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  1. #1
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    First BMX bike advice

    Hey guys, I could use some help with something. I have a young son (8) who wants to get into bike racing. I'd like to get him a BMX bike that he can have at least until he's in jr high or so before he needs to upgrade. We've looked at the Diamond Back Viper, which would be about $129, and it seems like a sollid entry-level bike that would fit the bill, although it's probably a little too big for him. Is it okay to put a kid on a regular 20" bmx bike, or are there others that would be better for a little guy starting out? Most of my friends who raced BMX (some who still do in their late 30s) started out young, but I don't remember what they rode when we were kids!

    Also, any advice for getting him involved in the sport?

    Any help would be great - thanks from both of us!

  2. #2
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    As far as an entry level bike , there are plenty out there ... Find a place that allows test rides just so YOU can watch how he handles things . At 8 years old I would say get the trusty old coaster brake so little hands don't have to worry about squeezing big brake levers .

    At 8 he is going to grow a foot and a half in the next 4 years , so buy it like you buy his shoes (a little big so he can grow into them , but not floppy .) . He won't be pulling any big jumps til he is larger , just straight lines and lots of skidding.

    As far as inspiring him , get a couple videos . I am almost 40 and LOVE watching the action for inspiration .

    If he likes it you may want to do what my dad did when an upgrade is needed : he paid for half of my parts and I had to earn the rest by washing pots and pans at a local bakery , my paper route , raking leaves , mowing lawns etc. A good lesson in achieving goals (not so good on priorities tho') and self satisfaction .

    get him a helmet the same day you get him a bike ! Best wishes !
    Last edited by oddtodd; 03-22-05 at 01:29 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I have seen the tiniest little guy at the races on a bike with 10" wheels and a coaster brake. Priceless! As far as size, I think you should get him one that fits now. If it's only $129 for one today, you can't go wrong. If he's really into it, you'll probably be helping him get a brand new one in a few years, rather than upgrade. Also, check at your local track to see what other kids ride, and what's for sale. Our track has a section in the middle where everybody put their stuff for sale. Although I wouldn't get a used helmet, most pants, pads and shoes aren't cheap, so used is probably ok. Either way, I applaud your efforts to promote what is a great family oriented sport.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Thanks guys - he's pretty fired up. He's already had about 4 bikes, but this is the first REAL one. We went to a bunch of shops today and looked at more bikes, and found the one that I think is going to be "his shop." They had a ton of BMX inventory, sponsor a team, and had some knowledgable guys.

    We have it narrowed down to the Diamondback Viper and the Redline Raid. The redline has a slightly shorter top-tube length, but other than that they're about equal. We also saw the Proline Jr., which was about $100 more, but about 10lbs less. Is it worth it?

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    i doubt its 10lbs less. i wouldnt get a redline. you can get a hoffman bike with 18 inch wheels that you can put 20 inch wheels on

  6. #6
    Senior Member BMXTRIX's Avatar
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    I would strongly recommend one of the nicer aluminum racing bikes for your son. Definitely keep it at 20" wheels for size. I know when I was about 7 or 8 I was riding 20" bikes with no problem. The smaller ones can be setup easily for smaller guys.

    I also remember using hand brakes at 6 or 7 and then having a really tough time getting used to a coaster brake. There is nothing wrong with kids using hand brakes - it's not like it's to tough for them to use or anything. Especially if you make sure they work properly.

    Finally - I would stay away from the cheaper bikes. Redline definitely makes some decent bmx racing bikes. They have been doing it for years. But, sub $200.00 bikes are always a least a little questionable. You are getting into the 'Wal-Mart'/Department Store level quality of bikes when you dip under 200 bucks. This isn't that big of a deal for kids just toolin' around the block. But, you expect your son to be handlebar to handlebar with other kids and I would put him on something a little better built and a little bit lighter for sure.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, that's exactly the kind of advice I'm looking for. The Redline Proline Jr was 16 pounds or something, and the Diamondback Viper is over 28 I believe - the Jr. actually has a longer top tube, so I think it would still work?

    Edit: Scratch that - the Proline Jr. has an 18.75 TT vs 19.25 on the Viper, which seems to fit him better now. Will it get too small though?
    Last edited by CAAD5AL; 03-22-05 at 08:23 PM.

  8. #8
    Canon fiend MadMan2k's Avatar
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    I'd probly say go with the lighter, smaller one for now... lighter is good, he probably wont give up on hills quite as easily.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too. Plus, if I'm thinking correctly, as we raise the seat it will come back and the cockpit will increase in length. Are there stems (goosenecks? don't know the terminology) that extend farther forward if he outgrows the toptube?

  10. #10
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    You're getting some poor advice from some that either have never raced or never dealt with kids racing. First, if he's going to race, you want a 20" bike. Period. No 16" or 18" or any other crap. Next, it needs to have either 1-1/8" or 1-3/8" wide tires. Now that you've found that, you've found a mini BMX race bike. It should be light. For a kid that weighs 50-60 lbs., wieght is everything. You get a heavy "all purpose" BMX bike and put him on the track with 2" wide tirse and he's going to get eaten alive. That won't be much fun for him.

    You aren't going to get him on a bike that fits him now and will last him into Jr. High school. If you get something that will fit him now, it'll be small for him before then, and if you get something that will fit him now, it'll be too big (and heavy) now. You want a mini now. Redline makes a great mini, I bought one new for my daughter a few years ago. Diamondback makes a good mini as well, and so does Powerlite and a couple of other brands. Go to a shop that deal with BMX RACING. Street riding has nothing to do with racing, especially with the little ones.

    I'm taking for granted that you are serious about racing. Getting a bike that will serve him well on the track has NO business being ridden on the street, except for maybe doing sprints or something.

    The good news is that since most racing parents are attentive to what their kids need, they end up with a new bike every couple of years as the kids grow. That makes decent used race bikes fairly readily available, and also means that when he's ready to move from a mini to a junior sized bike.

    A Raid is not a race bike. OK for trail riding, but he'll get eaten alive on a track. After you take the front brake off. Putting a kid on a track with a front brake (or a coaster brake) is just begging for an injury.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  11. #11
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Man, this has been helpful! I like the shop - it's not my usual one, but definitely seems to be the guys in the know for BMX. As I looked at the minis, they seemed a little too small already, so I'm thinking the Jr size might work better? He has a little brother 4 years younger, so "getting him through to Jr High" was probably a little too ambitious to begin with, but I'd like to be able to grow the bike a bit with stem and seat adjustments. It's funny, my road bike has a $200 seatpost, but I'm sweating the $300 for his whole bike - parental hypocrisy at its worst!

  12. #12
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    He may be reday for a junior, especially if he's a little tall for his age. My son was on one at 7 but he is and was kind of tall. Go to the races and see what's being raced, but stay away from the trail/park bikes, which is what both the Viper and the Raid are. Get him a cheap bang around the neighborhood bike if you want but if you'r going to put him in the track, get him a proper race bike and he won't lose interest in it.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  13. #13
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    I don't know what's near SLC, but here is the ABA listing of tracks in Utah: http://www.ababmx.com/index.php?page...ks&search=Utah

    There's an NBL track in the town of Virgin, as I suspected there are more ABA tracks in that part of the country.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  14. #14
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    If Theres Anything Ive Learned About Supercross, Bmx, Its That You Need To Be Light, And The bike That Fits Will Be The One That He Can Go All Stances Into Without Having to bend his back more than 5 degrese more than compfterble, thats important in all bikes, especialy downhill, supercross bikes, i ride downhill now, and it dosnt feel mutch differnt than bmx racing, other than theres no huge jumps while racing bmx, but other than that, yea, good to go buddy

  15. #15
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    Christ. Run that through Word and use spellcheck before posting next time.

  16. #16
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    get your son a racing bike and a street bike.Personally, i don't like racing at all. Your son might like street riding more than racing. I wouldn't think a racing bike would last very long either. I rode my friends bike and it felt like it was going to snap

  17. #17
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Thing is, I race road bikes (I'm not too good, but I do it) and he wants to race quite a bit. I actually started on roadies as a kid in jr high, but the guys I know that started on BMX really young are all strong as hell - I think it was all that lung busting at an early age. I know nothing about BMX bikes that I haven't learned in the last week, so any and all advice is great. What is prone to breaking on these things for a 50 pound kid? Even the light ones seem tough as hell to me!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    You have to remember some people offering advice only have a BMX freestyle background, not BMX racing. A 50lb kid doesn't have too much to worry about if he's racing. Tricks and jumping is where you run into durability issues. Do they have a Masters class at your local track? We're moving to the American Fork area, and I'd like to race there too, if they've got a class for me. Get yourself a cruiser and race with your son if they do.

  19. #19
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Kids don't tend to break many things on a bike on the track. As long as tire pressures are right, chainring bolts are tight, chain is tensioned properly, and brakes are adjusted, there's not much damage done. We raced for a couple of years (my last season was 2001, I finished 2nd in VA in my class for the year) and I don't recal breaking any parts. I replaced a tire on my son's bike, cause you can't talk a boy into not skidding after they cross the finish line, and a couple of tubes. I bought different chainrings to mess with gear ratios, and crank arms to tune (my son was very "choppy" so I went as low as 110 mm crank arm length, then put them on my daughter's bike cause they were incredibly cool once he got his spin down) and a few other things for either looks or adjustment, but I don't recall breaking anything except my daughter's arm. That wasn't on the track though...

    Now if you ride it on the street, you are more liable to blow tubes, but that's about it.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  20. #20
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Twahl, you mentioned earlier that a racing bike wasn't appropriate off the track, and I'd meant to circle back to that. Did you mean that it wasn't appropriate for freestyle and tricks, or that it wasn't good for rides in the park, etc? I'd like to have the little guy log some time on the bike on family rides in the park, local trails, etc . . .

  21. #21
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I think what he meant was that you can't go jumping and doing tricks on a lightweight race bike. There's no reason it couldn't be ridden off the track, as long as it's not subjected to abuse.

  22. #22
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Yeah that's pretty much it, the biggest problem you'll face if a race bike is ridden off the track is tire wear. For the smaller kids, smaller bikes, thinner tires, they don't have the great big knobbie tread that most people think of. They don't need them and they just slow a little guy down. But as I mentioned before, you can hardly keep a boy from skidding, and they'll go through rear tires like crazy if they are allowed to ride on pavement or concrete. Unless you have better luck than I did keeping him from skidding. For just riding, you're OK, the gearing isn't conducive to long rides but for tooling around a little there's no harm.

    The bikes aren't fragile, but they won't stand up to any heavy abuse like the street riders put them through. You're generally running a lot of aluminum parts, and they just won't take it.

    Getting into other areas...full face helmet is a must for racing, most tracks require them although some will allow an open face with a mouth guard. Having seen a kid go down on his face, those scare the crap out of me. I suggest BMX gloves. My son has permanent scars on his hands from not having them. He had them actually, he was just constantly losing them. They are required to wear long sleeves and long pants on the track, I suggest getting a set of leathers. Danscomp has starter sets with pants and jersey, maybe gloves too if I recall, at a decent price. They look good, and are safer. I have permanent scars on both shoulders, on my back and forearms, and I attribute a lot of that to useing long sleeve shirts rather than padded jerseys. The rest I attribute to my almost unique lack of talent. Power I had, talent I lacked.

    The hardest thing to learn is the starting gate. Help him practice balancing and get him to the track for practice sessions. I took a piece of 2 x 12 with a cinder block under one end, and the other end butted up against the steps, and helped my son with this. It's more in the bars than it is actual balance, but you want him to be able to stand on the pedals at the gate. Once he can do that confidantly, clipless pedals and a pair of Vans are in order. When a kid is comfortable on the gate and around the track, I am a firm believer that having the kid clipped in is not only faster, but safer. It doesn't take long for them to start getting some air, and with clips the bike stays with them.

    BMX racing is a blast. Unless your experience is a lot different from mine (I raced at several tracks in Texas and Virginia, ABA in TX and NBL in VA) you'll find a lot of help with racing parents. They all want the kids to be safe, have fun, and do well, generally in that order. At our local track, Robbie Miranda's mother is like the track mom, she's always signing kids up, inspecting bikes, etc.. The rest of the crew is very good as well, I was actually shocked when I went to donate some helmets to the track and they remembered me by name. We only raced one season there and it had been better than 2 years. Going to a different track for a state race or something is fun too, they are glad to see you, and the local parents help everyone out, not just the local kids. There is always the opportunity for parents to help out, during race days and for track maintenance. They barely make enough money to keep the operation going so any help is appreciated.

    They are divided by age and experience, which is determined by wins. Basically you ride with kids that are your age +/- 1 year, and rarely do you get bumped, especially at 8 where there tend to be a lot of racers. The newbies in ABA are the novice class, in NBL they are called rookies. ABA is 6 wins I think to move to intermediate, I forget what NBL is. The classification gives the kids a chance to gain experience and cofindance before they have to race with the faster guys.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  23. #23
    Senior Member BMXTRIX's Avatar
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    You definitely need to consider a few things - most of all...

    Is this bike really going to be specifically used for bmx racing by your son and nothing else - so are you willing to invest that type of money into a totally racing specific bike?

    If 'yes' then by all means, invest the money into a Jr. sized racing bike by one of the reputable companies. Take a look at www.danscomp.com -> bikes -> MCS or FMF and you can see some halfway decent racing bikes. Redline also has some decent racing stuff.

    But, if the answer is 'no'. If you want a little more versatility and durability and growth factor for your son's bike. Then, jr. sized bikes are not the way to go. If you want your son to be okay with being a little more harsh on the frame, and for it to last a few years as he increases in size, then your thought pattern needs to be a lot different. You can get away with a bike like the Free Agent Maverick which has a 20 inch top tube and is a steel 26 pound bike. It isn't going to be as fast as the FMF jr. bikes, but it definitely offers more options for riding for your son and comes in at a much lower price tag with HIGHER durability for all-around riding.

    But, which is actually what you are looking for is a question that you really need to decide upon for yourself and your knowledge of your son. A jr. sized bike that is really race specific may need a little more care than something that is more general purpose. A general purpose bike will start holding your son back though if he starts getting really serious about racing. Likewise, a jr. sized racing specific, size specific bike will hold your son back if he decides he wants to do some serious dirt jumping or try street riding.

    Don't even mention flatland.

  24. #24
    Senior Member CAAD5AL's Avatar
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    Well, we went and rode a few and landed on the Redline Proline Jr. I see now what you mean about the wheels and tires - much lighter weight than the other stuff we looked at and definitely not meant for curbs. I'll try to get a pic of him and his new ride. Sounds like the track opens up for practice next month, and racing starts in May . . . can't wait!

    EDIT: This thing has a plastic chainguard on it - should that come off, or is it a good idea?
    Last edited by CAAD5AL; 03-24-05 at 06:09 PM.

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