Today I took my son to my LBS to buy him a new bike. He is 7, but the largest child in the 1st grade. He stands 4' 9" and weighs 130 pounds! By those numbers, you'd think he's a lazy tub of goo, but no, he is just big. I've long run out of adjustment on his little 20" faux BMX bike.
We first tried a 20" freestyle BMX bike. He didn't like it, as he likes to ride long rides with his Dad (his words, his world). Then we tried a Trek 220, a 24" wheel MTB with a suspension fork. His long legs hit the handlebar! He looked as akward on that as the old 20"!
In frustration, and a quickly upset 7 year old, I looked at John, a family friend, former pro mechanic, wife's old Sunday School teacher, riding partner, and LBS owner, and asked, "What can we do?" He's drawled, "Well, I've got 2 15" framed adult mountian bikes we could try."
We first tried an 820, with a suspension fork. My son like it at first, but got jittery under braking, as the front end bobbed down a bit more then the 220 did. "I don't like it," he declared. Now my frustration was getting high, John wanted to make the sale, Little Diesel was getting discouraged, and the smell from the neighboring sandwich shop was becoming very distracting.
John got a 15" 3500. Talk about a plain, 21 speed, fully ridgid, aluminum mountian bike, this bike even had an old fashioned threaded headset and quill stem. We adjusted the saddle, then the handlebar height, centered the front wheel, and sent the Little Diesel off for what was supposed to be a quick ride around the parking lot. He turned left into the high school, then John and I waited. Then we waited a bit more. After five anxious minutes, John loaned me another bike to go chase him down.
I turned into the high school parking lot, no Little Diesel. I rode around to the athletic feild to find Little Diesel hot lapping the exercise track around the practice football feild, trying to keep up with a dozen or so teenagers! I caught up to him, and told him to stop.
"I told you to turn around and come back!"
"But Dad, I like this bike and was having fun! I was racing those guys!" He pointed at the teenagers.
"You really like that bike that much?" I noticed he had shifted the bike, something I hadn't taught him yet.
"Yes. Am I in trouble?"
"Let's just go back to the shop." I told him
He took off on this bike like he stole it, and at the time, he had. Thankfully John was a patiant man, and had my phone number, address, and road bike. John asked, "What happened?" Little Diesel expalined,"I joined a race at the school and wanted to win. (His words, his world)
John asked, "How were you doing?"
" Well, I thought I could catch them, but they got faster. I shifted it, and got faster, but they were fast!"
After that, I went inside, layed the Visa down, and bought my oldest a new Trek 3500. John has never sold an adult bike for someone that young before in 30 odd years of working in bike shops. Then we headed next door for some dinner.
We went home, I got out my Diamondback MTB, and we took off on a ride for the next hour and a half or so. I showed him how to shift, and brake effectively, and now wonder what next.