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Old 03-14-08, 09:46 PM   #1
Bialy
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Best gear number for an 8 year old

For a kid who just learned how to bike, is it best to go with a single-gear OR seven-gears? And why? Also want him to keep bike awhile. Thanks.
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Old 03-15-08, 12:15 AM   #2
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If you live where it's flat, single speed will be simpler.

On a typical cheap kid's bike, the gears are going to be a pain to keep operational. If you're looking at a 7-speed hub, you wouldn't have that problem.

Kids can grow awfully fast, too.

I've noticed in the past that kids do not always grasp the idea that you go slower in a lower gear, not faster. They think legs a'spinnin' + easier to pedal = faster ride
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Old 03-15-08, 02:19 AM   #3
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At about that age I got a single speed BMX style bike and I had a blast on it for years. Unless you live on the side of a mountain I would say that would be the way to go.

Just my .20
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Old 03-15-08, 02:32 PM   #4
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Ya, first bike, just learning to ride seems easier on a single speed. Easier for the kid to master, easier to maintain.

Definitely look on Craigslist for something used name brand like Trek, Giant, Gary Fisher, Kona, etc. Stay away from the used XMart bikes (Schwinn, Magna, Pacific) etc. You'd be better off buying them new than used unless you know what to look for.
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Old 03-15-08, 05:30 PM   #5
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Agree that gears can be problematical for that age. My experience of running a kids club for the last 10years (this June 8th) is that very few learn to use them instinctively much before age 10.

However, if the area is hilly, he'll learn much more quickly. Of course, in Holland, they can only race with a single gear until, I think, 14. Mind you, when one of our kids went over there for an international youth stage race when he was about 11, there was a hill-climb time trial stage. Up the slip road onto a motorway flyover.
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Old 03-16-08, 03:27 AM   #6
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Just buy a bike with an internal hub (3 to 7 speeds)...IF your child can handle hand operated brakes. Will be more versatile for the long run and allow longer distance rides. See a lot of internal hub bikes at the local LBS in sizes for younger kids.

If not then a single speed with a coaster brake and maybe a hand operated front brake is usually the popular choice because a coaster brake is easier to learn to use and allows a child to use their full hand strength to hang on to the handlebars and still steer/have control.
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Old 03-16-08, 07:44 AM   #7
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Just my .20
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Old 03-16-08, 10:14 AM   #8
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My son just turned 8 years old a few weeks ago. He has been riding a Trek MT-60 for the last 2 years. It has 6 speeds (twist grip type shifters). For the first year, I had to tell him when to shift and which gear to shift to. He then learned to do it on his own (most of the time - he occationally needs a reminder). He was able to ride over 50 milers on varied terran on that bike.

He just git a NEW road bike. A Trek KDR-1000. It is just like an adult bike. We have only been out on it once so far. He is not shifting it at all yet (just keeps it in a moderate gear), while he get used to the new size, position, handleing, etc. He really likes it and the gears enable him to ride futher and to tackle hills that he could not climb with a single speed.

Based on my experience - go with gears and teach him to use them gradually...
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Old 03-17-08, 12:36 PM   #9
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Just buy a bike with an internal hub (3 to 7 speeds)...IF your child can handle hand operated brakes. Will be more versatile for the long run and allow longer distance rides. See a lot of internal hub bikes at the local LBS in sizes for younger kids.

If not then a single speed with a coaster brake and maybe a hand operated front brake is usually the popular choice because a coaster brake is easier to learn to use and allows a child to use their full hand strength to hang on to the handlebars and still steer/have control.
I have a six year old daughter who is just now starting to ride. The problem we are going to run into is that it is hilly here, and if I get her a single speed bike she is going to have a hard time getting up the hills in the neighborhood. I'd rather not get her a derailleur equipped bike, as I think she'd find it too persnickety to use. An internal hub bike would be ideal, but I haven't seen any kids bikes so equipped. Do you recall any of the brand names of the internal hubbed bikes that you saw?
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Old 03-17-08, 06:06 PM   #10
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I have a six year old daughter who is just now starting to ride. The problem we are going to run into is that it is hilly here, and if I get her a single speed bike she is going to have a hard time getting up the hills in the neighborhood. I'd rather not get her a derailleur equipped bike, as I think she'd find it too persnickety to use. An internal hub bike would be ideal, but I haven't seen any kids bikes so equipped. Do you recall any of the brand names of the internal hubbed bikes that you saw?
Sorry, didn't look at the brand name. The bikes were lined up outside the store and I only looked at the shifter (the bikes had either twist or rapid shifters) to see if the bikes had more than 3-speeds (half were 6 or 7-speed and a few had training wheels attached...both boys and girls models). Helen's website, http://www.helenscycles.com/ , doesn't list/show the bikes I saw or any of the other kid's bikes that were on the showroom floor.
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Old 03-17-08, 09:23 PM   #11
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If you dont want him to ride too fast, put the bike in a low gear and wait till he has more road sense before you teach him how to shift
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Old 03-23-08, 08:35 AM   #12
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My 7 year old girl is big, and very strong for her age she rides a Trek mt220. I has 7 on the rear and 3 on the front for 21 total. SHe rides on the middle ring on the front, and is free to use the 7 on the back as she chooses. If we come to a very steep hill, I will tell her to shift to the little ring, and she has never used the big ring. Except for some really big hill, she'd be fine without the triple on the front.
It didn't take her long to figure out the gearing, sometimes she still tends to spin out lower gears as she is climbing mild hills, but she does ok.
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Old 04-16-08, 11:34 PM   #13
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gears

our daughter had a 7 spd trek trail a bike (bought new), and then a 7 spd 20" specialized (bought used $100). She really likes the gears, but really hasn't shifted it that much. Until she was about 8, she mostly just found a gear she liked, and left it there. I'm guessing she uses about 4 gears, starting with the lowest. She developed a natural cadence much higher than all of her friends, and never really struggled with pedaling.

Her new 16" bike is a 24 speed. Even at 9 YO, 24 gears is really too many. I have considered swapping out the front crank for a single speed.

But, I'm glad she has grown up with the gears, not so much because she shifts, but rather because we could easily select a gear range matches her body. But her friends are doing just fine with their single speeds as well.
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