The time had come to pass my oldest of three daughters’ bike to the next in line. After getting some ideas of what she wanted and what I wanted for her, my wife and I decided on the Marin Hidden Canyon 20″ for her 7th birthday. Good decision us.

The bike is solid and capable. A stout aluminum frame and steel rigid fork underpin a bike that young riders will not quickly exceed the capabilities of and the geometry is confidence inspiring. Why do I know this? Because I’ve watched my daughter begin to bulldoze and attack the trail as she learns to trust her bike over the rough. Disc brakes aid her confidence to regain control when she gets a little too bold.

Marin did a good job with the parts spec to keep the price just under $400. The single chainring and 7spd Shimano Tourney cassette are enough to find the best gear for trails this bike is made for. There are a couple of quibbles of course.

Be it Shimano or SRAM, in this case the former, twist shifters stink. I suspect they take an element of complexity out of the transmission on bikes for this demographic. While good in theory, reality quickly lets users know how much strength is required to rotate the shifter up or down. It’s difficult for me! For the little ones learning to shift, triggers are better. I don’t think there is greater mental capacity needed to use the triggers and would argue riders have more control because of the ease with which the transmission works. It would be nice for Marin and others who make bikes for kids to make this change, even if the cost is only slightly higher. I did make this one after market change; it was the right move.

A bad bike dressed in nice clothes still rides like a bad bike. Good thing for the Hidden Canyon, the bones are solid. The dress isn’t bad either! There are a few things I’ll eventually change out and not because they are necessary. The bike nerd in me wants wider tires with more aggressive tread, lock-on grips, and eventually, a 9spd transmission.

Most important of all is my daughter’s thoughts on the bike. After a thoughtful pause and spoken like a true cyclist when asked what she likes about it:

“I really like the color. And it just rides real good.”

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