Orbea MX20 XC- Rider Review
Our 6 year-old tester was ready to get their tyres a bit muddy and venture onto some mountain bike trails, putting the Orbea MX20 XC to the test.
We were keen to see how this 20 inch wheel mountain bike with suspension fork and chunky mountain bike tyres helped our rider to build confidence and skills off road as we headed to the trail centre.
Bike Model: Orbea MX20 XC
Child age range: 5 – 9 years old
Inside Leg range: 52cm – 62cm
Tester Age: 6/7 yrs old
Tester Height/Inside Leg: 130cm/58cm
Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frames and rigid forks
We Like: Comfy ride and plenty of grip from the fat tyres and plenty of gears for steep hills.
Who are Orbea?
Spanish brand Orbea has been making bikes since 1840 when the Orbea Brothers opened a small workshop in the heart of Basque Country in Eibar.
These days the brand has a big presence in Europe and beyond, making pretty much all types of bikes. From high-end mountain bikes and road bikes to e-bikes and kids bikes, their catalogue is large and even specialises in individually customised bikes.
Their children's range starts from balance bikes with 12-inch wheels, up to junior mountain bikes with 27.5 inch wheels.
Orbea's MX kids bike range
Orbea offers three 'collections' of kids' bikes - the MX, the Laufey and the Onna ranges.
The MX range is the broadest, offering first pedal bikes through to 24-inch wheels and they have options for suspension on the larger wheeled bikes.
They all have a mountain bike style and feel about them, both in looks and also in what they are designed to do.
The other kid's bikes come under the Laufey Junior and Onna Junior 'collections' - these are based on adult models of the same name. The Laufey is their fun, long travel hardtail for thrashing about in the woods, and the Onna is their more entry-level, conservative hardtail. The kid's versions mirror these aspirations.
So the MX is a more classic range of kids' bikes while the others are even more mountain bike focused and only deal in bigger sizes. Still with me? Maybe? There are a LOT of options when you're looking at Orbea kids bikes...
In this review we're looking at the MX20, which has 20-inch wheels - this is the XC version which gets a suspension fork while there is also the 'DIRT' version which gets a rigid fork. They also do a "Park" version which has mudguards fitted for more everyday riding.
Orbea MX20 XC review
The Orbea MX20 XC is essentially a 'first' mountain bike for young riders.
Its defining feature is probably the suspension fork which offers 40mm of coil-sprung travel. Other key features include the aluminium frame which has been designed around large volume tyres to give comfort and grip for younger riders.
The Kenda Booster tyres are as wide as full-sized tyres and offer a good tread pattern and give the bike a very 'chunky-tyre' look.
It boasts seven gears operated by a trigger shift system, plus v-brakes with small levers to deal with the slowing down.
Shimano parts cover the gears and the cassette gives a 14-34t range of cogs coupled with a single chainring of 36t and a neat little chain retention device to keep it on over the bumps.
The other parts are all child-specific in their design, such as the one-piece bar and stem, soft grips and a small saddle.
All together it certainly looks the part but feels somewhat heavy compared to other bikes of the same size. This is mostly down to the suspension fork, but more on that later...
Components on the Orbea MX20 XC
There is some adjustment in the stem height but not much, while the seatpost gives plenty of up and down, from 58 cm up to 71cm (from the ground) and can be put right out the way for descending if required.
The Suspension Fork is an SR Suntour M3010, which might not be a catchy name, but they are a big brand and should offer good reliability. However, it's worth noting this is a coil sprung fork, rather than an air suspension fork, so fine-tuning for the weight of the rider is limited.
The bike does come with standard kids' pedals which aren't great quality. If you have a child wanting to ride a bike like this off-road, investing in some bigger, grippier platforms is a good idea, especially if you're riding in wet weather.
How does the Orbea MX20 XC ride?
The bike was immediately a winner with my (then) 6 yr old. Our garage is full of mountain bikes, so I've already subtly been preparing them for riding off road and they were happy to get a bike that looked like an adult mountain bike.
The Orbea MX20 XC is a bit heavy, at about 10.5kg.
I'll say it straight away - the fork is heavy and not that great.
You can preload the spring in the fork to make it firmer, but it's still a pogo stick and I don't feel it adds anything to the riding experience or aids performance.
That said, it does not detract from the riding much, so it's definitely not terrible, but I would save a little money, and a little weight, (I estimate about 0.5kg) and get the DIRT version of the bike.
Right, with that dealt with we can get on with the rest of the bike, which has been really very good.
One of the nice things about the Orbea MX20 XC are the tyres. Previously we've played around with some 20" hybrid bikes and the difference with the wider MTB tyres was noticeable.
The Kenda Boosters give a load of squish and a bunch of traction and grip for riding off-road. This has just opened up possibilities and when getting off-road at the trail centres, the bike has felt stable and grippy. This grip is great on the climbs tackling roots and rocks, but also braking downhill!
Getting the pressures right really helps here, and running nice soft tyres (but not too soft) is the key, and brings with it lots of confidence for the rider to get involved with slippy muddy terrain.
Gears and brakes on the Orbea MX20 XC
When it comes to the brakes, they did a good job, but I would have liked it to have the option of disc brakes, just to allow for easy braking for small hands. Disc brakes generally offer more power and can be operated more easily with one finger, leaving more fingers to hold on to the handlebar! Which is pretty important.
In terms of gears, there is a good spread, and this deals with most hills pretty well. We use a tow rope on the steep climbs sometimes, so there is always a bail-out option!
A wider range cassette would be a nice touch, but all this pushes the price up. While not cheap, at £479 the MX20 is competitively priced for a 20" wheel mountain bike and gives a good entry for off-road riding.
The rest of the components all did their job well and we didn't have any issues. I'm not convinced by the trend for combined stems and handlebars, but I suppose they look cool. I'd rather have the option to change the bars to a higher rise as they grow taller.
In terms of the ride, I think confidence is probably the main thing that the bike brought to the trails for my rider.
Whether some of that was from simply riding a 'proper' mountain bike, or simply comfy tyres and good stable geometry to the frame it's hard to pinpoint exactly.
Either way, we rode further, and more technical trails than we have before and I felt confident that the bike would handle it, which is always key!
How does the Orbea compare to other kids mountain bikes?
Specialized's Riprock 20 looks like a good contender but manages to be the same weight as the Orbea without a suspension fork and costs more, at £500.
The BTwin Rockrider range has three options between £199 and £299, but with an extra couple of kg! And the Cube Acid is a similar price range but a little lighter- but no front suspension.
As I mentioned before the DIRT version of the Orbea MX20 is slightly cheaper at £429 a modest saving of £50 but would still be my choice over the XC model, and by my estimates would be about 0.5kg lighter.
A confidence-building entry into mountain biking with everything you might need for off-road fun. I would rather have a rigid fork and save some weight, but fortunately, they have that exact bike in their range in the form of the MX20 DIRT!
The Orbea MX20 XC offers a comfortable, stable and fun ride for exploring off the beaten track.Buy Now
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