1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Ridgid or suspension fork for kids bike?

    Hey guys, I'm trying to decide on a 24" bike for my 9 year old. Going back and forth between something like the Trek MT200 for $300 and then something with a front suspension fork for around $100 more, maybe like something from Specialized.

    I sold my full suspension a few years back just cause we live so far from any trails and now I mainly just ride in town on my Monocog 29'ers. So I wondering, if we do mostly street and city riding, should I just save the money with the ridgid fork models? The $400 bikes are doable, money wise, I just would prefer to save the money and don't want to buy something that we won't really get use out of anyway.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    I'm no weight weenie on the bikes I ride (I'm a big guy anyhow), but bike weight can be significant for kids. So, in some ways I'd be less concerned about the fork (many kid's suspension forks don't compress much anyhow for kids under 100 lbs.) but maybe more concerned about the weight of the MT200 -- my daughter has one, and it is heavy (Hi-Ten steel frame). My son's Marin Bayview Trail 24" has an aluminum frame and is a good bit lighter (even with a suspension fork) so easier for him to pop the front a bit over roots, etc.

    However, if you're not going to be hitting trails that may not be as much of a concern. Also, if you know you won't be on anything more serious than a gravel path, I might recommend something like the Trek Kid's FX -- has an aluminum frame, no suspension fork, and the 24x1.5 tires should be fine on gravel and dirt paths, and much smoother on pavement.

    Hope this helps!
    I ride at night - see my tips for Night Cycling
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  3. #3
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    thanks for the thoughts. In doing some research, I've found that most of the manufacturer's don't list weight for the kids bikes. And yeah, I did find another comment or two about the weight of the Trek being steel. I hadn't considered the FX, but I'll look at that one now.

  4. #4
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    Rigid.

    To my knowledge, no good suspension fork is available for a 24" bike. To my knowledge, no good suspension fork ships on a $300-$400 bike. It's just something that's going to make your kid's bike that much heavier; they're already notoriously heavy. So if you can knock a couple pounds (seriously!) off the front end, do it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Rigid.

    To my knowledge, no good suspension fork is available for a 24" bike. To my knowledge, no good suspension fork ships on a $300-$400 bike. It's just something that's going to make your kid's bike that much heavier; they're already notoriously heavy. So if you can knock a couple pounds (seriously!) off the front end, do it.
    We put a RST susp. fork on my old 24" bike when my brother grew into it, and the fork was, to put it simply, trash. Your kid will have more fun not dealing with a bottoming-out pogo stick and learning how to be a better rider on a solid fork. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    Rigid

    It's a shame that the manufacturers of (usually) quality bicycles spec worthless parts on lower-end models, and then if ever questioned would blame us, the 'market' for it! I demand that something that looks like a suspension fork come stock on my mountain bike!!!1! The low end suspension fork business wouldn't even exist if people were a little more honest, because the cost/benefit doesn't tip in favor of suspension over rigid until you hit, what, like $200 for the fork alone? A modern CrMo steel fork will give you a fine, sturdy front end, w/ some choice over axle-to-crown/head angle, canti or disc tabs, something like SID weight, for $100 or less. I don't wish ill on anyone that runs a bike company, but I wish they would stop treating people like a-holes.

    The Marz MZ-Comp on the front of my roommate's otherwise excellent Hardrock Pro ('05, full Deore, BB5s) is absolutely worthless, and that bike was probably over $500 new. A real, respectable mountain bike. So why a pretend fork?

  7. #7
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    Go rigid. Sus forks on kids bikes are heavy lumps of useless.

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    Ever consider just going out to get a 26" bike with an XS frame? I was looking at some for the kid and she rather have a BMX (wife bought it before I could stop her) because that's what all the boys had.

    Your kid's 9...not sure how tall she is, but she may outgrow the 24" pretty quick.

    For about $400 (same price my wife paid for the Giant BMX) I could have picked up a Specialized Myka HT in XS for my 4'2" shrimp (12yo).

    -S

  9. #9
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    A rigid will not only be lighter but teach you kid to ride smoother and choose better lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBerNick View Post
    A rigid will not only be lighter but teach you kid to ride smoother and choose better lines.
    That and actually most kids won't care. They want what their friends have - which is usually a BMX.

    -S

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shibiwan View Post
    That and actually most kids won't care. They want what their friends have - which is usually a BMX.

    -S
    True, but you will help develop some rider skills with out them really knowing.

    I want a BMX bike.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBerNick View Post
    A rigid will not only be lighter but teach you kid to ride smoother and choose better lines.
    Agreed.

    I want our son to learn in stages, his first bike was a street type cruiser. We used this bike to help teach him basic bike riding skills and safety. Then we switched to a BMX once he got around 8yrs old. This introduced him to the bumps and dirt of offroading. Now I'm introducing him to larger wheels and gears by getting him a Trek MT200...well, I was too excited and gave it to him early. I'll worry about suspension later.

    PS: they make really cool and affordable kids body armor

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBerNick View Post
    True, but you will help develop some rider skills with out them really knowing.

    I want a BMX bike.
    I was actually considering grabbing the BMX (Giant Method 01) for a few rides while we have no foster kids for a while....(nice and peaceful for a change)

    -S

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shibiwan View Post
    Ever consider just going out to get a 26" bike with an XS frame? I was looking at some for the kid and she rather have a BMX (wife bought it before I could stop her) because that's what all the boys had.

    Your kid's 9...not sure how tall she is, but she may outgrow the 24" pretty quick.

    For about $400 (same price my wife paid for the Giant BMX) I could have picked up a Specialized Myka HT in XS for my 4'2" shrimp (12yo).

    -S
    Yes, I had thought about this and wasn't sure about it. But looking at the 24"s, they aren't a ton bigger than the 20" he's too big for now.

    He's 4'6" - pretty average for a 3rd grader, I think.

    Are the Myka's girl's bikes? They seem to mention girl seats and geometry. What would be comparable for the boys - the regular hardrock 26?

    The more I'm thinking, maybe I should skip the surprise of Christmas, although I hate to, and just take him to the shop to see what fits best and what he likes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by amheck View Post
    Yes, I had thought about this and wasn't sure about it. But looking at the 24"s, they aren't a ton bigger than the 20" he's too big for now.

    He's 4'6" - pretty average for a 3rd grader, I think.

    Are the Myka's girl's bikes? They seem to mention girl seats and geometry. What would be comparable for the boys - the regular hardrock 26?

    The more I'm thinking, maybe I should skip the surprise of Christmas, although I hate to, and just take him to the shop to see what fits best and what he likes.
    Yes the Myka is a girls bike...don't do that to him . The Hardrock is the "unisex" version (not designed specifically for women). I would agree with you and just take him down to the bike shop and get him fitted. At his age, if he is not comfortable on the bike, he will get frustrated and not ride, which would be a shame.

    You could always get him a bike that seems right, and then switch it out soon after Christmas if it's too big/small/not cool enough.

  16. #16
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    Here's my 4'6" 8.5 yr old on his new specialized p1 dirt jumper. He's moving up from a 20" hotrock that is setup 2x6. The 24" bikes are crap too. This I can/will atleast put a real fork on it. He can ride it now and for quite some time I hope. Lucky kid got his Xmas present today cause we are traveling tomorrow for vacation. Took him out for a quick run with it though
    Ridgid or suspension fork for kids bike?-imageuploadedbytapatalk1356236409.818916.jpg
    Ridgid or suspension fork for kids bike?-imageuploadedbytapatalk1356236428.897223.jpg
    Ridgid or suspension fork for kids bike?-imageuploadedbytapatalk1356236448.905931.jpg
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  17. #17
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    Very nice. Cool pics.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by amheck View Post
    Yes, I had thought about this and wasn't sure about it. But looking at the 24"s, they aren't a ton bigger than the 20" he's too big for now.

    He's 4'6" - pretty average for a 3rd grader, I think.

    Are the Myka's girl's bikes? They seem to mention girl seats and geometry. What would be comparable for the boys - the regular hardrock 26?

    The more I'm thinking, maybe I should skip the surprise of Christmas, although I hate to, and just take him to the shop to see what fits best and what he likes.
    Silly me. I assumed you had a girl. LOL

    Yes, definitely take him to a shop. Get a proper fit. Have him test ride a bunch of bikes to see what fits best.....maybe surprise him with a card that says "YOU GET TO PICK OUT A NEW BIKE!!"...... Wonder if we'll see any good after-xmas sales this year - would be a great time to pick a bike.

    I can only speak about the Spesh bikes because I've only taken a close look at the kids bikes at the Spesh exclusive dealer while dropping off the old Brain shock for service, and was kicking myself for letting my wife pick a BMX for the kid. Because of the foster kids who come and go, I got 2 BMX's and a fixer-upper 24" sitting around that become "house bikes" for the kid(s), their friends who come over, and even have neighborhood kids borrowing them.

    The Hardrock is quite a capable hardtail and is available down to XS (13" seat tube) and is more of a MTB. It's worth consideration...definitely.

    I'd also take a serious look at the P series (P.3, P.Street 2, or P.26....or even an older model Cr-Mo frame P.1, P.2, P.Grom) which is more of a dirtjump bike. Think of a 26" BMX and as such they have short seattubes and low clearances so you can easily get a kid on it, and then use longer and longer seatposts as the kid grows up - or even a dropper post like an RS reverb. The geometry is pretty universal on them so as long as the kid likes the fit, you can adjust it as he grows with different stems, offset seatposts, handlebars etc.

    Like someone mentioned, weight is critical for kids' bikes. Check them out side by side and see what fits best, and is reasonably light. I've carried kids' BMX's that feel like they are made of lead, and you can bet the kid wont know any better but will have a hard time keeping up with friends.

    Good luck with the kid. I'd surprise him with the card thing. Tell him that it's the "right way to buy a bike" and he should be thrilled to be able to pick it out.

    [edit] How about giving him a cool bike helmet and tell him the bike comes with it and he gets to pick it out!

    Merry xmas!

    -S
    Last edited by shibiwan; 12-22-2012 at 09:54 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by abeckstead View Post
    Here's my 4'6" 8.5 yr old on his new specialized p1 dirt jumper. He's moving up from a 20" hotrock that is setup 2x6. The 24" bikes are crap too. This I can/will atleast put a real fork on it. He can ride it now and for quite some time I hope. Lucky kid got his Xmas present today cause we are traveling tomorrow for vacation. Took him out for a quick run with it though
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Excellent pick!! Your kid looks completely stunned/blown away. LOL

    Gotta love them at this age.

    -S

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shibiwan View Post
    Excellent pick!! Your kid looks completely stunned/blown away. LOL

    Gotta love them at this age.

    -S
    Yah he had no clue I got him a bike. I have been scheming for months I forgot to say that is a 26" tired 12" frame specialized P1 DJ. I can even ride it @ 6-4.
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  21. #21
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    That P1 looks a bit clown bike with the 26r wheels on such a small frame. Kid looks stoked though.

  22. #22
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    Yeah it looks a bit funny... Its like a kids 29er lol But the 26" wheels are going to open up a whole new riding style for my boy.
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  23. #23
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    big boys toys!

  24. #24
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    There isn't any real reason to get a kid's bike with suspension. Like another user said, an extra $100 is paying for a next to useless fork. Get a rigid so if your kid does catch on to MTB, when he/she get's a real suspension bike, it will seem even better.
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by abeckstead View Post
    Its like a kids 29er
    I was going to say the same thing

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