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  1. #1
    Scribb
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    Good bike for a little grommet?

    I went for a ride the day I found out my wife was pregnant with a boy, and just kept thinking how cool it would be to ride the same trails with my son some day. That was 6 years ago, and some day turned out to be today. My five-year-old son rode Tamarancho with me today, and it was, definitely, cool. He only OTB'd a few times, and took the switchbacks better than I did when I started (short turning radius looks pretty sweet).

    So now I'm starting to think about setting him up with a better bike. He's 5 years old, and I know he'll grow out of it fast, so I don't want to go too crazy. Anyone out there have a little kid doing trail riding? What kind of bike did you get? Hand brakes? Front suspension? Any recommendations?

    Thanks.
    Life. It's bigger.

  2. #2
    desert dweller
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    When my daughter was 4 I set her up with a Trek Mt Cub 16 (girls BMX style bike).

    She is 8 now and rides a Trek Mountain Track 60 (20" 8 speed mtb w/ front shock). The cheesy SR fork actually works better (after a liberal aplication of Judy Butter) than the Manitou 1 I rode many years ago.

    For her 9th birthday I bought her a 24" gary Fisher 24 speed mtb (I don't remember the model since the bike is at a budies house in hiding). This one seems a little lighter than the 20" Trek (even though it's nearly identical design wise) and I think my daughter will fall in love with it.

    All the bikes she's been on seem far too heavy for a little kid -- but she loves them all. She has done some 6-7 mile rides at Cottonwood with me -- but we had to ride the easiest trails. I think she'll love the bigger wheels and how well they roll over obstacles. A nice thing about bike shop bikes for kids is the fact that the bikes last through several kids. My 4 year old daughter has adopted the Mountain Cub 16 and will probably jump to the MT Track 60 as soon as she decides she doesn't need trainining wheels. My 5 month old son will adopt the bikes in a few years as well (I hope he doesn't mind pink and purple).

    mbb

  3. #3
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    My six-year-old son rides a Diamondback Octane 20. I looked at Treks, Fishers, and Giants, but the Trek and Fishers were about $80.00 more. The Giant did not have a suspension fork. I found the Diamondback at Dick's Sporting Goods for $160, and then used a coupon for 10% off. It's a bit heavier than the Fisher and Trek. But the brakes and shifter/derailer work very well. It has a suspension fork and the stem is adjustable. He rode 11 miles of trails in Jim Thorpe one afternoon last August, and often joins me for six to nine mile rides. Both he and I are very happy with the bike and its held up well. I have several riding buds, but he quickly became my favorite. $160 seems like a lot to spend on a kids bike, but its been worth every penny

  4. #4
    daydream believer
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    our experience...

    Our Oldest son started on the Trek cub (16") about 4 years ago, his now 5 year old sister rides it, it has a front brake that his short fingers never reached before he outgrew the bike.
    they (mostly her) have ridden plenty of trails on it.
    CRESTED BUTTE 054.jpg
    Our four year old has a k2(16") also trail worthy nothing fancy was $79 last christmas I think.
    various 110.jpg
    He started out riding trail on his sister's hand me down walmart bike.
    CRESTED BUTTE 057.jpg
    So back to the oldest,he went to a 24" trek that was way to big for him and a tank, but boy does he have bike handling skills
    CRESTED BUTTE 058.jpg

    anyhow we just bought him a 20"Marin.
    It is quite nice,lighter,good fork fits him nicely. I like the Marin becasue it has 2 chainrings in the front where most 20" bikes don't. Scott makes a really nice 24" though i don't know about a 20". I know that there were a couple of others but to be honest I wasn't the one that did the research.
    Just as when buying our own bikes fit matters. OUr kids are a little on the shorter side, so seeing them onthe bike helped.
    the kids road alot this summer , and we have 3 so to me it's worth the investment

  5. #5
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    Mine started with a heavy (tank) Kent 14" bike from TrU's, from there he jumped to a 20" Mini BMX bike then a Diamondback Octane 24 and is currently ridding (10 y/o) a GF Marlin. We converted his Octane 24 to SS and rides it not so frequently.

    Octane 24


    Marlin


    Also wanted to go hit the road and got a 24" Trek and now is ridding a Trek 1600.

    KDR1000


    1600


    My recomendation will be to go rigid and few gears on a not so expensive bike, you'll be changing bikes really often for a while.

  6. #6
    avg. joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiRt DeViL

    My recomendation will be to go rigid and few gears on a not so expensive bike, you'll be changing bikes really often for a while.
    What DD said is so true. Kids grow so quickly at this age. I have two daughters who are 16 months apart and they have been passing mountain bikes down almost yearly for 3 years now. I started off with a Raleigh (20" 6 speed) then moved to a Kona Hula (24" 21 speed) (tremendous difference between the quality of bikes when you make this jump ... the wheel size helps the bike roll over roots and rocks and the frame / components are of much better quality) and I am currently rebuilding a XS frame for my oldest to start riding this upcoming spring and my middle daughter will move to the Kona at the same time.

    Try hitting your LBS or your local MTB club to pick up a used bike ... both the 20" and 24" rides were bought used, but they were both in great shape. I just ran across a LBS that carried Scott bikes in kid / youth sizes and they seemed pretty nice ... and, I am partial to my daughter's Kona since I have seen it work well over the past year.



    Good luck!
    STinGa
    The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.

  7. #7
    40 oz to freedom
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    Jesus Dirt Devil your son has a nicer road bike than me!

    My little bro (11) just got a GT Avalanche 3.0 for his birthday. The same bike (although newer model) I started trail riding on. So far he loves it and it isnt over kill for him. I'm taking him trail riding on his birthday/Thanksgiving so we'll see if it was really worth it then. The only reason why he got a $300 bike was that he isnt gonna out grow it anytime soon. Hes pretty tall for 11 and we got him a medium frame which is about a half an inch too tall for him, it was also 20% off

  8. #8
    mtbr member
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    Got my daughter a Trek MT 220 24". She has just turned 8, tallest girl in her year at school and the seat pin is still near the bottom.

    Hopefully will get a few years out of it as it cost the Sterling equivalent of $325.

    Not much to choose between it and a Gary Fisher Tyro or Specialised Hotrock as all cost exactly the same .

    The guy in the LBS said most girls choose black frames which came as a suprise to me as PINK seems normally to be the only colour she likes. But once my daughter got to the shop she proved him 100% right.

    Compared to the bikes most local kids ride ( Apollos, cheap and nasty ) it is much better made and equipped. One lad even asked if it was her dads bike !!

  9. #9
    Scribb
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    This is great feedback. Thanks.

    What age did any of you allow your kids to go with clips or clipless pedals? My son is asking about them, but there's no way I'm going to lock him onto the pedal at five years old. I doubt there are even cleats that would fit him. I see in one of the pictures a 10-year-old wearing cleats. Anyone else?
    Life. It's bigger.

  10. #10
    avg. joe
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    Well,

    I asked the same question about clipless pedals about a month ago. Most parents suggested the 8 - 10 year range. My daughter asked to get some for her 8th birthday, so I picked some up for her. From what I have discovered, finding shoes smaller than what a normal sized 8 or 9 year old would wear would be difficult.

    The picture above was her first race, about a week after her birthday, so we decided to wait until after the race before swapping pedals.

    STinGa
    The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
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    Mine started to tinker with clipless at around 8, on the roadie he's always clipped in but on the mtb depending on how confident he feels will ride clipped or unclipped; on the races he's always clipped in.

    So far he's only able to use SPD style pedals, he tried Candys and couldn't clip in I don't know why.

  12. #12
    Kudzu
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbrae
    Our kids are a little on the shorter side, so seeing them on the bike helped the kids road alot this summer, and we have 3 so to me it's worth the investment
    Look at those teeny tiny wheels!!!
    Great photos of the tiny tots riding trails

  13. #13
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    Great thread! I'm thinking the same way, except that my oldest is 5 and is quite happy on a 20" bmx bike right now... However, my 3yr old is ready for something bigger, as the 12" wheels are too tiny for him... I'd love to see us all on the trail in a few years. Right now I just have to be patient, as 2 miles of bike path riding is all they can handle...

  14. #14
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    Sort of related question, anyone using grip shifters instead of triggers?

    My son can handle the trigger for the rear mech but has a hard time changing rings, could twist shifters be better?

  15. #15
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    Mine started on trail around age 8

    Their first mountain bikes (same for both) were rigid Raleigh's with 21 speeds that cost around $400 but that was 15-years ago.

    At the age you are talking about, keep it cheap and simple. I can't see a child that young mastering gears. I see 14-year olds who have a hard time with correct gear choices.

    Kids will probably have as much fun on a rigid single speed as anything else. What the bike looks like is way more important than how it performs.

  16. #16
    Scribb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev Bubba
    At the age you are talking about, keep it cheap and simple. I can't see a child that young mastering gears. I see 14-year olds who have a hard time with correct gear choices.
    I'm of the same mind on that score. Hell, I'm working on a single-speed for myself. I pulled the trigger on a 20" Redline BMX for my five year old. It was $160, and seems like a very solid, reasonably light bike--it's about 3 lbs lighter than his 16" Schwinn! Weight is a significant issue since I live at the bottom of a canyon. I usually have to do at least a few push assists to get my son to the top.

    The Redline's got both a coaster brake and a rear hand-brake--couldn't see dumping the coaster just yet...lot's of steep downhills. The only challenge now is that the gearing is so much larger than the Schwinn, it's going to take a while for him to get used to grinding up hill. Anyone ever seen a simple bike-to-bike towbar?
    Life. It's bigger.

  17. #17
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    I've got the same issue (gearing) with my daughter's bike. Its WAY too tall for her size, making any sort of hill difficult for her. I've been thinking of ways to swap out the chainring for a smaller one, but since its a cheapie, I don't think its possible. On your Redline, it might be possible to find a smaller chainring to put on there...

  18. #18
    Expert Pushing SSer
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    [QUOTE=Scribb]This is a very inspirational thread. Cool!

    I think I have a solution to the one bike that will last through all the growing pains. Get a custom rig made now by your favorite frame builder and have the grom strap some 4x4 posts to their feet. Shorten the posts as they grow!
    Tuff Schist

  19. #19
    40 oz to freedom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribb
    I'm of the same mind on that score. Hell, I'm working on a single-speed for myself. I pulled the trigger on a 20" Redline BMX for my five year old. It was $160, and seems like a very solid, reasonably light bike--it's about 3 lbs lighter than his 16" Schwinn! Weight is a significant issue since I live at the bottom of a canyon. I usually have to do at least a few push assists to get my son to the top.

    The Redline's got both a coaster brake and a rear hand-brake--couldn't see dumping the coaster just yet...lot's of steep downhills. The only challenge now is that the gearing is so much larger than the Schwinn, it's going to take a while for him to get used to grinding up hill. Anyone ever seen a simple bike-to-bike towbar?
    You can replace the sprocket and main driver on the bike. Watch the gearing though, you might make it harder to pedal.
    http://www.danscomp.com/458028.php?cat=PARTS
    Kink make some decent cheap stuff, should be good for a 5 year old.

  20. #20
    Scribb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinny A
    You can replace the sprocket and main driver on the bike. Watch the gearing though, you might make it harder to pedal.
    http://www.danscomp.com/458028.php?cat=PARTS
    Kink make some decent cheap stuff, should be good for a 5 year old.
    Thanks for the link. I'm trying to figure out how to recreate the gearing he's got on his 16", which seems ideal, while taking into account the jump to 20" wheels. But I can't find my trigonometry tables...
    Life. It's bigger.

  21. #21
    40 oz to freedom
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    I'd just say go with a bit larger (I think) ratio on the 20" than you have on the 16". Unfortulately you may have to get a new hub for the smaller driver you would need to replace it to get the correct gearing, I'm not sure though.

  22. #22
    avg. joe
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    DD,

    Both of my daughters' bikes have Grip Shift and they have done fine, but, most of the trails that we ride are flat enough that they rarely use the front shifters. I have enough parts around the garage to let my oldest try both a trigger style and a grip shift on the frame that I am working on. She is anxious to try out the new style (trigger) though.

    STinGa
    The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.

  23. #23
    gls
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    The biggest problem that I've seen in kids bikes is that the bikes tend to weigh more than the kids do, and the singlespeeds are geared too high. My 7 year old has a trek MT 60 (20 inch wheels) and it weighs more than my bike. I find coaster brakes to be a menace. The kids try to stop without positioning the pedal properly, and can't get enough leverage. At 6, my son had no problem with handbrakes. The MT60 has kid-sized levers. I heard that the 2007 Specialized 20" was going to be a lot lighter than the '06, but have not seen it. Specialized makes a great 16" bike for little kids called the Hotrock. It is way lighter than the competition and looks good.

  24. #24
    Scribb
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    Quote Originally Posted by gls
    The biggest problem that I've seen in kids bikes is that the bikes tend to weigh more than the kids do, and the singlespeeds are geared too high.
    You hit the nail on the head on both counts. I'm glad there are more options for getting kids on bikes earlier (I wish I'd thought to buy one of those wooden pedalless bikes when my son was 2, I think I would have bypassed training wheels altogether), but the space between a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old seems like a choice between incredibly heavy clunkers or incredibly expensive BMX race bikes. I realize it's not a durable commodity when your kid grows out of it in a year, so I guess it's not a strong enough market to warrant the R&D and marketing to make a better mid-market product. But it sucks. My son is now sticking to his 25-pound 16-inch bike, even though he's clearly outgrown it both physically and technically, because his new 20-inch bike is geared too high for him to ride it up even a modest hill, which are everywhere in my neighborhood. I'm heading to the LBS today to try and fit a smaller chain ring.
    Life. It's bigger.

  25. #25
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    Check out Marin's line of kid's bikes. The bikes are all aluminum (lighter than most) and spec'd nicely from 16" on up. The coolest kid's bike is the Wildcat 24; it's the real deal for your more aggressive kids or a smaller adult.
    Last edited by dirt & beer; 12-07-2006 at 12:20 PM.

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