The Austrian kids’ bike brand woom, already ubiquitous in Europe, is tackling a trickier American market with its first off-road ultralight bicycle.
Family-founded in Vienna in 2013, woom — like “zoom” — makes a line of lightweight bikes for kids ages 1 and a half through 14. The colorful aluminum series, ranging from a low step-through balance bike up to an around-town 26er for teens, has caught on in Europe, where riding bikes is already an integral part of life.
For perspective, woom is the most popular children’s bike brand in the German-speaking region, with a 35-percent market share in Austria. It’s forecasting 100 percent year-over-year growth, and last month alone, woom Europe achieved the total turnover of the previous year, according to CEO Marcus Ihlenfeld.
Now woom, from headquarters in Austin, Texas, is after the U.S. market with the just-launched woom OFF, a sleek, all-black, gravel-friendly, off-road bike. It might just catch the attention of Americans, who tend to want more weekend adventure, and less everyday commuter, in their bikes.
Plus, Ihlenfeld notes that the lightweight woom OFF is right on the cusp of growing momentum in youth mountain bike racing in the U.S.
In short: The woom OFF is currently available in 20-, 24-, and 26-inch models starting at $669 and topping out at $699. The price point is higher than comparable kids’ bikes.
But the brand delivers several features that might make the price tag worth it: incredibly low weight, completely kid-specific geometry, and capable components made for little bodies — and minds.
woom OFF Lightest Kids’ Mountain Bike
My son, 11, was one of a few to test ride the first woom OFF at Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colorado. The first thing he noticed was the minuscule weight of this bike.
When comparing the 24-inch woom OFF 5 ($679) to his current Giant of the same wheel size, his jaw dropped. He immediately tried lifting the bike above his head. At just under 19 pounds, the bike cooperated with ease.
According to the brand, the woom OFF is the lightest youth mountain bike on the market. In fact, the average woom bike is 40 percent lighter than the conventional children’s bike.
And weight matters in a child’s ride. When you’re little, it’s harder to do everything — climb, jump, corner, push, etc. — with too much bulk. That can make the sport harder to learn and sometimes less fun to do.
In the OFF, woom achieves a weight-conscious yet highly durable ride mostly through a seamless aluminum frame that’s hydroformed (shaped) for high precision and mechanical strength.
More weight savings come in the form of double-chamber aluminum rims, disc brakes, and an ultralight custom carbon fork, which weighs a measly 11.6 ounces.
We also noticed that the woom OFF 5’s knobby Schwalbe tires and kid-specific design (low top tube, low center of gravity, and long wheelbase) made the bike ride “bigger.”
And with a convertible stem that you flip to make longer and a quick-adjusting seat post meant for kids up to 4’9″, we knew it still had some growing room. That meant my lean, moderately tall tween was going to get another full season or two out of it.
woom OFF 5 Put to the Test
My son tested the woom OFF 5 on grass, gravel, concrete, dirt, sand, and a range of park features ranging from rocks and ramps to banks and drops. We tried to keep up.
The weight clearly made the nine-gear bike easy to handle and climb up hills. Although the setup was different from his current bike, he quickly figured out the one-sided SRAM trigger shifter.
Woom’s signature chainring “stops” also prevented any inconvenient drops. That can be an issue for someone (who shall remain nameless) who likes to shift at the wrong times, especially when standing up. And because the brand develops 85 percent of its bike parts, there are kid-specific ergonomic components from stem to crank.
woom OFF 5: A Few Drawbacks
There were only a few downsides to this capable off-road kids’ bike. First, the OFF has a very lightweight carbon fork, but it’s rigid. So a kid coming off a bike with shocks will immediately notice less play on technical terrain.
And in Colorado, most are used to bouncing around on tougher stuff. (Woom is releasing an OFF suspension model as early as spring 2020.)
Second, the Euro name woom is a little hard to wrap your head around. My son kept asking if it was a female body part. Once I explained that, no, it’s just Austrian for “zoom,” or even that it might sound like “vroom,” he was cool with it.
Third, the styling is sleek. Designed for an older child, the OFF (in 20-, 24-, and 26-inch models) comes in matte-black only. There very few logos or markings.
However, my son was coming from a fluorescent-green ride and decided he needed some flair. Luckily, every woom OFF comes with a clever sticker set for customization. We added a turquoise strip to the top tube and two matching stickers around the tire valves and — voila! — instant style.
The woom OFF, starting at $669 for the 20-inch model, comes in three sizes and is available for purchase online only. You can preorder now, and woom will ship the bikes by late October. Ihlenfeld expects the woom OFF to sell out by the holiday season.