Hi. I am a confused Mom with a spinny head after a day of bike shopping!! I was hoping those of you in the know might share your thoughts on the following bikes we are considering for our almost 11 year old son. He is almost 5'2" and has a 27 inch inseam. We plan to ride mostly as a family in our neighborhood, and on bike trails. I don't see a lot of very aggressive riding in his immediate future, though I can see him being a bit hard on the bike in terms of crashing or dropping the bike perhaps. We have been told he needs an 18 inch frame in Raleigh and Giant, or a medium frame in Schwinn, with a 26 or 27.5 inch wheel.
My questions are
1.) which would be the best value for the money in terms of quality of the bike components, durability and room for growth
2.) which brands are considered the "better" brands in general (how do they rate in order).
3.) how many years can I reasonably expect a bike to last him (growth-wise)
These are the bikes:
Schwinn Sierra GS - $260.00 - LBS
Schwinn Traverse - $170.00 - Toys R Them (I know, I know!!)
Raleigh Mojave 2.0 -$275.00 - LBS
Giant Boulder SE -$320.00 - LBS
Specialized ??? ??? - LBS
Giant Hybrid - Don't remember the model - LBS
Giant Comfort - Don't remember the model - LBS
I believe he is too big for the Specialized HotRock 24", so whatever is the next step up from that (we are going to look tomorrow morning).
I am not too hung up on brand name as long as I am not buying junk. I'd like to keep it to about $350.00 absolute max if I can. Please don't flame me, I am very inclined to buy from my LBS (I hate Walmart), but other than service (which I do highly value!) is there that much difference in the quality of the actual bikes themselves that make them a minimum of $100.00 more expensive at a LBS?
I don't mind spending the money and supporting the LBS in the process as long as I understand what the extra is buying me.
Well, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge! It felt great to get back on a bike with my family after not having ridden for 20+ years - and we did 16 miles on rental jalopies our first time out! Think of the potential!! Looking forward to choosing our new bikes with your help! Thanks again!!
PS- Any other bikes I should consider? We want an aluminum frame and he hates the twisty grip shifters - he likes the clicky trigger ones.