Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Issaquah, WA
Bikes: 2006 Specialized Tarmac Expert, 1990 Specialized Allez Epic, Specialized RockCombo (winter), 70's Motobecane Team Champion,
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Originally Posted by dlam
My soon to be 9 yr old daughter has outgrown her 16" toy r us bike. She complains about difficulty going up the hill on our street. I am thinking about getting her a 20" with different speeds because the single speed bike will cause her the same hill problems as before. I definately want to get her a nicer bike from a LBS but I also worry that since summer is almost over and she doesn't ride much in the fall that she will outgrown a 20" bike by next year. Should I want until next year and go for a 24" bike? The 24" is a little too big for her now. Any recommendations as to bike brands. I had a FUJI road bike for many years and had great memories of its durability. How about something like Specialized or Performance? Thanks.
I owned a bike shop for a number of years. Sold Specialized and Trek kid's bikes. The size issue is a tough one. For safety reasons, a bike that is too big is not good for the child. Without seeing your child, it's difficult to tell how big a bike she can handle. If a child has better than average coordination, handling a larger bike may be OK. The problems of using a bike that is too big are most apparent if the rider has to stop and dismount quickly. That's when an injury is most likely to occur.
I think that a multi-speed bike made by a reputable manufacturer makes sense. For my boy, we extended the life of his 20" bike by buying an extra-long alloy seatpost. If you wanted to take this one step further, you could also switch out the stem for a longer one with a higher rise, although this will probably require replacing brake and/or shift cables since they probably won't be long enough to accomodate the higher stem. Check on the costs.
The most economical route would be buying used. I gave away my boy's 20" Specialized to a Christmas charity. After cleaning, adjusting and putting Armor all on the tires, it looked brand new! Doubtless, there are slightly used bikes of 20" and 24" size hanging in garages all over America. Check with your neighbors, especially the ones you know that cycle, stay away from "junk brands" and if you have a buddy with enough bike knowledge, he could help you check out likely used candidates. Currently, I've got two 24"
bikes (Girl's Trek & Boy's Schwinn) hanging in the garage. Since my girl and boy are 16 and 13 respectively, they will probably hang there until I take the initiative to find a buyer.