Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    34

    How to buy a bike for your kid.

    Many parents are faced with the task of sorting through all the options for bikes for their kids. Most choose based on which bikes are available at the store that they go to that will fit (or nearly fit) their kid. People who want to ensure that they are making the right purchase will search out advice for what to think about when purchasing a bike. This post is intended to help with this decision.

    First, some general kid bike purchasing advice:

    1. Get a very light bike. Weight matters when you are ~35-45lb. It really matters. It is worth the money. Imagine riding a bike that weighs ~100 lbs for you. Not nearly as fun, easy, or safe as a <27lb bike. This is what you do to your kid when you buy them a 25 lb Big Box Store bike. Not cool to do to your kid, and a great way to make yourself frustrated when they can never make it up any hills.

    2. Get a bike with small wheels. For a ~5 year old, 16" or the right 12" wheeled bike is best. Donít move on to 20Ē wheels until age ~8, and even then it may be a mistake. 24Ē and 26Ē wheels are for kids who are almost adults.

    Most parents get their kids a bike that they can "grow into". Huge mistake. Get them a bike that they can grow out of. They will ride it more, enjoy it more, be able to handle it better, ultimately become better bikers, and in the process will be a ton safer on the bike. The foundation built by riding a BMX style small bike in a standing position will be something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Most pro riders in every biking discipline are former BMXers, and even if not aiming at the pros, it gives you an idea of what this foundation gives a kid. Biggest mistake for teaching my eldest to ride was getting a bike to grow into. It delayed her learning significantly. My youngest is a better rider, and I attribute a good deal of that to the eldestís first bike being meant to be one she would grow into, and my youngest being one we were comfortable with him growing out of. Huge mistake that was motivated by the wrong reasons.

    3. The best bikes are simple. No shifters, no suspension, no extra crap.

    In most cases, shifting is not important for little kids, and only distracts from learning true bike handling skills. All the extra shifters, derailers, cassettes, extra chain rings, cables, they are all just extra weight that the kid never uses. They usually put it into the gear that they like, and then never touch it again. Worse is when they put it into a gear that they don't like, then never touch it again, and ride it less because of it. One gear. It is OK to occasionally walk your bike up a big hill.

    As for suspension, most suspension forks for bikes less than 26" are junk or crazy expensive. The compression weights on most forks are so high that it may as well be rigid, and they often weigh 5+ lb. To keep costs acceptable for parents, the kid forks are poorly engineered, and require modification by a skilled mechanic to make them even close to useable. Proportionally, think about putting a 20+ lb fork on your bike that needs 600 lb of force to compress it, is sticky and wobbly, and then only gets <1" of travel. You can get a high quality rigid fork that has effectively as much travel and have it weigh a fraction of that, for a fraction of the price for the poorly engineered suspension fork.

    There are also tons of silly things that parents get their kids for their bikes that are useless. Baskets, bottle racks, fenders, mirrors, streamers, etcÖ Junk. Adds tons of extra weight, makes the bike bulky, less safe, and distracts the kid from doing what they should be doing, riding. All this for the extremely low benefit of making it seem cool to a kindergartener. Get a bike that the kid will like because it is a good bike. Donít add silly junk to the bike to trick them into riding it. Make it fun to ride because it is fun to ride. Simple bikes do their job better, and are more fun to ride. If you need to make it fancy, do it with a few stickers, some high quality anodized bike bling components, and their favorite color paint job. None of these things inherently make the bike worse.

    4. Kids often need a bike with very low gearing to learn to ride, but then quickly grow out of it. Low gearing allows very rapid acceleration from a standstill so that they can catch their balance easily. Once they get good at balancing well enough to start riding, the low gearing will hold them back. The most versatile bikes that will last a kid the longest will have an ability to change the gear ratios. This only happens on bikes with freewheels and replaceable chainrings. Again, we are not talking about shifting. We are talking about modifying the bike. Coaster brakes have a fixed gearing, no adjusting it later. If possible, get a bike with a freewheel. The freewheel is also safer, as it allows them to pedal backwards to adjust for obstacles and corners, to make for easier starts, easier climbs, and ultimately is what they need to learn to ride when they get adult bikes. Start them out on a freewheel so that they donít have to unlearn bad habits.

    5. Kids need short pull brake handles and easily actuated brakes. Most production bikes have coaster brakes, and the ones with hand brakes often have adult sized low quality brake handles. Coaster brakes are mandated by US law if the bike is intended for "sidewalk use" by small kids. Low quality coaster brakes are easier to use than low quality hand brakes, and are felt to be safer for the majority of riders since most riders are never given proper instruction or the chance to learn hand brakes. This is short sighted. Good hand brakes take some getting used to, but will ultimately be better for the kid in the long run. Any bike that has adjustable gearing and a freewheel, as in #4 above, will have a hand brake by engineering necessity. If at all possible, get a bike with linear pull brakes, or at least really high quality caliper brakes. Discs are optimal, but only come on custom bikes.

    6. Training wheels are for suckers. Seriously. They teach your kid to spin the pedals, but they will never teach them to balance, and are actually unsafe if the kid tries to ride like most kids try to ride. Training wheels can lift the back wheel off the ground, and this means no brakes for most bikes. Not safe at all. They also can tip a kid over if used on ground that is not perfectly flat. Most people donít live on ground that is perfectly flat.
    The real way to teach a kid to ride is a balance bike. These are bikes without pedals that the kid pushes with their feet. The good examples are the Strider and the Hotwalk. It is common for kids to learn to ride before age 3 because of balance bikes. A few weeks on a balance bike, and the kid will learn to ride a pedal bike without any help at all, usually in a single session on their new pedal bike. Just start with one of these, skip the useless training wheels. Get a quality balance bike if you have more than one kid that will use it, or a cheaper one if it will be a single use bike. They will only need it for a short while, but will likely enjoy it for a few years, even after starting to ride a pedal bike. My youngest still takes 3+ foot drops and rides very technical stuff on his at age 5, and he has been riding a pedal bike since his third birthday when he got his first real bike. He recently told me we are never selling his balance bike. It now has custom paint and aftermarket brakes front and back. These little bikes can be super cool, and there is no faster, easier, or more enjoyable way to learn to ride.

    The bottom line is that many parents make mistakes in buying their kid a bike by cutting corners or focusing on the wrong things. In truth, a kid's bike actually matters more than your bike as far as what it will do for their riding ability. Choosing well can make your kid a rider, or make the bike an expensive garage obstacle without a rider. With some forethought, any kid will ride better, and be much more fun to ride with.

    When choosing a bike to buy, keep the above in mind, especially in the context of a few rider specific concerns:

    1. Your kidís comfort on a bike.
    2. How you intend to ride with them.
    3. Your price range.

    Here are my usual recommendations.

    Lil Shredder Bikes Ė Nothing compares to these, but if you are into bikes enough to drop $2k on a bike for a 5-10 year old kid, you already know about everything I just wrote. That or you have more money than you need. These bikes are made by a guy who took all of these things into account. He went counter to some of my suggestions, but the way he did it, and for what reasons, make it OK. He has top of the line suspension that the bike is built around, he uses shifters because kids who ride these already have the bike handling skills to use them, and he sacrifices a little weight to get functionality that the kids who use these bikes can benefit from. These are the bikes the kid-pros use, and they break all the rules, and in doing so, prove the rules. If your 8 year old is one of the top riders in the state, including the adults, this is your bike. Donít be cheap, your kidís future depends on it. Redbull is calling about sponsorships, so donít limit your kid. These bikes are included to show what going all out will get you.

    The next bikes are the right ones for the majority of kid riders, and their parents are the intended audience for this article. Your kid likes biking, you want to get them an appropriately nice bike that will not limit them, but they are not a pro rider (yet). The common themes are aluminum frames with higher end components.

    Redline Pitboss - Amazing little bike. Super light (~14lb), and has excellent geometry that encourages aggressive riding and bike handling skills, with adjustable gear ratios, good kid-specific brakes, and a flip-flop hub. This hub allows an extra freewheel with a different gear ratio to be put on the non-drive side of the hub. This is so that you can change gear ratios with a simple reversal of the wheel that is as simple as fixing a flat. Super nice for getting a kid used to riding, and when doing lots of ups and downs. I consider this the baseline bike, and is the bike to get if your kid can ride a bike, is very comfortable peddling a 2-wheeler, and you are comfortable with the price. It is also the best BMX race bike on the list. Worth the money, and will last him until age ~8 or so.

    Spawn Banshee - All the stuff about the Pitboss applies here, with one major added perk. It has a front brake. The Banshee is very slightly heavier than the Pitboss, but not by much. It is also slightly more expensive, but again, not by much. It will also last him to ~8 year old. Not as good for racing, but better than the Pitboss if you don't intend to race. This may be the best trainer bike on the list for being a future all around good adult rider but donít want to dedicate your life to BMX races, and compares really well with the Pitboss.

    The Cult Juvi 16 or Cult Juvi 12 - The only 12" bike on the list for a 5 year old. These are real BMXs, like the ones ridden by pro park and dirt jumpers, only smaller. Light, spec'd well, and definitely an excellent option. The 12" is the one to get if skate parks are in your kidís future. Both the 16 and 12 are very nice. If your kid is 3 years old, the 12" is your first choice, at 5 years old the best choice for all around bike is probably any of the 16" bikes, unless you want them to almost exclusively ride skate parks. Check out these 4 year olds to see what I mean. Super rad little bikes, but possibly more narrow than the others.

    Specialized Hotrock - The less expensive counterpoint to the above bikes. Good bike, with a few drawbacks compared to the Pitboss, Banshee, and Juvi. First, some of the parts are quite a bit heavier than they need to be. The crank, hubs, headset, and stem (basically the whole bike aside from the frame) can all be replaced with lighter components, but the Banshee, Pitboss, and Juvi already have these upgrades spec'd stock. It is still way lighter than almost all production bikes and a good option, or it wouldnít make this list. Second, the Hotrock has coaster brakes. Depending on your kidís comfort on a bike, not necessarily a bad thing. They will grow out of the coaster, but they can start on it without permanently handicapping themselves. They will just be behind the ones that get a freewheel to start. The coaster will definitely be a handicap at some point. This will also never be a race bike. My eldest started on one of these bikes, and I took the frame and built my youngestís bike on it, replacing almost all the parts to spec it slightly higher end than the Pitboss, Juvi, or Banshee. It is a great frame, only held back by the lower end components and coaster brake. If you like to tinker and replace things, this is your bike. If you want to get to a better bike without having to respec the bike, go for a Pitboss, Juvi, or Banshee. The Hotrock 16 new will cost ~$80-100 less than the Pitboss or Banshee, and they are so common that they can be found used and in slightly rougher but still very usable condition for ~$100. Nice bike for less money, but the other bikes have several hundred dollars worth of better parts spec'd stock. This is the only real production bike that I can recommend. Excellent bike if you are not able to commit to the higher priced bikes. Definitely ditch the training wheels.

    This should give you a good start. These suggestions may be above your intended price point, but the alternatives have huge compromises in bike longevity and safety, as well as how much it will get ridden. All this stuff comes from personal experience as both a rider and a parent of a rider, experience making custom kids bikes, as well as talking to tons of parents of riders and internet research. There are a lot of people that will ignore this advice, and if their kids get over the likely suboptimal choice, their parents will eventually realize the mistake and get the kid a nice bike, probably from this list. I made the mistake at first. It is easy to do. Now I have corrected it, and figured I would pass on what I learned.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,395
    Great post. I pretty much agree with 99% of it.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    34
    I would be interested in the 1%. :-) Feel free to share.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    69
    This post is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks!

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,395
    The 1% is really only about suspension and gearing. If your kids ride in places that are very rough, then suspension can make a difference and if the rides involve lots of prolonged up and prolonged down then gears make a huge difference. I didn't add suspension or gears until not having it became a limiting factor. So I'm 100% with you when the kids start out, but by the time they are 6-7 and riding some decent distances, either or both may be an improvement to their riding enjoyment.

    For example, I didn't bother adding suspension until it got to the point where the limiting factor on ride length was my daughter's hands cramping up. She wanted to ride further but the small wheels and relatively low volume tyres at the speeds and distances she was riding were holding her back. After I added some forks the sore hands went away, she could ride further and also clear much bigger trail obstacles.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    34
    I actually sorta avoided discussing that for reasons that I alluded to when discussing the Lil Shredder bikes. Kids starting to ride are usually limited more by having the suspension and gears than by not having the gears. Parents often make the mistake that, if at some point my kid might benefit from it, then I will get it now so that they will have it when they do. Similar to the grow into it mentality. The problem is that having it too early is much worse than having it late. Your kid will mostly let you know when they need it. It was needed much later than most people think for those kids that I know that are the best riders. You can look at that Lil Shredder bikes page. Those kids that are sponsored and riding those bikes were much older than you would think before they got their first suspension and gears. They are also better riders than 99.9% of the riders on this entire forum because of it. Getting a small bike with no frills that is light and high quality for their first bike, and maybe their second or third, will go a long way to making them good at riding.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,452
    Great post Lee. I'm also a big proponent of starting out small and simple. Had good luck with the Redline Pitboss as a starter, also the Haro 116 park/BMX bikes are nice and solid if a kid if a kid is liking ramps and pumptrack style riding, and mini and micro-mini BMX race bikes can make a good starter trail bikes too if you gear them down a bit. A couple seasons of BMX racing is probably the best way to turn a kid into a competent bike handler IME. They learn so much from it.

    Only things I'd disagree with, not necessarily in principal, but at least from my personal experience, is that bike weight is a big deal, and that training wheels are are going to hold every kid back. My kid is a product of training wheels and heavy (but good quality) bikes. Just came in from a little session in the yard on his 18" BMX that's over 40% of his body weight, and I can say neither of those things really hindered him much.

    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    358
    I disagree with the age range dictating bike size... My 11 year old is ready to move up to a 26" bike, and my 8 year old is moving from her 20" to a 24".
    Both of them are long legged, and their knees are going up into their chest and both seats are raised as high as I'd want them.
    Also, gears are necessary around here. The trails we ride have a lot of hills, and my girls know how to use the gears. Most kids bikes may have too many, but my daughter would get really frustrated if she ended up walking up hills.
    Anyway, there is a lot of good info that most of us here in this forum have already figured out. You just consolidated it into one post.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,452
    I think bigger wheels are fine once a kid has some good bike handling skills (mine has been trail and DH riding on a 24" since he was 7, and was racing BMX on 20" 'mini' wheels when he was 5), but for developing those skills (and really improving on them), I've found smaller wheels are absolutely the way to go.
    Last edited by slapheadmofo; 04-26-2014 at 08:56 AM.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  10. #10
    Cheapo
    Reputation: Dave88LX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    134
    This thread is a great idea. It answers a ton of questions I had myself when I started looking for bikes for my kids. I just went through these decisions for my 3Ĺ and 5-year old daughters. I just want to echo on some comments and throw in my $.02 that I've found along the way.

    If you need to make it fancy, do it with a few stickers, some high quality anodized bike bling components, and their favorite color paint job. None of these things inherently make the bike worse.
    ilmfat said he spent a lot of money on 'bling' but his daughters were just as content with having some stickers . My daughters didn't get the colors they wanted, but valve stem caps, grips, seat post clamp etc. are all inexpensive and easy to replace if if you want to give them a little bit of their favorite color.

    If possible, get a bike with a freewheel. The freewheel is also safer, as it allows them to pedal backwards to adjust for obstacles and corners, to make for easier starts, easier climbs, and ultimately is what they need to learn to ride when they get adult bikes. Start them out on a freewheel so that they donít have to unlearn bad habits.
    We live in the country of people who win lawsuits because their coffee was hot, so it's tough to find a 16" freewheel bike. Besides the Redline Pitboss (not considered "sidewalk" bike) and Spawn Banshee (Canadian), what other options are there with the 16"? Is the Cult Juvi freewheel?

    6. Training wheels are for suckers. Seriously. They teach your kid to spin the pedals, but they will never teach them to balance, and are actually unsafe if the kid tries to ride like most kids try to ride. Training wheels can lift the back wheel off the ground, and this means no brakes for most bikes. Not safe at all. They also can tip a kid over if used on ground that is not perfectly flat. Most people donít live on ground that is perfectly flat.
    Agree big with this one. My daughters were using a Strider and a no-pedal bike on the small hill in front of the house. Other kids were going down on training wheels and tipping over left and right because the training wheels don't let you lean, just tip. They suck. Ditch them.

    The real way to teach a kid to ride is a balance bike. These are bikes without pedals that the kid pushes with their feet. The good examples are the Strider and the Hotwalk. It is common for kids to learn to ride before age 3 because of balance bikes. A few weeks on a balance bike, and the kid will learn to ride a pedal bike without any help at all, usually in a single session on their new pedal bike.
    +1. She spent about a month on a Strider, and the first day on her 'real' bike (Hotrock 12), my 3Ĺ year old was off and pedaling on her own.

    Strider may be the original, but you may want to look at different options depending on your terrain. Because of the hill in front of hour house and the way she was riding, I would have really really liked for to have had a hand brake to slow her down, instead of crashing into the sides of cars or dragging her shoes. Strider is the most common though I've found, and your best chance at finding a used one at a good price.

    Redline Pitboss - Amazing little bike. Super light (~14lb), and has excellent geometry that encourages aggressive riding and bike handling skills, with adjustable gear ratios, good kid-specific brakes, and a flip-flop hub. This hub allows an extra freewheel with a different gear ratio to be put on the non-drive side of the hub. This is so that you can change gear ratios with a simple reversal of the wheel that is as simple as fixing a flat. Super nice for getting a kid used to riding, and when doing lots of ups and downs. I consider this the baseline bike, and is the bike to get if your kid can ride a bike, is very comfortable peddling a 2-wheeler, and you are comfortable with the price. It is also the best BMX race bike on the list. Worth the money, and will last him until age ~8 or so.
    When you say "BMX race bike", I see most smaller kids on micros or minis, no Pitbosses. Why is that? I think the Pitboss would be a great combination street/race bike, where as a micro/mini would be pretty much only for the track.

    Could not find any used, although one of the dealers was having a 15% off sale, so you could get it for better than MSRP.

    Spawn Banshee - All the stuff about the Pitboss applies here, with one major added perk. It has a front brake. The Banshee is very slightly heavier than the Pitboss, but not by much. It is also slightly more expensive, but again, not by much. It will also last him to ~8 year old. Not as good for racing, but better than the Pitboss if you don't intend to race. This may be the best trainer bike on the list for being a future all around good adult rider but donít want to dedicate your life to BMX races, and compares really well with the Pitboss.
    I'd loved to have gotten one of these, was just a huge investment up front to swallow without knowing what direction my kid(s) were going to go with their riding or if they'd even like it. lt also has a freewheel. Thanks Canada!

    Specialized Hotrock - The less expensive counterpoint to the above bikes. Good bike, with a few drawbacks compared to the Pitboss, Banshee, and Juvi. First, some of the parts are quite a bit heavier than they need to be. The crank, hubs, headset, and stem (basically the whole bike aside from the frame) can all be replaced with lighter components, but the Banshee, Pitboss, and Juvi already have these upgrades spec'd stock. It is still way lighter than almost all production bikes and a good option, or it wouldnít make this list.
    Through my research, if you're feeling out your options, this is probably your best bet on a first bike, because they are actually available used. They are all over Craigslist; I've found brand-new looking ones for $50 or under if you keep your eyes open, but nothing really over $100 with most in the $60-80 range. Sell it when you're done for nearly the same price and you got a free bike for a couple years or however long you keep it. If your kid takes to it and you want to upgrade from there, well you're $300+ ahead of the game on the other bikes mentioned above to buy upgrades, or sell and buy something else. But at least you're not throwing down $400 to have a kid fall down one time and never want to get on a bike again...haha.

    I'll also agree on the wheel size starting out. My younger one "can" fit on the 16", but I think she'll have a hell of a lot more control on the 12" until she wants bigger.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    69
    I think the new Cleary Bikes might also have a freewheel because they are not intended for the sidewalks... Look nice but I don't have any experience with them.

  12. #12
    Cheapo
    Reputation: Dave88LX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    134
    I'm interested to see the reviews on those when they come out. Front & rear V-brakes, even on their $200 balance bike!


    Gecko - Super Cream - 12" Singlespeed Bike | Cleary Bikes
    "Quick-release front wheel. Rear wheel with coaster hub attaches with a 15mm bolt. (Please feel free to complain to the Consumer Product Safety Commission that bikes smaller than 22" should not require a coaster brake.)"

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    69
    We definitely could have used those breaks on our Strider! ...but I can't complain because we got a great deal on it & our son loves it and has ridden the heck out of it everywhere he can.

    In hindsight, knowing how much he loves and uses the Strider, I definitely wish we had gotten a balance bike with breaks. It would have been worth the premium.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    42
    A lot of great info here. I think judging the right size bike based on age is a tough one. My 8 year old is out grown her 20inch bike that she has had for a a few years.

    Something I wanted to add is the best bike I found for teaching a non rider to ride is the trek float.

    Trek Product Reviews and Ratings - Ages 4-6 - Float from Trek

    The issue is they stopped selling it. This bike is BOTH a coaster bike and a pedal bike. It has these pedals and crank arms that simply unscrew with an allen wrench. I have taught at least 8 kids to ride a bike on the one that we have. The nice part about it is you get the kid coasting on it. Then once they can make it down a hill a few times without touching there feet you add the pedals. There is no mental hurdle of being on a new bike. Its the same bike only now it has pedals.

    I have no idea why trek stopped making it. But I can not recommend the bike enough. I found it by dumb luck while in a trek company store looking at adults bikes.

  15. #15
    Cheapo
    Reputation: Dave88LX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    134
    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    I think the new Cleary Bikes might also have a freewheel because they are not intended for the sidewalks... Look nice but I don't have any experience with them.
    I asked them on their FB page about the coaster brake; their response:

    "We are pleased to report that our 16" version, Hedgehog, will NOT have a coaster brake. Thank you for asking."

    This is awesome news. I'm excited to see the reviews on these bikes.
    Last edited by Dave88LX; 05-05-2014 at 05:38 PM.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    14
    I think the sizing point you make is interesting but cannot apply to every child. It depends on when they start riding, the riding they are doing, how proficient they are etc. Yes you shouldn't put them on a bike that is too big. But my 9yr old rides a 13" frame 26" wheel MTB, and this was him yesterday

    How to buy a bike for your kid.-img_0126_2.jpg

    He started riding blue trails at trail centres on a 20" Hardrock. He built up his skills but as he rode longer distances there was no way a 20" was suitable. It was too small. He had a 24" wheel MTB for a couple of years, again building his skills and riding red trails. He could have stayed on the 24 a bit longer, but the 26" wheel MTB I built up for him is almost an exact match in wheelbase and size to his 24, just with larger wheels.

    I just don't think a general sizing statement works for every rider

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,395
    Wheel size is irrelevant. Kid's can (and do) ride almost anything and they ride such varied terrain from bike paths to DH shuttle runs. So you're right in one sense that generalisations are hard.

    BUT it is irrefutable that bike fit is all important for every rider, adult or child. If you can't get the fit right then it'll still be ride-able, but won't be as good or as enjoyable as it could.

    For kids riding single-track, I've found the following to be essential to building confidence and having them improve as riders:

    - adequate standover;
    - low BB;
    - proper relationship between seat height and bar height/position (would you ride your MTB with the bars 8-10" higher than the seat? I've seen plenty of kids on 26" bikes with handlebars 4-6" higher, which would be same as 8-10" higher for an adult)

    I basically go with whatever wheel size will allow me to achieve that type of fit, along with shock or off-set bushing mods to dial in things like head angle and BB height. My kids have never been to a nicely groomed jump track, but they're pretty keen on turning anything they find along the trail into a jump, even if its a log about half the diameter of their wheel:


  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    3,437
    Quote Originally Posted by indianadave View Post
    I disagree with the age range dictating bike size... My 11 year old is ready to move up to a 26" bike, and my 8 year old is moving from her 20" to a 24".
    Both of them are long legged, and their knees are going up into their chest and both seats are raised as high as I'd want them.
    Also, gears are necessary around here. The trails we ride have a lot of hills, and my girls know how to use the gears. Most kids bikes may have too many, but my daughter would get really frustrated if she ended up walking up hills.
    Anyway, there is a lot of good info that most of us here in this forum have already figured out. You just consolidated it into one post.
    Agree
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 57
    Last Post: 07-09-2013, 02:22 PM
  2. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 05-30-2013, 11:52 AM
  3. mountain bike comfort, road bike speed,which bike?
    By traumamagnit in forum Bike and Frame discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-23-2011, 07:25 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •