Advice on buying a bike for a teenager who wants to race- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Advice on buying a bike for a teenager who wants to race

    Hello, I'm looking at buying a bike for my 15 year old son. He has shown indication of wanting to race cross country. I suspect that he may want to transition into some jumping later on but I'll cross that bridge when it comes. Right now, he doesn't have a bike. He is pretty fearless, he does back flips, standing and off buildings. Last week, he took a BMX bike down about a 60 to 70% grade hill, hit a ramp at the bottom and crashed. He skinned up his leg pretty good.

    So what I am wondering is what other teenage boys are getting if they are interested in or are racing. I have been saving up for awhile and I don't want to cheap out or get something to fancy. I have been looking at a Kona Honzo or Kona Exposif (27.5). Keeping it in a hard tail since we live far away from the bike shop and any repairs we would have to do on our own so FS would be a little too complicated for us. I didn't have a lot of money growing up but had a lower range Kona in the 90's so would like to get something a little better for my son to ride than what I had. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Do you have a budget number to work with?

  3. #3
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    15 years old, and racing? This is one of the few times I'd recommend start him with 29er hardtail. Too many good one to choose, like jeffj said, what's your budget?

  4. #4
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    I'm looking at spending between 1500 to 2000. He's been riding his buddies bikes which is how I noticed that he seems really into it. I have been saving for about two months so have 1600 so far. They have a mountain bike race series that has different age categories so he would be riding with others his age. He loves sports, he plays A and AA hockey and he has played AAA ball. Very competitive. I have been perusing the bike stores but they seem to only carry lower end hard tails. Mid to high range, I would have to order. I'm thinking those bikes got bought pretty quickly when they came out and I missed it.

  5. #5
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    I agree that a 29er hardtail sounds like a good choice for this application.

    The Honzo is kind of an all-mountain steel hardtail with a 1x (single front chainring) drivetrain. Not really what I would recommend for racing.

    If you are somewhat mechanically inclined or could have a mechanic give it the once over to make sure it's ready to rock and roll, the Airborne Goblin is pretty good bang for the buck at $1,199.00:

    Airborne Bicycles. Goblin

    Use the rest to maybe get some accessories, or maybe even a lightweight set of race day wheels like these or something similarly lightweight:

    Crank Brothers Cobalt 2 29 ER Wheelset Brand New | eBay

    Other ways to go. You have many options. Do you have any good shops nearby? What brands do they carry?

  6. #6
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    That's good to know already. I'm still trying to grasp all the components. I can only really look online at some of these bikes since they don't have them at the store. I'm in Canada so ordering online would be pretty pricey for shipping and customs cost. Reading on the forum, the Airborne bikes charge 300 for shipping and 200 to get across the border. There's two bike stores, one carries Kona, Specialized and Giant. The other carries Rocky Mountain, Devinci and Scott. I'm a little partial to Kona since that is what I used to ride. That was before rockshox existed so all tech info is still a bit of a mystery to me but I 've been trying to read as much as I can on this forum. Rocky Mountain site is a bit hard to get info from for comparison since they don't list their prices and that has been my current scale from brand to brand. The bikes shops mainly have the 500 - 800 bikes so can't even see or fit what I'm more or less looking for.

  7. #7
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    My 16 y/o is on a "budget" hardtail 29er and don't want to ride anything else, prior to the 29er he had a 26er that raced for a couple of seasons until he outgrew it.

    Plenty of choices on budget friendly 29ers out there, compare fit, component groups, price and if he likes them; then test ride the options and pick the one the he really liked.

  8. #8
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    We will be heading to the city next week so I'll just take him and see what he likes. I was hoping to surprise him for his birthday but I think I'll need him there for fitting and what he likes as well. Bikes sure got complicated with choice, designs, components and fit. I haven't seen the bike shops post anything for demo days any time soon. Although the snow literally melted here last week with our last snow storm on April 30th.

  9. #9
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    The best bang for the buck is the Goblin. If you don't want to go that route, I guess I'd look at a Giant 29er hardtail.
    I like turtles

  10. #10
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    Got a bike

    Well after talking to the kid, his priorities changed and he said he didn't want to ride and he wanted to hang out with his girlfriend all summer. So I went and bought myself a bike instead. I ended up with a 2013 Specialized Carve Pro. I went to my local lbs and was perusing bikes and testing a few. I was taking the Carve Expert out for a quick spin when the owner of the lbs said that he would let me have the Carve Pro for the same price as the Carve Expert. So I got the Carve Pro for 1600.00 bucks. So I got 400 bucks off the asking price of the Pro so hopefully I got a good deal because it sounded like it. I was only going to spend about 1200 when I got there. Took it for a ride already, crashed once but not too bad. Went over the bars going down a awkward hill where two trails met up. Added a couple of pics from before the ride. Didn't take my camera on the ride.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Advice on buying a bike for a teenager who wants to race-misc-024.jpg  

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  11. #11
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    Very Nice. Use some of the 400 dollars you saved and get some better pedals.
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  12. #12
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    Yeah that's my next buy, I noticed my feet were slipping on the pedals. So I'll have to look at different shoes and pedals. Nike runners don't seem to hold onto the pedals too well and vice versa.

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    It's mostly the pedals,a lot to choose from with pedals ,check ebay.

  14. #14
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    Yeah. Most members of my family use platform pedals and sneakers. They don't get the whole cycling shoe thing.
    I like turtles

  15. #15
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    Nice bike, can't believe that he decided not to ride and hang with the girlfriend; there's time to do both.

    Let the pedal discussion begin, flats vs clipless.

  16. #16
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    I'm going to get a good set of flats first and get used to the feel of the bike than try out clipless later on. Last time I rode my Kona back in the 90's, my bike had cages on the pedals. Whatever happened to those? The kid said he would go biking with me just to make sure I didn't have a heart attack out in the middle of nowhere by myself.........

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendrew View Post
    The kid said he would go biking with me just to make sure I didn't have a heart attack out in the middle of nowhere by myself.........
    That's a great excuse to take him out for a while, now you are back to square one.

  18. #18
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    I'm thinking that I'll try to find him a used bike to ride with and see if he wants to keep going and than invest in a new one if does later on. Be better if I could get his girlfriend riding too.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    I agree that a 29er hardtail sounds like a good choice for this application.

    The Honzo is kind of an all-mountain steel hardtail with a 1x (single front chainring) drivetrain. Not really what I would recommend for racing.

    If you are somewhat mechanically inclined or could have a mechanic give it the once over to make sure it's ready to rock and roll, the Airborne Goblin is pretty good bang for the buck at $1,199.00:

    Airborne Bicycles. Goblin

    Use the rest to maybe get some accessories, or maybe even a lightweight set of race day wheels like these or something similarly lightweight:

    Crank Brothers Cobalt 2 29 ER Wheelset Brand New | eBay

    Other ways to go. You have many options. Do you have any good shops nearby? What brands do they carry?
    CB is moving there office. Most large "parts" are 30 off

  20. #20
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    Staying on the pedals actually involves some technique and a bit of a learning curve. The low heels method will work with your runners and fat or shorter pin platforms.
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube

  21. #21
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    Watched the video, thanks. I'll have to work on the techniques. I did get some new pedals from the lbs. They didn't have a whole lot of selection. I got the P-series specialized nylon fiber pedals 404 g for 27 bucks. My other option was some really heavy metal pedals that weighed about 3 times more that looked like they could chew my leg off. I'll try these and see how I like them. I got some gloves, degreaser and chain oil so they gave me 10% off as well.

  22. #22
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    Pedals with the longer sharp pins will also chew apart the bottom of your shoes-- you need 5.10 Impacts or Freerides to use them and a DH course to need them.
    Stubby pins like these on ebay from Hong Kong work with runners.
    ROCKBROS Bike Pedals MTB BMX Pedals Cycling Pedals 9 16" Aluminium New Gray | eBay

  23. #23
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    I think I'm going to have to invest in some proper bike tools. Couldn't get enough torque to get my pedals off with my car wrenches. The ones on youtube look like they have a long handle to get some torque onto that pedal. I'll have to be self sufficient with my bike repairs and adjustments since the nearest lbs is just over two hours away.

  24. #24
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    You need to take a larger closed end wrench and use it over the 9/16" closed end of the wrench you are using to loosen a pedal as an extension. It has to be big enough so a 9/16th end will fit through it. When you try it you will figure out how to use it to give you a much longer wrench.

  25. #25
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    Just get a pedal wrench at the lbs.

  26. #26
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    I have used the double wrench technique when working on cars when I was younger but it seems that my wrenches have been disappearing over the years. I used to have a full set of SAE and Metric in my tool box. I seem to be missing sockets and extensions too. I'll have to suspect a couple of brothers "borrowed" them. Kinda pisses you off when you have a bunch of assorted wrenches. I was using the biggest I had, 17 mm. I don't think it quite fit. The rest are all too small to lock on. How do you guys keep the back wheel still when trying to torque on it btw? It's a little awkward pushing on the wrench, holding the wheel and holding onto the bike to keep it up.

  27. #27
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    Use the handle from your floor jack. Non drive side is reverse threaded.

  28. #28
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    Unfortunately I gave the floor jack away a long time ago. However my buddy was in the city today so I got him to pick me up a pedal wrench so I should be good to go tomorrow. Anyone else have a problem with the front of their shorts catching on the nose of their seat when going back and forth? I don't see myself wearing spandex......

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendrew View Post
    Anyone else have a problem with the front of their shorts catching on the nose of their seat when going back and forth? I don't see myself wearing spandex......
    It happens to me when I wear certain baggy shorts (Primal) but not with all of them, believe that they're too baggy and don't fit as well compared to others that I have.

  30. #30
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    I dont have the issue with Troy Lee shorts. I also wear some fitted stretch boardshorts from tim to time with out problem.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendrew View Post
    Anyone else have a problem with the front of their shorts catching on the nose of their seat when going back and forth? I don't see myself wearing spandex......
    This is where mountain biking specific shorts can help. Mountain shorts typically consist of a spandex inner shell with a chamois (pad) and a looser outer shell which really serves the purpose of protecting your modesty and/or pride. Some are integrated together and some are two seperate pieces. The outer shells tend to be a little tighter in the rump which helps with seat grabbing and are just baggy enough around the legs so that they don't cling while pedaling. I use fox ranger biking shorts. The chamois that comes with these particular shorts wasn't great but the outer shell fits me well. I purchased a new spandex short with chamois to wear with the outer shorts and use the other one as a backup.

    I noticed when I got a new saddle that the front does grab a little when its new. With use and moving on and off the saddle the front gets a bit polished and it doesn't grab as much any more. So you really may just need to get out there and polish that saddle.

  32. #32
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    I'll have to get some bike shorts, it's a little disconcerting when your going down a hill and your seat is grabbing your shorts. Very distracting. Almost a bit of sense of panic as you try to shake loose lol. Got the new pedals on, pedal wrench was a breeze to use. Unfortunately its been raining out for the past two days........ no biking or golf.....

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