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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.

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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
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  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.

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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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    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.

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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.

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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...

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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 .
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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.

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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

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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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    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.

  51. #51
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    I started racing BMX in california when I was 10 and moved to florida and won the florida state championship when I was 12, once I turned 14 I started riding and racing mountain bikes (proflex, marin, specialized). I was winning races against guys twice my age. I owed it to my BMX skills. I am now 30 and just getting back into mtbing. (and I still have the skills )

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by countryman
    I started racing BMX in california when I was 10 and moved to florida and won the florida state championship when I was 12, once I turned 14 I started riding and racing mountain bikes (proflex, marin, specialized). I was winning races against guys twice my age. I owed it to my BMX skills. I am now 30 and just getting back into mtbing. (and I still have the skills )
    I never raced bmx bikes. But did the typical ride a bmx bike till I could drive thing.

    Closing in on 40y/o, I joined a mountain bike group that rides over the winter twice a week.

    My legs and lungs are lagging compared to the group. But in terms of skill level, I'm actually towards the front of the pack. I too credit BMX riding as a kid to develop the fundatmental skills of bike control.

    Then I rode motorcycles through valley roads as well as taking my MR2 to lapping days at the race track. That helped the whole managing traction and choosing the best lines aspect.

    Now to builld the legs and lungs...coming...slowly...

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDiamond-1
    Dude, any six year old can get air on a BMX
    I was reading this thread thinking the same thing. When I was between 6-7 yrs old, I was the youngest boy in the block. That meant I did stuff the older boys did too.

    We used to build ramps taller than me to jump off. This was of course when Evil Knivel was a big star, so by 8 yrs old I was jumping over people.

  54. #54
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    Found this thread, and since I am currently looking to get my son (6 in a couple months) a new bike, I have been trying to find the perfect bike.

    I like the mini bmx race bikes for their light weight, but their skinny tires don't inspire confidence for mountain biking. And, of course, all the mountain bike-style kids bikes with gears and useless front suspension that weigh a ton aren't very appealing either.

    But, I think I found what I am looking for. Gary Fisher makes the PreCaliber SS - aluminum frame, single speed, front and rear v-brakes looks like it will fit the bill. Anyone with any experience with this bike? I'm hoping it weighs in the 20lbs range rather than the 25-30 lbs range like most other mountain bike-style kids bikes.

    The only other manufacturer that I could find that makes something similar is Trek, who own Gary Fisher Bikes. Kinda sucks, because I work in a shop which carries Giant and Haro, but unless I went with a mini from Haro, nothing from either company seems to really come close. Oh, well, over to my competitor to see the Fisher.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDiamond-1
    Hey Jwiffle,

    Not tying to change your mind about the Fisher, but check these MTB's out:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...=38479&eid=164

    I have had many friends with both the Fisher and one of these Specialized HotRocks, and the HotRock won out by far. They are light, definitely under 26 lbs. and a much stronger & reliable frame that he can grow into. I was going to get my son the 24" HotRock a year ago, but chose to go full bore FR/DH instead due to his fast paced FR skills. His FR MTB now has 6" travel all around and will also fit 26" tires when he is ready for the larger size. Anyway, I wish you the best and hope you find what your kid needs and will make him happy.
    Yeah, I had seen the Specialized. I can get a similar bike from Giant that I could purchase with my employee discount, but I'm turned off by the gears and suspension. I'm not sure my son is ready for gears, and the suspension forks on these little bikes seem to do little more than add unnecessary weight. The trails I take him on currently don't really require suspension or gears (I ride my rigid ss Karate Monkey when I take him). But I may rethink it. Thanks for the input!

    One day I hope he might be able to do some of the stuff your son is, but that's aways off. Pretty cool for a kid to be hitting that drop!
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    I like the mini bmx race bikes for their light weight, but their skinny tires don't inspire confidence for mountain biking.
    The "skinny" tires work just fine for real mountain biking.

    A BMX Mini is a much, much better choice than the tanks that pass for "mountain bikes" for kids that age.

    Do your kid a favor, skip the lame MTB tanks and get him shredding on a BMX Mini.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplexity
    The "skinny" tires work just fine for real mountain biking.

    A BMX Mini is a much, much better choice than the tanks that pass for "mountain bikes" for kids that age.

    Do your kid a favor, skip the lame MTB tanks and get him shredding on a BMX Mini.
    The funny thing is that to a 6y/o a 20" bmx bike is like a 29-er...no maybe a 32-er for the boy. He can roll over a lot of stuff pretty easily due to his light weight and the light weight of the bike and relatively large diameter wheels for the weight.

    I find the skinny tires to not be much of an issue. Again, just remember the bike weighs 16lbs and the boy weighs 45lbs. Imagine him on a 25lb mtn bike. That'd be like me at 165lbs riding a 90lb bike!!!

    So scaled down to his weight. Those 1-3/8" tires are probably like 3" tires to us.

  58. #58
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    Love this thread. Today, My daughter is off her training wheels.

    She knew that when she could ride without training wheels, she could get a dirt bike to go riding with me. She loves MTB, watches Roam, Between The Tape, Earthed, NWD as much as I do.

    So the battle between the kids MTB or a BMX starts. Good info in this thread.

    While we decide, she continues to rock the electra cruiser

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    my son is 5 and just got his training wheels off last week, and just yesterday became able to start off and stop by himself... which is nice because dad was never much of a jogger lol. i gave him my old bmx bike. its a 1999 haro backtrails x3 20"(mint). its a tad big for him and the cranks are too long but its something he can grow into. actually something that should last him quite a few years if he takes care of it(which ill try to make sure he does) kids at that age just need a bmx bike in my mind... so now hes got a bike, and just bought my wife a raleigh 5.0 and put a baby seat on it for my daughter, so now we can all go riding as a family this year.

  60. #60
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    Update.

    I went ahead and purchased the Fisher PreCaliber SS. Just got it today. Seems very nice. It's got some decent mountain bike tires, decent width-2.0"-and actually a nice tread! The Giants and Haros I am used to seeing have the same cheap tread as low-end entry level hardtails that are supposed to work in the dirt and on the road, but work for neither. This tread seems like it will work in the dirt very well.

    The weight is pretty decent, too. 19.9 lbs on the digital scale (with wheel reflectors and pants guard installed - my son wouldn't let me remove them! He watched me build the bike and since they were preinstalled insisted on having them-he didn't notice me not install the front and rear reflectors ) So the weight is decent, only a few pounds heavier than a mini, and a lot lighter than most of the suspended gearies.

    I think this will work nicely for him. I can update in a few months after he's gotten some real ride time on it.
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    That's a good looking bike. Also with 2.0 tires, I'm sure it'll roll over a lot of obstacles.

    I find the chain guard useful since the kids like to just jump on and go regardless of what pants they are wearing.

    Does it have a freewheel? I like the front and rear brake setup. And at under 20lbs should be a great bike.


  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002
    That's a good looking bike. Also with 2.0 tires, I'm sure it'll roll over a lot of obstacles.

    I find the chain guard useful since the kids like to just jump on and go regardless of what pants they are wearing.

    Does it have a freewheel? I like the front and rear brake setup. And at under 20lbs should be a great bike.
    Yes, it does have a freewheel, and a fairly high quality one at that. Easily removeable and replaceable unlike some.

    He took it for his first riding today. Hit some easy singletrack on it, does great. He's made the switch to hand brakes pretty well already, although I'm going to have to work on him using the front brake as well, as he seems to favor the rear (I think just because it's in his right hand - I have never put the scare of front brakes into him).

    Overall, so far so good, and a nice little mountain bike.
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    I would take it easy with the front brake.

    I like the fact that my son experiments with skidding the rear tire with the brakes. But I don't know that he'd be able to do threshold braking with the front if you know what I mean.

    He goes down enough as it is.

  64. #64
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    Great thread. I'm trying to figure out where to go next with my 6.5 year old. He's definitely outgrown the 16" Hotrock that I bought for him a couple of years ago. When I put him on the bigger bikes, they seem too big for him though.

    He's gaining some confidence at the dirt jumps near the house and I'm afraid a leap to a bigger bike will rock that. Decisions, decisions...




  65. #65
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    after a day I trying out bikes, we went with 20" specialized hotrock. (coaster and hand break, single speed, rigid fork) not too heavy, and she is really comfy on it. We tried bmx and monies, cranks too long, and top tube too long
    For her, she was really stretched out and didn't like it.

  66. #66
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    So some observations with my son on his Redline mini:

    1. The 20" rims are like 29-ers to us. Can roll over bigger obstacles easier.
    2. The longer wheelbase adds further stability
    3. The light weight lets him really go fast. Almost too fast.

    The downside.

    1. It's still very responsive bike. Watch out. If he doesn't pay attention, he can find himself on the ground.
    2. Limited tire size. Wish he could run fatter tires. It's fine for what he's doing, but I always wonder if fatter tires would be more comfy.

    For your little guy that seems to really like the dirt and possible jumping, it would be no problem. Except, as he gets bigger and stronger, the aluminum tubing may not handle abuse as well as a chromoly bike.

  67. #67
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    Great thread, thanks for posting your experience. My oldest girl turns 7 next week and this Saturday we are going to a LBS to pick out a new mountainbike. She talks about it constantly and can not wait to ride the trails that so far, she has only got to hike on. She rides her pink Electra around the house all the time, which she refers to as her "roadbike" and considering that I ride a rigid SS, I do not think she really cares if her new "mountainbike" has gears and a suspension fork. Throw in the fact that several of our local trails are relatively flat and I think some type of BMX or mini might be worth looking at.

    Brian

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy
    Great thread. I'm trying to figure out where to go next with my 6.5 year old. He's definitely outgrown the 16" Hotrock that I bought for him a couple of years ago. When I put him on the bigger bikes, they seem too big for him though.

    He's gaining some confidence at the dirt jumps near the house and I'm afraid a leap to a bigger bike will rock that. Decisions, decisions...
    Brandy, you may have fixed it by now, but I just want to point out that your son's helmet will do him little good in a crash with the straps so loose. It will come right off his head. Tighten the piece where the two straps by the ear connect so that the piece is just below the ear lobe, and tighten the strap under the chin so that you can only fit a finger or two underneath. Helmet should not be able to move around.

    As for your question, I say get him a 20". He definitely looks big enough, and even if he is a little timid of the size at first, he will very, very quickly get used to it. My son, after just a ride or two, is quite comfortable on his new 20" mtb.
    Stop in at Element Sports. www.elementsport.com
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  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDiamond-1
    I know you mentioned you had him try out the larger bikes. Did you try him out on a 18" or 20" on varies build bikes like Trek, Specialized, Fisher, Giant, Haro, etc.??
    We had him on my older son's 20" and he just felt really unstable. I know part of it is a confidence thing, so it will take time to adjust to the bigger bike. I'm looking at a couple of options...either the http://www.sebikes.com/Race/MiniRipper.aspx or the SE Ripper Jr.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    Brandy, you may have fixed it by now, but I just want to point out that your son's helmet will do him little good in a crash with the straps so loose. .
    New helmet on his noggin now. He fought me so much with that one and complained every time I tightened it and then would loosen the straps the second I wasn't looking. It actually just hit the dumpster this morning.

  71. #71
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    Did 17 miles this afternoon with the kids, my 8yo was on her 20" MTBalike, my 6yo old his Kuwahara mini and the 4yo was on a trailer bike with me. My daughter was fine on the MTB but her brother looked much more comfortable and much more left in his legs over the last 3 miles on his mini. At one point he just came out of the saddle and hammered it, his big sister had to work really hard in top gear to stop him getting away.

    Simplify and add lightness - Colin Chapman

  72. #72
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    Great feedback!!

    I agree that with kids, just having something simple and light works very well. They are very adaptable. IMHO, I think we want to buy geared and suspended bikes for our children because that's what we ride. However, it doubles the weight of the bike and they are waaaaay more resilient than us.

    A light bike geared for the terrain will do wonders for them.

  73. #73
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    My kids (8 & 10) just cranked a 10-miler yesterday.
    Rollin.jpg

    What a blast! Mixed conditions - water, mud, singletrack, mini-DH's - kept them motivated. I was blown when they would grind up the hills. Post ride re-cap, they were totally stoked and ready to roll next weekend. It was really cool to notice one had pulled ahead while we were talking, then the other would break away to chase him down. They each picked their own jersey two summers ago - TDF junkies!

    Tom P.

  74. #74
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    My 7 year daughter is about the same size and she does great on her Specialized Hot Rock...its got 6 gears and she climbs great with it. By the looks of the pictures he is ready to start ripping! I can guarantee that my little one will be making this a life long sport if not career.

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank
    My kids (8 & 10) just cranked a 10-miler yesterday.
    Rollin.jpg

    What a blast! Mixed conditions - water, mud, singletrack, mini-DH's - kept them motivated. I was blown when they would grind up the hills. Post ride re-cap, they were totally stoked and ready to roll next weekend. It was really cool to notice one had pulled ahead while we were talking, then the other would break away to chase him down. They each picked their own jersey two summers ago - TDF junkies!

    Tom P.
    That is so awesome!

    I need to post up some recent pix too.

    My 6y/o is doing well on his bmx. My 2.7 y/o daughter is starting to really get comfortable with her Like A Bike. They chase each other around the cul-de-sac all the time. They were so impressed with my son's ability to jump on a pedal bike after the glide bike that they are buying one for their son.

  76. #76
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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.

  77. #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.

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


  79. #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.

  80. #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.

  81. #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.

  82. #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...

  83. #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.

  84. #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.

  85. #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.

  86. #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.

  87. #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.

  88. #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.)?

  89. #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.

  90. #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!

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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.

  92. #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!

  93. #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.

  94. #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.

  95. #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

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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.

  97. #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!!

  98. #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...

  99. #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.
    anything Steel

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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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