What do you let your kids do/try on the trails?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What do you let your kids do/try on the trails?

    From reading a number of the threads and seeing some of the awesome bike builds, it makes me wonder what exactly these kids can do and are allowed to do.

    I'm a bit adventurous, but I don't know that I'd let my 6 yo. do any extreme tricks that the bikes I'm seeing built seem to be capable of.

    When someone says they took out the stock bike and essentially destroyed the low end components in two days, what type of riding is being done that would do that type of damage?

    Mike

  2. #2
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    My son started riding in the trails with me at 6 on a Hotrock 20, mostly stock. Now he's going to be 9 next month and riding one of the builds you wrote about, a 24" wheeled 26" framed Sette Reken. I have not stopped him from trying anything and while he's not a daredevil, he's not easygoing either. I have a Specialized GromHit (5" travel 24" full suspension freeride bike) ready for Christmas. I hope next year to take him to Mountain Creek bike park (Diablo).
    With all that said, you have to feel comfortable with what he is doing. If you won't do it, maybe he should'nt. He will eventually have to continue to grow his skills, be prepared for falls and bike repairs. My son did not wreck too much, but there were things that needed repair.

  3. #3
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    I am working on exposing my sons (aged 6 and 7.5) as much technical/rocky stuff that they can handle. So far, there are lots of dabs, but also lots of learning lines.
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  4. #4
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    I've been taking my 4 year old on the trails for a couple years. Started on a push bike on the flat sections, moved him onto BMX bike last summer. This summer we are riding mellow trails on his Hotrock. Mostly shuttle runs. He is relatively cautious, so he doesn't seem to want to do things that I think he can't. Usually the opposit actually, he doesn't think he can do something, but I have to tell him I think he can.... They are all so different...

  5. #5
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    Thanks to all of you for sharing how you encourage your kids to take on more challenges in mountain biking, but my questions is actually a little different.

    Are kids in the 5 to 7 year old range really going to be doing such technical things on their bikes that they need the high end equipment? Or is it simply done because bikes are just too heavy for their age?

    Mike

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    I think about the perspective of a kid riding with a parent. No matter what the kid does or accomplishes, the his/her riding partner (you) is better and stronger. This happens day in and day out and can really discourage some kids.

    For me, weight is priority #1, especially considering human to bike weight ratios. To get better weight, you typically have to go with higher end components, which also are going to perform better. For kids who are advanced, they may actually make use of more suspension travel, etc, but for most, I think it is about getting the lightest bike possible for the budget you have.

    There are some kids and riders who are so talented that it doesn't matter much what they are on. I remember I went to a riding spot one day and there was this 11 year old kid on his sisters road bike out jumping everyone. It was nothing short of amazing. However, for the majority of the population, the right equipment is necessary.

    One person on this forum put it best in one conversation thread. Something like "I will buy myself a $1500 bike instead of a $2000 and spend the saved money on my son's bike. He needs a higher end bike with a few more pounds shaved a lot more than me."

    Tom

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by panamamike View Post

    Are kids in the 5 to 7 year old range really going to be doing such technical things on their bikes that they need the high end equipment? Or is it simply done because bikes are just too heavy for their age?

    Mike
    Really depends on the kid. My boy, at 4, clearly benefits from better equipment, with fit, weight, and good brakes being the most important (in my opinion). By ages 6/7, I think some kids can really benefit from good suspension (e.g. something that really works). Check out videos of Jackson Goldstone or Finn Feinstone for examples of young kids ripping it. That said, my niece and nephew really don't ride hard and a basic bike will do them just fine. Depends on the kid and probably how much time/energy you put into biking with them. I find the more you put in, the more they want to do...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by panamamike View Post
    Thanks to all of you for sharing how you encourage your kids to take on more challenges in mountain biking, but my questions is actually a little different.

    Are kids in the 5 to 7 year old range really going to be doing such technical things on their bikes that they need the high end equipment? Or is it simply done because bikes are just too heavy for their age?

    Mike
    In my case, there are a few different reasons. 1) Building confidence 2) An old bike sitting for 10 years 3) A dad who loves bikes and wants to be able to ride with his kid while he still can.

    1) One of the key things at this age is building confidence and having fun. The more confidence and fun your kid has the easier it will be for them to take interest and become better. How can one build confidence? Build/buy a bike that is easy to maneuver, throw around and functionally use. Unfortunately, building a light and functional bike usually means higher end parts. Lighter wheels will allow your kid to save energy to ride longer and faster. Having brakes that have good stopping power yet provide smooth actuation is not typical in lower end equipment but yet critical to gain confidence when your kid wants to stop and stop when he applies the brakes. Having a bike shift easier into gear such that, they even know why they have to shift. And tires, having tires that actually grip an off camber turn will do wonders for confidence and knocking out fear of slipping/falling in that typical situation.

    Kids are already at a disadvantage throwing around a bike that is half their weight, imagine us as adults trying to do the same. Also, remember that a 20Ē wheel riding on a rocky trail vs. dadís 26 or 29Ē wheel is a whole lot different. The 20Ē wheel will take significantly more effort.

    2) I had an old Specialized S-Works bike with full XTR hanging on my wall for 10+ years. What better way to pass on top of the line parts from a bike that does nothing but sit collecting dust. Sure, I still had to build wheels and buy some other parts, including a whole bike, but I had the means and want to be able to do it.

    3) I happen to be an older parent (kid 7, me 43) and want to be able to enjoy quality time with my kid and family as quickly as I can. You can see by the video and pic below why I built him a cool bike.

    This video was 9 miles in of our 12 mile bike ride. He still had plenty of ummphh in those little legs of his.
    Ryan Sycamore #6 6 24 12 - YouTube




  9. #9
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    Have to echo, better equipment more chance of them having fun.

    Also, talk to your kids about their equipment. Some kids are vocal about what they don't like, but some just don't know enough to complain.

    Case in point, when I checked out my 6yr olds bike everything seemed fine. At the end of our usual ride there is a long decent which in my mind would be enjoyable for them after the hard climbs they were on. But, my 6yr old moans "I hate downhills". After some inquiringly we found that his small hands were tired after holding the brakes for so long. An adjustment in brake levers and pads, now he loves that decent.

    In the end kids themselves will find out what they are comfortable with. Just need some parental watching to set some boundaries.

  10. #10
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    Thanks to all for the input, I agree with what everyone is saying. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't getting to carried away on the upgrades.

    I'll certainly do my best to be mindful of my kids biking needs.

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by panamamike View Post
    Thanks to all for the input, I agree with what everyone is saying. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't getting to carried away on the upgrades.

    I'll certainly do my best to be mindful of my kids biking needs.

    Mike
    Mike - Have fun with it and understand your end goal. Good luck. Post your build once you finish.

  12. #12
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    I think you'll be okay, upgrades make it fun, more so for you though as my son does not really understand the value, well mostly. What he does realize is when we ride with his friends they all ooggle over his bikes. When we do manage to ride trails with another parent and child, he is a significantly stronger rider than his friends. He is also the fasted runner on his soccer team which I believe is from our biking endeavors.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by panamamike View Post
    Or is it simply done because kids bikes are just too heavy for their age?

    Mike
    Yes, bikes for kids are unnecessarily heavy. Why should a small child ride around on a 30-pound deadweight hunkajunk when we, their much heavier parents, ride around on 20-or-so-and-then-sometimes-even-less pound bikes? I think itís worth it to spend some cash building up a relatively lightweight bike for kids, as long as they show passion for trail ridingÖ and then someday XC racing.
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  14. #14
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    I will let my kid (9) try anything that he and I feel he is capable of handling. That said we spend a bunch of time working on skills in the yard, bike parks, skate parks, pump track, bmx track and trails. He isn't a fast descender yet but is now working on increasing his speed with the skills he has learned from the varied riding. His current mtb is a stock Hotrock fully rigid and he knows how to read a trail very well for picking his line.

    Ink

  15. #15
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    It is nice to see that there other "crazy" father's out there that have spared no expense to share a great sport with their kids. Most people think your crazy when you start ordering exotic parts for a 20" wheeled mountain bike. I remember the first wheelset I had built the mechanic was like," You want me to build these Dura-ace hubs, these bmx rims, etc for a kid's mountain bike.,....why? Are you sure? Most people also don't realize how fast the little dudes can get on good equipment. My oldest is now 9 and has been riding single track since he was 5 and I am so happy I bit the bullet and built him some nice bikes to make his riding enjoyable. Every experience we have together confirms that it was money well spent.

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    [/QUOTE]

    Are those clipless pedals? How does he do with them. I have a 6.5 yr old that loves to ride and I've been thinking about that too. Where did you get the shoes?

    My son has done 21.5mi on paved/dirt bike paths and over 10.5mi rides on technical trails, so I think he might be ready for them.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by manitoumtbr View Post

    Are those clipless pedals? How does he do with them. I have a 6.5 yr old that loves to ride and I've been thinking about that too. Where did you get the shoes?

    My son has done 21.5mi on paved/dirt bike paths and over 10.5mi rides on technical trails, so I think he might be ready for them.
    They are clipless. For his MTN bike, I use Shimano 747's. The old Shimano's can be set full loose unlike the new ones. He does great on them and has been riding them a little before his 5th birthday. He's now 7 1/2 and doesn't give it a second thought. You may need to find a comfortable pedal combination for him. I hear that Shimano is coming out with a new pedal that can go full loose as the previous versions did.

    The shoes are from Fly. They start as small as 13's. Great shoes for the tykes. Toby Henderson Enterprise (THE) also makes shoes this small. You can buy the shoes from JR Bicycles or Dan's Comp.

    My son started racing BMX bikes around 4 1/2 years old. Just before he turned 5 he went from beginner to intermediate which is when he started riding clipless. Some parents use the intermediate level of BMX racing as a point to start clipless pedals. Like anything, it's controversial. I'm glad he made the switch and wouldn't have it any other way. If your son is doing 10.5 mi technical trails, he's probably ready.

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