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Old 07-16-11, 12:28 PM   #1
Pedaleur
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Searching for a 20" bike -- this shouldn't be this hard

Did some searching online, and visited several stores from Target to the high-end bike shop. I kind of want to rant about how hard it is to find a simple bike -- all I need is for one of you to talk me down from the ledge.

The ideal bike would be/have:

- 3-speed IGH (I'd consider 7-speed external since IGHs are so hard to come by)
- no superfluous front shock
- rim brake front / treadle brake back (I'll take two hand brakes)
- quill stem (seriously, people, the child is growing and I don't want to have to swap spacers or stems every time I want to raise the bars)
- useful fenders
- fairly straight handlebars (ie, not 'cruiser' bars)

This would be trivial in Europe. Sigh. Anyone have any suggestions of where to look next?

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Old 07-16-11, 01:05 PM   #2
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It took just about everything I could muster to pull my daughter away from a Giant Bella at the LBS. Nice little bike, but I just can't justify spending almost $200 on a bike she'll outgrow within a year. (And another one next year, and another one after that...) As for gearing, I don't see many kids' bikes with multiple gears. Thinking back to my own childhood, I did some pretty gnarly climbs on single-speed BMX bikes. Do you really have your heart set on multiple gears?
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Old 07-16-11, 02:27 PM   #3
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It took just about everything I could muster to pull my daughter away from a Giant Bella at the LBS. Nice little bike, but I just can't justify spending almost $200 on a bike she'll outgrow within a year. (And another one next year, and another one after that...) As for gearing, I don't see many kids' bikes with multiple gears. Thinking back to my own childhood, I did some pretty gnarly climbs on single-speed BMX bikes. Do you really have your heart set on multiple gears?
That's cute, but there are lots of hills here (Charlottesville, VA), including a couple of short and steep ones on the way to school. My daughter would definitely be walking up one or two -- and probably down, given the lack of a front brake.

Not that I don't appreciate the effort! Thanks!
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Old 07-16-11, 03:14 PM   #4
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I just got my son a Raleigh Rowdy (girl's version is the Lily). It has no fenders and fails on your quill stem requirement, but it has 7 speed, two handbrakes and no front shock. So far he's deliriously happy with it, but I am looking for fenders for it and will probably want to raise the handlebars next year.

The Specialized Hotrock Street also has a rigid fork, but I've never seen one in person in a shop, only on the Spec website.

Good luck finding a good bike-- suspension forks are everywhere these days!
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Old 07-16-11, 03:59 PM   #5
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I just got my son a Raleigh Rowdy (girl's version is the Lily). It has no fenders and fails on your quill stem requirement, but it has 7 speed, two handbrakes and no front shock. So far he's deliriously happy with it, but I am looking for fenders for it and will probably want to raise the handlebars next year.

The Specialized Hotrock Street also has a rigid fork, but I've never seen one in person in a shop, only on the Spec website.

Good luck finding a good bike-- suspension forks are everywhere these days!
Well, that's definitely a step in the right direction. I though I had looked at Raleigh.

Anyway, I'm fully expecting to have to compromise on some aspect -- or maybe relent is a better term -- I could give up stock fenders.

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-11, 08:28 PM   #6
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I just picked up a 20" GT Scamp which performance bikes has on sale in all its stores for $179 (REI had the same exact bike for 279.). it is a seven speed, with 8 out of ten of my own criteria. (low standover, proper brakes for a kids hand strength, gearing, <$250; slight curve on the handlebars (allowing better adjustment IMHO for growth than stem rise); etc. (the two criteria it didn't have were solid fork and hybrid style vs mtb tires, but 90% of 20" bikes I saw//researched didn't have that)

yes it it doesn't have your exact specs. But here are my thoughts and experience in case they are relevant.

- Reasonably priced non walmart/target etc 20" bikes are rare and sell very quickly on craigslist. The downside of that is that getting one used is likely to be difficult, but selling is going to be easy to recoup $50 to $100 if the bike isn't trashed.

- I think you can expect to get two years, not one. if like me you have a kid even younger you are looking are more like five usable years, but even at 2 years, $200 - $75 resale recoupe is just $65/per year. And a bike being 20% to small is an inefficiency easily tolerated by a kid, a bike being 20% to big is a danger.

- Don't sweat the common features that are all but inescapable. Like you, I started out absolutely opposed to a shock absorber fork. Fact is 90% of these bikes have them and kids are light enough that they have little negative "gushyness"

- pay more attention to quality brakes and properly engineered brake levers/handles that your kid can get good stopping power on.

- pay attention to actual stand over height. bring a tape measure and measure them from ground to right in front of saddle front. The specs on a lot of bikes change and a lot of published ones are WRONG. I was very happy with the 3.5" clearance we got on the GT Scamp. Kids this age are learning to mount and dismount from start and sudden stop and I observe this is important.

- fenders can be added to almost any bike. the GT scamp looks like it has holes for them. but fenders are for keeping your clothes clean in the rain. do your kids ride in nice clothes while in the rain that often?

Call a performance bike store near you, there summer sale has a few more days left. mine had 2010 scamps for $179 for 20" and $199 for 24 inch. They didn't have the 2010 in stock so they sold me the 2011 for $179. but the the 2010 looked identical in all parts and geometry.
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Old 07-17-11, 07:24 AM   #7
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I just picked up a 20" GT Scamp which performance bikes has on sale in all its stores for $179 (REI had the same exact bike for 279.). it is a seven speed, with 8 out of ten of my own criteria. (low standover, proper brakes for a kids hand strength, gearing, <$250; slight curve on the handlebars (allowing better adjustment IMHO for growth than stem rise); etc. (the two criteria it didn't have were solid fork and hybrid style vs mtb tires, but 90% of 20" bikes I saw//researched didn't have that)

yes it it doesn't have your exact specs. But here are my thoughts and experience in case they are relevant.

- Reasonably priced non walmart/target etc 20" bikes are rare and sell very quickly on craigslist. The downside of that is that getting one used is likely to be difficult, but selling is going to be easy to recoup $50 to $100 if the bike isn't trashed.

- I think you can expect to get two years, not one. if like me you have a kid even younger you are looking are more like five usable years, but even at 2 years, $200 - $75 resale recoupe is just $65/per year. And a bike being 20% to small is an inefficiency easily tolerated by a kid, a bike being 20% to big is a danger.

- Don't sweat the common features that are all but inescapable. Like you, I started out absolutely opposed to a shock absorber fork. Fact is 90% of these bikes have them and kids are light enough that they have little negative "gushyness"

- pay more attention to quality brakes and properly engineered brake levers/handles that your kid can get good stopping power on.

- pay attention to actual stand over height. bring a tape measure and measure them from ground to right in front of saddle front. The specs on a lot of bikes change and a lot of published ones are WRONG. I was very happy with the 3.5" clearance we got on the GT Scamp. Kids this age are learning to mount and dismount from start and sudden stop and I observe this is important.

- fenders can be added to almost any bike. the GT scamp looks like it has holes for them. but fenders are for keeping your clothes clean in the rain. do your kids ride in nice clothes while in the rain that often?

Call a performance bike store near you, there summer sale has a few more days left. mine had 2010 scamps for $179 for 20" and $199 for 24 inch. They didn't have the 2010 in stock so they sold me the 2011 for $179. but the the 2010 looked identical in all parts and geometry.
Thanks. Good points. As I said, I'll have to compromise somewhere; the whole suspension fork on a 20" girls bike just drives me nuts, though. It just strikes me as marketing gone very, very awry.

Alas, resistance is probably futile...and since there's a Performance Bike within walking distance, maybe I'll just bite the bullet.
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Old 07-17-11, 09:56 AM   #8
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I share your frustration. The heart of the problem is that a well made bike in 20" kids size can't rationally be expected to cost much less to make than the same specs on an adult bike, and the fact that most parents don't care about quality means that there isnt much of a market for good bikes, and resulting competition, and therefore much new price cutting or presence on craigs list of decent bikes. When you combine that with the fact that is likly the bike you kid will be exposed to the most learning, falls etc on and you have a no win frustration, unless you are rich.

Do take heart though, kids are resilient. You are just not going to get something they can bang around that also has efficiency that allows them to go on 40 mile rides with you.

And look for the sales: performance went down by 40% on it summer sale and REI goes down 20% in spring and 15% in fall

By the way, get the assembler to throw on a bash guard over the derailleur. kids are totally random as to which side they lay the bike down.

Also when think about how much money, consider bike theft in your area. I live in a high theft area, meaning I have to have two locks for my kid, a light one for her to carry and a heavy one for her to leave at school. Still even the most careful kid is sometimes careless, and you have to consider that before dropping the maximum you can spend. (for my part I am happy the scamp has no quick release seat, and I intend to reemove the quick release on the front wheel)

the only other advice I can give is that if money is an obejct, and you don't have follow on kids, others should do what you and I didn't -- start to look on craigs one year ahead!
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Old 07-17-11, 10:05 AM   #9
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http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/ace_20
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Old 07-17-11, 10:30 AM   #10
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Picked this one up for the grandkids for 40 dollars on Craigslist. Doesn't get any more basic than this.
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Old 07-17-11, 11:02 AM   #11
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Picked this one up for the grandkids for 40 dollars on Craigslist. Doesn't get any more basic than this.
I'd like practical. Not basic.

But that's a nice find!
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Old 07-17-11, 11:06 AM   #12
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A little too aggressive in the position, but it cousin looks quite promising:

http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/sandblaster_g_

I wonder how easy it would be to mount a chain guard (which is one of the benefits of IGH: they usually come with one). Then I'll have to convince Princess that she likes green...
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Old 07-17-11, 11:22 AM   #13
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Then I'll have to convince Princess that she likes green...
I was so worried about that with my boy. He wanted RED. He conceded to allowing black as an alternative. I very nearly couldn't get him to even sit on the green bike (not just any green-- tractor green with yellow accents). But once he rode it around the parking lot of the bike shop a few minutes, I couldn't get him off it. Thankfully, a good fit and ride trumps good colors sometimes, even for kids.
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Old 07-17-11, 11:54 AM   #14
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I was so worried about that with my boy. He wanted RED. He conceded to allowing black as an alternative. I very nearly couldn't get him to even sit on the green bike (not just any green-- tractor green with yellow accents). But once he rode it around the parking lot of the bike shop a few minutes, I couldn't get him off it. Thankfully, a good fit and ride trumps good colors sometimes, even for kids.
My older daughter has "love at first sight" syndrome, coupled with what appears to be a short-term memory problem:

When we went shopping for her, every shop we went into would have the perfect bike, which she really loved and was the bestest color in the world, and I'd have to drag her practically in tears to the next shop to try something else, where the whole process would start anew.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Their mother simply looked at me accusingly and said, "Gee. I wonder who they got _that_ from?"
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Old 07-17-11, 12:18 PM   #15
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This has almost everything you want except the 3 spd. hub and the front brake. Perhaps you could buy a rear wheel seperately and swap it out for the single speed? I'm not sure of the price either.

http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/crui...iser/retro-20/
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Old 07-17-11, 11:10 PM   #16
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Jamis Capri 20. Fenders are mostly for show, and has a six-speed cassette, but otherwise looks like a solid contender.
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Old 07-18-11, 06:51 AM   #17
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Jamis Capri 20. Fenders are mostly for show, and has a six-speed cassette, but otherwise looks like a solid contender.
Not bad at all! The chain guard is a nice plus.

You're being kind with 'mostly', though.
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Old 07-20-11, 01:18 AM   #18
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I bought an Electra used on eBay and replaced the rear wheel with a seven speed hub. Works great.

My son had a used Marin Hidden Canyon. Great bike!

I would ignore the front shock issue. The front shocks that ship with 20" and 24" kids bikes are non-functional - hardly gushy! They don't move. Seriously. A sixty lb kid won't move any shock on the market!

I would avoid mixing coaster and hand brakes. Pick one approach.
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Old 07-20-11, 05:50 PM   #19
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I bought an Electra used on eBay and replaced the rear wheel with a seven speed hub. Works great.

My son had a used Marin Hidden Canyon. Great bike!

I would ignore the front shock issue. The front shocks that ship with 20" and 24" kids bikes are non-functional - hardly gushy! They don't move. Seriously. A sixty lb kid won't move any shock on the market!

I would avoid mixing coaster and hand brakes. Pick one approach.
W.r.t. the front shock, the problem is that for the money I'm paying for the bike, the shock can't be much higher quality than "pure crap." I don't want to mess around with a wobbly front end just after the warranty runs out. It's probably the one I'm most likely _not_ to compromise on simply on principle.

Interesting comment on the brakes. I suppose there's an argument for uniformity there. My older daughter had mixed, and she liked it, but she also likes the dual hand brakes on her new bike. In any event, dual hand brakes are much easier to find, so the point is moot.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:17 PM   #20
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We just bought our 7 year old son the Specialized HotRock Street bike and it's really an improvement over his heavy coaster bike in the same size. He loves his "fast" bike and is already working his way through gearing (it has a 6 speed cassette). Yes it was $329 but he should get at least 2 summers out of it and we should be able to get 50% of our purchase price back.
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Old 07-24-11, 08:36 PM   #21
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We found a Kent 7 speed 20" bike at WM for 100 bucks....at a bike per season I'm not blowing a load of dough, we bought her a 18 last season and this year her knees were hitting the handlebars. LOL
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Old 09-19-11, 09:46 AM   #22
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Follow up:

Coincidentally, a friend of mine took a trip to Denmark last week, and he agreed to bring me back the exact bike I linked to above. The airline didn't even charge him extra, so I got the bike for $250, including a substantial tip.

I can't wait to put it together tonight!

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Old 10-06-11, 12:26 PM   #23
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Which airline didn't charge? That does seem like one way to get a good bike. How is it working for you?

I found one of these:
http://bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeS...02.0&Type=bike
8 years old, but seems barely used. It needs a tune up, but should otherwise be perfect. I'm thinking of following this plan, more-or-less: http://carfreedays.com/2008/12/09/ki...n-do-about-it/

Maybe swap in tires like this?
http://www.amazon.com/Kenda-Kwest-Co.../dp/B001DUBSZM
Maybe I can get the hand brakes closer to the handlebars like this?
http://bicycletutor.com/childs-hand-brake/

I vacillate between feeling ready to jump in, and feeling like I should re-sell it on Craig's list and get the Specialized hotrock street bike. Anyone have any tips or caveats for the project? I've never done anything like this before.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:51 PM   #24
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Which airline didn't charge? That does seem like one way to get a good bike. How is it working for you?

I found one of these:
http://bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeS...02.0&Type=bike
8 years old, but seems barely used. It needs a tune up, but should otherwise be perfect. I'm thinking of following this plan, more-or-less: http://carfreedays.com/2008/12/09/ki...n-do-about-it/

Maybe swap in tires like this?
http://www.amazon.com/Kenda-Kwest-Co.../dp/B001DUBSZM
Maybe I can get the hand brakes closer to the handlebars like this?
http://bicycletutor.com/childs-hand-brake/

I vacillate between feeling ready to jump in, and feeling like I should re-sell it on Craig's list and get the Specialized hotrock street bike. Anyone have any tips or caveats for the project? I've never done anything like this before.
My friend flew SAS. According to their website (and my experience) they were supposed to charge him $80, but for some reason didn't. No idea why.

We're very happy with the bike. My daughter has gotten used to the difference and wants to go out and ride. I think dual hand brakes might have been better in the long run (as commented by someone earlier), but she seems to have braking down.

With fenders, that Jamis might be passable, but I question the the use of a threadless fork. Kids grow, and adjusting a quill stem is so much easier (particularly for the less mechanically inclined).
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Old 10-07-11, 04:02 PM   #25
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How frequently do you raise your kids' handlebars? I've done a lot of seat raising, but I never seem to feel like they need their handlebars lifted (even my daughter's Strider, where it's trivial to do). Maybe it'll be more significant as they got older, and better able to complain about things like posture. But I'm not sure how significant it is for us.
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