how old for gears?

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  • 02-24-2013
    how old for gears?
    my five year old (6 in may) loves riding short single track (like cut through corners in neighborhood, etc), but has a tough time on hills. would love to get him out to local trails but i think it will be really hard without gears. he's on a trek jet 16 "single speed". most of the kids mtn bikes are recommended are for kids 8 yr old and up. i plan to take him to try some a a local shop but am interested in others experiences. we live in NM and even the local flat stuff has some climbs for a few hundred feet.
  • 02-24-2013
    My son started riding a Gary Fisher Precaliber with gripshift 6 speed when he was 5. It had a pretty useless gear selection for off road riding so I laced up a 20" wheel with an old 8 speed cassette and put the 8 speed trigger shifter on his bike.
    He took to it quickly and now, at 8, rides a 1 x 10 24" bike I built for him.
  • 02-24-2013
    5 is about right. Both my kids started using gears at early 5 or late 4. Later is fine too. Younger would be difficult due to the lack of coordination and strength. Shifting requires coordinating multiple things simultaneously that a younger child may have difficulty doing.
  • 02-28-2013
    Agreed, my son started at six years with gears. Did not really understand the concept of when or how many to change, but I would ride behind him and give him verbal cues.

    An issue that might come up is Grip Shifters... many are difficult for kids to turn. If your child is one (like mine were), the change to trigger shifters is pretty cheap and easy.
  • 03-01-2013
    I think my son was 8 when he got his first geared bike. It's a Haro with 3 x 7 gearing and Grip Shift. It definitely took some coaching for him to select the proper gears. Since I know the local trails so much better, I usually just call out gearing (2 x 2 or 2 x 5) instead of "steeper" or "faster".
  • 03-01-2013
    My son started at the early side of 5 as well. I put a 7 speed trigger on his Hotrock and went from there. Now he rides 9-speed SRAM on his 25er with 24" wheels. THe 26" wheels go on in a month or 2 now that he's grown and will be 10 this year.
  • 03-01-2013
    My kids started shifting when 6 or 7ish, but as described by others I had to tell them too. At the onset it was useful by way of me selecting an appropriate gear for them to ride depending on the trail, the kids just rode it like a single speed. But, when we rode on the street or paved trails I would get on them to shift because they had more time and less distractions so it was good practice. I wanted the grip shifters to work, but ultimatly triggers are better. I also like the 1x idea because messing with the front derailleur is painful even for adults....
  • 03-01-2013
    When I switched my daughter to a 1x6 geared bike last summer at age 6, she was immediately able to ride much greater varietly of terrain such as over thick grass in the yard and up hills that were too much on her old singlspeed.
  • 03-05-2013
    My son is now seven, but soon after he got his geared bike (around a year ago) we was able to figure the gears and was climbing on the streets in my neighborhood (climbs we do go up about 200-300 feet in about a mile). He actually likes the challenge of climbing up the steepest hills in our street (which many adults cant do). The sooner they figure out how to use the gears, the better.

    I havent taken him on the trails yet, as the trails in El Paso, TX are all loose rocks (big and small).