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  1. #1
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    What to do with kids that want to race downhill...

    I've been riding downhill with my 9 year old son for about two years. We've got a new build project underway that is the culmination of two years of experimenting trying to find and/or build bikes that will work for him. Our experiment started with attempts to ride our XC bikes down the intermediate trails at Snowshoe. (Mine with the seat still jacked up!). In the rain. It wasn't pretty.

    If there is interest...I'll put some energy into discussing what we've learned going from rentals, to his own Stinky 24, to a small SX Trail, to this project. Any guesses!?What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-image.jpg

  2. #2
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    how was the stinky? I've got a line on a used 2009 in good condition for my 9 year old to ride downhill here in northern utah. Is the weight an issue on that thing?

  3. #3
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    The Stinky 24 was a good bike for giving things a try. It had all the basics that you need to get a good feel for riding at a bike park, or any place with lift assist or shuttles to get you to the top. It is not a good fit for places with lots of pedaling uphill. We went from the Stinky to the SX Trail when he progressed to the point where his speed exceeded the ability of the 100mm dirt jump fork to provide a manageable ride. I ran low psi to keep the ride as smooth as possible. But when he got to the point I had to start ramping Psi up to keep him from pinch flatting I knew it was time for a change. The spring rate is very high for a small rider.

  4. #4
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    With a real-deal DH bike his skills are progressing very fast. On this new XS Demo, there are trail types and conditions that he goes as fast as I do. I ride competitively in CAT2 age 40-49. I feel sure that 80 pound kids are able to fully leverage the advantages of a proper DH frame geometry and tuned suspension.

  5. #5
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    A lot of good Kids DH bike build info here:
    Kids DH bike
    ELEVATE CYCLES | FTW FACTORY RACING | ODI | NEMA | 661| AZONIC | SPY

  6. #6
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    My 7 year old is really stoked about DH riding, but hes only ever really done it at speed (paced him at 27.5MPH verified by my Garmin GPS) on loose gravelly fireroads, I believe the grade at the fastest point was around 23%. Hes riding a hardtail 20" setup (I built it up for him) so he can learn early on about shifting his weight fore/aft to get the weight distribution correct for the conditions, and eventually well get him on a full-suspension setup. Hes got all the necessary gear (shin, elbow, wrist, and full-face helmet) for fireroads, but Im considering getting him some full-body (front and back of torso as well as thigh/hip) protection. Hes just too stoked to let er rip down the hills. Im trying to gradually get him to get the downhill speed up, but I think I may be slowing him down a bitparental paranoia perhaps. Weve been working on rocky/loose/boulder-riddled singletrack descents as well, and I am happy that he is apprehensive (read: using his brain) in letting off the brakes so soon. Bike is capable of so much more, and I am in no hurry to rush him to a hospital visit.
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  7. #7
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    I personally found that racing BMX helped my almost 6 year old with downhill. He has learned good position including standing over obstacles at speed and is now beginning to pump a bit to keep momentum. He actually got air last night on the 1st jump off the start hill, but on the 2nd run he did the same and blew off his pedals. No crash though!
    ELEVATE CYCLES | FTW FACTORY RACING | ODI | NEMA | 661| AZONIC | SPY

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker View Post
    My 7 year old is really stoked about DH riding... but Im considering getting him some full-body (front and back of torso as well as thigh/hip) protection.
    Finding good gear for little folks is tough. One of the hardest things is good elbow/forearm guards. My 9 year old son is 83 pounds and about 57" tall. I do have one of the Troy Lee Youth Upper Body Protection - 7855 and it keeps the elbow pads in position nicely. So that product has a couple advantages in that it provides chest, shoulder and back protection along with elbow and forearms and it keeps all of the pads in the right places so they stay put when needed. It is a bit hot when temps climb in to the 80's. Alternative options for chest and shoulder are the roost guards made for MX riding - those are available in small sizes and don't seem to heat him up as much.

    For knees: I have my son in TLD 5450 for knee/shin protection. I have the upper elastic band sewn with a bit of slack taken out - otherwise they don't work well for folks whose thighs just above the knee are still small.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mac View Post
    A lot of good Kids DH bike build info here:
    Kids DH bike
    I started contributing on that thread - good contribution from folks on that one

  10. #10
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    This is what my 9 year old is riding this season...

    I have to believe I can get 3 good years or more out of this bike, and will plan to upgrade to 26" wheels next year.What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-xs-demo.jpgWhat to do with kids that want to race downhill...-xs-demo-cockpit.jpg

  11. #11
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    My 9 year old has been bitten by the downhill bug. He desperately wants to get a full DH bike, but with having gotten him a Santa Cruz Nickel (which is set up now with 140mm front and rear) and a hardtail a few months ago, I told him he is going to have to wait a year. The Nickel is working surprising well with him really enjoying gypsy and livewire at Northstar.

    I on the other hand went out and bought a used Norco because I couldn't take the pounding riding on my trail bike.

    What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-img_0513.jpg
    What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-img_0496.jpg
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  12. #12
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    Update on this XS Demo Project

    Hi Folks,
    I have been reviewing my game plan for 2015 to support my 11yo son's riding & racing, and though I would chime back in on this thread. The tentative plan is to go in to 'year 3' on his XS Demo. He is about 95 pounds, a bit under 5' tall, and I still consider him a 'kid' even though I know he'll be faster than I am this year.

    2014 saw a couple key changes: 1) we found a new product you might want to know about - 155mm cranks from Canfield Brothers. Frankly, that shorter crank was the missing piece in our 'downsizing' efforts. 2) Now on the 26" wheels, we moved him to DH casing tires because single ply EXO Maxxis DHF 3c's could not keep at an optimal psi (for traction). If your kid is riding fast - don't bother trying to save weight with single plys - it probably is not the best choice.

    By the end of 2014, he was blowing through rear travel on his Van RC that I had the folks at Avalanche tune for his riding weight and capability in 2013. The difference between 9yo at 85lbs. and a 10yo at 93lbs. was surprising. So for 2015 we are moving to a Cane Creek Double Barrel and that should work fine. See you around!

  13. #13
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    So I'll provide some pics of the current build. I recommend parents keep their eye open for the 26" DH bikes coming on the used market - there might be some good buys out there.

    This will end up being Ben's 2015 bike - which makes his third year on it. He is 11 now, about 5' tall and a bit over 100 pounds now. I'm not expecting him to grow out of it this year.

    Key components that make it 'work' for a little rider:
    1) the XS Demo geometry gives confidence at speed and when it's steep , but has great stand over, reach, and stack.
    2) custom tuned suspension for the 85 - 100 lbs size/weight range
    3) Canfield negative stem to keep the bars low
    4) Canfield 155mm cranks
    5) Stans Flow lightweight rims to keep rotating weight low as possible without the high cost of carbon.

    Really looking forward to Ben hammering down some trails on this. In 2015 we are going to Cane Creek for rear shock, and I'll be putting in a Charger damper to replace the custom tuned damper from his fork. He has outgrown the suspension we had tuned for him at 85 pounds.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-image.jpg  

    What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-image.jpg  

    What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-image.jpg  

    Last edited by oldranger; 02-15-2015 at 07:20 PM.

  14. #14
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    P.S. If anyone is following this topic and wants our Avalanche tuned Van RC 9.5x3 let me know. Well give it away for the cost of shipping.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What to do with kids that want to race downhill...-image.jpg  


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