Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups

FAT BIKES

WINTER APPAREL

TRAINERS

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  1. #1
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    WHen to ditch Coaster brake?

    I have a 5.5 and 4y.o. boys. They are on 12" and 16" hotrocks now. 5.5 y.o. could probably get a 20" soon/now. Any reason to do the 20" hotrock coaster? or just go to hand brakes with single speed.

    The 4y.o. is just on the 12" hotrock from balance bike. His panic mode is to take feet off pedals so I'm thinking a 14" Spawn with handbrakes might be better.

    Gears or not are the next question.
    THanks
    Derek

  2. #2
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    I've been researching the same questions for my almost 6 year old. After lots of reading and talking to area shops, I've decided on hand breaks only (goodbye coaster) and gears, suspension is overkill but seems that most bikes that offer handbreaks and gears also come with a front suspension. I started out planning to get the HotRock 20 but it's heavy compared to some of the other options so I'm still debating.

  3. #3
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    We are on the same mission. We went to buy the Hotrock 20 coaster. Then it came up over 22lbs. on the scale. We left.

    My short list:
    Scott Scale Jr. (put a rigid fork on it for now?)
    Islabikes Beinn
    Spawn Savage 1.0
    lil' shredder Icon with rigid fork $$$ (justified(?) with lil' bro getting the hand me down)
    Hotrock Street with more grippy tires.
    Trek Superfly 20

    My other thought is to get a BMX race bike and put a short crank on it. The issue I see with that is the BB is too high.(maybe) Sitting and pedaling isn't possible as a stock miniBMX that is for sure.

  4. #4
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    My son rode coasters from April-Dec 2014 on a Hotrock 12 and whatever the Novara 16" is called. He switched to hand brakes when we got him a Cleary Hedgehog for Christmas and he took right to them with no problems. He turned 5 a few weeks later in January. In retrospect, he probably would have been fine on hand brakes from the start.

    Coasters suck. They are super heavy and don't roll for crap, and mixing up a rear coaster and front handbrake seems unnecessarily confusing.

  5. #5
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    My 9yo has a BMX bike with hand brakes. My 6yo has a cheap bike with coasters, as does my 5yo.

    When I was looking into this myself, I came to the conclusion that I was over thinking it. When my kids grow out of the cheap bikes, they get upgraded to a real bike (hand brakes and all). They will adapt and have fun - which is what we really want anyway.

    But - My kids first bikes weren't expensive. Just cheapo $50-$70 deals since I expected the bikes to get thrashed pretty quickly (and I was right). They enjoyed them all the same.

  6. #6
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    My kid got v brake studs welded on his Strider at 2yo. At 4yo he started pedaling a 14" Spawn Furi, with hand brakes front and rear. He's got them dialed, never had a coaster brake, spoiled kid! He will probably move onto a 16" Spawn mid summer.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow View Post
    At 4yo he started pedaling a 14" Spawn Furi, with hand brakes front and rear. He's got them dialed, never had a coaster brake, spoiled kid! He will probably move onto a 16" Spawn mid summer.
    Thinking of skipping the coaster as well for my 3.5yr old after watching my 5yr old finding the limits of a coaster way earlier than I expected. I think several of his crashes can be attributed to the coaster, such as when he land a jump wrong or catches a pedal and it locks up. Plus he can't control steep trail descents well from a rear brake.

    So how old/tall is your son that he is done with the 14" Furi. My boy lasted 3 weeks on a 12" at 3yrs old before comfortably going 16", but she's smaller than him.

  8. #8
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    my younger daughter really stepped up her riding last summer, when she was 3.5. She was riding a 16" coaster brake hotrock, but struggling with the brake. We got her a 16' Isla, which had coaster rear and v-brake on the front.
    Isla bikes have a great v-brake lever, that even that tiny hand could operate with 2 fingers and stop. She never really got the hang of the coaster brake.
    This spring she moved up to 20" bikes. I pulled down her big sister's old 20" coaster hotrock and let her ride it. With just rear brakes (coaster and V) she sinply couldn't stop. rear wheel just skids.
    I never had this experinece with my older daughter, but this one rips a bit faster down the hills!
    So, we are on to the 20" Islabikes, V-brakes front and rear, and gears. I was on the fence about gears for a 4 year old, but I could get the Islabike used, and wanted a front brake as well as a rear.

    So my recomendation, the best time to ditch the coaster brake? Before they ever touch it. It just makes it harder to learn to ride, since they can't ratchet the pedals as the wobble around.
    After that, I wouldn't want a BMX race bike since they only have a rear brake, not enough stopping power on hills. If you live in a flat spot, no problem.

    Make sure the hand brakes are adjusted properly, reach adjust turned in so they can actually reach the lever and squeeze it while holding on to the grips.

  9. #9
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    20 inch is the perfect time to ditch the coaster. Worked for both of my kids.

    One thing I did do was put a rear hand brake on the 16 so could practice while having the coaster as a bake up
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  10. #10
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    I have a 14" Furi on order for the 4 y.o. I tried to get a Trek Superfly 20" for the 5 y.o. but out of stock until June1. Durn!! LBS is calling rep to try and source one for me. I plan to put the cheaper Trek crank with the two positions on it to shorten length until he gets bigger. The Spawn 20" might be another option. hunting for 20" rigid, gears, handbrakes, LIGHT. THanks.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by apxfndr View Post
    I tried to get a Trek Superfly 20" for the 5 y.o. but out of stock until June1.
    I was looking around for this bike today too and got the same answer from my LBS's. Why did you decide to go for the Superfly over the Islabike? Price seems pretty much the same and from what I can tell the Isla is the lighter, superior bike? Interested in your thoughts.

  12. #12
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    Coasters are suposidly there for safety, but they dont help the kid to kearn to pedal.
    They cant move pedals to correct position when starting and the wrong (natural) movement causes back wheel to lock up.
    Suggest that adults try these things as if thy did they would dissapear quick.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aldsw View Post
    I was looking around for this bike today too and got the same answer from my LBS's. Why did you decide to go for the Superfly over the Islabike? Price seems pretty much the same and from what I can tell the Isla is the lighter, superior bike? Interested in your thoughts.
    I was looking to support the LBS. Isla will probably be what I get if the Trek is out that far.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by griffter18 View Post
    Coasters are suposidly there for safety, but they dont help the kid to kearn to pedal.
    They cant move pedals to correct position when starting and the wrong (natural) movement causes back wheel to lock up.
    Suggest that adults try these things as if thy did they would dissapear quick.
    I was riding one in a skatepark yesterday. I ride with an old school BMX guy who runs a coaster brake and pulls all sorts of serious air and ground tricks with it. Rode yesterday with a 6 year old that was jumping and riding fakie then turning out of it right into long ass stand up wheelies with one, on a major POS Huffy. My son started riding lifts at age 5 on a Pitboss with a coaster brake.

    Mountain bikers tend to be kind of primadonnas when it comes to equipment. Coasters take some practice, but they're in no way impossible to ride well with.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by apxfndr View Post
    I have a 5.5 and 4y.o. boys. They are on 12" and 16" hotrocks now. 5.5 y.o. could probably get a 20" soon/now. Any reason to do the 20" hotrock coaster? or just go to hand brakes with single speed.

    The 4y.o. is just on the 12" hotrock from balance bike. His panic mode is to take feet off pedals so I'm thinking a 14" Spawn with handbrakes might be better.

    Gears or not are the next question.
    THanks
    Derek
    When my son turned 6, I got him this; Mongoose | Rockadile SL 20" Boys

    Yeah, it's a department brand bike but the quality and construction is more than enough to keep him safe and happy - and it's nice and light. The brakes are the only thing that sucked. Replaced those.

    At the beginning of this Spring he did wipe out forgetting he had hand brakes, but that helped him remember afterward.
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  16. #16
    Who are the brain police?
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    Quote Originally Posted by griffter18 View Post
    Coasters are suposidly there for safety, but they dont help the kid to kearn to pedal.
    They cant move pedals to correct position when starting and the wrong (natural) movement causes back wheel to lock up.
    Suggest that adults try these things as if thy did they would dissapear quick.
    That may be true but I still remember how fun it was to skid with coasters. Jam the leg down and post the other foot. That was really fun stuff.
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  17. #17
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    Ops question was should he do coaster or switch straight to hand breaks.
    Not saying with the right skill you cant ride well with a coaster but for a young kid whos just trying to learn to pedal and stop they bring a lot of frustration.

    As to ops 2nd question - Gears. All depends what you plan riding. If flat then no you dont need them. If slight uphills then they are useful but dont expect the kid to pick them up easily. All depends on kid and hand/finger strength. Can also be costly and frustrating to set up
    MTB: Stumpy, Enduro, Hotrock, Commencal Supreme
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  18. #18
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    Apologies for slight hijack, griffter18 did you get PM?

  19. #19
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    Upset

    Quote Originally Posted by apxfndr View Post
    I was looking to support the LBS. Isla will probably be what I get if the Trek is out that far.
    I just called to order the Isla because the Trek is so far out and they are also back ordered

  20. #20
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    When my son learned to ride a bike at 3 1/2, he had a crappy 16" Schwinn that my wife bought him. It had coaster brakes. He actually almost busted his ass early on because he didn't really grasp the concept of the coaster brake. He finally did get it though.
    At 5, I put him on a 20" Gary Fisher Precaliber that I had tricked out with an XT 1x8 drivetrain and XT Vee brakes. He took to the hand brakes like a duck to water.
    At 7, he got a 24" bike with Avid hydraulic brakes and now, a 26" bike with SLX. His braking is as good as any adult.
    I feel he would have been better off with hand brakes right from the get go but I guess it depends on whether or not their hands are big enough to grab levers. It definitely takes some adjusting.
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  21. #21
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    I remember my first bike when I was 3.5 or so, black, with training wheels and white walls. I found out over a decade later my dad did a full strip rebuild and paint of a garage sale barbie bike, tassels and all. When I was 5 I got a bike, blue, 20" wheels, single speed, coaster brake. It's still in my parent's garage.

    Unless you're training the kiddos for criteriums, you're way over thinking it. Give them wheels of any kind, and they'll learn. If they love it, you can open that can of worms when you get there.

    As a kid, I could beat all my friends around our local neighborhood track. Most kids had 24 gears, another had front suspension to boot. My trick? I had to go 120%, from start, to finish. I learned the balance between controlled braking and lockup, and learned to navigate 180 corners at speed by locking up the rear wheel at just the right intervals. Gear never made that bike the most awesome set of wheels on my street. Kids were jealous, and talked up their bikes, but we all knew it wasn't in the bike at the end of the day. Maybe if I had 24 gears, v-brakes or a fork, I would have blamed my shifting, or gotten caught in a gear race. Maybe, less is more, and I learned more about myself because I had less of a bike.

    All that to say, don't over think it or worry too much - Just get them their wheels; they'll earn their freedom on their own. And maybe, just maybe, less is more.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonorok View Post
    I remember my first bike when I was 3.5 or so, black, with training wheels and white walls. I found out over a decade later my dad did a full strip rebuild and paint of a garage sale barbie bike, tassels and all. When I was 5 I got a bike, blue, 20" wheels, single speed, coaster brake. It's still in my parent's garage.

    Unless you're training the kiddos for criteriums, you're way over thinking it. Give them wheels of any kind, and they'll learn. If they love it, you can open that can of worms when you get there.

    As a kid, I could beat all my friends around our local neighborhood track. Most kids had 24 gears, another had front suspension to boot. My trick? I had to go 120%, from start, to finish. I learned the balance between controlled braking and lockup, and learned to navigate 180 corners at speed by locking up the rear wheel at just the right intervals. Gear never made that bike the most awesome set of wheels on my street. Kids were jealous, and talked up their bikes, but we all knew it wasn't in the bike at the end of the day. Maybe if I had 24 gears, v-brakes or a fork, I would have blamed my shifting, or gotten caught in a gear race. Maybe, less is more, and I learned more about myself because I had less of a bike.

    All that to say, don't over think it or worry too much - Just get them their wheels; they'll earn their freedom on their own. And maybe, just maybe, less is more.
    Great story, and well done you, but not everyone takes an instant interest or has a track close by. How many kids do you think started with bikes weighing half there body weight, learned to ride then left the bike in the shed because they got half a mile along the road and were shattered. Personally I remember being at the first local bmx track near me watching everyone flying round on their bmx's while I sat on my Raleigh Grifter. Yip I could wheelie it but the extent of my bunny hops were about 2".... I'd have loved it if some time and effort had given me the chance to get out on trails that I came to love when I started biking again.
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  23. #23
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    I converted my younger daughter's Hotrock16 to freewheel/v-brake at 3.5 years old, and my older daughter has been on a Pitboss (also freewheel/coaster)since 5.5 years old (just when we started riding, definitely could have done earlier).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave88LX View Post
    I converted my younger daughter's Hotrock16 to freewheel/v-brake at 3.5 years old
    I'm in the process of doing the same. My 3.5 year old stops his 2005 Hotrock on command with his newly installed v-brakes with Evolution Bike Co mounts/bosses and Tektro 316AG mini lever. He picked it up right away. He often struggled with coming to a complete stop with the coasters because he kept wanting to put his feet down prematurely at slow speed and would roll off the sidewalk etc. Kinda scary when there's cars around. The handbrake seems much safer and I think the "learning curve" is exaggerated.

  25. #25
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    The only good time for a coaster brake is a grown up bike for laying skids. For kids they're in the same class as training wheels. The class of hell no.
    -G

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