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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 12-15-07, 06:36 AM   #1
noodella
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commuting/car free bike for a girl

I want to get my daughter a new bike. She's 10 and we're on the cusp of car-free life.
She'll fit a 24" bike but in Australia I only seem to be able to find mountain bikes.
Despite, (rather offhandish) responses from my two LBS stores assuring me that it will be fine, I am reluctant to get her a mountain bike.

She will cycle between 30-40km a day, on roads and bike paths, sometimes in very heavy traffic. Cycling is our transport and we're a family with extra-curricular commitments and school to get to. Off road cycling will happen at most once or twice a year.

I've got a flat bar road bike and my husband has a hybrid. We don't want to make her have to work hard on a MTB to keep with us!

Some recommendations for a good bike for our daughter given the type of riding we will do are greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-15-07, 07:51 AM   #2
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Thats some amazing amount of riding for a 10 year old. I rode a lot as a kid, but not that much.

Given the circumstances, your best bet may be to buy the mountain bike and see about putting some street tires on it. A triple chain ring should give her plenty of gears to make it easy to pedal. That should give you decent performance. I suspect that the hardest problem would be that a 24" bike just won't have high enough gears to keep up with larger bikes.

The Trek Australia website lists the MT 220.



Good luck and safe riding.

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Old 12-15-07, 08:13 AM   #3
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24" road bikes are scarce, I would consider a couple of options: Get the MTB, put slicks on it and consider removing the front der and a couple of chainrings. (did that for my DD) Another option would be to purchase the MTB bike and have skinny wheels built up for it. I agree that pushing those kinds of distances would suck on knobbies. You want to make it as much fun as possible, not a chore if you want them to fully participate. One family I rode with on a regular basis had a rule that the youngest set the pace on the longer rides. We used to regularly ride 10-15 mile loops with their son and my daughter leading the pack. At the time they were both riding 20" wheeled BMX bikes with a 5 speed cluster in the back and knobbie tires (taught me to never underestimate the youngest set!)

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Old 12-15-07, 09:49 AM   #4
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The disadvantages of mountain bikes on-road fall into just a few categories. All of these disadvantages can essentially be taken away by swapping out components.

1) weight: an MTB will have heavier rims and tires than a road bike of comparable quality. there is little if any difference in frame weight, though (low end MTB frames are much more common, though).

2) aerodynamics: compared to a road bike, MTB handlebars usually put the arms further apart and the head&shoulders further up, where they'll all catch more wind.

3) ergonomics: for many people, a straight bar strains the wrists more during longer on-road rides than the types of bars commonly used on cruisers or road bikes.

Depending on how big of a deal any of these things are to you, you can replace all of the at-fault components for each problem.
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Old 12-15-07, 03:29 PM   #5
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You could pay dearly for a 650C bike for her, but that would not be worth it. There really is no simple solution, so it comes down to how handy you are, and your finances. You could get her a 24", and put some slicks on it, as suggested. You could get her a small MTB with 26" wheels, and again, put some slicks on it, as well as cut the bars down a bit, and install a shorter stem. Without knowing how big she is, it's tough to say.

For a child and a commuter, the frame weight is not a huge issue. I've done 40k on an 18kg single speed BMX bike as a kid. If you can find a mountain bike frame that fits her, get a nice 26" commuter wheelset built for it, and add some racks. You can't lose with items that can be moved from bike to bike. And if Melbourne roads are anything like Newcastle roads, you'll want a flat bar to give you a bit more upright position anyway, so a MTB makes a good choice again. Spares are also more plentiful, and cheaper.
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Old 12-15-07, 04:17 PM   #6
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Thats some amazing amount of riding for a 10 year old. I rode a lot as a kid, but not that much.
You would be surprised how quickly 30-40km racks up when you do several shortish trips in a day! We're still half car-half bike and do at least 20km to get around everyday.
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Old 12-15-07, 04:20 PM   #7
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The disadvantages of mountain bikes on-road fall into just a few categories. All of these disadvantages can essentially be taken away by swapping out components.

1) weight: an MTB will have heavier rims and tires than a road bike of comparable quality. there is little if any difference in frame weight, though (low end MTB frames are much more common, though).

2) aerodynamics: compared to a road bike, MTB handlebars usually put the arms further apart and the head&shoulders further up, where they'll all catch more wind.

3) ergonomics: for many people, a straight bar strains the wrists more during longer on-road rides than the types of bars commonly used on cruisers or road bikes.

Depending on how big of a deal any of these things are to you, you can replace all of the at-fault components for each problem.
Thanks so much for the information. That's what I was thinking when I went to the LBS. I wanted to make adjustments but got pretty fobbed off. Now I know what to ask for, and I will!

thanks
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Old 12-15-07, 04:23 PM   #8
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I suspect that the hardest problem would be that a 24" bike just won't have high enough gears to keep up with larger bikes.

The Trek Australia website lists the MT 220.



Good luck and safe riding.
That is something we're keeping in mind. She's very short for her age (with two short parents), so we really can't move up to anything bigger.
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Old 12-15-07, 04:30 PM   #9
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You would be surprised how quickly 30-40km racks up when you do several shortish trips in a day! We're still half car-half bike and do at least 20km to get around everyday.
A couple of shorter trips that add up to 30-40km are easily managed on a mountain bike with slicks. Giant also makes some nice 24" bikes, and if she's short, chances are she won't outgrow it for a long while.
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Old 12-15-07, 06:34 PM   #10
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Good luck and safe riding.
My daughter has one of these. She is 52" tall, about 65 pounds. It fits her well, and seems to be a decent bike.
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Old 12-15-07, 09:53 PM   #11
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Another thought would be to see if you can find an old 24" 10 Speed.
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Old 12-16-07, 08:24 AM   #12
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Trek makes the the KDS 1000. It is a rode bike with 24' wheels 16 speed. http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes..._9_12/kdr1000/
Looks sweet. Your Trek dealer should be able to get one.

I will probably buy my nephew one in a few years. He just turned 6 and I got him the 20" hot rock mountain bike. I like it better than the Trek. It will a bit lighter, more streamline and better components.
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Old 12-16-07, 10:05 AM   #13
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Trek makes the the KDS 1000. It is a rode bike with 24' wheels 16 speed. http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes..._9_12/kdr1000/
Looks sweet. Your Trek dealer should be able to get one.
Her dealer will not be able to order one, and it lacks rack mounts.
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Old 12-17-07, 07:47 AM   #14
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I would suggest a folding bike. Most are one-size-fits-all designs, which means if you can get a 10-year old to fit on the bike, you will be able to adjust it for her as she grows. My 8 and 10 year old kids --both of whom are fairly small-- are able to ride a 16" folder no problem; and I commute to work on one (and I'm 6' tall).

I don't know what folding bike options you have down under; but check in on the folders forum, there are several Australian posters there, and they're sure to know what you can get.
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Old 12-17-07, 07:52 AM   #15
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Folding bike FTW !!!
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Old 12-17-07, 12:12 PM   #16
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islabikes do lightweight, practical kids bikes in 24 and 26"
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Old 12-17-07, 01:10 PM   #17
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Her dealer will not be able to order one, and it lacks rack mounts.
Why will her dealer not be able to order one?

I see eyelets drilled for a rack over the dropouts. With those, you can figure out a way to secure the rack to the seatpost, brake bolt.
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Old 12-17-07, 01:48 PM   #18
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Why will her dealer not be able to order one?
Because it's not available to him.
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Old 12-17-07, 10:03 PM   #19
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The folding bike thing is actually a really good idea. You can have it suit her now *and* later, and there are lots of neat folders out there. I quite like that one.
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Old 12-18-07, 05:31 AM   #20
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I would suggest a folding bike. Most are one-size-fits-all designs, which means if you can get a 10-year old to fit on the bike, you will be able to adjust it for her as she grows. My 8 and 10 year old kids --both of whom are fairly small-- are able to ride a 16" folder no problem; and I commute to work on one (and I'm 6' tall).

I don't know what folding bike options you have down under; but check in on the folders forum, there are several Australian posters there, and they're sure to know what you can get.
I have seen Dahon, Birdy and Yeah folding bikes available in a few bike shops in Melbourne, however I have never ridden any of them.
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Old 12-18-07, 12:23 PM   #21
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I have seen Dahon, Birdy and Yeah folding bikes available in a few bike shops in Melbourne, however I have never ridden any of them.
You might be missing much in using these new folders. The folding bike has went through a vast amount of improvement in design and riding comfort/durability over the last few decades. I myself have 3-one is being promised/used by my sister. I now use them exclusive of other bike types. I am giving my old non folding three speed to Bike Kitchen soon because I hate to waste such a good bike that was the pattern or inspiration of the folders.
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Old 12-18-07, 02:57 PM   #22
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I think the hardtail MTB with slicks might in some ways be a better choice than a road bike. If your daughter's like many kids, she'll want to do a little curb jumping and off-road riding as she gains confidence on the bike. The MTB with it's original or upgraded wheels will be durable and steady compared to a road bike. The brakes are better too, in most cases. Most commuters and carfree types aren't particularly fast anyway, especially at the age of 10.
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Old 12-21-07, 03:20 AM   #23
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Keep an eye on council cleanups. I'm guessing from one of your earlier replies that you are from Melbourne. I am from Sydney and our councils have very regular cleanups (I guess Melbourne does too?).

If you are patient you can often pick up some excellent bikes for free. I picked up a lovely women's 12 speed cruiser for my wife about six months ago (which she loves). Its the exact bike she had in her ealy teens and she's very fond of it - a clean up and service, new tires, Topeak rack and Basket and its perfect for quick trips to the shops.

Very recently I found a cool 24 inch racing bike which my 10 year old son has been riding ... Although its only a 10 speed, its much faster than the 20 inch (7 speed) MTB he usually rides. Although all of my three kids are presently riding shop bought bikes, each has spent at least some time on a "recycled" bike from cleanups ... kids grow so fast it can be hard (and expensive) to keep up. I'd rather see a child on a second hand bike that fits properly, rather than a shiny new bike that is too big/small for them. The best part is, if you aren't happy with the bike, you can always just put it out the front by the curb and it will be gone in about an hour or so.

All that said, I tend agree with an earlier post that a road bike with drop bars may not be the best bike for a 10 year old to ride all the time ... every time my son is on it a I worry about how fast he's going and the body position with his head more forward and down ... its nice that we can ride a lot faster now, but I tend to keep to dedicated cycleways (tons where I live) when he's on the the roadie .. which for me defeats some of the purpose of riding with him, ie building up road awareness skills.

My brother-in-law has a folding bike ... scared the heck out of me when I rode it ... the steering is so direct I found it way too twitchy. My Brother says you get use to it and he often commutes on it. Its very cool the way it can be adjusted to fit ... my son and wife (both 155cm) had no trouble getting it to fit (though wife did oversteer and topple off riding slowly).

Good luck.
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Old 12-21-07, 04:51 AM   #24
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Keep an eye on council cleanups. I'm guessing from one of your earlier replies that you are from Melbourne. I am from Sydney and our councils have very regular cleanups (I guess Melbourne does too?).
Yep, we have them here too, I usually see at least 4 bikes laying around come council cleanup time. If I made an effort to look for them I'd see plenty more, too.
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Old 12-21-07, 11:01 AM   #25
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You might also look around for a used bike of some sort. Do you have any friends/relatives with kids just a little older than DD? If so, they might have a bike stashed in their garage that their kid outgrew.
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