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  1. #1
    Senior Member diesel_dad's Avatar
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    16 Inch Bicycle with Gears?

    We have a 5-year old daughter who is a fantastic cyclist but is very tiny. She can ride 3km+ at a stretch and currently rides a 14" single speed bicycle handed down from her brother.

    She would love a bicycle with gears like her brother. Her brother rides a 20" 6-speed Kona Makena. We have looked high and low for a 16" wheel bicycle with gears (ideally 6-speed) and have not found anything.

    Can anyone please point me to a bicycle with 16" wheels and gears?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    GATC
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    I was thinking of the raleigh rowdy which a neighboring 5 yr old is riding but that turns out to be 20". My son is getting gear practice on a shifter trail-a-bike. He's ready for a 20" bike now but can still move the bars and seat apart a bit on his 16"er so he's not rushing (he's very conservative).

  3. #3
    Senior Member diesel_dad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    I was thinking of the raleigh rowdy which a neighboring 5 yr old is riding but that turns out to be 20". My son is getting gear practice on a shifter trail-a-bike. He's ready for a 20" bike now but can still move the bars and seat apart a bit on his 16"er so he's not rushing (he's very conservative).
    Thanks. I have tried all the big names (Kona, Norco, Schwinn, Huffy, Specialized, Electra etc.) to no avail. I have seen some used ads on Craiglist etc., so they existed at some point. Any pointers would be appreciated.

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    I don't think I have ever seen a 16" geared bike, not to say that they do not or have not existed.

    I could see the tolerances getting tight with a geared bike that size. Our 20" geared bike has the derailleur getting close to the rim. That could be fixed with a shorter cage der. though. The chain line on the smaller wheel would cause greater chain angles. The chain might complain some at the extremes (1st and 7th gear). You could build your own from parts. The cost would likely be near the cost of a new bike but it could be a fun project.

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    Internal?

    Our daughter learned to ride on a 16" coaster, but quickly moved to a 20" 7 speed. After watching her (certainly no expert, and only 1 sample), I believe 7 is more than enough at that age. She really only used 3-4, and they were the lowest gears. She now rides a 24" 21 speed with a very nice natural cadence.

    I don't think most girls that size need gearing, but do have a niece that is very petite, so can understand your situation.

    Like someone else mentioned, on my daughters 20" 7 speed the rear derailleur is very close to the ground. How would an internal hub work? I'm guessing if you could find a 5-7 speed cheap enough, a wheel is buildable. Than finding a crank to get the gearing in range with the small rear wheel, and with the correct crank arm length for her petite legs.

    Would take someone that knows what they are doing to get it right. Sounds expensive.... and temporary.

    Sunflowerflyer

  6. #6
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    One could build up a 16 inch rear wheel with an internal gear hub and with the right chain ring and cog you could have a very useable gearing.

    Since kids grow so fast this would be a good deal of $$$ to spend for a bike she may not be able to ride in a year or two.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    I'm a little late in responding to this, but i did what Sixty Fiver suggested earlier this year. I grafted a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub onto a little kids 16" wheel bike for my 5 year old daughter. It really turned out to be a bigger project and a lot more expensive than I anticipated. Frankly, unless you are very mechanically inclined and have easy access to lots of free parts, I'd be hard pressed to recommend taking this on.

    For instance, you will need 28 custom cut spokes (5 1/8", IIRC) at $1 each just to make this wide flange hub fit the wheel. A new hub, cable & shifter runs $75. Add in a set of side pull handbrakes.... You probably get the picture. I upgrades tires, tubes and rims while at it.

    It was a great hobby project, and my daughter loves the ride, but be prepared going into it!

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    From my perspective (13 years coaching kids), children of that age don't usually learn to use gears anything like correctly. Not saying that this is an absolute rule but haven't seen it broken yet. concentrate, for the time being, on helping her develop her bike handling skills and move to the smallest geared bike as soon as she is big enough.

  9. #9
    Senior Member diesel_dad's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great suggestions. We finally landed on a used 2005 Specialized Hotrock 20 6 Speed. The geometry was such that we could cut the seatpost and get a low enough seating position. Very nice little bike. Here is a link:
    http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkM...005&spid=21423


    Agree that there will be a learning curve on the gears but we live in a very hilly area and it's too demoralizing having to walk up every hill.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    Your daughter must be a bit bigger than mine. She is only 42" tall, and almost 6 now. I have a Trek Mt Lion 6 speed (very similar to your Hotrock, but with an even lower top tube), and it will be a while before she can use it. It is just too much bike (length, mass) for her.

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    I swear I saw this EXACT bike in a 16 inch at Eddies Bike Shop in Stow, Ohio.... Hmmmm Nice ride however!
    There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
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  12. #12
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fibber View Post
    A new (Sturmey-Archer 3-speed) hub, cable & shifter runs $75.
    $54 at AEBike if you must have new. Often $20 at Goodwill or a garage sale, but you have to remove the bike attached to the hub. Sometimes free on large item trash day.

    I was given an old wheel w/ a Sturmey AW3 & trigger shifter at the end of a swap meet. I unlaced it and cleaned/lubed it, then gave it to my brother who laced it into his 6 y.o. son's bike, reusing the existing spokes in an N+1 cross pattern. Worked great; cost nothing; nephew loved it.

    HTH,
    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  13. #13
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    I wish it was that simple. AE-Bike's low cost offering was the SRC3 hub, which is a 36 hole flange, around 120 mm OLD, and a long axle length. It is really unsuited for use with a 16" wheel on a little childs bike. The ideal unit is the AW, which is available in a 28 hole flange, 107 mm OLD, and very short axle. It is ideal for kids bikes, folding bikes, etc. Unfortuately, few carry it, and the price is higher. I priced it with shipping at the time, and it came to $72+.

    I presently am using on her bike a vintage S-A hub that I bought off of e-bay. Well, buyer beware. I had to purchase two at auction (the AW was terrible, the S3C tolerable, but notchy) before I got one that worked even halfway decently. I took the AW apart, and it was rusty inside. No amount of solvent and lube was going to overcome the damage. You might get lucky with vintage, or maybe not.... Factor in the headaches, I'd buy new next time around.

  14. #14
    Senior Member diesel_dad's Avatar
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    Update - the Specialized Hotrock 20 is working out very well. My daughter is about 42" tall and normally proportioned. I have to spend some time adjusting the brakes and brake levers so she could grip them properly.

    Also replaced the factory kickstand with a Greenfield style kickstand.

    Great bike overall.

  15. #15
    Ridin dirty riva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fibber View Post

    For instance, you will need 28 custom cut spokes (5 1/8", IIRC) at $1 each just to make this wide flange hub fit the wheel.
    Dan's comp has custom length 14g spokes for $0.30 to $.45 cents each including nipple. Good strong ones too in lots of colors. Also I was gonna say(but you already solved this dilemma), there are mini or micro bmx race bikes with 20" tires that fit very tiny kids. Its all down to frame design. Proportionally think of the 20" micros more like an adults 29er. My family does have a multispeed 20" tire bike with the deraileur close to the ground.. and like has already been said a 16 wont work with a standard deraileur.

  16. #16
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    Thinking of doing this, depending on cost... I just found a 16" specialized hotrock on Craig's list for $20, and if it's in decent shape it could be an interesting project to set it up with an internal gear hub and a hand-brake.

    diesel_dad, did you have to get special brake levers? Or could you just adjust the ones you had?

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