Great New Kid's Mountain Bikes - 2022 Specialized Riprock Review 21

No detail overlooked on Specialized's new youth mountain bikes.

Great New Kid's Mountain Bikes - 2022 Specialized Riprock Review

Full-fledged mountain bikes that are specifically designed for young riders with developing skills are progressing each year, and it seems like every week there is a new-and-improved two-wheeler for the pint-sized punter.  Specialized has long been in the youth cycling game with their Riprock line of kid's mountain bikes, but for 2022, they started from scratch with a complete redesign of their 20-inch and 24-inch-wheeled MTBs. The prices, however, remain the same; $650 for the Riprock 20, and $700 for the Riprock 24, both available now. To go Matt-Hunter-big, Specialized has added the Riprock 24 Expert with Manitou suspension and other capable upgrades for $1,500, available for pre-order, arriving in December.

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2022 Specialized Riprock 20 and 24 Highlights

  • A1 premium butted alloy frame
  • A1 premium butted alloy rigid fork with fender
  • Boost front and rear hub spacing
  • Front and rear thru-axle interface
  • Internal cable routing
  • MicroShift Advent 1x9 drivetrains. Clutch derailleur on 24 model
  • 30t narrow-wide chainring
  • C Star Radius Hydraulic disc brakes with tool-free lever adjust
  • Ground Control Sport 2.35-inch tires
  • Shorter stack heights for more weight on the hands
  • Shorter chainstay lengths for nimble/playful ride
  • Slacker head tube angles for control at speed
  • Torque wrench, pedal wrench, pedals included
  • Riprock 20 - 22.5 pounds // Riprock 24 - 24.7 pounds
  • Riprock 20 - $650 // Riprock 24 - $700

Buy the Specialized Riprock Online

Aside from an updated design, the big news is that these 2022 Riprock bikes are available directly via Specialized.com. A potential buyer can visit a local Specialized dealer to check the bikes out in person, or they can order the bike online and have it delivered to their door. The boxes the Riprocks arrive in are user-friendly, and the bikes are mostly assembled. Tools like a pedal wrench and torque wrench with multiple hex bits are included to make completing the build easy.

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Assembly

A Riprock 20 and 24 were sent to Vital's six- and eight-year-old testers, and with the assistance of their thinks-he-knows-it-all father, they unboxed and built up the new bikes. The included pedals were threaded on to the cranks, and the handlebars mounted to the stem with the included tools. We had to straighten the stem on both bikes to get the bars lined up and brake caliper adjustment was necessary to remove some excess rubbing on the rotors.

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On the Riprock 20, we had to chop off some seat post to get the saddle slammed low enough for our sprouting sprinter. No better way to impress a 6-year-old than creating metal shavings with a hacksaw. The handlebar markings on our Riprock 24 seemed a bit off, too. The 620mm bars are pretty flat, but if the logos and graphics were centered in the stem face plate, the roll was pretty rearward. After the first ride (and some of the studio photos), we rolled them forward.

15x110mm Boost Front Axle
Heck yes!

2022 Riprock Sizing, Features and Setup

The 2022 Specialized Riprock bikes are meant for youth ages 5 to 12 who are 42 inches to 56 inches in height. Bike sizing depends on a rider's height, and their riding ability and preferences. Our six-year-old tester (46-inches tall) has been on a 20-inch GT Stomper with chopped down seat tube for a good year, and the Riprock 20 is a great fit for his size, leaving room to grow. The Riprock 24 for our 8-year-old (50-inches tall) was a step up to bigger wheels from his previous 20-inch MTB. While he could still run a 20-inch, he's excited for the bigger wheels and could ride this bike for a few years to come.

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The Riprock 20 and 24 we were sent are spec'd nearly identically aside from frame size, wheel size and componentry dimensions. They both feature lightweight alloy frames with internal cable routing (which is pretty baller), threadless headsets, threaded, square-taper bottom brackets, kid-friendly Q factor, front and rear BOOST thru-axles and hub spacing (heck yes!), rigid alloy forks, 130mm Bridge saddle, knobby Ground Control Sport 2.35 tires (thank you for abandoning 2.8-inch trend!), Radius hydraulic disc brakes and Specialized cockpit and seat post.

Please note that the parts on our test bikes don't exactly match up with the parts listed on the Specialized data sheets. You know, Covid supply and all...

Stock Riprock 20 bikes use the non-clutch version of the Advent rear derailleur.
Our Riprock 24 arrived with the clutch MicroShift Advent derailleur.

A build highlight of the new Riprocks is a more legit, *mountain-bikey* drivetrain than the previous models. Trimmed with 1x9 MicroShift Advent drivetrains, they use wide-range cassettes that go all the way up to 42 teeth. Paired with the 30t narrow-wide chainrings, a nice, low gear awaits mini shredders who venture up steep climbs. In addition to a massive grom gear range, the Riprock 24 derailleurs feature a clutch that can be turned on or off to minimize chainslap - a huge step up from the flopping, *cheap drivetrains on most kid mountain bikes. The wide range cassette does mean a long derailleur cage is present, however. While roomy enough on the Riprock 24, when in lower gears, the derailleur cage comes pretty close to the ground on the Riprock 20. Groms and parents alike should be aware that it could get snagged or hung up relatively easily.

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The Riprock 20 does not use the clutch version of the MicroShift Advent derailleur. Regardless, the spring tension on the Riprock 20 derailleur feels stiffer than the derailleurs spec'd on our testers' personal 20-inch MTBs, which is promising. 

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Other subtle differences include the Riprock 24 using tire innertubes with Presta valves, while the Riprock 20 uses tubes with Schraeder valves. The 24 has room and mounts for a water bottle cage, the 20 doesn't. Cranks are 140mm long on the 24 and 115mm on the 20. Handlebar width is 620mm and 600mm respectively.

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*Coming from a bike with weak V-brakes, our youngest tester still prefers the 3-finger squeeze, but there is plenty of stopping power with these discs HA.

As mentioned, completing the basic bike assembly was easy, but for our six- and eight-year-old testers, some tweaking to the controls was needed. While disc brakes may seem like overkill for our fearless featherweights, their lever reach adjustment is critical on kids bikes, and the C Star Radius brakes on the Riprocks have tool-free adjustment to boot. Little shredders don't have the reach of adult fingers and many brake levers found on kids bikes are often made for adults. The levers are too far out for a child to easily grab. Thanks to that red anodized knob, we were able to pull the levers as close to the bars as possible, while still keeping plenty of brake bite for our testers' developing digits.

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The MicroShift Advent Trail Pro shifters are adult-sized, and even though they have an easy action, lever throw is long for younger hands. There is a bit of compromise and stretching for the smallest mitts to get that downshift lever clicked when the upshift lever is in a usable position.

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The Ground Control tires are nice and meaty, providing plenty of grip off the road and generous skidmark-making material for the sidewalk. Proud, new owners of powerful disc brakes will wow their friends with lengthy rubber dust lines on the cement immediately followed by lectures from adults about supply chain issues and the rising prices of new tires compared to their weekly allowance. Additionally, the tires feature Flak Jacket construction to help with puncture protection during curious, off-road excursions through goat head patches. Our testers' thinks-he-knows-it-all father is quite excited that the Ground Control tires are 2.35-inches wide. The previous Riprocks featured fat, 2.8-inch tires, but thankfully it looks like that balloon-riding trend has deflated.

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The other praise we'd like to offer up is the use of Boost hub spacing and rigid forks on the new Riprocks. Suspension forks offered on youth mountain bikes at this price point are extremely heavy and feature no real performance benefits: they're just a spring. The old Riprocks featured these boat anchors, but since Specialized has gone rigid, the weight comes down significantly. The Boost thru-axle interface is clean, simple and secure and will let bike-nerd parents have plenty options for custom wheelset if they want to double or triple the value of the bikes. Our Riprock 20 weighed in at 22.5 pounds and the 24 at 24.7 pounds.

2022 Specialized Riprock 24 Expert

Full Legit Kid's MTB Hardtail - Riprock 24 Expert

For rad moms or dads who want rad kids, the Specialized Riprock 24 Expert features a Manitou J-Unit Comp 100 suspension fork. That's a real suspension fork with real performance. The Riprock 24 Expert isn't cheap at $1,500, but it features a geometry-adjusted frame, a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain with 42t cassette, SRAM Level brakes and weighs in at 26.4lbs. Don't forget, Loic Bruni rode a hardtail for years as a kid and the skills he developed are evident with World Championship victories, World Cup DH wins and the fact that most riders would give anything to have his cloud-like style and laser-like precision on the trail.

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What's the Bottom Line?

The days of portly, after-thought youth mountain bikes are behind us, and there hasn't been a detail overlooked on the new Specialized Riprock bikes. Frame design, weight, geometry, parts selection and features like clean, internal cable routing and Boost thru-axle dropouts front and rear mean the young rider in your life will be dropping you on the climbs and roosting your face off during descents in no time. A capable, secure drivetrain, powerful, adjustable brakes and grippy tires give budding bump smashers the necessary tools to shred some singletrack, blast the plywood ramp or race their friends around the cul-de-sac. We would gladly recommend keeping the kids on bikes and off the screen with the Riprocks. Adults who choose to buy the bike directly can have a quality-time session assembling the bike with the frothing young recipient. Those less mechanically confident will have the support of a local Specialized bike shop to make sure these bikes are ready roll for adventures to come.

Hit up specialized.com for more info or to purchase the 2022 Riprock.

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View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the Specialized Riprock in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

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