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Old 03-14-13, 08:20 PM   #1
JWK
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Need budget bike ideas for young teens

So my wife decided she really wants to try touring with me this year. The kids (son is 12, daughter 14) have been bugging us for a number of weeks to go on longer bike rides this summer. So now everyone wants to try some short time touring. Our first goal is to camp at a state park 50 miles from our home.

The problem is bikes for the kids. The son is growing like a weed and it is unknown if the daughter will really want to stick with something like this, plus she might grow a bit yet, too.

So I wonder if there is any budget touring bike ideas out there. Any way of converting some cheap MTB or cross bike to hold racks? I'm going to have a tough enough time figuring out what bikes to get for my wife and me, but those will be used for years. Everyone is excited and of course have left it to me to figure out HOW we are going to do it.

I don't know anything about mtb or cross bikes. Touring bikes are fairly new to me but I have done a lot of reading and research about them in the past since I have always wanted to do it.

Thanks for any suggestions, ideas or links.
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Old 03-14-13, 08:37 PM   #2
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First off, are you able to work on your own bikes?
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Old 03-14-13, 08:40 PM   #3
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So my wife decided she really wants to try touring with me this year. The kids (son is 12, daughter 14) have been bugging us for a number of weeks to go on longer bike rides this summer. So now everyone wants to try some short time touring. Our first goal is to camp at a state park 50 miles from our home.

The problem is bikes for the kids. The son is growing like a weed and it is unknown if the daughter will really want to stick with something like this, plus she might grow a bit yet, too.

So I wonder if there is any budget touring bike ideas out there. Any way of converting some cheap MTB or cross bike to hold racks? I'm going to have a tough enough time figuring out what bikes to get for my wife and me, but those will be used for years. Everyone is excited and of course have left it to me to figure out HOW we are going to do it.

I don't know anything about mtb or cross bikes. Touring bikes are fairly new to me but I have done a lot of reading and research about them in the past since I have always wanted to do it.

Thanks for any suggestions, ideas or links.
Old mountain bikes in good condition (including the bearings), preferably little used and properly stored, with rack eyelets (which are common on these bikes) would be one way to go. They are versatile and durable and reliable, and many have touring-friendly geometry.
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Old 03-14-13, 08:41 PM   #4
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JWK, For the kids I'd look at preowned mountain bikes as that maybe more attractive for them, craigslist is a good source. Older rigid mountain bikes are a favorite touring platform and I've used my hard tail without a fork lock out without problems. Preowned hybrids are another option. The kids probably won't carry much weight so a rear rack will probably suffice.

Your wife probably has definite ideas for herself.

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Old 03-14-13, 08:42 PM   #5
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MTBs, hybrids, and CX bikes can DEFINITTELY be used for touring.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...MTB-conversion
Though the title specifically says "conversions", the amount of converting needed starts at zero and goes up as far as you want. As long as it`s reliable and comfortable, you can pretty much just hitch a trailer behind it and hit the road. For most hybrids, MTBs, and "pseudocross" frames you can very easily slap a rear rack on it and clamp a handlebar bag up front for quick access.

There are also new bikes that should fit your kids, but I`m not the one to give any specifics for that part- somebody else who`s more familiar with the offerings will surely be along.

Anyway, I think it`s great that your kids sound like they`re actually itching to go! I don`t know how far they`re riding now, but if you mean a 50 mile each way ride, that sounds pretty rough as a starter. Maybe you figure to split that in two days or drive to one part of the park and ride to another section? Well, you know them better than I do.

Good luck, ride safe, and have fun!
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Old 03-15-13, 03:32 AM   #6
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It is pretty common to see whole families touring in Northern Europe. The most common kid's bikes are probably MTB hard-tails in aluminium. Try and avoid over-sized aluminium, small frames are already overly stiff for their loading. Thinner al frames are probably lighter than any steel ones you can find in small sizes.
Check that the cranks are not too long and the handlebars not too wide. Modern cranks also have a very wide Q factor so kid's bikes sometimes use a double chainset on a narrower spindle.
Fit a 1.5" commuter/touring tyre like Schwalbe Marathon.

Big-wheeled 700c hybrid bikes can be a handful for smaller riders even if the frame is supposed to fit them.
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Old 03-15-13, 07:15 AM   #7
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Another vote for used hardtail MTBs. My GF did her first tour on her old Trek 830 or whatever it was. She's much happier with the Surly LHT she rides now, but she survived a 9 day loop with lots of hills and some mountain passes towing a B.O.B. trailer.


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Old 03-15-13, 11:39 AM   #8
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Making sure your wife and kids have a good 1st experience is probably the most important factor; especially if you ever want them to go on another bike tour. With this in mind getting them properly fitting bikes is paramount. Also the bikes should be fun to ride with the proper gearing, not some "old clunker". If your son grows out of the bike or your daughter decides it is not for her, you can always sell the bikes and recoup some of your investment.

Depending on the age and disposition of your kids, the trip needs to be fun. Bike touring can be demanding, and there are some days that are just not fun. It is amazing what a kid can put up with after they have had a few positive experiences when being introduced to an activity. The same approach is also applicable to wives.

What is your definition of "cheap"? What are the ages of your children?

I'm speaking from experience, both good and bad, in this area.

My wife and our daughters on a short tour last summer. Even though they have left the nest decades ago and live busy lives, they still take the time to ride with us. I call this success However, it is a little embarrassing to have all those sports bras flapping in the wind while drying on their rear racks!

Last edited by Doug64; 03-15-13 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 03-15-13, 11:42 AM   #9
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Any way of converting some cheap MTB or cross bike to hold racks? I'm going to have a tough enough time figuring out what bikes to get for my wife and me, but those will be used for years. Everyone is excited and of course have left it to me to figure out HOW we are going to do it.
Many cities have bicycle coops, which teach kids and adults how to build and maintain bicycles. Here in Portland the kids get to put their own bikes together from donated parts, mostly used. I have met folks touring on the Oregon Coast on bikes they put together where the most expensive items were the used panniers they bought on Ebay.

http://communitycycles.org/links/bike-collectives.html

As an added note, if anyone lives near a bike coop and you have a box of used parts or an old bicycle in your garage gathering dust, consider donating them. You will get a receipt for tax purposes and help folks get on a bicycle.
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Old 03-15-13, 12:00 PM   #10
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MTBs, hybrids, and CX bikes can DEFINITTELY be used for touring.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...MTB-conversion
Though the title specifically says "conversions", the amount of converting needed starts at zero and goes up as far as you want. As long as it`s reliable and comfortable, you can pretty much just hitch a trailer behind it and hit the road. For most hybrids, MTBs, and "pseudocross" frames you can very easily slap a rear rack on it and clamp a handlebar bag up front for quick access.

There are also new bikes that should fit your kids, but I`m not the one to give any specifics for that part- somebody else who`s more familiar with the offerings will surely be along.

Anyway, I think it`s great that your kids sound like they`re actually itching to go! I don`t know how far they`re riding now, but if you mean a 50 mile each way ride, that sounds pretty rough as a starter. Maybe you figure to split that in two days or drive to one part of the park and ride to another section? Well, you know them better than I do.

Good luck, ride safe, and have fun!
No, that will not be the starter. That's the first big goal. I'm planning on six weeks of training on the bikes before the trip is made. The plan is to bike there, camp two days and then return. So four days total with two being traveling days.
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Old 03-15-13, 12:00 PM   #11
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Hard to beat an old hardtail mountain bike.Give it a good tune up and check the wheels good.

Don't push the kids too hard at first or they may hate touring.....I'd load the bikes some also,so they can get used to the weird handling....and help you judge their strength.

The front ends going to get light and the rear will get a little "waggy".

Have fun!

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Old 03-15-13, 12:06 PM   #12
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Making sure your wife and kids have a good 1st experience is probably the most important factor; especially if you ever want them to go on another bike tour. With this in mind getting them properly fitting bikes is paramount. Also the bikes should be fun to ride with the proper gearing, not some "old clunker". If your son grows out of the bike or your daughter decides it is not for her, you can always sell the bikes and recoup some of your investment.

Depending on the age and disposition of your kids, the trip needs to be fun. Bike touring can be demanding, and there are some days that are just not fun. It is amazing what a kid can put up with after they have had a few positive experiences when being introduced to an activity. The same approach is also applicable to wives.

What is your definition of "cheap"? What are the ages of your children?

I'm speaking from experience, both good and bad, in this area.

My wife and our daughters on a short tour last summer. Even though they have left the nest decades ago and live busy lives, they still take the time to ride with us. I call this success However, it is a little embarrassing to have all those sports bras flapping in the wind while drying on their rear racks!
I should have said "inexpensive" rather than cheap. My definition of cheap in the context of this post would be:

The most inexpensive way to get reliable enough bikes for this summer's plans.

I hope my kids are still biking with my wife and I after they fly the coop.
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Old 03-15-13, 12:07 PM   #13
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First off, are you able to work on your own bikes?
Yes. I'm returning to biking after 15 years. I did all my own work then and still have my tools.
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Old 03-15-13, 12:08 PM   #14
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Many cities have bicycle coops, which teach kids and adults how to build and maintain bicycles. Here in Portland the kids get to put their own bikes together from donated parts, mostly used. I have met folks touring on the Oregon Coast on bikes they put together where the most expensive items were the used panniers they bought on Ebay.

http://communitycycles.org/links/bike-collectives.html

As an added note, if anyone lives near a bike coop and you have a box of used parts or an old bicycle in your garage gathering dust, consider donating them. You will get a receipt for tax purposes and help folks get on a bicycle.
I used to live in Oregon (Salem area) back when I was biking. I miss it. We have nothing like a bike coop here at all. Don't get me started...
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Old 03-15-13, 12:11 PM   #15
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Thank you all for all the great ideas. My wife and I have a pretty good idea what to look for now.
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Old 03-15-13, 01:37 PM   #16
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Defiantly look for vintage MTB's then! Generally can find ones with usable wheels and drive terrains for quite cheep, a good tuneup, tires and cleaning and you'll be good to roll!

Best of luck to you and your family!
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Old 03-15-13, 02:04 PM   #17
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My go to bikes for rugged, reliable and inexpensive are still the 1980s through early 1990s chrome-moly steel mountain bikes. They are plentiful, inexpensive (often under $100 in good mechanical condition), easy to work on and parts are easy to find. They usually come with a 3x7 drivetrain with reasonably low granny gears for loaded climbing. The wheels are usually 36-spoke and wide enough to accommodate 35mm or so tires. Rigid frame and fork are best for touring/commuting applications. Put some decent hybrid or road slick tires on them and a basic rack on the back and you are good to go for light touring.

Trek 700 or 800 series
Giant Boulder or Yukon
Specialized Rockhopper
Schwinn Timberline

and lots of others.
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Old 03-15-13, 02:13 PM   #18
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Doug64, I was a single parent, two of which are girls (and for awhile, a couple of God daughters). Drying sports bras? No big deal. I'm the only man who kept a supply of tampons...for mine and it seems the soccer and softball teams. For those girls that were embarrased my daughters told those who needed a tampon to ask me for bullets.

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Old 03-15-13, 02:22 PM   #19
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Yes. I'm returning to biking after 15 years. I did all my own work then and still have my tools.
good, once you find a bike in reasonable condition, overhaul it

to insure the chances of breakdowns are lessened as much as possible.. .

I go through my Tour Bike after I Return, since I have a different bike for Daily use.
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Old 03-15-13, 03:22 PM   #20
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Something to consider with riders that are still growing, folding bikes.
Since they are adjustable they may still fit after a season or two of riding.
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Old 03-15-13, 04:10 PM   #21
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Something to consider with riders that are still growing, folding bikes.
Since they are adjustable they may still fit after a season or two of riding.
I would expect that a folding bike should be good for many years since they are kinda one size fits all.
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Old 03-15-13, 07:12 PM   #22
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Last season my 13 yo son rode around 1500 km with a 1980's road bike, It was $90 at a LBS. We replaced the tires and brake pads, had it tuned up. He quickly got comfortable with the down tube shifters. Part of his 1500 km was a ride along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, would suggest the CEC sagged tour as a break in type of tour for your family. It is really well organized, a number of teenage "kids" ride it. We got two seasons out of this bike, sad to say, he's outgrown it for this year.
Mountain bikes with the knobbie tires replaced with touring tires are also a good choice for your growing teens, our older son toured in Nova Scotia on a bike shop rental we bought at year end, put big apples on the bike and replaced the front shock with a rigid fork, he got about three years out of the set up before out growing it.
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Old 03-15-13, 07:42 PM   #23
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I would expect that a folding bike should be good for many years since they are kinda one size fits all.
Most (but not quite all) come in only one size, but big folks often have a hard time squeezing themselves into one. I can easily imagine a 6` tall teen having trouble in that respect.

Kids these days! Why don`t they stop growing at a reasonable height like we all did back in the day?
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Old 03-16-13, 06:35 AM   #24
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I will see in a few days, I am picking up my first folder and I am 6'-2", the bike manufacturer's information stated it would work for my size and weight (i'm also a clyde). Luckily my daughter has stopped growing when she was 16.

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Most (but not quite all) come in only one size, but big folks often have a hard time squeezing themselves into one. I can easily imagine a 6` tall teen having trouble in that respect.

Kids these days! Why don`t they stop growing at a reasonable height like we all did back in the day?
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Old 03-16-13, 09:29 AM   #25
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^^Aw, heck- you`re already used to mile long headtubes then. Have fun with the folder!
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