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Thread: 24" or 26"?

  1. #1
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    24" or 26"?

    My son is still only 7, but I am thinking ahead to when he turns 8 next summer. He is already about 51inches tall and a very confident mountain biker.

    At the moment he is riding a Ridgeback MX20 which he is outgrowing. Just had to get a new seatpost... He is a couple of years younger than most of the kids in his mtb club and they are mostly on 26inch bikes so it must be hard for him to keep up!

    I was starting to think about building him a 24" bike. Then I remembered I have a Trek 4900 13" inch frame.

    What are everyone's thoughts? I don't want to put him on a too big bike, but would it really be too big?

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    If he's riding mostly flat non-tech trails he might be okay on the 26". If he's doing any technical riding def. go with the 24". My son has both and for XC riding he's faster on the 24" even though its 4.5 lbs. heavier.

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    I personally feel 26" is the way to go. Check out my thread about my sons Orbea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xc71 View Post
    If he's riding mostly flat non-tech trails he might be okay on the 26". If he's doing any technical riding def. go with the 24". My son has both and for XC riding he's faster on the 24" even though its 4.5 lbs. heavier.
    He rides mostly "difficult" graded technical singletrack. How old/tall is your son?

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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkrw3 View Post
    I personally feel 26" is the way to go. Check out my thread about my sons Orbea.
    I will check it out, thanks.

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    To see if a 26er is suitable really depends on two things:

    - where is the top tube - ie. does your kid have enough stand-over height on the frame; and
    - where will the bars end up relative to the height of the saddle. If the seat height is much, much lower than the bars then your kid will have problems properly weighting the front wheel. This may not affect his climbing (as most kids like to climb out of the saddle) but it will adversely affect cornering.

    If stand-over is the problem, then you could put 24" wheels on the 26" frame and get an extra 1" of stand-over.

    If its the bar/saddle height issue, then you really need a 24" frame.

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    If he's got enough stand over height, then I say build the bike up with 26"wheels, however if standover would be an issue, build it using 24" wheels and then when he gets a bit taller/bigger swap out the 24" to 26".
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    Thanks for all the info. I think the top tube may be a bit long and he would be too stretched out on the 26. Also the bars might be quite high. I might go down the 24 route for now.

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    Last fall we were in the market for a 24" bike for my 10 year old (small for her age) We found a used 13" framed Specialized Hard Rock bike (26). Now she is growing into it well, if i went with a 24" bike I would be looking for another bike now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    My son is still only 7, but I am thinking ahead to when he turns 8 next summer. He is already about 51inches tall and a very confident mountain biker.

    What are everyone's thoughts? I don't want to put him on a too big bike, but would it really be too big?
    Been here in the same position about 28 months ago! The problem is most of the XS or 13" 26" bikes (I researched) have a 25.5" stand over and the top tube lengths are too long even with a 50mm stem. They really are designed for 5'+ people. 24" bikes have roughly a 24" top tube, so much better crotch clearance.

    For reference, my son started on his 24" at 7. He's now 9 and 55" tall with barely a 25" inseam with a book between his feet and back against the wall. He's right at 50% percentile on his last child wellness visit. No way would he ride my XS 13" 26" bike and be able to do what he's doing now on his 24 at 9. So those in my opinion that are sizing up their kids are giving them 2 years of bad riding experience if they can't even clear the top tube. Hope that helps!

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    Thanks that is helpful. I'll start looking for a 24inch bike soon I think. I might have the chance of a Scott Voltage, any good?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Thanks that is helpful. I'll start looking for a 24inch bike soon I think. I might have the chance of a Scott Voltage, any good?
    Depends on your budget. It's heavy (+28lbs)... but I guess that's like most kids bikes. Will your son actually be mountain biking or just a neighborhood ashpalt rider?

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    Is the frame heavy by itself? Planning to build it from scratch. He will be mountain biking a lot. Did 14 miles of intense single track with big climbs last weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Is the frame heavy by itself? Planning to build it from scratch. He will be mountain biking a lot. Did 14 miles of intense single track with big climbs last weekend.
    I can only tell you that the Scott Scale RC Jr weighs 3.3 pounds which included the headset and seat post clamp. You will have a difficult time finding weights on other frames as most people don't take the time to do it.

    I do agree with going to the 24" though. My son's 52" and there's no way he would have fit a 26" bike. He has a difficult time straddling the 24" bike as it is.

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    24" or 26"?

    My kid was the only kid on a 26" bike at the last race, filled with kids on 24" bikes and he killed the field by half a lap in the 6-8 category. Now I know that a lot of you think your kids can't handle a 26" bike and maybe you are right. But, my son has been on this bike since he turned 6 and yeah it was a big bike for him, but now he is almost 8 and kills it on this bike. I am glad I gave him the chance to try. Based on watching him on his Orbea there are now 3 more kids on our street with 26" bikes and it's great fun watching them all rip it up. So while I get what people are saying I wouldn't discount the 26" just yet

    The girl in on the Ghost is my Daughter and that was her first ride on her 26" she is 6 and yeah it's big for her and she isn't using it on trails yet....but she is learning

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    IIIRC your son's bike is a women's frame? It looks like it makes all the difference with top tube length.

    I will fish the Trek out after school today and get my son to sit on it and take a photo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkrw3 View Post
    Now I know that a lot of you think your kids can't handle a 26" bike and maybe you are right. But, my son has been on this bike since he turned 6 and yeah it was a big bike for him, but now he is almost 8 and kills it on this bike. I am glad I gave him the chance to try. So while I get what people are saying I wouldn't discount the 26" just
    What is the stand over height on the bikes? I thought putting my son on a 24" at 7 was a stretch! A 6 year old on a 26" bike?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSJ1973 View Post
    What is the stand over height on the bikes? I thought putting my son on a 24" at 7 was a stretch! A 6 year old on a 26" bike?

    The standover will never be less than the outer diameter of the wheel (barring some strange frame design like Cannondales Delta-V). Advertised standover might be less but any point where someone will actually straddle the bike will be taller than the wheel.
    My above average height 7 yr old still has stand over clearance issues with a 20" frame and the top tube on that is still boarderline. There's no way he'd fit on a 24, much less a 26 in a normal riding position.
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    13" frame Trek. Has a long stem on it (teenage son's "improvements"). Saddle a tiny bit high in this pic.
    24" or 26"?-sam_2140.jpg
    Standover (he didn't complain)
    24" or 26"?-sam_2141.jpg

    20" bike he is on at the moment
    24" or 26"?-sam_2142.jpg
    Standover is better than it looks in his baggy trousers
    24" or 26"?-sam_2143.jpg

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by stom_m3 View Post
    I can only tell you that the Scott Scale RC Jr weighs 3.3 pounds which included the headset and seat post clamp. You will have a difficult time finding weights on other frames as most people don't take the time to do it.
    I just recently weighed a couple of 24" frames,

    24" trek MT220 with seatpost collar, brake post and replaceable derailleur hangar was 1470gr, 3.2 pounds. Frame is probably 4-5 years old and has trek "alpha" aluminum tubing that is bulge formed into variety of non-round cross sections.

    Similar aged 24" Novara Dirt Rider frame when comparably outfitted with seatpost collar, brake post and non-replaceable derailleur hangar weighed 1870gr, 4.1 pounds so fully 27% heavier than the trek.

    I will be building up the trek for my 8-year old, hope to get the complete build down to 20 pounds. I think she can handle the standover height no-problem but the top tube length is still long for her so using a tiny stem.

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    Judging by the photos, he's ready for 26"

    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    13" frame Trek. Has a long stem on it (teenage son's "improvements"). Saddle a tiny bit high in this pic.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Standover (he didn't complain)
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, he can definitely rock the 26er. Shorter cranks (BMX) raise the saddle height relative to the bars (slide the seat forward); shorter stem (Control tech 45mm) helps with reach. The BMX cranks will be single ring and might be too tall for him if you do alot of climbing, but you can mount an IRD ring that you can bolt a granny ring to and give him a double up front.

    My son just turned 8 last week and he's been riding a 26er for half a year. I found an XS Fisher Cake DLX for cheap and those were the biggest changes I made. I thought I'd have to put 24" wheels on it, but he jumped right on (even before I made the changes for better fit) and started riding all over the neighborhood, jumping off curbs and ramps). Think of it as a 29er for kids.

    So he's now riding a 5" travel full suspension and killing all his friends on both the up & down. I knew I'd have trouble keeping up with him at some point, but he's doing it to me on the climbs now (granted, I have over a hundred pounds on him, but I still didn't expect it so soon).

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    A couple of other points. You can invert the stem to get the bar lower, and use a straight bar instead of a riser. You may want to cut the bar shorter too, and that will help some with reach. I think I'm running 150mm or 155mm cranks.

    You'll get a couple more years out of this setup than going to a 24" bike. Not to mention that you already have it, so it's cheaper (put the money toward the fit changes).

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    Thanks, that is good info. Just when I thought I had decided we should stick to a 24" I have been swayed in the other direction...

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    There's a big difference between being able to pedal/ride a 26er and actually handle the bike and learn proper skills.

    Pushing a child onto a 26 just to save the 24 step just delays them learning good bike handling skills. Funny how if an adult showed us similar pictures, we'd all be saying how the bike is too big.

    It just depends on what you kind of riding you plan on doing. I had my son riding over small logs and jumping a small ramp on his 16 inch bike to start getting used to bike handling. He was jumping the black skate board ramps and wanted to learn bunny hops/manuals once he got on his 20.

    He is continuing to learn those skills on his 24, every once in a while he hops on his sisters 20 and it's a lot easier for him to do those things. So yea he could ride a 26 but he wouldn't handle it as well.

    Too much of a rush to get kids on the next size bike. If you watch the few dads on here who's kids are riding really tech stuff, they are actually keeping their kids on the smaller bikes longer.

    The other thing to keep in mind, all the advice in the world is useless for kids when people are just giving you ages, since that mean squat on fitting a bike.
    Just looking at my son's class - all the same age and could be riding all 3 sizes from 20 to 26.
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    See this is the problem. I always find I agree with whoever posted last

    He also rides a 16" BMX and I am always persuading other parents of 6/7 year olds that their kid would be better off with a 16" than a 20".

    I think it is time to try a few 24" bikes for fit and decide then.

    Anyway, before I even start on this bike I have promised teenage son that we can build him a new bike together. And before that I need to replace smallest son's fork with a fork with v-brake bosses...

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