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  1. #1
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    Shock or rigid front fork for kids 24" mtb

    I've been trainging my kids up the last couple of years for some mountain biking. We started them on easy trials with 16" tires and moved up to 20" as soon as we could. It made a huge difference. Now I'd like to move them both (6 & 8 yrs old) up to 24" bike tire. We've been taking them on some pretty difficult trails so its not just riding around the block. They do great on their little 20" bmx bikes, but I know the bigger 24" tire would really roll nicer.

    My question is, how much do the front shocks weigh on a kids bike and is it worth the extra weight. I've weighed a couple bikes at local bike shops and was appalled that a kids 24" bike weights 30lbs when my 29er comes in at 27lbs. Thats a lot of weight for a 40lb kid to move around. The most trouble they have on the trails currently is getting to the top of the hill. So thats why I question the shock. It seems they add a good 2lbs from what I recall.

    I'd really like to keep the bike as light as possible, I want riding to be fun. Not a chore to drag the bike up the hill. So I've been looking at bikes with rigid forks and 1x gear setups to keep things simple.

    Also, I noticed when I recently switched my bike from full rigid to front suspension, it was a lot more difficult to do wheelies and things. Would it be easier for kids to learn some of the basic skills with a rigid front fork?

    So what do you guys say. Rigid or shocks for kids leaning mtb skills?

  2. #2
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    Your average 24" kids suspension fork is very heavy (>2kg) and performs badly. There are a few air sprung options in 24" but if you use/build a 24" disc front wheel then I'd recommend using an older SID. I've used a 1999 SID SL and a 2007 SID Race with my kids' 24" bikes and the axle-to-crown measurements on the older SIDs in 63mm or 80mm mode are very close to what the 24" 60mm forks are, so the geometry/handling is not adversely affected.

    As to whether your kids need suspension or not, I only added suspension forks to my kids' bikes when they started complaining of hand cramps. The forks helped alot to make riding where we ride a bit more comfortable.

  3. #3
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    I'll 2nd running an older Sid 26" fork on a 24" bike. We ride mostly technical terrain with alot of wet roots, so front suspension makes a big difference, especially having an air fork like the older Sid's with external rebound damping adjuster. There are finally 24" air forks available, but they are heavy compared to something like a Sid Race carbon that my son runs at 1270 grams.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Shock or rigid front fork for kids 24" mtb-img_0328.jpg  


  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies. It sounds like my first impressions are correct. Kids shocks are heavy and perform poorly. From what I have read so far, I think I would prefer to get an aluminum framed bike with an aluminum fork and purchase a better shock later if needed.

    I saw some good articles on that faqload.com page I'll have to read. Do most 26" forks work with a 24" bike? It seems like it could be hard to find those 2 specific old shocks. It also seems like it would be harder to spend $200 for a shock to put on a $300 bike. But I might be able to find some other 26" shocks too. I'll be having to build 2 bikes and I'd like to keep both light and both similar. So they may just use the aluminum fork until the grow into a small frame 26" bike.

  5. #5
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    If you're running disc wheels, then almost any fork will work but you will want to keep the axle-to-crown distance similar to what the frame was designed for (otherwise, you could adversely affect the handling). For v-brake wheels, you will need a fork with v-brake bosses and a home made adapter to drop the brake mounts so they line up with the smaller 24" rim braking track. There are many of the older SIDs getting around as they made that type from 1998 to 2007. Some have better/more tunable dampers, but they are almost all light weight and user serviceable with readily available spare parts.

  6. #6
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    If you want to stay with (lighter) V-brakes, it is possible to shorten some older 26" forks to work with 24" wheels. Less expensive and lighter weight than any 24" OEM fork;
    Suspension fork shortening

  7. #7
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    I've been at the same dilemma a couple of years ago and decided to get an air fork (24" RST First Air). However, very soon I recognized that for my son any front suspension just doesn't worth the added weight penalty. Certainly all kids are different and so on, but for him personally a rigid carbon fork is way better. He has had strong cycling background in BMX and liked pedaling out of the saddle at that time, BTW. Since your kids do great on bmx either, I wouldn't exclude they might like a rigid fork better too.
    One tipp: a short 26" rigid fork + 26" wheel gives the same front end height (geometry) as a suspension 24" fork + 24" wheel. Our setup now is: PZ Racing A1FK fork (387 mm axle-to-crown, available on chainreactioncycles) and 26" Mavic 717 with Schwalbe NobbyNic, frame "Superior" for 24" wheels.

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't say my kids are good at BMX. They can't even pull the front wheel off the ground. Thats just the style of bike they are riding. But I do see your point that a rigid fork will give a lower standover height.

    From everything I have seen here I am more confident than ever that a rigid fork will be the best solution. Now I just need to find the bike.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo1 View Post
    I wouldn't say my kids are good at BMX. They can't even pull the front wheel off the ground. Thats just the style of bike they are riding. But I do see your point that a rigid fork will give a lower standover height.

    From everything I have seen here I am more confident than ever that a rigid fork will be the best solution. Now I just need to find the bike.
    Only you can decide, my son love having an air fork on his, but he is jumping and landing to flat etc.. Not huge jumps, but it does take the edge off. Also we're on the east coast, so lots of roots, rocks, an air fork helps settle out all that trail chatter for him.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Only you can decide, my son love having an air fork on his, but he is jumping and landing to flat etc.. Not huge jumps, but it does take the edge off. Also we're on the east coast, so lots of roots, rocks, an air fork helps settle out all that trail chatter for him.
    Oh yeah, if I could find one with a nice air fork I would be interested. Or maybe adding an old SID or something later as we discussed.

    I meant I prefer a fixed aluminum fork to the cheap Suntours you see on everything. Around here all you see are the cheap and heavy susp forks. I would be interested in something with the RST First Air. Or changing out to an old SID later. Correct me if I am wrong, but from my understanding, it seems that no suspension is better than those cheap and heavy forks.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo1 View Post
    Oh yeah, if I could find one with a nice air fork I would be interested. Or maybe adding an old SID or something later as we discussed.

    I meant I prefer a fixed aluminum fork to the cheap Suntours you see on everything. Around here all you see are the cheap and heavy susp forks. I would be interested in something with the RST First Air. Or changing out to an old SID later. Correct me if I am wrong, but from my understanding, it seems that no suspension is better than those cheap and heavy forks.
    The Cannondale Race 24 is a decent option, you get an Air fork on a $500 bike. Considering the air forks are around $200.
    It's what I picked up for my daughter. I went with a Marin Bayview for my son and upgraded to an air fork.

    Different children with different skill levels and needs.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

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