by MacLaren Stevenson
I am 12 years old. I have always been into biking. When I was six, I rode on my own 18″ Redline bike from Toronto to Montreal. I’ve been racing both mountain and road bikes ever since. I have a Felt with 24″ wheels that is a bit too small when I want to keep up with my dad on his 700c-wheel bike. I also have a Cervélo, which has a small frame, but its 700c wheels make it feel a bit too big sometimes. I can race my Cervélo but I’m not always confident riding it fast in corners.
In August, MEC lent me an MEC Col XS road bike so I could take it through the typical trails and routes I regularly ride and write a review about it. MEC was even nice enough to give me a free pro bicycle fit. It was awesome. The fitter put tape on different parts of my legs to measure some angles and make the bike fit me perfectly. I learned a lot about the optimal position to be in when riding a race bike.
I took the bike to the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec and rode up some hills, along some flats and on gravel and grass. The bike is really light so it’s ideal for going up hills and taking off from a stop. The bike only weighs 9.18 kg, unlike some department-store bikes that weigh around 20 kg so kids don’t want to go anywhere on them. With the Col XS, kids who like to go far won’t get as tired. The aluminum frame and the carbon fork make this bike so light that kids can go very far and very fast. The frame is almost the size of one for 24″ wheels, but it fits 650b rims. The Alex R500 rims with the Vittoria Rubino tires made me feel well in control.
Components Shimano Claris,
Tektro R450 brakes
Wheels Alex R500, 650b
Sizes (cm) 36
The bike is strong and comfortable on gravel. The sleek Selle Royal Sirio saddle made it very comfortable. The Cork Gel grip tape also made the ride smooth on my hands. I think you could even use this bike as a cyclocross bike. I like how the MEC Col XS looks. It has a cool black-and-grey paint job. The head tube is tapered just like the high-end (and very expensive) race bikes that they use in races like the Tour de France. The rims are slick with all black stainless steel spokes. The cranks are a matching black. They are only 165-mm long, shorter than my Cervélo’s 170-mm cranks and perfect for the length of my legs. My dad says this is important so that my legs don’t come up into my chest when I’m pedalling.
The Col XS is a great bike for kids because what most kids do is get to a big gear and start stomping. They might go fast for a minute or two, but they get tired pushing that big gear and can’t keep riding for a long time. On this bike, there are no huge gears. The 16 gears give kids a big variety of gears or speeds they will like. The biggest chainring is 46-tooth so I can still spin the cranks even on the hardest gear. One other thing I always like to know is what gear I’m in. With the Shimano Claris brake levers and shifters, kids can see the little arrow that moves when they switch gears – much safer than looking down at their chains while they’re riding.
The brakes are very strong and tight. Sometimes they are a bit hard to pull, but they are still very strong so the bike stops right away. There is no real modulation in the brakes. You either pull them and stop or you don’t touch them. They are very sensitive. If you get into the drops and squeeze them, it is a lot easier. You’ll be able to just slow yourself down and not stop completely.
The MEC Col XS is great. With it, I can keep up with my dad. But, at the same time, the bike doesn’t control me. I control it.