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  1. #1
    Senior Member ultimattfrisbee's Avatar
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    Buying a Bike for My Kid

    My son is 8 and ready for his first gear bike. He's been riding single-speed coaster brake hand-me-downs so far, and has done great, but we live in Pittsburgh where even the flat rides are a little hilly, and he has trouble hanging with us on family rides when things get a little steep. He's hot for gears and, at the moment, there are no great hand-me-downs available from friends and cousins. He needs a 20" wheel, I think, and since he's on the small side, I believe the bike could last him a while.

    My question is, what's the best route to go? My LBS carries Jamis bikes and I could get a 2010 or '11 Jamis x.20 and would probably pay around $225 for it. On the other hand, I could go to Target and get him a big box store bike, probably for less than half of that.

    I have no concern about the frame, other than it not be ridiculously heavy for him. I know the components on most of the big box store bikes will be very cheap and more likely to break or need constant adjustment, but it seems weird to spend a lot on a kids bike. One other factor is that I love my LBS and want to support it. They take great care of me, and would always handle any maintenance or repairs I can't do, and probably for nothing (they told me I got 6 mos. free maintenance on my bike when I bought it almost a year ago, and they haven't hinted at charging me yet).

    Best advice?
    2009 Jamis Aurora
    1993 Bianci Ibex

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I bought my kids quality bikes and used them as hand me downs. My son started out on a GT with a 5 speed rear, it went to his sister, then to another family. All I can remember is that it had 20" wheels and a derailleur guard, we also had an MTB with 24" wheels that made the rounds. Once they graduated to full sized bikes it was all over. I am still building bikes for them and they are 25 and 27

    Aaron
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  3. #3
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    This question is a little more settled now than, say, 6-7 years ago.

    Now, there are FEW worthwhile big-box bikes available; I'd say, go for the Jamis, it's about 2x the $$, and 10x the bike.

    Back in the day, I picked up a 20" FS for my daughter, reg. $$ 114 at Wally, clearanced at $69 when I bought it. A few parts upgrades, and the bike only went bye-bye last year because we had no one left who could fit it. It was a smaller, near-'clone' of a Mountain Cycle Fury, with the cantilever-style single pivot on a conventional main triangle. We even had some fun with it, when I choppered it out for my daughter with a RockShox Jett!

    I hated to let that bike go, but it was useless, and taking up needed space.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ultimattfrisbee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    This question is a little more settled now than, say, 6-7 years ago.

    Now, there are FEW worthwhile big-box bikes available; I'd say, go for the Jamis, it's about 2x the $$, and 10x the bike.

    Back in the day, I picked up a 20" FS for my daughter, reg. $$ 114 at Wally, clearanced at $69 when I bought it. A few parts upgrades, and the bike only went bye-bye last year because we had no one left who could fit it. It was a smaller, near-'clone' of a Mountain Cycle Fury, with the cantilever-style single pivot on a conventional main triangle. We even had some fun with it, when I choppered it out for my daughter with a RockShox Jett!

    I hated to let that bike go, but it was useless, and taking up needed space.
    Damn, DX. You coulda sold it to me!
    2009 Jamis Aurora
    1993 Bianci Ibex

  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I think that the biggest issue is brakes.

    1. Younger riders have smaller hands and less grip strength.
    2. Crappy bikes have crappy brakes.

  6. #6
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    I'd go for the Jamis. In the long run, the dollar difference will seem negligible, but the ease of use, and the ease of keeping it all in good working order, could mean the difference between an enthusiastic young rider and a discouraged one. Plus you get to support the LBS.
    Craig in Indy

  7. #7
    Junior Member xfive's Avatar
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  8. #8
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xfive View Post
    awesome. love the aero wheels on a kid's bike.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  9. #9
    Riding Heaven's Highways: In Memoriam justfitme's Avatar
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    I would not recomend this as a solution for everybody as a kids bike, but however this is what I did to my 7 (tall like 8 y.o) daughter.

    This is 13.5" adult frame bike.

    I purchased it on CL for $100 and made some updates with the parts I had in my garage as leftovers after couple of projects.

    Initially the idea was to make an extra hybrid for my wife, but then I compared it to my daughter Trek 220 with 24" wheels.
    Surprisingly the adult bike was 5 lbs lighter, 26" wheels with slicks were almost the same diameter as 24" with fatty "mtb" tires.

    I just made the cockpit shoter by changing the stem and here we go.


    On 1.5 hr trip she can manage 20-22 km/h average... sometimes riding as fast as 27 km/h on flat... (I changed the crankset to hybrid 48T system ...)

    Why I would not recomment it to everybody because of the cost of this project - it is not cheaper (if buying parts, not use whatyou laready have)) than bying the 24" brand name in LBS...although it is still better.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    ^^^^^

    Neat project! 5 lbs. lighter than a 24" kids bike is huge but it doesn't surprise me. What's the crank length on that? I'd be looking for some shorties.

  11. #11
    Riding Heaven's Highways: In Memoriam justfitme's Avatar
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    It is 170. Yes, I know it could be shorter for a kid, but this is what I found in the garage.
    Works fine...I mean no complains.. she has long legs.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    I'd go for something at least halfway decent. A 20" wheeled bike will do for a good few years with periodic saddle and handlebar adjustments as he grows. I'd avoid crappy bikes purely for the poor quality brakes they generally have. You want good brakes front and rear, and teach him to use the front brake properly (presumably he's been relying on a rear coaster brake up to now). Also, kids will take their bikes anywhere and everywhere, so you need something that will stand up to some rough treatment and not fall to pieces on its own.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    You might also want to check with the LBS on a kids trade up program. Alot of them in town here offer it. They will give you 50% of the purchase price towards the next size up. I bought my 5 year old (hes very tall) a 20" geared Giant for Christmas and when hes ready, I will get $150.00 towards a 24"

  14. #14
    Riding Heaven's Highways: In Memoriam justfitme's Avatar
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    I found about 20" bike that it can be used many years going forward, since it is very popular size for teeneager (thanks to BMX)...

    My daughter still rides to school even she is already up to 24" and even 26" (see above).

    I just added an extra lenght by changing the stem, (using the adaptor - threaded to treadless) and ready to change the seatpost.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Yeah, there's no need to jump right in and get the next wheel size up, when the current bike still fits fine. A 20" should be fine right up until they can fit an adult size.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  16. #16
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    My son is a tall 8 year old and he has completely outgrown his 20" bike. THe 20" bike was a resurrected freebie, but even with an extra long seatpost and raised stem it is definitely going to be too small by spring.

    If it is possible for your boy to fit onto a 24" bike? Because I just looked at the Jamis X24 and it has two chainrings up front (vs a single ring on the X20) and this actually gives it a lower low gear, even taking the larger wheel into account. Plus, he would get more years of use out of the 24" bike than the 20" bike... provided it is not so big that it could prevent you from having grandchildren.

  17. #17
    Senior Member ultimattfrisbee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    My son is a tall 8 year old and he has completely outgrown his 20" bike. THe 20" bike was a resurrected freebie, but even with an extra long seatpost and raised stem it is definitely going to be too small by spring.

    If it is possible for your boy to fit onto a 24" bike? Because I just looked at the Jamis X24 and it has two chainrings up front (vs a single ring on the X20) and this actually gives it a lower low gear, even taking the larger wheel into account. Plus, he would get more years of use out of the 24" bike than the 20" bike... provided it is not so big that it could prevent you from having grandchildren.
    I will check that out when we take him to the LBS in the spring. He is a fairly little guy, but if he's comfortable and safe on the X24, I'd be happy to get him that.

    As for grandchildren, do I really need to worry about a cutout for his saddle already?
    Last edited by ultimattfrisbee; 01-19-12 at 07:44 PM. Reason: typo
    2009 Jamis Aurora
    1993 Bianci Ibex

  18. #18
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Another option...get him a nice folder, they can be had in a variety of price ranges and equipment. My wife and I are over 12" apart in height and can ride the same folder with just a few quick adjustments...

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  19. #19
    Riding Heaven's Highways: In Memoriam justfitme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ultimattfrisbee View Post

    As for grandchildren, do I really need to worry about a cutout for his saddle already?
    I do not think any of us had a cutout at 7 or 8..but we ended up in this thread..anyway.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ultimattfrisbee View Post
    I will check that out when we take him to the LBS in the spring. He is a fairly little guy, but if he's comfortable and safe on the X24, I'd be happy to get him that.

    As for grandchildren, do I really need to worry about a cutout for his saddle already?
    Cutout not necessary. Just a top tube low enough for standover.

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