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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    My son hit a steel gate

    Riding a familiar logging road yesterday my 8 1/2 year old son and 10 year old daughter were having a blast on their Gary Fisher Tybo's. We'd ridden up and down for about 12 miles when it started to rain. It was soaked and we were 1/4 mile from the car when my son's brakes failed on a 15% downgrade. I pulled alongside to beg him to dump it in the roadside but at his age he could not make a decision and held on as he smashed full force into the huge steel gate. It is a scene that will haunt me for a lifetime. Great news, however, he was savvy enough to brace his chest with an arm and managed to bear 90% of the hit on his arm.
    He remained conscious and alert. He broke both bones in his arm, broke a permanent front tooth and needed stiches to reattach the gums to his upper teeth. Plus a bevy of bruises. Cat scans, x-rays, needles, potential of movement to a bigger hospital, and 6 hours later - we got home.
    I felt helpless, even considered kicking him off his bike before impact, but at his speed all options were likely equally dangerous.

    He's home, on liquids only and off the pain meds this morning.

    Lessons - even Gary Fisher cannot make a bike that can exceed 15 mph for kids. No matter how much of a 'mountain bike' they call it - 24" wheeled bikes belong in neighborhoods. They've had the bikes for 2 years and they're well maintained, but their brakes just cannot stop them on serious hills. Also, both bikes develop significant wobble over 15 mph. We weren't riding trails so I thought they'd be ok. I can promise that I will upgrade the brake pads with more adult style pads to avoid future issues.
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  2. #2
    Ride 2 Work, Work 2 Ride!
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    Bummer. At the same time he and you have a story to tell now. I hope this doesn't turn him off to riding and I hope that he learned the "control your speed" lesson. You could teach him the foot on the rear tire stop so that he will feel more safe getting back on the trail. I rode without brakes allot at that age and had a big divot in my shoe from braking with the foot on the tire trick.
    "Don't give up, Never give up!"

  3. #3
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    Ohh, I am so sorry! My best wishes for your son's speedy recovery.

    Totally with you on stoopid kid brakes-- inadequate, plus demands enormous hand strength that kids just don't have. In preparation for my two boys' 1st mtb ride (recent, on a gentle dirt road) my LBS installed front brakes on their bmx bikes in addition to the standard rear brakes. My sons (9 & 12) emphatically don't want to move up to mountain bikes yet. They did great on dirt once they got their bike legs, but they complained about the brakes. I want BETTER STOPPING POWER for my boys' safety, but the bike shop seems stumped (?!) I don't see why bmx bikes can't have good brakes. But I think the fix requires more than just bigger pads....

  4. #4
    Ride 2 Work, Work 2 Ride!
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    Longer brake levers will help if there is room on the bars. Not just bigger brake pads but better pads. On bmx bikes chrome rims stop tons better then the alum. rims.

    Oh yeah, get that kid some Ice Cream!
    "Don't give up, Never give up!"

  5. #5
    29er Geek
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    Wow, I hope he heals up quick!

    It is a shame that more mfgs don't spec a quality disc on the smaller bikes.

    RJ

  6. #6
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    He's feeling better today, albeit very tired. I just hope he isn't afraid of bikes forever. We'll start off slow when he feels better.
    I feel stupid that I thought his brakes would hold. They are hard to squeeze, but he can do it - they just glazed on the cheap rims. I really think the answer is an XS frame when he gets a tad bigger and ensure real components.
    When I 1st started riding MTB I smoked a set of brakes on the 1st downhill. The shop replaced them, then it happened again and the shop said, 'dude, you need a real bike or you're gonna kill yourself'. Oddly, I just remembered that lesson today, 6 years later.
    If nothing else, it's a reminder that real riding requires real components. The risks are just too great otherwise.

  7. #7
    Double-metric mtb man
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    Well, it is unfortunate that your son got hurt, but great news that he kept it together enough that it wasn't worse.

    Good on you, Jesterrider, that you're not going completely off the deep end over this too. Your son sounds like a trooper and it sounds like he's got a good role model to follow.

    I'll agree with you that the kids bikes just aren't made to be mountain bikes. When Mrs. Psycho and I have kidlets, the worst they are going to see with kid bikes are the local MUT's. When they are big enough for a real bike, then they are big enough for "real" mountain biking.

    If you don't want him being scared of biking in the future, start now....let him know how proud you are that he kept it together enough not to get hurt worse. Stress the importance of the proper safety gear (like the helmet I assume he was wearing) and how it helps prevent things from being worse when we do take a tuble. Share some of your "oopses" with him.

    Also, take is slow with the boy when he is healed up a bit more...he may or may not want to jump right back into the saddle...be encouraging, but not pushy and share the "good stuff" from your riding with him now and then. If he decides to give it another go, take it slow and easy until you can get him onto a machine made for mountain biking.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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  8. #8
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    First, I'm glad you son wasn't more seriously hurt. I hope he's up and riding around as soon as that cast comes off. Second, though I hate to see people have to resort to the law, you may have a case against the bike maker if it can't stop.

    Third, nobody ever thinks about a situation like this. I know I never did. Not in an instant, but after some thought, the two courses of action I could see to possibly prevent this outcome (no guarantee) are 1) grab kid's saddle with one hand and apply your brakes with the other- might only slow you down or cause an unpredictable two bike wreck. 2) Grab the child loosely and dump your bike, pulling the child on top of you as you go over. You've still got the same problem of two bikes and two riders going down in a pile at the same time- more unpredictability. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if either of these options is any good.

  9. #9
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    It's hard to say which way was better or what to do to avoid the frontal crash, now it's a bit late anyway.

    Glad to see that the kid is alright and hope that this doesn't kill his desire to ride. Falls and accidents are everywhere, it's just a matter of minimizing them as much as possible.

    In terms of the bike quality, IMO they're designed to look like mountainbikes not to be real mountain bikes. If your kid is tall enough get him a real bike.

  10. #10
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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  11. #11
    Ride 2 Work, Work 2 Ride!
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    I spent about 5 or 6 months riding very conservative after I broke my arm. I mean really
    slow. Then one day I was pedaling up a hill fast and as I crested my rear tire popped
    up off the ground. I pedal right through it and felt a huge increase in my confidence.
    I felt more confident then before the accident. It will take time but he will come out more
    confident if he sticks with it.
    "Don't give up, Never give up!"

  12. #12
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    After he recovers take him to easy confidence builder rides, that will boost his confidence and desire to ride.

  13. #13
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    Skills training

    Quote Originally Posted by DiRt DeViL
    After he recovers take him to easy confidence builder rides, that will boost his confidence and desire to ride.
    Great idea!!!

    Also find some skills training classes too. This will make him more comfortable returning to the trails!
    "Don't give up, Never give up!"

  14. #14
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    Really sorry about the accident.. as the others have said.. give him time to heal his bones and spirit.... I started MTBing with my dad near the end of elementary school (about 11-12 y.o., when I was tall enough for real MTBs) and I have some of my best MTB memories with him... even now as an adult I still look forward to any bike ride with him, biking made us even better buddies.... I hope you and your son can manage to keep riding together and have lots of wonderful memories together...

  15. #15
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    Today was the day of Dr. visits and some good news. His teeth are stable and once the broken tooth is root canaled capped he should be OK. His arm is stable, but the orthopedic surgeon has to take another look to see if it needs adjusted before casting.
    One more look at the cat scan tomorrow to verify the growth plates are unaffected and he gets an all clear. Best news - he can eat small bites of real food. 2 days of liquids were not fun!
    Thanks to all for the kind words!

    Someone mentioned pulling him down on me - and while I did not think of that at the time, my focus was trying to get him to go off the road to the left. I really thought he'd try it but I was reminded that kids under 10 are virtually incapable of inflicting known personal injury. Their brain just will not compute dumping the bike on purpose. Also, I recall fearing my 190 lbs coming down on him and 2 bikes tangled at 15+ mph on a gravel road.
    Who knows what could have or would have worked. I know that I tried what I thought was best and I probably froze up a bit as well once I realized he was not turning. From the time I got up to him and realized he had a problem until the time I had to brake was really only 2-3 seconds.
    Our spirits are high, some local riding buddies sent him emails to encourage a speedy recovery and I'm certain he'll get back at it. I can promise no hills until long after confidence returns. Luckily we live where it is flat!

  16. #16
    Ride 2 Work, Work 2 Ride!
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    Cool!!! Good to hear he is chompin' food again.
    "Don't give up, Never give up!"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesterrider
    Someone mentioned pulling him down on me - and while I did not think of that at the time, my focus was trying to get him to go off the road to the left. I really thought he'd try it but I was reminded that kids under 10 are virtually incapable of inflicting known personal injury. Their brain just will not compute dumping the bike on purpose. Also, I recall fearing my 190 lbs coming down on him and 2 bikes tangled at 15+ mph on a gravel road.
    That was my idea- and you're right, probably a bad one.

    I didn't know kids under 10 couldn't inflict personal injury- that's a good tip for everyone. We'll have to remember to say something like, "Turn left now," instead of, "Dump it." Or maybe, "Slide," if the kid's a baseball player- something that doesn't conjur up injury.

    Still, glad he's getting better. Nobody likes to see any child hurt.

  18. #18
    I bike long tyme.
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    Brake Therapy makes a conversion kit to put a 6" disc on the rear of virtually any non-disc frame. I had one on my Intense Sniper bmx race bike for a while till I realized it was against NBL regulations at the track. Its totally trick and works on any frame that does not have disc brake mounting tabs (bmx, roadie, etc.). Major boost in braking reliability and power in any weather condition. Its on my buddy's commuter bike now. He loves it.
    People wait for me on the way up. I wait for them on the way down.

  19. #19
    Three sheets to the wind
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    OUCH! Poor guy. Send our regards.....

  20. #20
    Teh Original Dirt Muffin
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    Stuff like this happens, I hope he recovers soon. Don't blame yourself, there was nothing you could have done. Just be greatful it didn't turn out worse.

  21. #21
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    i had a similar accident to his when i was 6 or so...it was on a 20" huffy with a coaster brake and (i thunk) a U-brake on the rear wheel...anyways, i had just started riding without training wheels maybe a week beforehand and my mom was walking with my siblings, pushing my brother in a stroller while i rode up ahead of them...anyways there was a hill with a dead-end at the bottom, and a pile of gravel at the end of the street...anyways i couldn't stop with the coaster brake, and i don't think i even knew how to use the hand brake, so into the pile of gravel i flew...i didn't break any bones, but to this day (16 years later), i have a bump in my lip to show for it...thankfully, it didn't traumatize me...i rode that bike for a couple more years, then had another one when i was in middle school, and then fell in love with cycling again over the past few years and now have several...

    so i think your son will be riding again

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