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  1. #1
    Prefers Aluminum Sprocket Man's Avatar
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    I'm currently looking for a new bike for my 6 year old daughter. We've looked at a bunch of different models at various shops, and one thing I've found that they all have in common - they're all really heavy! When I pick up these bikes, they definitely feel heavier than my road bike (which is about 18 lbs.).

    I have a couple of questions about bikes for kids just learning to ride 2 wheelers.

    1. Where would I find a good selection of lightweight kids bikes? (online stores would be fine)
    2. Is it even recommended for a kid to have a lightweight bike? Perhaps its better for a kid to learn to ride on a bike that has a little more 'bulk'?

    Maybe my road cycling weight obsession is unnecessarily affecting my buying decision for my daughter. I have no idea!

  2. #2
    Just Another Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sprocket Man
    Maybe my road cycling weight obsession is unnecessarily affecting my buying decision for my daughter. I have no idea!

    IN my opinion, and I don't have any kids so I could be way off, you should take your daughter to various shops and have her find one she likes. It is more important that she like it then have it be light weight. Besides, extra weight = better workout = faster legs when she starts racing!

    Also, if she's six, she will end up outgrowing this bike sooner or later, no sense ordering a custum welded Ti frame for her yet. Just my $0.02

    boog
    “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

    --Dr. Carl Sagan

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sprocket Man
    I'm currently looking for a new bike for my 6 year old daughter. We've looked at a bunch of different models at various shops, and one thing I've found that they all have in common - they're all really heavy! When I pick up these bikes, they definitely feel heavier than my road bike (which is about 18 lbs.).

    I have a couple of questions about bikes for kids just learning to ride 2 wheelers.

    1. Where would I find a good selection of lightweight kids bikes? (online stores would be fine)
    2. Is it even recommended for a kid to have a lightweight bike? Perhaps its better for a kid to learn to ride on a bike that has a little more 'bulk'?

    Maybe my road cycling weight obsession is unnecessarily affecting my buying decision for my daughter. I have no idea!
    This topic, under another heading ("Cheap vs expensive kids bikes" or something like that) was discussed last year, and weight was one of the prime issues. So I'll reprise what I wrote then-

    "Something I hadn't considered about the weight issue is that the five pounds you save is a much greater portion of your child's overall weight while on the bike. Think of it this way: 40# child + 25# bike+ 65 #'s, take 5# off you've saved 7.7% of their riding weight. Apply that 7.7% to an adult's weight: 180# adult (me) + 30# bike= 210# * 1.07.7= 226#, or 16+ extra pounds riding weight (and yes, I know the algebra doesn't quite work). As well, I'm stronger in the legs (proportionately) than my son, so the extra weight is easier for me to carry. That said, I sure wouldn't want to carry the extra 16 pounds on a longer ride, and it really is noticeable when comparing bikes (my commuter feels like a brick compared to my 24# trail bike).

    All that said, we will wait until he gets a little older, and onto two wheels full time (he's four and a half right now) before we spend the big money and get him a really good bike. That part of the equation, and how your child fits it, is up to you, of course . "

    Many, many kids bikes are built from the cheapest possible materials, and those at sizes common for adult bikes (tube size of kids is similar to adults, for example). It's amazing how fast cheap and common materials will turn a bike into a rock. Better bikes (Kids Treks, Fishers, Speciallized, and so forth) watch weight more closely, though they do suffer from the scale thing. Given the weight of kids bikes, it might seem a wonder that we learn to ride at all, except that it's so damn much fun.

    My advise? Check out used kids bikes by better manufacturers. Never buy new until they're dedicated to riding on their own. There are lots of great used kids bikes out there for the looking (Craigslist, Ebay, LBS, yardsales). Understand that they'll outgrow the bike fast (which, as the father of a six year old I'm sure you already understand) and purchase accordingly. And don't rush them in to something they're not ready for.

    Steve

  4. #4
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    They're heavy because they're cheap.

    This is ok if you keep her on a small gear on reasonably flat rides, you might have to do a bit of maths gear ratio to bike weight etc.. to satisfy yourself. You're not obsessing about weight the recommended maximum weight bearing load for a kid is 10% of body weight, something I've always given a lot of attention.

    BOOG for when you have kids remember - extra weight = early bone consolidation = stunted growth

    For a good light ride check out the second hand rail at your local BMX club for a JUNIOR BMX bike, they have well made light frames with good quality 1" alloy wheels.

    Even purchased new they're not as expensive as you would think and they do have some resale unlike the department store bikes. eg: I bought one for $500 and sold it three years later for $350 - about the same loss as buying a cheapy with no resale.
    Last edited by bikejack; 02-28-06 at 07:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Just Another Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikejack
    extra weight = early bone consolidation = stunted growth

    I won't forget THAT one too soon!

    Thanks, bikejack. A few of my friends have children about this age or younger, and they come to me for bike related questions for themselves, but never for their kids. I will keep the BMX rides in mind, and start looking at a few myself. Any recomendations for a quality Jr. BMX or other bike would be appreciated.

    boog
    Last edited by boog; 05-04-06 at 12:28 PM.
    “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

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  6. #6
    Just Another Commuter
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    Also, I wouldn;t have guessed that about heavy bikes. I always rode whatever X-mart bike my parents found for me, and I'm 6' and a little bit. Maybe I could've been 6'5" or so (just kidding)

    boog
    “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

    --Dr. Carl Sagan

  7. #7
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    The best bikes I've seen for kids ages four to eight are those from Trek and Gary Fisher, because of the attention to dialing in a precise fit. Kids feel safer and more secure when a bike fits them exactly. The "one size fits all" approach of most bike makers is insulting to both kids and parents.

    Yes, kids bikes are too heavy. A bike designed for a child that weighs forty pounds may weigh thirty pounds. That is similar to a 150 pound adult trying to deal with a bike that weighs more than 100 pounds.

    The bike companies want to make bikes that are tough enough for the astounding abuse kids give bikes, and that requires beefing up the wheels, frames, cranks, stems, and bars. But, they want to keep the price under $300, so that means steel parts instead of lighter weight alloys.

  8. #8
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    Redline and also GT produce some good quality Jnr bikes at a reasonable price.

    Boog, most kids can ride around with there mates on any old junker with no ill affect but more often nowadays dad says stick with me kid we're hitting the mountain trails and inclines with your cheap 2+ kilo forks and steel frame, that's when someone has to say let's have a good look at this before we start.

  9. #9
    Senior Citizen DiRt DeViL's Avatar
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    I was going to recommend the Mini or Junior BMX bike too. They are light, have skinny tires and are fast.

    If you'll be taking the kid to the trails a kid mtb is a better choice.

    My son (9) started with a 14" TrU Kent dh look alike junk of junk when he was 4 then moved to a mini bmx, a 24" mtb and now rides a 24" roadie and a 26" mtb (13"). A good quality kid bike will take you to a price range similar to cheap lbs quality grown up bikes but the weight penalty will still be there, it isn't as bad as a x mart bike but not equal to grown ups.

    I'm selling this 2 bikes but they're big for your kid, both are 24".

    Girls Gary Fisher Tyro


    Boys Diamondback Octane 24 with lots of upgrades (used to be my son's race bike)


    Asking $300 OBO for each plus shipping
    Last edited by DiRt DeViL; 03-01-06 at 06:23 AM.
    "Life is not like a box of chocolates ...
    it's more like a jar of jalapenos.
    Whatever you do today,
    may burn your ass tomorrow."


  10. #10
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    I recently bought a little, bitty 12" wheel bike for my tiny peanut of a daughter. Darn thing weights about 2/3 of what she does. Unfortunately, there is not much choice in the 12" / 16" / 18" end of the market. The metalurgy is along that of black pipe.

    Steve

  11. #11
    RRZ
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    Bah! You're talking about a few more pounds on a bike for goodness sake! They're not riding in the Tour de France.

    Heavier bike = stronger leg muscles



    And, as far as I can tell, even the low-end Trek, Specialized, etc. bikes (which cost well more than the mass-market bikes) are heavy and you don't see much weight reduction until you start spending way more $$. (Please feel free to prove me wrong on this point--I'd love to find a low-cost lighter bike for my kids, too.)

  12. #12
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    I agree with RRZ. You don't get alot more for your money with the name brands. The 2 or 3 times price difference in kids bikes is not the quality difference you see in adult bikes.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman
    I agree with RRZ. You don't get alot more for your money with the name brands. The 2 or 3 times price difference in kids bikes is not the quality difference you see in adult bikes.
    I assembled some $50 bikes as gifts for some kids in the neighborhood whose families could not afford bikes. They LOOKED just like a Trek. However, the headset bearings and wheel bearings were of very poor quality. The hand brakes were awful...don't buy a discount store bike unless it has coaster brakes.

    In contrast, I've bought my nephew three or four Trek bikes over the years. He likes to do crazy stuff to his bikes and really beats the heck out of them. Yet, after a year or two or riding, his Treks ride just like new. They get passed on to younger kids who will ride them a year or two...I'm guessing that these Treks are just like a 1955 Schwinn: my nephew's grandkids may be riding them someday.

    A $200 bike built to provide twenty years of hard service for eight or ten different kids is "cheaper" than a $50 bike that is marginally unsafe on day one, and that is often unrideable in six months.

  14. #14
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    I don't disagree that they are better, but for the cost differential I don't find them to be that much more of a deal. I too only buy the name brands because mine have to last through 3 - 4 kids. But I am still not impressed with the component quality for the price differential. The cost savings to me is that they will last for the 4-6 years of riding each bike will experience whereas I could make the discount bike go that distance, I would be cursing them the whole way. I only half curse the name brand bikes. Again, for the money they do not offer what I think they should be offering in terms of component quality. Then again, for some of the components, I think they are the best that is currently manufactured even if they are lacking.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=RRZ]Bah! You're talking about a few more pounds on a bike for goodness sake! They're not riding in the Tour de France.

    Heavier bike = stronger leg muscles



    You are obviously more knowledgeable about whats good for your kids than the doctors and experts who spend years studying the affects of weight and extra load on growing bodies.

    Do you also buy your kids bikes they will eventually grow into.

  16. #16
    Conservative Hippie
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    The "extra weight = early bone consolidation = stunted growth" only works if the kid is carrying the bike everywhere. It applies to obese children. Actually, it works the other way when the bike is carrying the kid. In other words, the kid is carrying less of his own weight when riding a bike and none of the bike's weight. Riding a bike does nothing to affect bone density. Carrying extra weight on the body does and, to a lesser extent, so does distance running.

    Moving on, when I was a kid I was never worried about the weight of my bike, none of my friends were, either. The weight of my bike was never a concern until I reached my mid-teens and started touring. Then I became something of a weight weenie, but I grew out of that a long time ago.

    The weight of a kid's bike is not nearly as much of a practical concern as the quality of the components and assembly of the bike.

    edit-Now that I think about it, backpacking is another activity that would effect bone density, because of the weight bearing, but the kid would have to be doing it all the time, like carrying a heavy backpack to school everyday. Riding a heavy, relatively speaking, bicycle would not have this effect.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 03-06-06 at 04:20 AM.

  17. #17
    RRZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikejack
    You are obviously more knowledgeable about whats good for your kids than the doctors and experts who spend years studying the affects of weight and extra load on growing bodies.

    Thanks for reminding me to have my kids ride their bikes instead of carrying their bikes on their backs.

    Oh, and they should only ride downhill, right? All that work pushing hard on the pedals going up hills will stunt their growth?

    Good grief.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRZ
    Thanks for reminding me to have my kids ride their bikes instead of carrying their bikes on their backs.

    Oh, and they should only ride downhill, right? All that work pushing hard on the pedals going up hills will stunt their growth?

    Good grief.


    Glad to see your comprehension skills are first class as well.

  19. #19
    @#$% cars
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    How FAST do you want a new inexperienced rider ... with the judgement of a 6 year old and zero traffic experience ... to go???

  20. #20
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    As fast as they can dream about going .

    They pretty much know when they are going too fast and self moderate.

  21. #21
    RRZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by hubs
    How FAST do you want a new inexperienced rider ... with the judgement of a 6 year old and zero traffic experience ... to go???

    What kind of question is that? If the kid doesn't realize the danger of traffic, he shouldn't be out on the streets at any speed without direct adult supervision. If he's being closely supervised, then I'd say "as fast as he can!" (as long as he doesn't go out of control and crash, of course)

  22. #22
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    Lol, I say let them crash (as long as it is not permanently damaging or requires hospitalization). Nothing teaches safety like a personally experienced mishap. Better now than later.

    My oldest endo'd a few weeks back. Riding down a hill, did not realize that the mud in the gully would bind the tire. I have never endo'd like that. Side of face covered in mud, thru the vents of the helmet, handlebar into ribs, bike stuck in the ground. It was great. Cried, needed cuddling (dad was good for right there but mom was really wanted), a bath and a nap after that. Of course they get right back on, we were just racing down the street this weekend. If mine were a little bigger/older I would likely buy make an offer on Dirt Devils bike, but I have 20" on layaway for the birthday gears and all. I am worried about this step up but I am sure they will adjust to the changes. I know the bigger gear(s) will be greatly appreciated. I think I have seen 150rpm from them.

    Anyway, I hope you all can let the little stuff go. Remember, the person on this forum could be your neighbor, boss, employee, fellow church member, friends father, etc. It would be embarassing to meet after exchanges like this. Try to disagree respectfully .

  23. #23
    @#$% cars
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRZ
    What kind of question is that? If the kid doesn't realize the danger of traffic, he shouldn't be out on the streets at any speed without direct adult supervision. If he's being closely supervised, then I'd say "as fast as he can!" (as long as he doesn't go out of control and crash, of course)
    I guess you live in a pretty safe residential area.

    Here in Chicago, even sidewalk riding means frequent alley and driveway crossings. The street crossings (which come every block) involve drivers who are much more interested in getting somewhere fast than anyone else's safety.

    When I got my daughter a bike, I thought, man, this thing is a tank. Then she shot down the block (with me right behind) and it was a constant challenge to keep her aware of traffic hazards even as a sidewalk rider. There is also frequent slowing for pedestrians. I want her to show respect to them ... I feel as though the sidewalks are really theirs. The tank went plenty fast for sidewalk riding. Even the bike paths around here require alot of moderation for traffic ... other bikers, pedestrians, smaller kids.

    She just got a new, and much lighter bike (Raleigh hybrid) and she keeps telling me how easily this bike both speeds up and coasts. She is 8 and still rides mainly on the sidewalks.

    I think the only time a faster bike would have really been a benefit was on Bike the Drive ... where there's an opportunity for a kid to just ride! I've never told her to slow down cutting across the park or on a clear path ... go for it! It's just in my experience there is very little opportunity for a kid to ride "all out" anyway, so the tank was just fine.

    I think the actual riding the kid will do should be a big factor in bike choice. If it's urban ... then a tank is plenty light b/c speed has to be so frequently moderated. If you live somewhere where your kid can go all out regularly, and you want them as fast as possible (you'll get a better ride!), get a lighter bike. If they are ready for the streets, then a lighter bike also makes sense. Quick acceleration is an asset there!

  24. #24
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    I got a ticket once coming out of a bike shop and riding on the sidewalk to get to the road. I was not too happy as I was not riding much faster than walking pace and headed to the curb. Meaning, some municipalities don't allow riding on the sidewalk. I personally would not want to live in such a tight urban environment. It is somewhat hard to see whenever I go to NYC and see the kids be so restricted as you are. But there are alot of other things that you can do there that I just don't have access to here in the hinterlands .

  25. #25
    @#$% cars
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    yeah, writing that explanation made me think we have to pack the bikes in the car and head to more open space a little more often this summer!

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