My son on the Zulu 3 was able to ride some pretty legit trails. The single rear derailleur is a great setup for a kid. Bike was honestly a piece of cake to assemble. I'm sure the Alpha model is lighter, but I do think the suspension is worth it if you are going to really go out into the jungle. Its pretty cool that you can get a bike for an 8 year old that's good enough to go on trails that Dad has fun on. Everything on the bike feels as it would on a grown up bike, just scaled. Of course, I have no experience with competing bikes so I can't say it is better or worse than the other well-regarded models out there, but I can surely say its better than the kid bikes at big stores in town. Overall, I'm very happy to have done this. I questioned spending as much on a bike for an 8 year old as I did for myself, but the final result seems to have been worth it.
Also, Prevelo does well with their shipping communications. Bike was supposed to ship next business day and did, and I got tracking information as I should.