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  1. #1
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    Single-Speed Bike for Kids

    My son is 8 (almost 9) and a bit tall for his age. He's been riding his 24" geared MTB with me on beginner to intermediate singletrack for about a year and a half now. While he's not the fastest person on the trails (nor am I) he really loves to ride and will ask to ride 3 hours even if I am tired after 1.

    He told me the other day that he might want a SS bike for Christmas that he can ride on the trails. Honestly, I had been thinking one might be good for him (to get him standing up more), but had not mentioned it to him. I know he's aware that I really like to ride SS, but I promise I have not pressured him (or even mentioned it to him).

    While I'm happy about the idea, I'm not sure I want to spend a lot on a SS bike for him. I looked at the new 27.5 aluminum SS with 13 inch frame that Bikesdirect sells for $349, but would actually like something cheaper. I've looked for small 26er Monocogs, GT Peaces and Kona Units, but they are hard to find. I was wondering about a 20" BMX bike, but would like one that can run 2 brakes and knobby tires -- and would he need double-wall rims also?

    Would appreciate any thoughts anyone has about BMX bikes or other options that could handle intermediate-level singletrack (rocks, roots, few log-overs, etc.).

    EDIT: Yes, I know to some I am being a bit cheap, but I am also looking for his next geared bike with a decent fork, so I'm already looking at some $$$ there -- therefore I'm trying to keep the single-speed simple and cheap.
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  2. #2
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    In my experience with kids, they tend to think they'd like something, try and lose interest too many times to spend money before you know for sure.

    I'd take him for a ride, find the gearing that will closely match the SS and have him ride the trails a few times without shifting. Make sure it's still going to be fun before spending any money.
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  3. #3
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    TwoTone, that is good, solid advice. However, I am probably going to ignore it for several illogical reasons, including that I'd rather get him a bike than a bunch of other sedentary toys that he might want if the bike wasn't his main gift. Any thoughts on bikes that might work on the trails?
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  4. #4
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    Hm,...I think I'm a season behind you. Although my son has a 24" geared bike, it is way more gears than he needs. He likes having a granny gear and do 110rpms up the hill at walking pace. More to goof off than anything.

    My biggest problem has been cranks that are too long for 24" bike BB height and dealing with pedal strikes. But that's neither here nor there.

    Whether SS or not, sounds like you want him to have a 27.5" bike. You say he's a big 9y/o and I guess I don't know what that means. I got my son a 24" bike for his 10th birthday because I felt the 26" was too cumbersome for him. That he's just gonna pedal and steer...

    I'd say keep looking for that 26" monocog. They just want to have fun. And if are riding SS, then I'm sure that's what he'd like to ride too. They are still wanting to hang out with dad.

    I'd go away from BMX. My son was on it for a while. And it's fine. But that may be too much standing. Also, they should start learning how to use the front brakes too.

    I was actually thinking of converting my son's 24" from a 3x7 to a 1x6. Give him a range of gears that he can actually use and then simplify everythign else. So gonna be surfing the black fri sales... (actually, X7 grip shift (9sp) is like $8 and RD (9sp) for $45) at Pricepoint now. Then pick up a Hope SS hub and drop 6 cogs on it. Laced up to some better quality rims.

    ...gotta figure out what to do about his crankset though...

    sorry to ramble. But just some thoughts to consider.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002 View Post
    Hm,...I think I'm a season behind you. Although my son has a 24" geared bike, it is way more gears than he needs. He likes having a granny gear and do 110rpms up the hill at walking pace. More to goof off than anything.

    My biggest problem has been cranks that are too long for 24" bike BB height and dealing with pedal strikes. But that's neither here nor there.

    Whether SS or not, sounds like you want him to have a 27.5" bike. You say he's a big 9y/o and I guess I don't know what that means. I got my son a 24" bike for his 10th birthday because I felt the 26" was too cumbersome for him. That he's just gonna pedal and steer...

    I'd say keep looking for that 26" monocog. They just want to have fun. And if are riding SS, then I'm sure that's what he'd like to ride too. They are still wanting to hang out with dad.

    I'd go away from BMX. My son was on it for a while. And it's fine. But that may be too much standing. Also, they should start learning how to use the front brakes too.

    I was actually thinking of converting my son's 24" from a 3x7 to a 1x6. Give him a range of gears that he can actually use and then simplify everythign else. So gonna be surfing the black fri sales... (actually, X7 grip shift (9sp) is like $8 and RD (9sp) for $45) at Pricepoint now. Then pick up a Hope SS hub and drop 6 cogs on it. Laced up to some better quality rims.

    ...gotta figure out what to do about his crankset though...

    sorry to ramble. But just some thoughts to consider.

    Take a look at these, SRAM S600 MTB crankarms Shortened it's what I put on my son's 24.

    I also used hi to shorten the cranks on my daughters bike.

    I agree, thinking going to 26 too early is a bad thing.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by traffic002 View Post
    I'd say keep looking for that 26" monocog.
    Yes, I'd actually prefer a 26" small Monocog, Kona Unit, or GT Peace if I could find one, but they are not to be found on eBay or Craigslist -- that's why I was asking about BMX.

    Does anyone know any specific models of BMX that are front-brake ready and that have wheels that can withstand trail riding?
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    A BMX cruiser (24" wheeled bike) could work? They make smaller sizes like junior and expert for younger kids racing cruiser class. The two big drawbacks are going to be tire size and fork. Most frames are designed for 1 1/8-1 3/8 rims which are generally too narrow for trail riding. And no race fork is going to have front brake mounts, though you could change it for any fork that does. Also, it's going to always be a single speed with the 110mm rear hub spacing. I don't know if any company is offering a complete jr or expert cruiser right now? Most of these would be customs though you can find good deals used on CL or ebay.

    We have a Redline Flight expert cruiser. It's my 10yr old's race bike but backs up as my 7yr old's MTB. He'll kill it on smoother fast trails... Sometimes faster than his older brother on his XS 26", but he'll struggle when the trail gets steep or technical. Bouncing around on the little 1 1/8 tires. I bolted up a set of adult wheels (1.75 rims with 1.85 tires) and they fit fine. I believe Redline's expert is designed to use either mini or adult wheels. I was going to play with turning it into more of a MTB but never really had the energy. I think the reason he can do so well with it is that it only weighs 14.5lbs. Once you modify it, I think you'd be back up in the 20lb range and could get pricey.

  8. #8
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    Thanks DSweinhagen -- that's some good information that I needed. From looking at BMX bikes and thinking of swapping the front forks, I don't know that I'll end up much, if any, cheaper than either (1) making a 24" MTB into SS, or (2) sucking it up and buying the 13" frame 27.5" from Bikes direct for $349.

    I keep looking for a small 26" Monocog, Kona Unit, or GT Peace, but just not seeing any within 1000 miles or more.
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    So, if I decide to buy a Trek 220 or Specialized Hardrock 24 and convert to SS, does anyone know if those are cassette/freewheel?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeginnerCycling View Post
    Thanks DSweinhagen -- that's some good information that I needed. From looking at BMX bikes and thinking of swapping the front forks, I don't know that I'll end up much, if any, cheaper than either (1) making a 24" MTB into SS.
    Yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at... I think I got the Redline cruiser for $250 used which is about as cheap as you'll find one. I had $100+ into sorting a few things out. Then start figuring a wheelset and a fork...

    I just picked up a Trek 220 for $100 on CL and figure I'm better off spending money on that and leaving the race bike what it is. I think the 220 I got got is an '09 and has a freewheel so that'd be easy to replace with a SS one. I believe most these 24" bikes are freewheel? At least untill you get into the higher end ones.

    -David

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeginnerCycling View Post
    So, if I decide to buy a Trek 220 or Specialized Hardrock 24 and convert to SS, does anyone know if those are cassette/freewheel?
    A while ago, the hardrock we had was cassette. Don't know if that's still the case. I had a 20" before that with a low, low end cassette.

    A word of caution on the conversion, the chain tensioning is hit or miss without SS dropouts.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    A word of caution on the conversion, the chain tensioning is hit or miss without SS dropouts.
    Really? I thought you could either keep the derailer or use one of the spring loaded derailer-replacements in a conversion kit and that would take care of the tensioning?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeginnerCycling View Post
    Really? I thought you could either keep the derailer or use one of the spring loaded derailer-replacements in a conversion kit and that would take care of the tensioning?
    You are right! I completely forgot about that gadget.

  14. #14
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    So, after much debate and searching, we finally found a 12" frame old Raleigh M20 with 26" wheels. Nice thing about the frame is it has semi-horizontal dropouts, so should be able to do a tight-chain SS conversion without the need for a chain tensioner. Grip shifts can come off without having to replace the brake levers. Should be a cool, low-budget conversion. Here's the bike now:

    Single-Speed Bike for Kids-raleigh-m20-ebay.jpg
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  15. #15
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    My son turns 13 on New Years day and really wants a SS bike as well. We ride single track and double track, but not really the fastest out there but he loves it so far.

    He has ridden my 90's stumpjumper SS and loves it even though it is big for him. I picked him up a 1995 Rockhopper Comp a1 FS for $30 off of craigslist. Paint was pealing but the components were working great and the MAG 21 fork is in perfect shape. I watched for sales these past 2 months and have almost everything I need to put it together except for figuring out the magic gear. I will have around around $125 into it fully rebuilt. The weight should be right around 21 lbs when we are all done. This is a present from my youngest son to my oldest son for Christmas. They are giving each other bikes the built for Christmas so they get to pick out the parts and colors themselves. Should be interesting when its all together. I will post some pics.

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