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  1. #1
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    Mountain Bike vs BMX (for 6y/o)

    So my boy will be turning 6 at the end of the month. He's been riding a 16" steel bike that we got for free from a co-worker. He's a very good rider. But he's still challenged with going up some of the hills in our neighborhood and on parts of the trail loop we go on.

    I'd like to do more riding together and take him out onto some of the single track that's nearby as well.

    He's about 43" tall and 44lbs.

    My first thought is for a lightweight mini bmx (20" @ 16lbs). Maybe look for shorter cranks and different cogs to give him a lowering gearing for the type of riding we'll be doing. Swap in some fatter knobbies and we should be good to go.

    But my LBS is 50/50 on possibly going geared with front suspension fork. Easy to learn and supposedly allow him to climb hills and go over some bumps in the trail.

    I grew up riding a bmx bike (no racing) just as basic transportation from age 8 to high school. So I don't know what it is like for a small kid to ride a mtn bike vs a bmx.

    I figure he can get into a nice mtn bike when he's old enough to know the difference. But am I selling him short? Thoughts? Experiences?

  2. #2
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    Hm, 5 days, 49 views and no response.

    Well, I visited another LBS to take a look at some bikes and to size up my son.

    So I had him sit on and ride a Redline Raid around the shop. The bars can be raked back a touch, but his arms have a slight bend in it and the reach to the pedals is fine. But at 24-ish lbs, not quite what I was looking for.

    The Proline Mini seems like a good fit. Rated for 44" to 54", my son fits right at the begining of the size rating. Should be good for 2-3yrs (How much do boys grow from 6-8y/o?)

    In any case, the Mini is 16lbs. I can have the bike shop swap the 14T rear cog for a 16T to get the gearing down a bit. Also swap out the 1-1/8" tires for maybe a 1.75" in front and 1.5" in the rear to help soak up some of the bumps. The cranks are 145mm or 5.7" (vs the 16" pitboss with 140mm cranks) so not too long of a crank length. But still allow him gearing to climb hills.

    Then when he outgrows the Mini, hopefully he'll be strong enough to move to a full size mountain bike 13" frame and have the stamina to go on longer trail rides.

    So the thought goes...

  3. #3
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    What does he want to really do with the bike? Go on trails? Catch air on jumps? Go very fast? If he just wants to go on trails a bmx would probably work but if he wants to do jumps he would have softer landings if he had a suspension bike. Dont take my word seriously...Hopefully someone else can come on and post.

  4. #4
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    Your 6 year old is not going to get any air on a BMX bike. It just ain't gonna happen. I raced BMX for years and don't recall any air in kids 10 and under. Maybe some in 9year old boys. Now if he wants to literally race on a bmx track then BMX is great. Gets him arond other kids his age and you can get a top of the line BMX bike for cheap.

    But moutain biking with kids is fun. My buddy has two daughters (7 and 9 but started from 6 and8) that ride mountain bikes. If we get a BMX track nearbye he plans to get them two BMX bikes also.

    Anyways some pics...
    Youngest on a Gary Fisher. To her this thing was like riding a single speed. I tried it's granny gear once and it felt like 1/4 on my bike. She got a new Specialized for Christmas and is freaking amazing fast now.


    Here is the oldest on her old specialized.

    new bike


    And some video (With me crashing for an added bonus)!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSBgtJA5S7I
    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/fSBgtJA5S7I&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/fSBgtJA5S7I&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    We'll also be taking them Kayaking this spring. Plus they ride ATVs. My buddy keeps them very active and they are the two most well mannered pre-teens I have ever met. Though the oldest is starting to get some teen-angst.
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  5. #5
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    So he's turning 6 at the end of the month. I don't know that he "likes" to do any one particular thing.

    He likes to ride off the curb.
    He likes riding into the garage and slamming on his brakes and powersliding...until he hit the back wall and he doesn't like doing that as much anymore.

    He likes riding full speed and leaning into a turn to get away from dad and then high siding on his pedals.

    So in short, he likes to ride with dad and he likes going fast some times and he hates pushing his bike up hills.

    Well I recall in 4th and 5th grade, we used to ride out to where some dirt jumps were and we used to see who can jump the highest or the farthest or who can get their bikes crossed up the most. So that will eventually come.

    I just need to get him something that won't discourage him not to ride because he can't climb a hill.

  6. #6
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    The lightweight bmx seemed to be something that would challenge his riding skills while allowing him to get over some of the hills in the area.

    I'd rather not get a squishy mtn bike with suspension until he's built up his base skills and he just needs it to go on longer rides.

  7. #7
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    I've been looking for one for my boy. He's 9 but looks like 7. Probably weighs the same as the OP's kid. Well, I found and older 20" Trek on CList and might pick that up fro him. It is geared so I think it will help him out a lot. He's been riding a 16" lead bike with massive 2.5" tires.
    The 20" geared mtb bikes I've looked at has the front suspension, but they might as well be rigid as the weight of the kid is not enough to compress it on any bumps.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1
    I've been looking for one for my boy. He's 9 but looks like 7. Probably weighs the same as the OP's kid. Well, I found and older 20" Trek on CList and might pick that up fro him. It is geared so I think it will help him out a lot. He's been riding a 16" lead bike with massive 2.5" tires.
    The 20" geared mtb bikes I've looked at has the front suspension, but they might as well be rigid as the weight of the kid is not enough to compress it on any bumps.
    In general, I think kids are pretty resilient and they can adapt to anything. So mountain or bmx, they'll ride whatever and however they can. And especially from CG, always a great way to go.

    But having grown up riding since kindergarten myself, I have a slight lean towards a quality bmx. I also like simplicity.

    For example, am I spending extra money on suspension forks? That basically do nothing because the spring rate is too high? w/o good damping, is it even worth having the suspension fork?

    Since money went into throwing a "fancy" fork on the bike, is it detracting from the quality of the brakes?

    I think a 1x6 or 1x8 drivetrain would come in handy to adjust to the varying terrain. And I can see the value in that.

    BUT, I think at age 9, my son would have the maturity and skill level to ride pretty well. Or pick it up rather quickly. Then the mountain bike would allow him the extra tools or comfort to go on longer rides. Then I'd be tempted to strip my wife's 13" Specialized Rockhopper and build it back up to fit my son with a modern air fork that can have the preload adjusted for his weight. (The original fork did nothing for my wife at the time since she only weighed 100# anyway.)

    Also by age 9, I suppose what his friends ride may also dictate the type of bike he gets. If all the friends are on bmx, then probably matching similar style bikes would help him. Or if all his rides are with you, then a mountain bike would be more appropriate?

    ...again, at age 6, he's got a ways to go before he has enough stamina to go on anything more than a liesurely 3 mile ride or just buzzing around the neighborhood...
    Last edited by traffic002; 02-10-2009 at 08:40 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by smittie61984
    Your 6 year old is not going to get any air on a BMX bike. It just ain't gonna happen. I raced BMX for years and don't recall any air in kids 10 and under. Maybe some in 9year old boys. Now if he wants to literally race on a bmx track then BMX is great. Gets him arond other kids his age and you can get a top of the line BMX bike for cheap.

    But moutain biking with kids is fun. My buddy has two daughters (7 and 9 but started from 6 and8) that ride mountain bikes. If we get a BMX track nearbye he plans to get them two BMX bikes also.

    Anyways some pics...
    Youngest on a Gary Fisher. To her this thing was like riding a single speed. I tried it's granny gear once and it felt like 1/4 on my bike. She got a new Specialized for Christmas and is freaking amazing fast now.

    We'll also be taking them Kayaking this spring. Plus they ride ATVs. My buddy keeps them very active and they are the two most well mannered pre-teens I have ever met. Though the oldest is starting to get some teen-angst.
    Wow, lots of quality family time. That is so awesome!

  10. #10
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    My take:
    Your son doesn't need gears. Most of the "mountain" bikes that fit small kids will end up weighing almost as much as your bike. So unless you've got tons of disposable income, get a bmx bike that fits fairly well but that he'll still be able to ride next year.

    My experience: My son just turned 6 as well, and is slightly larger than yours (~50", 50lbs). He's riding a hand-me-down mongoose 20" now, probably weighs about 20lbs. He does fine on most rides. My daughter (7 1/2) just upgraded to a 24" mtn bike (also a hand-me-down, weighs as much as my Blur) and I really don't think it was a good idea. I'm scouting out options for similar sized, lightweight bikes for her to replace it. My youngest (4) is almost as big as his brother, probably about the same size as your son, and really enjoys his 16" bike.

  11. #11
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    So here is a comparable bmx vs mountain bike. Well, a very nice bmx and a good mountain bike. There are cheaper BMX like the Redline Raid, but I feel like they don't have the lightness to offset the single speed etc. The pitboss is light, but it's a 16" bike that can fit bigger kids. I like the idea of a 20" to help roll over small obstacles.

    Redline Proline Mini ($350 ordered from local LBS)


    Specialized Hotrock ($290 from another local LBS)


    The price point is $60 apart. Significant in that you can guy a no-name whatever bike on CG for under $50. But not terrible if that $60 facilitates getting out and riding more.

    BMX has lightweight (16#) and gearing and cranks for "powerstrokes". But less "comfortable" for long distance cruising.

    Mountain bike weighs closer to 24#. Has gears to offset the weight climbing. Looks like dad's bike. Maybe more comfy on longer rides. Can't accelerate like the bmx. Has front and rear V-brakes vs just the rear of the bmx.

  12. #12
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    A 20" bike will suit your son better than a 26" bike - he'll "sit on" the 20"er vs "sitting in" the 26"er. Additionally, put the weight into perspective - the 20"er weighs 16lbs, the 26"er weighs 24lbs - the former is 1/3 your son's weight vs the latter at over 1/2 his weight.

    Put the huge cranks and sprocket away for days at the BMX track/jump-park. Put a shorter set of cranks and a smaller gear up front. Consider a wider set of tires and maybe a front brake too. Finally, and I'm sure you realize this, kids grow like weeds! Buy one size up; this may get you the wider tires and front brake, the seat can be dropped all the way down and he'll be able to ride the bike for probably the next four years minimum. At least in this four-year period, he'll develop the muscles and weight needed for "true" mountain biking and a 26"er will fit properly by then.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by emptybe_er
    A 20" bike will suit your son better than a 26" bike - he'll "sit on" the 20"er vs "sitting in" the 26"er. Additionally, put the weight into perspective - the 20"er weighs 16lbs, the 26"er weighs 24lbs - the former is 1/3 your son's weight vs the latter at over 1/2 his weight.

    Put the huge cranks and sprocket away for days at the BMX track/jump-park. Put a shorter set of cranks and a smaller gear up front. Consider a wider set of tires and maybe a front brake too. Finally, and I'm sure you realize this, kids grow like weeds! Buy one size up; this may get you the wider tires and front brake, the seat can be dropped all the way down and he'll be able to ride the bike for probably the next four years minimum. At least in this four-year period, he'll develop the muscles and weight needed for "true" mountain biking and a 26"er will fit properly by then.
    Agreed. I will have to investigate a low cost shorter crank+smaller front sprocket that would work well. Thought about the front brake, but apparently only fit the cheesy, no power-having, single point mount brakes. Why bother?

    Yes, 1.75" tires for front and maybe 1.5" tires for rear.

    He's at the start of the fit range and can ride till he grows a foot. So maybe 2 years? Then I can hold the bike until his younger sister fits. Then sell it on CG.

  14. #14
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    ...Having my oldest boy start riding properly has me in the same position...he is riding his little Mongoose BMX he started on, sans training wheels now of course...he has his eye on a GT Stomper 20"...I would have bought it for him but he looks just a little too small to be fully in control...I decided to wait 'til he was 'all over' his BMX before sending him out on something that will take more concentration...I agree with emptybe_er about weight too, too light and a bikes suspension might just chuck a child off...Luckily we have 2 acres and have built a track for the boys to practice on...some humps and small drop-offs to get skills and balance up...

  15. #15
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    I walked into another LBS yesterday. Saw a Norco and a Scott.

    The Norco forks appeared to be strictly for show. It was stiffer than the fork on my bike. So it's just dead weight. The Scott actually had forks that compressed easily and had some damping. Looked like it was tuned a bit more for lighter riders. The rear was a bit stiff. But maybe that's best for having just a spring and no apparent damping in the rear. In any case, what do you need 21 speed for?

    I'm gonna have to call to find out what 130mm cranks go for. Looking through the redline catalogue, the crank arms can be bought separately??

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by smittie61984
    Your 6 year old is not going to get any air on a BMX bike. It just ain't gonna happen. I raced BMX for years and don't recall any air in kids 10 and under. Maybe some in 9year old boys
    Dunno about that? perhaps they are riding bikes too big for them?

    My son has been doing bunny hops for a year or more now on his 16" steel bike, been doing some well controlled wheel stands, and has just started to cross up the back wheel a bit when he gets air off the jumps. He calls them "tail whips" but I thought that meant you have to bring it straight again before landing? No need to be too pedantic when talking to a 5 year old though. He is a good rider, but not the best around, I have seen fearless kids from 5 to 8 years old doing big jumps down at the skate bowl.

    We are thinking about BMX vs MTB for his next bike, probably next Xmas so awhile away yet. He loves to ride the trails with us, but he likes the skate bowl also, makes it difficult to decide as each would be limiting. but I don't think we would want to get him 2 bikes at such a young age. Oh well more time to decide.
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  17. #17
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    Traffic002 I also have a 6 year old who has been on trail rides with me on his 16" steel bike. It was getting too small for him so we went around beftore christmas to look for a BMX. The LBS had the redline raids and that is what I though he would like. Well there was a used 20" marin hidden canyon in there. It was in great shape. My little guy tooled around on it in the parking lot. I was amazed that he could shift the gears the way he was. We ended up going back a few days later and he bought the bike with the money he had saved up.

    Since he has owned it we have been on quite a few rides. He uses the gears. I think the fork is more for show, but he thinks it is cool. And the poster that said six year olds don't get air....BS! He hits table tops and step downs. each time he is getting more and more air. Not tons... yet, but he is getting air.

    I thought the BMX was the way to go, but now I am convinced the small MTB was the right choice. FWIW the marin is a small aluminum frame MTB. Very light bike.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by rekibtm; 02-17-2009 at 07:46 AM.
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  18. #18
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    I have had my kids on BMX bikes since the start. They are simple and durable and light. I rode and raced BMX when I was young and remember riding dirtbike trails and anything with dirt and bumps. The singlespeed and rigid will make them think about the picking the right path and not worry about what gear they are in.

    The Pitboss is a really good bike but on the small side - my oldest son rode it unil 7 then I painted the frame pink for my daughter. My 3 year old will get it next and when he is done I'm sure I can sell it on ebay for not much less than I paid for it (from the prices I've seen). I believe good bikes cost a bit at first but can be handed down and then sold without loosing much.

    That Redline Proline looks nice but I'd also give a look at Mirra's line of kids bikes. They seem to really be thinking of the younger rider espeicaly with the 2009 lineup. Not sure what the TT lenght of the proline is but if it's around 18" he should be able to fit on one of these:

    http://mirrabikeco.com/project_18.html

    http://mirrabikeco.com/black_pearl_18.html

    I am not sure what those Mirra's run retail tho.







  19. #19
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    rekibtm,

    Thanks for sharing. I have no doubt that my son will eventually like to ride with his old man on a mtn bike (before he decides he rather NOT ride with his old man...) But he's got a healthy dose of fear. So I'm going to try to make things simple for him.

    We just went on another ride yesterday. Maybe he was feeling a bit sick, or he needed a nap, but he just couldn't muster the strength to climb a hill. I don't think it's all his fault. His 30lb bike that has super short cranks just make it so hard for him. I did adjust his seat to make things fit better for pedaling (used to be down so he can touch the ground, but raised it for more efficient pedaling.)

    I'm sure the freewheel is something he's gotta get used to. As well as using his hand brakes now. His current hand brake is purely for looks it seems.

    defconfour,

    The Redline Proline Mini has a 17.8" TT. It's got 20" wheels and 145mm cranks. The Mirra 18" you pointed out have 18" TT, 18" wheels and 160mm cranks. I'm not sure how the ratios for the front and rear sprockets calc out (25/9 & 33/13). The Redline comes with 36/14 I believe. (Gonna see about picking up a 16t for the rear.)

    But the Mini seems to have the larger rim, but shorter cranks and slightly shorter top tube.

    I will see if there are any LBS that carries the line though.

    --Paul

  20. #20
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    traffic002 It is in my opinion...

    Please forgive any redundancy.

    I was on a 20" BMX/freestyle bike until I was 17. I went everywhere on it. I do mean everywhere, all day long, w/ 44/16 gearing and 170 mm cranks.

    My brother had a mountain bike and we started to take some long rides...I quickly saw the advantage of gears.

    As you see in other forums, different bikes for different purposes. Maybe a new montain bike, and used BMX for jumping? I think most boys, sooner of later, will want to jump their bikes.

    When you're young, you're resilient. The excitement of a BMX may offset lack of gears, unless If you want him to go on long (all day) rides with geared bikes, he should have gears too.
    "I can only assume chan slap is what happens when you get assaulted by Jackie Chan. I don't think anybody can prevent that."

  21. #21
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    Paul-

    The formula to get gear inches is:

    Front Chainwheel/rear cog*wheel size

    44/16 is main gear for 20" race and what most ran BITD.

    44/16*20=55

    RedLine Proline
    36/14*20=51.4

    Mirra
    25/9*18=50

    2:1 ratio on 26" SS - works well for some depending on how strong the person is and how steep the local trails are.
    34/17*26=52

    If you are looking to take him more off road that RedLine might be the better as it has the taller wheels. It's going to be nice and light for him too. As he gets older you can get a longer stem/taller bars and raise the set.

    I got a used Mongoose mini for my oldest when he was around 6 or 7. I think the TT was too long as he seemed stretched out on it - I cannot remember the length. I didn't look too great when he was on it. He also didn't like the skinny tires. But he could go really fast on that bike and a the Proline mini from Redline looks way better.

  22. #22
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    If you have steep climbs and/or wanting to ride trails then I highly sugest a real mtn bike with a full set of gears. Where I live evenything is steep and kids on single speed BMX bikes end up doing a lot of walking.

  23. #23
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    Looks like if I put a 16T rear cog on there, it'll drop the gearing a bit.

    Looking online, the Proline Mini comes with a 37T front. So that is 52.9" With a 16T rear, it drops down to 46.3". Hopefully with the longer cranks than his current 16" bike, he should be able to get out of the saddle and pound up a short hill.

    I'm sure the real mtn bike will provide him the tools for longer rides. But that's not my main goal right now. I want him to learn on a single speed and work on his basics. I'll put fatter knobbies on to help soak up some of the bumps and just let him rip around. He'll have a nicer bike than anyone else in the neighborhood anyway.

    I remember when I was in 4th grade, I challenged this younger kid to a race around the block. I was on a standard steel bmx bike I got from Sears. I was pretty strong since my bike were my legs and I went everywhere on it. But I got my butt kicked by him and his little mini race bike. Those longer cranks go a long way into multiplying the power for sure. And with less weight to push up the hill, I couldn't touch him on the climb. Cost me my pride and two bags of Whoppers.

    My only mountain bike is a hardtail. I keep up with most guys on FS bikes on group rides. There'll come a point in the Spring where I can't keep up anymore as the trail gets dryer. So I know that there is a point where you do need to pick up some technology. There will be a time when he'll switch to a mountain bike.

  24. #24
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    My 7 yr old demanded, when he was 6, a bike w/ gears and handbrakes. I dug up a 20" Raleigh Rowdy which met the criteria. He shifted for a while and then gave up, he doesn't shift any more. He occasionally complains the suspension doesn't do anything for him when he rides off a curb. I don't know if it's 'cause he's <50#, or a it's a crappy suspension, or both. Whatever, he survives. His shifting rebellion continues, and he felt like a he got out of shape (his diagnosis) over winter break from school so I shifted it to the bottom gear and he's been happy ever since. Nice to have a bottom gear to shift to anyway. And he goes up the big hill back from downtown about as fast as his mom does at least when her bike is loaded way down. Occasionally I suggest to him, on a hill or even a flat, that he shift it up and he doesn't but we always get where we're going.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    My 7 yr old demanded, when he was 6, a bike w/ gears and handbrakes. I dug up a 20" Raleigh Rowdy which met the criteria. He shifted for a while and then gave up, he doesn't shift any more. He occasionally complains the suspension doesn't do anything for him when he rides off a curb. I don't know if it's 'cause he's <50#, or a it's a crappy suspension, or both. Whatever, he survives. His shifting rebellion continues, and he felt like a he got out of shape (his diagnosis) over winter break from school so I shifted it to the bottom gear and he's been happy ever since. Nice to have a bottom gear to shift to anyway. And he goes up the big hill back from downtown about as fast as his mom does at least when her bike is loaded way down. Occasionally I suggest to him, on a hill or even a flat, that he shift it up and he doesn't but we always get where we're going.

    I found that shifters with the numbers on them made the whole concept of gears much easier for my son to learn. He could easily know what gear he was in by reading the left (front) number followed by the right (rear) number. If a steep rocky hill was coming, I'd tell him to shift to gear 11 or 12. In a flat section of trail, I'd recomend gear 24 or 25. I never really recomend him to use the big ring (30's) but sometimes he goes there when he wants to crank it up to top speed. He's also stuborn about droping down to the granny on hills. He just wants to be the first to the top.

  26. #26
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    Go for the lightest "riding-style-appropriate" bike you can find. I picked-up a few slightly used BMX mini's off cragslist/ebay and they are the lightest things I've ever felt, and a fraction of the cost of new! My kids also have 16" BMX bikes fitted with 20" front suspension and lowered gearing, but they are really too big for these now. I've given some thought to building up BMX/Mtn. hybrids, but the weight and large wheel size means they could not climb all over the bike (skatepark, technical trails..) where they like to ride. For us, BMX bikes make the best (only?) sense.

    One thing you may not be aware of, is that the Mini 20x1-1/8 (1-3/8) wheels will not accept normal 20" tires. They are actually a slightly larger diameter rim, so the largest you can fit is 1-3/8". You can however fit a standard BMX 20 wheel/tire to the front for cheap shock absorbtion.

    I'm going to test a mini with a standard BMX 20" rear wheel and see if I can work around the brake issue. If not, I may have to build-up some 20" drum brake wheels...

    Tom P.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank

    One thing you may not be aware of, is that the Mini 20x1-1/8 (1-3/8) wheels will not accept normal 20" tires. They are actually a slightly larger diameter rim, so the largest you can fit is 1-3/8". You can however fit a standard BMX 20 wheel/tire to the front for cheap shock absorbtion.
    .
    Yikes. Good info to know.

    I was hoping to put a 1.75" in the front and a 1-3/8" in the rear. Thought that would be a good balance of low rolling resistance and good cushion.

  28. #28
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    I'd be tempted to find an appropriately sized 20" BMX race frame, then get a chain tensioner for a MTB that has integrated 51mm IS disk tabs on it, then get a mod trials fork and a single speed disk rear hub. keep it SS, but give your kid disk brakes, preferably hydros, 140mm rotor tops for the rear, but the front could go up to maybe a 160. parts wise, I'd go for a good set of short BMX cranks, an Odyssey MDS chainring (with the added bolt-on guard on the other side. bashwich), whatever rear cog you feel is necessary, and I'd personally stick the widest tire that'll fit in the chainstay yoke and the fork, just to give a bit of extra squish. may not be the lightest option, but if you get a set of disk brakes, when your kid outgrows the BMX frame you can transfer them over to the next bike. might be a bit more $$$ now, but the stopping power is nice and it'll be that much cheaper when he graduates to a larger frame
    Quote Originally Posted by teamdicky View Post
    My butthole would pucker and invert until I was inside-out before I got to the bottom.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002
    I'm sure the real mtn bike will provide him the tools for longer rides. But that's not my main goal right now. I want him to learn on a single speed and work on his basics. I'll put fatter knobbies on to help soak up some of the bumps and just let him rip around. He'll have a nicer bike than anyone else in the neighborhood anyway.
    I think your way of thinking will be great for him.

    Many of us got by for years riding our mtn bikes without suspension save for bigger tires and our arms and legs.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002
    Yikes. Good info to know.

    I was hoping to put a 1.75" in the front and a 1-3/8" in the rear. Thought that would be a good balance of low rolling resistance and good cushion.
    yeah, I was wondering if you knew that about 1-3/8" and 1-1/8" wheels - they are the only size tires to fit those hoops. You would have to go different wheels and clearance might then be an issue as well as brake fit.

    I reread your original post with him just turning 6 - I'd say go for a 16" or 18" BMX bike w/ wide tires. You can run lower PSI in them for off road and he'll get traction. Attached is a pic of my oldest riding a 16" General Lee at the Stowe Bike Park in VT. He was almost 9 when that picture was taken and was getting a little big on the bike but got a good 2 years on it.

    For his 9th B-Day I got him a 18" Premium based on the recommendation of Lil' Sean from Incline Club. Here's a vid of Lil Sean: http://www.vitalbmx.com/videos/featu...2512/Losey,112

    My son rode that 18" for 20 miles on a family ride in VT. I just raised the seat as high as it would go. He was itching to do more but I made him take the sweeper van due to traffic.

    It's a hard call as there is no real great general bikes for the little guys.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slyp Dawg
    I'd be tempted to find an appropriately sized 20" BMX race frame, then get a chain tensioner for a MTB that has integrated 51mm IS disk tabs on it, then get a mod trials fork and a single speed disk rear hub. keep it SS, but give your kid disk brakes, preferably hydros, 140mm rotor tops for the rear, but the front could go up to maybe a 160. parts wise, I'd go for a good set of short BMX cranks, an Odyssey MDS chainring (with the added bolt-on guard on the other side. bashwich), whatever rear cog you feel is necessary, and I'd personally stick the widest tire that'll fit in the chainstay yoke and the fork, just to give a bit of extra squish. may not be the lightest option, but if you get a set of disk brakes, when your kid outgrows the BMX frame you can transfer them over to the next bike. might be a bit more $$$ now, but the stopping power is nice and it'll be that much cheaper when he graduates to a larger frame
    I have to say, I think that might start making things pretty complicated not to mention expensive. A 20" race frame will most likely have a 110mm rear end. I don't know anyone making 110mm disk hubs off the top of my head - maybe NS, Profile, or Phil but I know it's not a common piece.

    Also, little kids have little hands and fingers so you have to watch what type of lever you are going with - forget hydros. I used Sinz's mini levers and had the set screw all the way in for my kids. Although you could use Avid mechanicals as they use v levers.

    And kids are light - they don't need much power to stop. Hell, a lot of us used stopped fine on our BMX bikes with crappy sidepull brakes way back when.

  32. #32
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    I got my son a BMX Mini Jr. for all around riding (when he was 6). He rides it on the bmx track and the singletrack. The headagle is a little steep for fast sigletrack but he's adapted pretty well to it. His bday is coming up so we've been looking at 24"mtb. BOY....... what a disappointment. I'm thinking he might get a expert mini (longer tt) for his bday and I'll build him a 24" mtb for the trails.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slyp Dawg
    I'd be tempted to find an appropriately sized 20" BMX race frame...
    Slyp Dawg,

    I like the way you think. I have a bunch of similar mod's planed for our BMX mini's. I figure my kids can run thm until they exceed th weight rating or frame cracks show up (!).

    However, I'm currently planning on sturmey archer drum hubs...

    Tom P.

  34. #34
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    BAF,

    I forgot about the more aggressive geometry of the race bmx bike. I guess my son will have to adapt to it. Hopefully I can pull the bars back a bit and see if I can put his weight back some. The rest will just be learning the ropes.

    Well I should be calling the LBS to order the Proline Mini. I'll have to order up a 1-3/8" tire for the front at least and then have the rear 14T sprocket swapped with a 16T and then we'll see how it goes from there. I wonder if I should see if they have TT and Stem pads?

    Hopefully this will work for him for several seasons until he can fit into a 26" bike. I figure my wife's 13" frame could fit someone just under 5' tall. The Mini is rated for 4'-6".

  35. #35
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    Well, took a look at the Scott Jr 24 one last time. They have a Jr20 but needs to be ordered.

    The 20 has 2 front cogs and 6 rear. But the small ring is still a 34. vs the 24 on the triple. In any case, the bike is about as heavy as my mountain bike. The forks seemed to be set up more for a 50lb rider vs a 150lb rider like the Norco bike.

    So I think it solidified my feeling. The lighter bmx bike with the right gearing should teach him how to ride trails, learn lines, and be more nimble with the bike. The Scott looked like you can just bash into things and go over it. And it's still a tank when you have to go uphill...

    The double V-brakes felt pretty good and seemed to have quite a bit of power though.

  36. #36
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    Ok, called up the LBS and ordered the Proline Mini in blue. They have 1-3/8" tires in stock as well as varying rear cog sizes.

    I'll take some pix once the bike comes in and my boy jumps on it.


  37. #37
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    So I picked up the bike this afternoon. A couple things I noticed.

    The tires that the bike came with are 1-1/8" race tires. They look like they are best suited for hard dirt or clay. Mind as well be asphalt. The knobs in the picture of the brochure are more like standard bmx tires.

    I ended up buying some 1-3/8" dirt/street tire. More squared blocks with some space for traction off road. Not a big difference in terms of air volume as I thought there would be.

    I did have the shop install a 16T vs the 14T it came with.

    Came home and put the 1-3/8" tires on. Removed all the reflectors and installed his bell from his old bike. Adjusted the bars a bit and adjusted his brake lever. And raised the seat a touch.

    The bike comes with a stem pad and top tube pad. Also a chain guard.

    In comparison to his 16" bike, the wheel base is a little longer. Also the reach from seat to bars is a bit longer. There is more ground clearance at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Of course the top is pretty tall too.

    The cranks are 145mm vs 110mm. The 16" bike has bigger front cog but also bigger rear cog. But smaller diameter wheels with 1.75" tires.

    So it'll be interesting how the first ride will go...

  38. #38
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    post up some pictures of the ride and have fun

  39. #39
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    I think that mini you ordered up for him is the ticket. I wish there was such a bike when I was starting out as a little guy. He'll enjoy it. Nice job, Dad .
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  40. #40
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    So here is a pic of Ryan's new bike next to his old bike, Major Pain.


    Here he is on his first try on the bike. The fit was a little awkward for him since he had to reach much further than before. Also, the bike tended to jerk around a bit because it was so light and responsive as he was learning the freewheel and handbrakes.


    Soon he was getting the hang of it. He was climbing up the grade in our neighborhood easily if he got out of the saddle. He was actually accelerating uphill. Time to go back to garage and grab some safety gear.



    So the bike fit pretty good. I had to drop the saddle back a touch to give him a little...room. He really got a kick out of how fast he can get going so quickly. He was even able to lock up the rear tires with the hand brakes.

    So I guess it'll just be a matter of practice, practice, practice. But I think he should have no problem tackling the trail we normally go on.

    So his bike is very fast. We'll have to see if it's comfortable enough for him to go on an hour ride.

  41. #41
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    Cool! Looks like he's having a blast. I'm amazed at how hard kid's can ride up hill. Or maybe i'm just always tired.

  42. #42
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    So we went for a ride to our normal loop. Again, about 2 miles road and 1 mile trail. Ryan did better this time. He made it 2/3 of the way up "the hill" until he had to get off of his bike and push again.

    One thing I noticed was how fast he could accelerate once he's going on the flats or on a slight uphill. Any kind of a hill and he'd get out of his seat and pound up to the top of the hill.

    Something else I observed. The bmx bike is ok for in the seat on level terrain. But any bit of a hill has him in an awkward position to put any power down. But he'd get out of the seat and quickly he's stepping forward pulling away from me.

    He was able to go through some muckier areas while out of saddle too. Areas where he would almost get off his bike.

    But we had a blast. I had a heck of time on my road bike with road pedals trying to through the same terrain. Between fenders and child seat, I could barely clip in and all the crud that got caught in the brakes and fenders...

    So some more pix:


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    awsome

    hey thats cool i did the same thing with my kids i bought a used junior sized bmx for daughter and ended up getting my son a scott scale 20 he climbs more hills whereas my daughter likes to ride more on the streets -bikepaths

  44. #44
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    Well, we've gone on 2 - 3mile rides to the "duck pond" with the new bike. The second time, he made it further up "the hill" than before. Looks like one more time and he should clear it.

    He did take three spills today. Two of them were related to slipping on the snow over a bridge and along the trail (yes, it was snowing on our ride today). The third he was riding along the rolled curb and he hit a wet storm drain and went down.

    He still likes riding and should be getting better and better each time. Now I have to go clean up his rims and brakes from all the mud.

    His only complaint is that his butt hurts. Yeah, if I sat on a hard plastic seat, I'd be hurting too.

  45. #45
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    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!
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  46. #46
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    Man, look at the concentration in your son's face. That is awesome.

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    Smile Cheers

    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002
    Man, look at the concentration in your son's face. That is awesome.
    Focus on the next obstacle, not the one you're on! He must have been watching my Dirt School DVD!

    Just got back from the first big ride on his mini, 10 miles. I had the little one, 3, on a tag along and at times was working very hard to keep up with him and his big sister.

    He did fine with the distance, the lack of gears wasn't an issue, the mini's gearing seems to sit somewhere in the middle of the 20" MTB's so there are times when he can't get the same top speed or finds a steep bit a bit hard (the difference in weight makes up for the lack of gears there) but in general he was fine. His acceleration is awesome.

  48. #48
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    Yeah, I know what you mean about the acceleration. Once he gets out of the saddle and start pounding away, he can easily pull away from me especially on a slight uphill.

    He still struggles a touch on the steeper climbs, but I can see that he's already getting stronger and making it farther up the hill.

  49. #49
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    My 7 year old Mountain bikes on his bmx bike. I ride both Mountain bike and BMX and started taking him to Alafia River State Park last year. He's a pretty skilled BMX racer and has been racing for 1&1/2 years and absolutely loves mountain biking. He's 4' tall and about 58 pounds and rides a Redline Flight mini both on the track and the trails. He doesn't have too much trouble evn with the black diamond trails at Alafia. He runs 38x14 at most tracks and I just swap the 14 to a 15 for the trails. The 1 1/8" tires don't seem to both him too much. I can't imagine having himout there on a 25 pound pig of a mountain bike with a cheap useless fork and gears that he can't use. I see no reason to get him on a mountain bike until he's at least 10-12 and can ride a real 26" bike.

  50. #50
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    Your boy must be pretty strong.

    I think Ryan is 3'-9" and 43#. He's pushing 36/16. (or is it a 38???)

    In any case, he cruises pretty good. I think the bike is a little too responsive for him now. But he's learning. He's started to go over downed branches and he'll hit a small root from time to time. He sees me veer off the path to do a little side cut or go over some bigger roots, so I'm sure he'll want to try more of that.

    I see him getting stronger with each ride and his reflexes getting better. I just need to keep his eyes on where he is going. He'll look at me or some feature and the next thing you know he's face down on the ground.

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