Scott Spark JR. 20 kids bike review
Before buying a bike for my son's 5th birthday, I did quite a bit of research. He test rode the Specialized and Trek 20" wheel models which were 30+ pound tanks. The trek geometry was obviously that of a poorly disguised bmx bike. Additionally, here is an example of the dialogue with the specialized dealer:
(me) "is the fork adjustable?"
(ME) "then why does it take all my 170 lbs of weight to compress the fork? my kid has no chance of using it."
(LBS) "it's just for show"
I was appalled. I had decided on the Ibex, but (luckily for us) they were out for the season. then I stumbled on the Scott http://scottusa.com/us_en/product/77/634/spark_jr_20
I couldn't find any reviews, but PM'd a guy on this forum who bought one for his kid. he loved it, so that was enough for me. I ordered one for $350 (the other brands are $250 for a rigid frame with a rear shifer only.) when it arrived I was blown away. The suspension is actually set up for a 40-125 pound kid. it has a 2x9 shifter set up and only weighed in at 26lbs!
His confidence and enjoyment went through the roof on the first ride. He is now cleaning both uphill and downhill sections that were impossible on his 16" single speed. Plus, it is cool to see the suspension totally active on rocky and rooty sections of trail. The quality of build is great, and Scott even thought of the little stuff, like brake lever adjustment screws for little hands.
Is it perfect? almost, but not quite. The rear derailleur (while probably fine) looked a little clunky to me, so I replaced it with an old Dura-Ace I had laying around. we also switched out the seat with his old one that was not quite as cool looking, but more comfortable for him.
Scott has done an incredible job with this bike. This is the ONLY full suspension 20" wheel production kids bike. For only $100 dollars more than the rest of the field you get a REAL kids mountain bike, not just a gilded bmx bike that pays lip service to mountain biking. Now that i know the quality and thoughtfull design that went into this bike, I would have gladly paid twice as much for this bike. Thank you Scott Montgomery and everyone at Scott USA for taking Family mountain biking seriously.
Good one dad! Its Red, has cool stickers and works. Ur kid looks to be having great fun. I reckon that my kid in a year or two could have one of those. Thanks for the heads up. Currently though he is on a little Trek Jet which is actually pretty well put together albeit heavy as a boat anchor.
I guess you realise it is all down hill now with expense. Couple of years he is going to need a carbon version.
Lets see some more pics of the bike. Looks great. My 4.5 y/o son's got a mountain bike and a BMX bike and he enjoys the mtb (18lbs hardtail, I sorta custom built it around an alu. Marin frame) for longer rides with climbs, but he really likes the bmx for all around riding. He is able to control it much better, but maybe he just needs to grow some as his mtb is a little big still. here are a couple pics. Sure is fun to ride with them.
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<a href="http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y213/threadedtitanium/?action=view¤t=DSC06040.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y213/threadedtitanium/DSC06040.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
Scott Spark JR 20 and Ibex Alpine 320K
My son Eric is 8 years old and 62 pounds. He had the Ibex Alpine 320K when he was 7 and he loved it. Now he has the Scott Spark JR 20 that he loves more.
(I'm new to biking, but a long time mechanical engineer, so my thinking is slanted in that direction.)
We loved the IBEX because it has good quality components, and it had a huge range of gear ratios with 24-34-42 in the front and 11 to 30 in the back. The small 24-tooth ring in the front gave him a very low gear for going up hills.
When Eric began doing small jumps (1 to 2 feet) I noticed his arms were having a hard time supporting his upper body weight on the landings because the handle bars were way too long proportion to his size - so the first thing we did was shorten the handlebars by almost an inch on each side - and this worked much better.
We purchased the Scott Spark JR 20 to get full suspension and the suspension is indeed soft enough to work well for a 62-pound child. (We did notice that for some reason the front suspension of the IBEX Alpine 320K seemed to stiffen up after a few months. The Scott front suspension is much softer than the IBEX now.)
The Scott Spark JR 20 has the superior frame with hydro-formed tubing and soft rear suspension, but the IBEX Alpine 320K seemed to have better parts all around than the Scott.
One thing in particular about the Scott is that the two rings in the front are almost the same size, and so the Scott doesn't have a super low gear like the IBEX.
We swapped over the wheels, cranks, handlebar and seat from the IBEX to the Scott. So now the Scott-IBEX combination (which my son calls the Scibex) has full suspension and a very low first gear.
However we soon discovered why the Scott does not have a small front ring, and that is that the bottom bracket height is lower on the Scott, and so they had to use shorter cranks which do not support a small chain ring. (Scott=140mm cranks, IBEX=152mm cranks). Eric had some pretty bad crashes due to pedal strikes.
Too bad we had already sold the other bike or maybe we would have swapped the cranks back, but instead I shortened some regular cranks down to 130mm. (The 130mm cranks are proportionally longer for Eric than my 175mm cranks are for me on my bike.) We decided on a 24-36 plus bash-ring combination in the front which gives him the same lowest gear as the IBEX, and all but the very highest gear.
We live in an area with goat head thorns; so to save weight we swapped out the thick tubes and regular tires for Specialized Armadillo tires and lightweight tubes. This saved exactly one pound of rolling weight and so far no flats. My son, daughter and I went on a ride last night and both my daughter and I got flats, but Eric didn't.
The last thing we did was swap the IBEX seat and post for a padded uni-seat from a Free Agent BMX bike. This saved almost a pound (12oz) and now the entire bike weighs 26.5 lbs. I'd like to get it lighter, but I'm not sure what to do next.
So, we are very happy with the Scott Spark JR 20. It's a fine bike right out of the box, and even better (in my opinion) with shorter handlebars, a lower low gear, and a lighter seat.
Awesome posts! Only thing better than biking is biking with your son! Mine's only 2 but he shreds the sidewalk on his tricycle and he's just starting to ride his Skuut. I can't wait til he's ready to hit the singletrack. Nice job dads!
yeah, Ive done many of the same things. its amazing how heavy they are considering the light rider and their limited strength and ability to stress parts.
short cranks should accept a low gear. I shortened ours down to 135 and he's got a 28 (could go down to a 24 on this particular crank with 74 bcd) on the front combined with an 11-34 9 speed on the rear. This gives him a range of about 4mph to about 15mph which is about as fast as I want him going right now until he builds up more time riding. Yes, definitely cut down the bars, shorten the cranks if need be, and lighten up almost everything you can. I built light wheels, put a ti bb in there, XTR rear der., light seat and short post, and several other things and shaved about 6 pounds total. I also took out the springs in the fork in one of the legs and now the spring rate is about right for his 40 lbs.
I cant find the Spark Jr. They are already sold out of 2009s. Any ideas?
Originally Posted by Fillet-brazed
Hey great idea about taking one of the springs out. What fork did you do this to? I have a scott contessa 20" (same fork as the spark and scale) and am thinking about doing the same. Thanks for any advice.