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  1. #76
    jalopy jockey
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    This is the best thread I've seen in a long time. It may just be the timing though.

    My oldest who just turned 5 ditched the training wheels this spring and we've just started riding trails in the last few weeks. We stated on a pump track at our skills park aka no trees to hit but a tight twuisty trail with some mild hills, last night we did 5.5 miles of doubletrack. He's on a 16 Monguse 'BMX' bike from one of teh cheap stores that claims it is steel and if it is it's not tubes but solid rods. So far his longest ride is 14 miles on a gravel rail trail.

    Regarding jumping and what not he's already flying off of curbs, and over rooted step downs. He learned before he lost the training wheels that if you go into the driveway fast enough you catch air. As far as i know he had no external infuelnce on these actions, except the roots, but that was after I saw him on the curbs

    I'm definately going to be looking at one of those 20inch precalibers for his next ride. I just wish that I could get the geared one with a rigid fork or the SS with the good bash guard not the cheap plastic awning. My only problem with the BMX route is the lack of front brake.

    I don't belive that kids need gears just a few different cogs dependant on the ride at hand, and a helping hand. just to be clear I typicaly ride a geared hardtail, but there is something to be said for a rigid SS.

  2. #77
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    Nice thread; I have a (soon to be) 3 & 7 year old and here are my experiences.

    My little one just outgrew her Hotwalk from Specialized and she loves it. You should see other people watching a 2 year old hit'n the paved and offroad trails.

    My son has a Hotrock. As he was growing out of it I just upgraded the bike. Added a suspension fork and gears, different wheels as well, still the bike gained so much weight.

    My plan was to get a 24" bike but they are expensive and not much chances of upgrading it as he grows out of it. My solution: Go with an XXS 26" bike when he turns 8.

    What I'm going to do is get a XXS frame and put quality components on it. This way I don't have to cheat him with cheap and heavy components. As he outgrows the bike I just rebuild it onto a XS or S frame.

    The reason I'm doing this, he is really good at riding with what he got right now, if he has fun I don't want to hinder him with sub standard components. Just because he's a kid doesn't mean I have to get him a cheap fork or crankset or tires and wheels. This way stuff will last longer as well.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my plan.

  3. #78
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    Here's a more recent pic of my 6y/o on his bmx.


  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by jalopy jockey
    My only problem with the BMX route is the lack of front brake.
    My son's Kuwahara mini came with a front brake and as did most of the others I looked at when I was trying to work out what to buy him. I've taken it off for the moment, getting it adjusted nicely with the lever wound in for his short reach was a nightmare. He seems to do just fine without it for most of the stuff he does, BMX and relatively flat trails. I'll probably put it back on when we head over to the French Pyrenese in August.

    Quote Originally Posted by jalopy jockey
    I don't belive that kids need gears just a few different cogs dependant on the ride at hand, and a helping hand. just to be clear I typicaly ride a geared hardtail, but there is something to be said for a rigid SS.
    His bike also came with a flip flop rear hum so there is the option there to run different gearing, even while out on a ride.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Orange Prophet
    My son's Kuwahara mini came with a front brake and as did most of the others I looked at when I was trying to work out what to buy him. I've taken it off for the moment, getting it adjusted nicely with the lever wound in for his short reach was a nightmare. He seems to do just fine without it for most of the stuff he does, BMX and relatively flat trails. I'll probably put it back on when we head over to the French Pyrenese in August.
    I've been watching my son ride and have noticed a few things. First off, he and his bike weigh a total of 60lbs. Me and my bike weigh a total of 210lbs. There's a magnitude difference in stopping power required.

    Now maybe when he gets older, stronger and can take bigger hills and has learned the art of threshold braking he would need front brakes. But he is able to keep his speed in check no matter where he rides. I just don't see the value of powerful front brakes as he's really just learning the basics of balance and lines.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Orange Prophet
    His bike also came with a flip flop rear hum so there is the option there to run different gearing, even while out on a ride.
    Can you explain what a flip-flop hub is?

    I was watching the tech at the bike shop pull the rear sprocket of my son's mini and he used a spanner with pins that lined up. He unthreaded a collar and the sprocket slid out and then he dropped the new in place.

    I'm thinking his chain is near the limit and might need a new link if I go to a bigger rear sprocket. But I'd like to gear him down one more notch.

  6. #81
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    Traffic,
    flip flop hubs were the ORIGINAL multispeed hubs. It's a dual sided single speed hub that you can put a single cog on both sides. If you want to change gears you just remove the wheel and flip it to the other side. My SS has a Surly flip flop that's free/free (i.e. freewheels on both sides vs fixed/free that are fixed gear/free wheel on opposing sides)

    So I was looking at the Specialized Hot Rocks in a 20". My 5 y.o. still loves her little pink 16" Electra cruiser, but wants to ride trails w/Dad. It worked on a short flat section of my closest trail but I think I'll give her another few months a) To get out of 100+ weather, b) get better at standing while pedaling uphill in the roots/rocks.

    Q: They make a SS rigid & a 6 sp suspended 20" Hot Rock. Anybody ever get the multi-speed and swap out the anchor suspension fork for the rigid one on the SS version? I'm thinking that would lose some serious weight on that bike. Almost every trail in my area has hills so I'm leaning towards geared for her 6th b-day next Spring, maybe Christmas at the rate she's outgrowing the Electra.

  7. #82
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    Wink Seat Tube Angle

    Great Thread eveybody! I'm stalking a bike for my 6yo boy. It's pretty much down to the GF PreCaliber SS or a Race Junior BMX bike. The two biggest differences I see that make a BMX different when it comes to using it as a general purpose bike is the bottom bracket height and the seat tube angle. BMX bikes or designed to be hammered on from a standing position, the seat is only there as a formality. When you attempt to put the seat up high enough to actually sit on and pedal two things happen. Because of the usually slack 69 seat tube angle the seat moves back alot, extending the reach and positioning the center of gravity more reward. This is an awkward position to pedal, especially up hills. This issue is componded by the high BB height, because to get proper leg extension the seat needs to be even higher. For a beginner a high seat isn't advantageous. Some of the BMX bikes have a straighter seat tube angle, like the SE mentioned earlier (71). One bike that stands out is the DK Tracer (http://www.dkbicycles.com/completes..../jr/main.html), it has a 73.5 seat tube angle. I think that if you are looking at going the BMX route, but not using it for BMX racing then you need to pay close attention to the seat tube angle, BB height and crank length...

  8. #83
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    Asmodeus2112,

    Valid concerns, but I think you're missing a key point - kids are dynamic and can adjust to almost any bike (perhaps, much unlike you and me!). They'll never want full saddle height (again, like you or I would). So, get a slight drop from full extension, a comfortable seat and good bar position - and they'll take off!

    I'm a big fan of BMX geometry - not going to hide that. "I" prefer to ride BMX geometry myself. The high BB is an advantage for kids as it provides maximum pedal clearance with small wheels. The higher center of gravity also helps them shift their weight around, until they develop the strength and skills to muscle a more stable (i.e. heavier) bike.

    Look at my picture above. My sons typically grind up hills, seated, until they're fed-up, when they stand and stomp. You'd be surprised how fast they accelerate a 12lb bicycle uphill - it looks like a breakaway and I have to give chase!

    Tom P.

  9. #84
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    Great points, Asmodeus. One of my concerns was that my kid's knee would be hitting his face while riding seated. I've found the mini to have enough "small ppl" specs to limit the super awkward position of a bmx bike.

    I do agree with Tom that kids are very resiliant. And I'd like to take advantage of that. My son is forced to get out of the saddle every time we hit an incline. He doesn't mind. He's also learned that if he gets a running start at a hill and keep his momentum up, he can clear it.

    He always stands up when he's about to hit a bump or a rolled curb. The high BB has saved him from high-siding on multiple occassions. I'm trying to teach him to take corners with his outside pedals down for clearance. He's getting it...slowly. He's already had a big off HS on his 16" bike.

    His little butt can take a lot more hard saddle time than his old man. Probably the 44# weight vs 160#... Again, power to weight ratio. You should see him climb a slight incline.

    I rode a bmx bike as a kid and I can see that showing up in my trail riding. Even being off the trail for a decade, I'm able to keep up if not surpass many others on very technical singal track. I have a coworker that also grew up on a bmx bike. I am so amazed at his ability to jump on a bike and within 3-4 weeks, he's keeping up very well on group rides that are pretty fast paced.

    The out of the saddle riding, the moving his weight around, the clearing obstacles on a rigid bike, that all will come back to help him as he continues to ride.

  10. #85
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    Oh Hell Yeah! This thread gets me stoked on my BMX child hood. We got too poor for a while to continue the MX, so we sold the motorcycles and started doing BMX, and stuck with that instead of moto until I was about 16 or 17.

    My sister had a similar GT to your son at age 7. Glad you went BMX, suspension at a young age will teach him lazy habits. With the BMX background he can get "introduced" to down hill MTBing by his friends with 3,000 dollar bikes, and then whip their asses the first day on a hard tail 400 dollar bike store special. ;-)

    Can't wait for my 9 month old to get a little older!
    Pedalin' through my braaaaap drought.

  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asmodeus2112
    Great Thread eveybody! I'm stalking a bike for my 6yo boy. It's pretty much down to the GF PreCaliber SS or a Race Junior BMX bike. The two biggest differences I see that make a BMX different when it comes to using it as a general purpose bike is the bottom bracket height and the seat tube angle. BMX bikes or designed to be hammered on from a standing position, the seat is only there as a formality. When you attempt to put the seat up high enough to actually sit on and pedal two things happen. Because of the usually slack 69 seat tube angle the seat moves back alot, extending the reach and positioning the center of gravity more reward. This is an awkward position to pedal, especially up hills. This issue is componded by the high BB height, because to get proper leg extension the seat needs to be even higher. For a beginner a high seat isn't advantageous. Some of the BMX bikes have a straighter seat tube angle, like the SE mentioned earlier (71). One bike that stands out is the DK Tracer (http://www.dkbicycles.com/completes..../jr/main.html), it has a 73.5 seat tube angle. I think that if you are looking at going the BMX route, but not using it for BMX racing then you need to pay close attention to the seat tube angle, BB height and crank length...
    Seems this was the 800lb gorilla in the room that nobody noticed. I could not agree more. As a MTB racer myself - nobody would set out on singletrack with a geometry config like these BMX racers. The lighter weight is offset by being in a poor position to handle the bike and lay down power. My goal is to find a light bike - but with proper singletrack geometry. I can overlook the skinny tires to some extent. My son on his little 16" gets a lot of speed advantage from his handling. So in search I go for a lighter weight SS 20" with correct singletrack geometry.

  12. #87
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    You obviously do not ride a singlespeed. IMHO, kids are made to SS. They take to the stand-up-and grind like nobody's business. And a lighter bike really helps this riding style.

    There is a lot to be said about proper fit/geometry, you're just not going to find it in a 20-24"-wheeled, sub-20lb bike, and certainly not at a bike shop. You'll have to build it. I've got a few ideas cooking, but for now my kids tear it up on lightweight BMX bikes, with longer aluminum seat posts, and padded saddles...

    Tom P.

  13. #88
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    Im in the same boat looking for an MTB for my son. He currently has a mini BMX and a 16" Norco BMX.

    The mini BMX didn't work great for us mountain biking. The skinny tires didn't grip well enough and the rear wheel locked up too easily. He spent this season riding the Norco at the local ski hill and managed well (it has a coaster brake).

    I was just looking at the Kona website and saw a 2010 Shred 20. It looked awesome. It has a front suspension fork , disc brakes, and was a single speed. So far my favorite.

    Does anyone know if any of those forks are better than others (Spinner, RST etc.)?

  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtc1
    Seems this was the 800lb gorilla in the room that nobody noticed. I could not agree more. As a MTB racer myself - nobody would set out on singletrack with a geometry config like these BMX racers. The lighter weight is offset by being in a poor position to handle the bike and lay down power. My goal is to find a light bike - but with proper singletrack geometry. I can overlook the skinny tires to some extent. My son on his little 16" gets a lot of speed advantage from his handling. So in search I go for a lighter weight SS 20" with correct singletrack geometry.
    Just something to consider.
    My son puts power down pretty good. He stands up. We're out for cruises. Not endurance races. But if any of his friends or his mom challenges him on a straight or up a hill, he stands up and puts them in their place.

    The frame is awkward due to the large wheels but small dimensions to fit the smaller rider. He handles the bike just fine. In fact, the longer wheelbase actually helps quite a bit and he can roll over lots of stuff with 20" wheels. i appreciate the stability over a 16" as the speeds he obtains can be scary fast. He also has a lot of room to shift his weight around fore and aft.

    I recently picked up a rigid fork, 29-er, SS. At 32/18 for me, we have about the same gear ratio (I think he is at 36/16). He gets a kick out of riding together. We both stand up in the same spots and we go about the same speed.

    I'm going to wait until next season to pick up new rims and tires so he can add some volume and tread for actual single track with lots of bumps. We do fine with the occasional root and rock. But if we were to actually go through gardens, then I'd want a different setup. But I don't want to rush him and turn him off to the sport. I'd also want him to get stronger or gear him down a bit.

    Unfortunately we don't really have what I would consider "beginner" singletrack. Our entry-level trails are quite riddled with roots and rocks all over. Anything easier is basically double-wide, smooth walking trails.

  15. #90
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    Thanks for this thread, everyone. I've been in the same boat, picking out a bike for my 6 (7 next month) year old boy. We went to walmart and Toys-R-Us, but I just couldn't stomach the junk there. Not just cheap looking, it seemed dangerously cheap. We ended up at the LBS I purchased my bike from. I was torn between getting a 20" with gearing or a SS. I went in specifically to look at the Precaliber 20, but my son fell in love with a Specialized Hotrock 20. Since everything about the bikes seemed very similar, I got him the Hotrock, all the while, second guessing myself about whether I should have gotten a bike with gearing, until...

    We went for a long neighborhood ride tonight. I've always had to wait for him to catch up. Not anymore! When I see him stand up, I know I'd better get ready to chase him, or I won't be able to catch him!

    He burned up both sides of the biggest hill in our neighborhood, tonight, and left me panting at the top. He's ridden all the way to the top before, but never this easily. It really is amazing how much faster he can accelerate his new bike. I'm not second guessing myself anymore. This bike will do everything we need it to do for the next couple of years.

    We're taking it on the trails, tomorrow. Should be a blast!

  16. #91
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    Wow, I found this thread a few months late. I bought my almost 6 year old a Haro mini race BMX last March. He learned how to ride without training wheels with it and has made great progress. I did change the gearing to a 34t cr with a 18t cog, also chopped 1 inch off the bars. He could ride down the street a few months ago and now he can do the track. Plus it inspired a bit of nostalgia in me so I wen and bought a couple os SE retro rides, the PK Ripper I always wanted but never could afford as a kid, and a Quadangle 24 cruiser. Never rode the track as a kid but I sure am loving it now. Riding with the little guy rules.

  17. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Orange Prophet
    I think you've made the right choice

    I recently went through the same process with my son who's just turned 6 but had the advantage of already having brought a 20" MTB for my daughter when she was the same age.

    The gears are great and she can go at a fair pace but the bike is very heavy and the geometry such that she's only really begining to sit on it rather than stretching across it (She's now 8). As well as being heavy the suspension fork is a waste of time, there is no way she can compress it.

    The wee fella's BMX on the other hand is light and nimble and he's already beginging to get to grips with bike handling. Things like shifting his weight about, both side to side and front to back. He's quite happy on the BMX track and wan'ts to spend all his spare time there. There are a couple of the obstacles that he can't get over but they're pretty big and steep (8' face of the table top!) but he'll be there soon.

    The only real downside are the skinny tyres, They are't up to mud and won't give him any squish if it gets rocky. I've looked at fatter tyres but may have to get a fork with more clearance as there isn't any on the current one. He'll just have to learn to be super smooth and glide...

    Btw I think he'll be in ther air soon!
    BA!

  18. #93
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    I recently picked up a Redline Monocog and changed my gearing from 32/18 to 32/20. So I gave my 18t cog to my boy. Now he's on 37/18 (stock was 37/14). Oh yeah. He is absolutely flying up the hill.

    He can accelerate so fast on the flats now. We both pedal out on the flats.

    I think this is the right gearing.

    We tried an easy single track. He had a great time. Will try again soon.

  19. #94
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    Times they are a changin'...

    I thought I'd give you all an update. My 9 & 10 y/o's are ripping it up on BMX mini's. I had to get a 4" Jr. BMX bar for the younger guy to correct his body postion, and they still love the bikes. I see them getting more adventureous - lifting the front wheel and throwing body english into ther riding style. They take off like rockets, and stamina is way up from this past Spring. I always planned to build them geared (possibly internal) bikes. I guess I just thought it would be further down the road...

    Sudenly last weekend, enter a basic 26", mixtie-framed mountain bike, FREE from the neighbor across the street! Essentially a never riden example, so, after a thorough safety check, a few adjustments and some shifting training they traded it back and forth for the afternoon. A few riding observations:

    - The bike is huge, but with the seat all the way down they had correct leg extension.
    - They are good riders, and could to handle the bike, but they're not popping wheelies.
    - They picked-up on the grip-shifting instantly, easily selecting the gear for the terrain.
    - They love the dual brakes
    - They love the big wheels, especially riding-over/dropping-off obstacles.
    - It's not their go-to bike, but they enjoy it.
    - My older (taller) son commented on the comfort.

    I do think their riding possibilities could be enhanced with the larger wheels and gear options. Just the fact that they can select the appropriate gear for the given terrain-load greatly empowers them and their ability to ride. I was also impressed at the dificulty they attacked on an over-sized bike.

    Food for thought...

    Tom P.

  20. #95
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    I just came across this thread. My little one learned to ride his 12 inch Schwinn when he was 3, he got a 16" at that point. I debated about what to get him next and got a GT micro mini (similar to the proline mini) for his 4th B-day. The seat was all the way down, but he could ride it. He is 7 now and I had to put a laid back post on it. He still loves the bike. It was in the $350ish range, but he got 4 years out of it.

    He is borrowing a 24" Trek road bike that he barely fits on. It's great for riding with me, but he will need something more durable. He will be too big for the GT next year. I'm thinking of a 24" BMX mini cruiser, possible the expert

    Maybe THIS

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-No
    I just came across this thread. My little one learned to ride his 12 inch Schwinn when he was 3, he got a 16" at that point. I debated about what to get him next and got a GT micro mini (similar to the proline mini) for his 4th B-day. The seat was all the way down, but he could ride it. He is 7 now and I had to put a laid back post on it. He still loves the bike. It was in the $350ish range, but he got 4 years out of it.

    He is borrowing a 24" Trek road bike that he barely fits on. It's great for riding with me, but he will need something more durable. He will be too big for the GT next year. I'm thinking of a 24" BMX mini cruiser, possible the expert

    Maybe THIS
    How tall is your 7 y/o son? My 7 y/o is a bit big for his age. He is 53" tall.

    Here is a photo of him on his 26" MTB w/ 14.5" Access frame (from performance) and a 40mm stem.



    And a short video of him on some single track.

    I hope that helps.

  22. #97
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    That looks awesome. He is 50". I may look into a 26" I'm not real big into gears myself, so I don't think a kid that young needs any!!

  23. #98
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    ...After much deliberation and lay-bying I got my 6 year old son a Giant MTX 150 2009...certainly the best looking 20" I saw. I only wish I could ride it myself. He took to it straight away, after getting around looking like a circus bear on his 14" bmx...It's a top little bike...

  24. #99
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    Great thread. I have narrowed my choices down to a Proline Mini or a Mirra Project 18 for my young guy. Now if I can only find a local one at a decent price.
    2011 Lynskey Pro29 SL SS
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  25. #100
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    I read this entire thread. First I want to say thanks to orginal poster Traffic002 for putting so much thought and effort into his kid's bike and starting this thread.

    I was also impressed by how many of the other comments showed parents legitimately trying to figure out what bike would fit their kid, in terms of size, weight, and style of riding.

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