Raleigh Cadent 24
A Quality Kids Bike At A Budget Price
When I choose products to share with you, I always look for an interesting story. Sometimes that means writing about using the absolute best product available in a given category. Other times it might mean a niche product that solves a very particular case. In this case, it means talking about a product in a highly competitive segment that doesn’t uniquely solve a problem but instead does a really good job for a fantastic price. The Raleigh Cadent 24 is a kids’ bike with a 24 inch wheel that shines in a very competitive market. It offers great quality at a price point that’s hard to beat.
Raleigh is actually one of the oldest bicycle brand names still around today. Started in the late 1880’s, the name has changed hands a few times in the last 125 years, but today Dutch based Accell group owns Raleigh. The Accell group also owns a number of other familiar bike brands including Diamondback and Redline and uses a direct to consumer model. The direct to consumer model means a lower price point and at $289.99 for the complete bike, the Raleigh Cadent 24 is certainly a screaming deal. That price doesn’t include shipping, but shipping is completely reasonable. There are two options for shipping.
Shipping won’t bust your budget.
One option is to pay $20 for home delivery and receive an 85% complete bike along with the necessary tools to finish the job. This is the direction I went, and assembly was easy enough. I think for most people, even those not particularly experienced with bikes, this is a very viable option. If, instead, you like the idea of having it put together at a shop, you can choose to pay $99 and pick up an assembled bike at a local bike shop. The extra $99 would cut down on some of the pricing advantage, but you’d still be getting a pretty good deal. The question, of course, comes down to value for your money, and that’s where I can step in and offer some help.
Just $289 plus reasonable shipping gets you an 85% complete bike.
A bike that doesn’t cost much isn’t a good deal if it’s junk, but rest assured, that’s not the scenario here. The Raleigh Cadent 24 is a well built bike with quality components. The frame and fork are both aluminum, and the welds look as good as what I’ve seen on the best aluminum bikes in the industry. The paint also continues that same trend of quality, and the brakes include front and rear hand brakes with no coaster brake to be found.
No coaster brake makes it easier for young riders.
I recommend avoiding coaster brakes should because they make pedaling more difficult for young riders, so this is a good thing. Although it is possible to find disc brakes on bikes of this size—Raleigh actually offers a disc brake on their Redux 24, Eva24, and Tokul 24—the Cadent 24 has v-mount brakes. Getting even, solid, pad engagement with V-mount brakes can require a lot of adjustment but on the Cadent 24 I didn’t need to touch the brakes prior to the first ride. In fact, as a testament to the well built nature of the bike, there were no major adjustments I needed to do.
Looking at the rest of the spec sheet, I found some mistakes online. Thankfully, the actual specs are better than listed. Online you’ll see a super short cage rear derailleur referenced, however, what actually comes on the bike is the “Shimano Tourney TY Long Cage Rear Derailleur 6/7-speed.” If the online description was correct a 28 tooth rear cog would be the easiest gear. A 28 tooth rear coupled with the 36 tooth crank would really be inappropriate gearing for trying to tackle any kind of hill. Thankfully, the listed 13-28 rear is also a mistake, and the Cadent 24 comes with a 14-32 tooth freewheel in the rear. This is much better gearing, however, a 36 tooth front crank matched with a 32 tooth rear is still a bit harder than I’d like to see.
The gearing isn’t perfect but quality components mean you can upgrade the rear freewheel if you need.
I consider my boy a strong rider, and he definitely struggles on the, admittedly tough, hills we tackle while riding around Portland. You can find some relief though by installing a rear freewheel with a 34 tooth largest gear. I generally opt for an available 1/1 gear ratio on my bikes, and I’d like to see the same on this bike. One thing I wouldn’t bother changing, though, is the number of gears available. There are some, more expensive, 24” wheel bikes in the market with 8 speed drivetrains, and while an extra gear isn’t going to hurt anything, I don’t think it’s really worth paying extra for. Generally kids, and less experienced riders in general, have a hard time remembering to change gears as often as is optimal anyway, so bigger jumps between the gears isn’t much of an issue.
Overall, I’d describe this bike as having the basics you need at a great price. It’s not perfect, my only real knock is the gearing, but it is a really good bike, and there’s no obvious price cutting. The Raleigh Cadent 24 is well built with, mostly, smart equipment choices and the details have been well thought out. We’ve added a few small accessories, including a kickstand, water bottle, and blue pedals, and the bike is a hit in my family. During the school year, my seven year old son puts in more miles than many adults and successfully tackles a challenging, hilly, commute with the Raleigh Cadent 24 being a dependable companion.
Kids deserve quality bikes too.
This is a bike I feel great recommending, and although I haven’t had a chance to test some of the adult offerings from Raleigh, given what I see in the Cadent 24, it’s a brand worth keeping an eye on for whatever your needs might be.