Quality road bike for 4'7" tall 8 year old son? 24" or 650c?
I've been searching the past posts and reading up a lot online elsewhere. I thought I'd post here and see if there is anyone who can shed some more light on things or any recent changes or additions I'm not aware of. The biggest issue I find at this point is bike shops rarely stock a kids road bike to even look over.
So for a little over two years now my now 8 year old son (currently height 4'7" inseam 25.2) has rode a 20" Diamondback 6 speed mountain bike. Although heavy for it's size it's been a good reliable bike. In fact at just 6 years old he rode it 17 miles in a local bike event even with the weight and bulky tires, however he was really working at about mile 12-15. 90% of the time he rides it about 7-12 miles beside me while I run. The other 10% he runs up to almost two miles with me.
So fast forward to this year where he could be on a 24" bike was my plan. I was going to just get another mountain bike type bike for him albeit perhaps a lighter bike through maybe Specialized or Trek. Anyway last year I remember in the Scott dealer I was blown away by their 24" Speedster jr road bike. Blown away by the $799 cost also.....
So I've been searching Ebay & Craigslist for a few weeks now without much luck. It would seem kids 24" road bikes are good about holding their value. By the time I add a shipping charge from several states away I'm nearing the cost of a new bike.
In my son's defense he does take care of his things. He isn't the type to throw a nice bike down on the driveway, put stickers all over it etc. But I ask myself if I'm crazy for spending that on a child's bike. Though I am the type to buy him very nice things when I can.
So I went looking and have found "threeish" bikes that appear to be well made and in stock locally or the local dealers can order. They are Scott, Fuji & Felt.
The first is the currently in stock 2013 Scott Speedster 24" road bike. I have a Scott CR1 Team year 2012 so while not the match in color a year 2013 Team is he likes the idea of a Scott also. We stopped a few days ago and he rode it. At first I thought although his standover was fine, his seat to peddle was fine but maybe he was to stretched out on it to the hoods. However, once he rode it outside and went through the gears etc he seemed fine on it. Maybe I'm used to seeing him more upright on his. The components are good for a child and the weight is about 18.5lbs. They said they would take $80 off the price so I'd be looking at $719 (+tax) for it. That's tough to swallow to say the least considering he may outgrow it soon. They have a buyback deal for youth bikes but only at 40% of the price which if ebay and craigslist are any indicators is way low even when considering their turn around in prepping it for resale. So I guess I'd just try to sell it at some crazy high price and hope the resale market is still as strong as it is now.
The second option is a Fuji 24" or slightly larger Fuji 650c size youth bike. While still well made there are two things that kind of bother me about them. First they are heavier than the Scott or the Felt. I think they are about 23.5lbs. The second is they use twist type shifters. I understand why that's attractive to some parents but after my son grabbed the brake a few times on the Scott and understood the difference between pulling back is braking and pushing over is shifting he rode it right off so I don't see where an adult style shifter would hinder him. With that said a new Fuji is just $409.
The third is the Felt F24 & F95JR 650c bike. I haven't seen either in person but being Felt products I'm sure they are as good as the Scott. They both come in at about 19.5 lbs. A new Felt dealer opened recently and I really liked the store and employees. They offered to order an F95jr 650c at $900 without me committing to buy it. I declined for fear they would have it on the floor for a year if I didn't buy it.
So I was set on a 24" road bike for my son, however after talking with the Felt store and going over the Felt website in detail it would appear he MIGHT fit on the Felt F95jr 650c. According to Felt's height calculator at 4'7" that he is now it shows a F24. If you enter 4'8" it shows the F24 AND the F95jr as bikes to purchase.
So has anyone had to make this choice? A 24" road bike vs a 650c thats close. I don't want to put him on a bike that's too big and doesn't make him feel confident. At the same time I don't want to buy a F95jr in one year after buying a F24 this year. (he grew almost three inches alone last year).
So when I broke down the Scott 24" vs Felt 24" inch bikes it would appear there are a couple of probably meaningless differences. The Felt has a carbon fork but is one pound heavier. The Scott has Shimano 2300 STI style shifters with the thumb trigger on the inside. The Felt uses the Microshift with both buttons alinged on the outside adjacent the brake lever. The Scott has gearing of 46/34 & the rear cassette of 13-28. The Felt is 50/36 and the rear is 12-25. The Felt looks to have gearing more able to keep up with an adult rider but I'm doubting any child can pull those higher gears even on our flat terrain. lol. The Scott has a standover of 620mm and top tube of 584mm. The Scott website says for 53-57 inches tall. My son is 55-55.5. The Felt standover is 602mm and the top tube is 447mm. So it would appear while both 24" the Felt is a tad smaller frame wise.
At this point I'd maybe lean toward the Scott for that bigger size frame alone. However, the Felt F95jr 650c is spec'd at a standover of 665mm and top tube at 483mm. (Another sight said 783mm gotta be a typo). In mm my sons inseam is about 645mm so the standover is a tad too tall but not to much considering it's not a trail bike. Like I said I don't want to scare him on a larger bike though. At the same time a bike he could ride longer would be great.
So any suggestions???? What experiences have any of you had with the bikes I've mentioned? Am I over looking another other quality brand youth road bike? (Also, please dont suggest that Walmart or Target bikes are good enough for kids. I know they are, but I have the funds if I feel like a decent bike is worth it to my son who is good about taking care of nice things and wanting to be fit and exercise with me if I can fit him properly on a higher priced bike.)
One last thing, If I bought the Scott 24" with I believe a 40cm frame instead of the Felt F95jr 650c with 44cm how long have your kids rode their 24" road bike through the ages? Was it a viable size until they could hop onto maybe a small woman's road bike (45/47 frame with 700 tires)? Or was there still a transition bike needed after the 24" ?
Sorry for the long post. I just want to get this decision right. Thanks for the help.