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Old 12-10-10, 10:44 AM   #1
subzeroLV
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road bikes for kids?

We've been trying to ride more as a family lately, my wife and I and our 12 year old son.

My wife and son both have Walmart bikes. Just a basic women's 26" bike for her, and a 24" for my son. She likes her bike, and is almost refusing to consider a new "real" bike.

Our son on the other hand is very disappointed. At least as far as our family rides are concerned. For going around the block, or to a friends house, he's fine with it, but on 5-8 mile rides, he's miserable. It's hard to shift, and he just gets exhausted trying to keep up.

Now for the question... are there any road or hybrid type bike specifically designed for kids? I've tried searching, and couldn't really find anything. WOuld it be worth it to take it to the LBS and maybe have it adjusted, or worked on? Could just some simple adjustments make a difference?

Thanks for any assistance.
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Old 12-10-10, 11:54 AM   #2
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It's hard to trouble shoot a bike over the internet. It could be some technical issue, it could be the whole bike, it could be your son or a combination.

If the wheels spin smoothly and freely with no wobble and/or play in the bearings you are likely ok. If the cranks turn smooth, the chain doesn't kink and the cassette/freewheel spins smoothly you are likely ok.

Shifting is a different issue. I'd try looking on line for how-to's. It is not difficult, but you need to pay attention to the steps to get everything in synch. Youtube, Instructables, etc. very likley have good how to's.

If he is really liking the biking, consider a better built bike. Craigslist can have some awesome deals. Shoot for ~%50 of what you would pay for new. Don't leave out your LBS though, if you find a good one, they can give excellent service. It varies widely from store to store.

Your son is at a hard age though. He is on a 24" but will likely be ready for a 26" or 700c bike soon. So take that into consideration if looking at a new bike. They need something they fit and like foremost, but you need to consider how much you are willing to spend for a bike that may see short use. Avoid the bike they'll grow into that they just aren't comfortable on. That's about as bad as the box store bike that is cheaply made and can't be assembled to a smooth working bike.

Good luck, let us know where you head with it.
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Old 12-10-10, 01:27 PM   #3
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Yes, there are a few kids road bikes out there and they do make a BIG difference for kids, in my opinion. "Kids" bikes from Wal-Mart and the like are often heavy with wide knobby tires and such. They also often do not have shifting or brake systems that work the best. It can be real work for a kid to ride a 45lb bike very far. Just think, we adults often ride under 17 pound bikes with 120psi tires and yet kids are often stuck with these heavy BMX or Mountain bikes and knobby tires. I am not saying that bikes from Wal-Mart are bad, per se, but for riding even moderate distances, a lighter bike will dramatically increase many kid's enjoyment of the experience.

A couple of decent lightweight kids road bikes to look for include the Trek KDR1000 and Specialized Allez Jr. These come across e-bay quite often.

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Old 12-10-10, 01:28 PM   #4
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Here's a couple of pricey ones on EBay:

http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trk...All-Categories

I know Schwinn used to have a youth road bike, the Midi Fastback. Don't see it listed any more.

Good Luck.

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Old 12-10-10, 01:33 PM   #5
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They are scarcer than hen's teeth on the used bike market. I've been asked this same question from a number of parents who's kids are trying to earn the Cycling Merit Badge for BSA but who haven't entered their growth phase at age 12. Most parents don't want to come up with the $$$ it costs to buy a decent new bike because the child will soon outgrow it. Buying a bike that is too big so they can "grow into it" is dangerous and cruel. It is not safe and is not much fun to ride. Want to turn off a kid on cycling - give him a spiffy looking ton-of-lead bike that is too big. It works nearly every time. Most of the kids who have completed the 50 mile ride for the MB on a crap bike never ride with us again. They cherish the accomplishment but don't ever want to do it again.

You are right about the cheap big box store bikes. You can spend hours adjusting them and they will never work as well as a quality bike. Once you ride a really good bike, you will never go back to a junky one.
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Old 12-10-10, 01:52 PM   #6
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The Fuji ACE doesn't look too bad and is quite a bit cheaper that the Trek and Specialized offerings.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Brand-New-Fuji-A...item519695b4b9

I am not fond of the shifter set up on this, but the bike is a step in the right direction......

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Old 12-10-10, 02:22 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info guys. I'm sure part of the problem is that he hasn't really hit a growth spurt yet. He's probably a bit small for his age. Even the 24" is slightly big for him. He wanted a bmx bike, but I just couldn't see him keeping up at all on one of those.

I'll check out some of those eBay links once I get home from work. Boss doesn't like it when we shop from our desks.
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Old 12-10-10, 02:43 PM   #8
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I agree with the large/heavy/misadjusted bike being a turnoff for kids. I'll never forget when I swapped bikes with my 14 year old cousin; he took my Cannondale MTB, I got his department store boat anchor. After a few pedal strokes he had this big grin, then he was gone! Wasn't sure if I'd see my bike again...Tried to get his working better, but it was in pretty sad shape.

Occasionally, small framed, fully rigid older MTB (13" or 14" frame) from a mainstream bike company like Trek or Specialized will pop up on Craigslist. These are quality bikes, if aged, and can be had for a couple hundred bucks or less. You can replace the knobby 26" tires with a set of easier rolling ones that don't have so much tread. If he's near 5' tall I think one of these would work as an interim bike. I'm always on the lookout for smaller bikes as I'm 5'3" on a tall day.

Last edited by rnorris; 12-10-10 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 12-10-10, 03:03 PM   #9
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just a thought: have you looked at a folding bike? a lot of them are pretty capable on the street, and most can be adjusted to fit almost anybody. When your kid grows enough to warrant getting a full sized bike you can either sell the folder or use it your self.
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Old 12-10-10, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subzeroLV View Post

For going around the block, or to a friends house, he's fine with it, but on 5-8 mile rides, he's miserable. It's hard to shift, and he just gets exhausted trying to keep up.
I would be surprised if a 12 yr old could keep up! Are you expecting too much? Perhaps it needs to be more fun.
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Old 12-10-10, 05:23 PM   #11
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I would be surprised if a 12 yr old could keep up! Are you expecting too much? Perhaps it needs to be more fun.
I would think the same thing if we were riding at a difficult pace. Typically, we're riding at about 7-8 mph. Yeah... you saw it right. My wife is not about the speed. I almost fall over occasionally from not being able to balance so slow (it does give good track-stand practice though).

We also make sure we ride near school parking lots (after hours of course), so he can practice jumping the speed bumps. We try to make it as fun as we can. We also don't make him go. It's his choice, but it's getting harder for him to choose to come.

If he liked running, I would suggest he just jog next to us.
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Old 12-10-10, 05:34 PM   #12
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I would be surprised if a 12 yr old could keep up! Are you expecting too much? Perhaps it needs to be more fun.
Want to see what a 12 year old can do on a proper road bike?

http://www.strivecycling.com/id8.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZfhY...eature=related
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Old 12-11-10, 10:55 AM   #13
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I have a Specialized Allez road bike that I love. I have a search on Ebay for "Allez" that sends me a daily email - usually with several bikes listed. Quite often I see the Junior Allez for kids. It looks like a sweet ride. I wish I had had one when I was a kid. They seem pretty pricey for a kid who's only going to outgrow it. However, the resale value seems to be pretty good. If you could find a used one, you could probably turn it over after a year or two without losing too much. I know other companies make good-quality kids' road bikes, but I'm not as familiar with them.

My family went on a ride with two other families many years ago - a 22-mile round trip. One of the families was a "biking family" - the dad was an avid cyclist and made sure his kids had good rides. His son was riding a converted mountain bike - a mountain frame with drop handlebars and skinny tires. I don't remember if they were 24" or 26" wheels. The kid was a 6th grader at the time. Anyway, he could fly on that thing. I had to work to keep up with him - no-one else could. His dad had his little sister on the back on a trailer cycle so he couldn't go that fast. I felt someone had to keep an eye on him so it was me. My point is that a kid on a good bike can ride far and fast. I think it's worthwhile to get them something good, if they're into cycling. (My point is not that converting a mountain bike frame to a road bike is the way to go, unless you have a big parts collection. It's an involved and expensive conversion.)

That boy eventually became a serious downhill mountain bike specialist, but also rides on his college's road team. I couldn't begin to keep up with him now.
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Old 12-11-10, 11:45 AM   #14
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I agree....motivated and properly equipped kids can put on some significant miles. I used to build lightweight kids road bikes back before bikes like the KDR and Allez Jr where available because, outside of a couple of really expensive Italian models, there weren't any available in the US. My kids took to them like fish to water. When my son was eight our family did Ragbrai and even though we had a support vehicle with us and he wouldn't have had to ride a mile if he didn't want to, he put on 320 miles that week. My daughter, who was eleven, and still recovering from a serious softball related injury rode over 150 miles. I never once pushed them to get on the bike. The times I have spent with my kids on the bike are among the best memories I have as a dad. Now that they are older, they still enjoy to ride, which goes to show that cycling is something that can stay with a kid for their whole life...

However, I have also seen kids burn out in a heart beat trying to struggle along on a 50lb Huffy, never to return to the bike.

BigBlueToe makes a great point about resale on an Allez Jr or the like. It can defray the cost for sure. Converting a good quality mountain bike is also a good idea....at least put on some 26" x 1", or similar, smooth high pressure tires....and try to find one without any of the heavy (and useless on the road) suspension stuff.
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Old 12-15-10, 07:14 AM   #15
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There's the Novara Pulse, a small frame road bike with 26" (ISO559) wheels. (REI just has a few of these built every year. They sell them in the spring and then remove any and all mention of them from their web site!)

Your local Trek dealer should certainly have a 24" wheel boy's FX in stock this time of year. Likewise Specailized's Hot Rock 24 Street. Worth a look, perhaps. A Fuji Ace 24 is not much more, if you can find one.
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Old 12-15-10, 01:37 PM   #16
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Great links tcs! Thanks for the info. He's already got his big present for Christmas, but maybe after the first of the year, I can check these out.
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Old 12-15-10, 06:40 PM   #17
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Personally - kids (mostly boys) like motors and electronics. If a kid starts to get tired they could switch on the juice during the ride. Plus, a electric-powered bike would be waaaay too cool at school or with friends.

Cheers,

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Old 12-21-10, 08:51 PM   #18
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Bike suggestions

Ihave a suggestion that worked very well for my nine year old that is four ten inches tall. We tour riding up to fourty mikes a day. I bought a Dawes Haymaker 1000 new from bikesdirect.com for three hundred bucks. It is a mountain bike size small and i swapped out to street tires on the 26" rims. It is a very well made bike with disc brakes and light years better than a walmart bike. Street tires make it reasonable on the road And MTB gearing with shimano derailleurs make it easy pedaling. It is also a bike that will last for years and still be a good hand down to my younger son when it is time. It is truly an outstanding bike for the price I paid.
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Old 12-22-10, 08:19 PM   #19
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A mini velo with 20" wheels is a good choice. All you need to do is adjust the stem and seatpost as your kid grows. Unlike a conventional kids' bike, it will be good for a lifetime.

For $320, the Big Shot mini polo bike really can't be beat. And any one in the family can ride it, too.
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Old 12-24-10, 11:54 AM   #20
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If you're handy find a small frame and build one. I did #1 for my daughter last year.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...entries-are-in
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