Next bike for 11th birthday and purchasing on pinkbike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Next bike for 11th birthday and purchasing on pinkbike

    My soon-to-be (October) 11 year old is ready (beyond ready) to move off his 24" RipRock. We've been having a lot of discussions about weight of bike, suspension, etc. My range is probably around $1500. I never thought I'd spend this much on a bike for an 11yo, but he rides daily and spends any "screen time' he gets either researching bikes or watching GMBN or bike youtubers. After looking at how much we've spent yearly on music lessons and sports of his sibling as well as electronics for the family, the cost doesn't seem that bad.

    1) Issue #1: He is obsessed with getting a pretty long travel enduro style bike (because he loves riding aggressive and downhill and all his heroes ride enduro, plus a lot of the older kids in our area are on badass enduro bikes). I contend that one of the reasons he doesn't enjoy uphill is because he has been stuck on a heavy, fat tire, crappy climbing bike for the last few years, so I want to get him something that will climb well and allow him to more easily keep up with the other, older kids he's started riding with lately. So question here: for a kid who weighs 80 lbs. and probably will be off this bike by the time he weights over 100 lbs, how much suspension is enough? My feeling is that I could go with a newer shorter travel bike (120mm or so) and get him enough travel while still getting a lighter bike that climbs well.

    2) Issue #2: He's made a powerpoint with 50 slides of bikes he's found listed on Pinkbike that he wants. He's been researching and finding bikes for the last few weeks. Everytthing from a 2009 Specialized FSR Comp to a 2017 Diamonback Overdrive to a 2010 Bottlerocket. He's all over the place with the bikes he's looking at. I'm worried that in buying a bike (especially an older FS Bike) off of pinkbike, we're going to end up getting a bike with a bunch of hidden issues, then we've blown our budget, and we'll have no money left to fix whatever issues may be lurking on the used bike. Part of this worry is that I recently experienced that with an older full suspension that I purchased that I had to almost immediatley put new brakes, new drivetrain and service the suspension on after buying it, when what I really wanted to do to it was put on a dropper, new bars, and new stem, hah. Plus, since he's growing, he'll be on this bike for a limited time, so time not riding is wasted time on this bike. So my question there: Would you go pinkbike in this case? If so, how do we make sure that we're getting a bike in decent shape?

    In the end, he can point me to 1,000 "great deal" bikes on pinkbike or wherever, and I'm going to make the ultimate decision on which bike we're purchasing, after all he's 10 years old right now. So TLDR: what bike would you purchase for an aggressive 11yo who rides a lot of trail? Would you purchase it on pinkbike?

  2. #2
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    Hey man, my kids on a 20" for sure but we are planning for a light weight ripcord build (24lbs) soon. We've seen and researched many of the same companies that make a nice 26er too.

    What kind of stuff does your kid ride? How hard and gutsy is he? I ask because as you allude to already, a hardtail is often your better option and will hit your price range MUCH easier.

    My 6yr old does some nutty downhill stuff on his hardtail spawn bike but is getting close to need a FS but one that climbs really well and is really light.

    I'd start with looking at a Trail Craft Maxwell 26 @ 25lbs (MUCH lighter than his current Riprock). It'll climb and be really light and still have 120mm travel f/r. I also like the Rocky Mountain Reaper 26 (I haven't researched it a ton) but it fits the more downhill/ enduro style but is prob close to 30lbs I'm guessing. Both those bikes are over 2200$. Maxwell is well worth it if your kid is riding a lot and demands a functional FS. Start there for sure. I'm sure there are others that I'm unaware of. Maxwell man.

    I also really like Spawns Yama Jama 26" hard tail. We have the 20" version of it. My guess is that a 26" version of their enduro/dh bike is coming soon too (rokkusutta). It's not super light tho and of course a Trail Craft will be lighter but also more money.

    Fwiw I'd avoid the used "small" adult bikes and stick with a good brand that specializes in kids bikes. There are a LOT of details that kids need done right.

    Glad to hear you call out the Riprock bikes. Spesh has done a lot of kids a disservice by that bikes poor design and tank weight. You'll be amazed at what your kid can do on a nice, functional and normal weight bike as he moves on. It's eye opening and it's far more than just the climbing. It's the height of their bunny hops, ability to manual and safely do big drops, huck up and over trail obsticals etc etc.

  3. #3
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    I would suggest a Giant Trance Jr 26" $1850 MSRP. Trailcraft Maxwell 26" or a Trek Fuel EX Jr 26".

    A YamaJama 26" would certainly do the job. It's probably the best kids hard tail "trail bike" for the $$. And I can tell you the Spawns are built like a tank. It's pretty clear right from the box they are made to be abused to death. The one advantage of the Spawn would be for general screwing off (jumping). It's almsot a DJ bike with gears.

    The Maxwell is the best of that batch. But the Giant and the Trek have their merits. The Maxwell will resale better than all of them. A several year old used FS bike can be risky unless you can get detailed service records or buy it local and have it inpsected. Between the drivetrain + both shocks, the service possibilities are high. Unless you find the right seller.

  4. #4
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    We have recently been through the 24" upgrade stage with our 8 year old. He races enduro and downhill and rides a lot (started out racing BMX and has great skills as a result). After much research we actually decided to steer well clear of the "Junior" bikes such as the Giant Trance Jr - just too heavy and to be honest they just outgrow them too fast and parts are now starting to get harder to get hold of. (having said that we are somewhat brand restricted as live in Australia)
    After much trialling of bikes and trawling through bike specs we ended up going with 27.5". He is 8 so much smaller and lighter than your son (probably). We ended up going with a 27.5" XS Specialized Rhyme Carbon. He fits this bike really well, the only changes we have made are to cut down the bars and install 155mm cranks rather than the stock 165mm. The benefit of going with a ladies bike for a younger child is that the suspension is tuned for the lighter weight. In the end we have had to have the fork retuned so he gets full travel (he only weighs 55 lbs, I am sure your son at 80lb would have no problem) but the rear shock was fine.
    If I was you I would head to the bike shops and see how he goes on a couple of different models of size S or XS bikes - you may be really surprised how well he rides them - see if you can demo them. Then make a short list and start looking second hand. After test riding my sons bike two of his friends (same age) have purchased the same bike second hand - "bought for the girlfriend/wife to try but didn't like it". Great deals on Great bikes.

  5. #5
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    Oh and sometimes you can pick up the ladies version of bikes much cheaper - not such a big market for the pink or purple version - easily changed by a couple of stickers or a $100 respray.

    On another note - Gravity Enduro racing is awesome for kids. Its fun, the bit where they are disadvantaged by their light weight (uphill) is the social, non competitive side of the day and the atmosphere tends to be fun. If your son really wants a longer travel dual suspension bike and is hitting those sorts of trails then I am sure his love of the sport will only grow if you can manage to source him a good dually - try second hand Specialised stumpjumper or Rhyme or a Giant Liv Lust or Anthem, Norco Sight etc

    Oh and on the "how much suspension is enough" question. The main reason we upgraded my son from his Norco fluid Dual suspension 24" bike (which he still does ride and fits well) is that professional advice was that his skill level had outgrown the suspension (120mm) - and yes the suspension was professionally tuned and optimised. For him to get the small bump compensation and hit the drops and jumps he was hitting he needed more than 120mm to be safe.

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    1) These days, 150 mm bikes aren't much heavier, on average, than 120 mm bikes. It's worth considering. The 150 mm bike will have better geo for descending if that's the priority, but will still go uphill much better than the Riprock.

    2) Lots of bikes on PB, CL are clapped out money pits, and lots were bought, ridden timidly a few times and have spent most of their life in a garage. Avoid buying sight unseen unless someone can check it out for you or it is a very reputable seller. For local stuff, go with your gut. Bikes that have been ridden hard and hung up wet usually look like it, and a bike that looks mint probably is.

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    wow, Silva your kid is 8yr and riding 27.5? Interesting. What are the pros/cons? I recall going through the 26 to 29 conversion and there were and still are significant pros/cons but I'm also an adult on a bike that fits me really well.

    You guys are ahead of me (my oldest is 6yr) so I'm just trying to plan out the next steps. Was thinking of a 24in Ripcord build this winter (down to 23-24lbs) and then probably moving to a 26in like a Maxwell...tho hell you guys are already riding and racing an XS adult. It makes me rethink things a bit.

    FWIW my kid really just wants to jump, drop and free ride whatever he can. I don't want/need to push him into something that makes that a little more difficult but if the pros of a bigger wheels don't impact that...I guess I should be considering it.

    Dan, I know your kid is airborne a lot and you have some sweet park you guys ride. What is your future plan for bike sizes?

    To anyone looking for a ladies bike for a kid, the Julianna stuff is probably the best. Its Santa Cruz frames rebranded for women to some degree. Fertado is their version of the 5010 and an XS of that (if it exists) would probably be the ideal if that's the route you want to go. A kid in my neighborhood rides his mom's gold Fertado. He is 12 or so and rips that thing.

  8. #8
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    my son is about 5" we got a aspect 740 hardtail in Xs. after a few months there was an option to get a 27.5" Scott Genius small for nice price, right now a FS helps a lot going downhill plus climbing is easy to him with a 46T in the rear.
    SC Hightower LT, SC Tallboy 3(sold), Scott Genius, Commencal Meta HT

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Dan, I know your kid is airborne a lot and you have some sweet park you guys ride. What is your future plan for bike sizes?
    Custom is looking likely at the moment. A guy at my LBS is a bit of a mad bike genius. He built a 24" DH bike for my son's best friend that is unreal. 170 mm rear travel, custom-tuned 160 mm Slant HRL up front, 25.5 lbs. He charged him like $600 for the frame and shock, and got him all the parts through BTI at cost. He's offered me the same deal. I told him to brainstorm up a 140-150 mm enduro frame that will run a dropper over the summer while my kid hopefully outgrows the 20".

    If that falls through, Rokkusuta 24 will probably be the fallback. Possibly the Propain 24, but even with US distribution I'm hesitant there. Spawn's CS is fantastic. I don't want to have to deal with Propain's US warehouse monkey who has to run everything through corporate overlords in Germany.

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    Lol holy cow that custom job sounds awesome.

    That is a fair amount of travel. What is your thought process and terrain that dictates that over something like a 100mm travel Maxwell?

    I'm considering an light build of a Ripcord and maybe over forking to 120mm. But it's new territory for me and I'm collecting info from guys like yourself.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    That is a fair amount of travel. What is your thought process and terrain that dictates that over something like a 100mm travel Maxwell?

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BjnKLz5h_HG

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Bto6v4JVFI

    Obviously, not exactly typical for a 2nd grader. That^^ bike is 100 mm travel, no way I'm moving up a wheelsize and not increasing the travel.

    Even if the custom deal falls through, I'd rather buy a Rokkusuta 24 and lighten it up. For kids who aren't racing DH and gapping old cars end-to-end, a custom Ripcord or Maxwell 24 is a great choice. Maxwell 24 Special Build looks like a killer bike for the price.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RMCDan View Post

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BjnKLz5h_HG

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Bto6v4JVFI

    Obviously, not exactly typical for a 2nd grader. That^^ bike is 100 mm travel, no way I'm moving up a wheelsize and not increasing the travel.

    Even if the custom deal falls through, I'd rather buy a Rokkusuta 24 and lighten it up. For kids who aren't racing DH and gapping old cars end-to-end, a custom Ripcord or Maxwell 24 is a great choice. Maxwell 24 Special Build looks like a killer bike for the price.
    This is perfect, we are still a couple years back in kindergarten but well on our way. My oldest kid just wants to jump/ride big and has the guts for it. Thankfully he is a pretty big kid so I think we'll benefit from being on the larger wheel when we step up next to something like the Spawn or Ripcord for doing what he's doing now at 6 at least. Cheers

    FWIW its interesting to see those (Dan's) kids, 8yr-ish, on a 20" FS bike that seemingly fits really well...just crushing it skill wise. I think from a bike sizing stand point, we won't rush to get up to big wheels.

  13. #13
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    My 10 year old daughter just demo’ed a Kona Process in size S, it fit her perfect, plenty short enough. She is about 5’” and weighs about 100 lbs, so the women’s tuned suspension bikes would e good for her, as well as for your son.

    I would indeed be wary of buying a used full suspension bike, there is a lot of potential onaintance ($$$) to be done there. Also, older (FS) had high standover and long seat tubes, making it hard to get a long reach and to fit a dropper post.

    So $1500 leaves you with a choice:
    -New hard tail from a LBS.
    -Online direct sale Fullsuspension bike
    -Used Full suspension bought local.

    The corollary of “modern long travel bikes climb well” is “modern short travel bikes descend very well”.

    I am not sure how lower weight means you need less travel. It does mean you can get by with lighter components: lightweight rims, Light casing tires, lightweight cranks and handlebars are probably the best examples.
    Unfortunately, this will mean custom building a bike or swapping parts, which drives up the cost.

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