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Cool Little Kid's Bike?

Old 06-18-11, 08:53 PM
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Cool Little Kid's Bike?

My son needs a new bike. He will be riding a 20" wheel, as he is just seven. He wants some gears, and I would like him to have some, as friends have all told me that a few gears will help him ride farther with me. This makes sense to me, as a few gears helps me ride further. I want to buy something under $300, preferably under $200. I have found some at the usual big box places, but I'd love any recommendations for something you've liked.

He's not interested in a vintage bike, though if I thought I could find a cool one with gears, I'd be into that, especially if I could get cheap and paint it some color he'd like. Keep in mind I can't build-up a bike myself.

My son thinks this one is cool:
https://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._20000__400122

I think this one is nice, but don't know if one is better than the other, given the intended user, and it's much more money:
https://www.greggscycles.com/CartGenie/prod-12347.htm

Thoughts?
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Old 06-18-11, 09:07 PM
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I know that kids like new stuff, but I have bought used bikes for my kids(over the last couple years). They grow out of them so fast at that age, it doesn't make a lot of sense to dump a ton of money into a bike that they wont fit in a couple years. If you browse CL in the bike and kids section, you can find as good of bike as either of those(or better) for half as much money.

A lot of the used kids bikes are still in like new condition, due to the kids lack of interest in biking, or other reasons.

This is my opinion, so it means whatever. I'm sure whatever you get, he will be happy(unless it's pink). One last thing, depending on how big he is, you may want to look into 24" bikes also. He will grow into it and will be able to fit it longer
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Old 06-18-11, 09:08 PM
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They both look good, and some gears can help. One thing that hinders, though, is that kids' bikes come with extremely knobby tires these days. It's the style, and they make riding on paved roads difficult. One of my daughters didn't want me to change the tires because she liked the way they looked. Oh well. But in 20", there is a huge selection of tires, and if you look long enough, you can get some very good tires. For this reason, I like 20" better than 24" where the selection is lousy.
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Old 06-18-11, 09:11 PM
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Let me preface this by saying I know nothing about kid's new bikes -(other than that they are proabably all POCs).

With that in mind, the brand name means little.
I would get him the one that HE thinks is the cooler bike.
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Old 06-18-11, 09:23 PM
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When I was a kid, my parents got me this junky, pink Wal-Mart bike. But I didn't know the difference. I loved that thing, and I rode it everywhere. I popped wheelies and jumped curbs and crashed it all the time. It held up well until I had to replace it because I got too big. This is why I would agree with the others and recommend not spending too much on a kids' bike.
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Old 06-18-11, 10:28 PM
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It's pretty easy to find a standard POS 20" pseudo- BMX for ten bucks, plus or minus ten bucks. Rebuild the rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer AW, replace the handlebar with a flat MTB bar and you're good to go. Add 20" Wald fenders and it'll even look fairly vintage. That's what my kids had, and the one I built for my daughter has lasted several years (she's now 12, and I'm working on its replacement; she has put hundreds of miles on that thing, over 50 in a day at least three times, and it's still a POS).
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Old 06-18-11, 10:51 PM
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I would think the bike you get is determined by the desires of your son and the relationship you both share. You said youre not the type to build one yourself so stick with new or used. If your son has an aversion to used stuff by all means buy a new one, if not look with him at all the used bikes and try them out. On the "new front" most of the bikes will be about the same quality for the money. I also recommend the 20" over the 24".
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Old 06-18-11, 11:38 PM
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Thanks folks. I don't mind the CL route, except that I find with something like this, driving around for hours looking at stuff that turns out to be in terrible condition after it's described as good, just to get something he doesn't like anyway... isn't turning me on. I have to work a lot of hours this summer, after a brutal year teaching. I just want to get him a bike, you know? CL is how I roll, but not what I want to spend my time doing for him. We always donate his bikes when he's done, so I don't feel bad about getting him a new one. He's ridden the last one for two years, and since it was a $75 bike, I feel good about that.

That said, I don't like to encourage that stupid throw-away BS that Walmart and others do, if I don't have to. I'd be willing to spend a bit more to buy from a slightly better company, and encourage that end of the economy. I guess that's all I'm wondering: recommendations for something that will benefit the good guys in the long run, if possible, without bankrupting me.

Rhm, that sounds awesome, but by the time I paid someone to build new wheels around a SA hub, I'd be spending the same amount as I would to just buy a new bike, and spending a lot more time and energy on it. When he's old enough for a ten-speed, I fully expect to do something awesome and vintage for him. He doesn't mind my vintage bikes: he thinks they're cool, but he wants gears and vintage kids' bikes are either cruisers, or beat-up, or $300 and minty in a way that makes giving it to him a total shame.

I can't build up bikes because of the pain in my hands from my illness. Gotta just buy it, or pay someone to do it.
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Old 06-18-11, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger M
I'm sure whatever you get, he will be happy(unless it's pink). One last thing, depending on how big he is, you may want to look into 24" bikes also. He will grow into it and will be able to fit it longer
Pink is his favorite color, but even he knows boy's bikes don't come in pink (until he's a grown man). He's always loved pink, but he's not girly at all. Hearts and flowers won't do it for him, unfortunately. The bike in your avatar would make him so happy, though.
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Old 06-19-11, 12:33 AM
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Hmm... thinking more about it...

Anyone who is into this stuff want to build up a kid's bike? I'd pay you, obviously. If no one's interested, I'll go buy one, but I hate that idea, somehow. The more I research what's (not) out there, the more I hate it.

I'd love to get him on an older frame, repainted and built up with a simple internally-geared hub, and nothing fancy beyond that. He doesn't need dynamos or craziness. Just a comfy old-style mountain-bike-y frame or something similar and simple, red or green paint, a chainguard and a nice hub. Comfy bars, a normal kid's bike seat, fenders. You guys know the drill.

What people used to make for kids, essentially, but a bit more modern. Not some overbuilt monstrosity from a bike shop. He won't really care, as long as it's shiny and a good color.
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Old 06-19-11, 01:01 AM
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If I wasn't so busy moving to the Dry side of Wa, I would build one. Unfortunately at this time....I have no time .
I will also add that IMO gears are not all that great with younger ones, unless someone in the family works on bikes. Younger ones tend to have more falls/drops and general roughness that mess with shifters, cables, etc. A decent single speed can go quite well(and keep up) when powered by a young one. (oh to have that energy again)
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Old 06-19-11, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Reco Very
If I wasn't so busy moving to the Dry side of Wa, I would build one. Unfortunately at this time....I have no time .
I will also add that IMO gears are not all that great with younger ones, unless someone in the family works on bikes. Younger ones tend to have more falls/drops and general roughness that mess with shifters, cables, etc. A decent single speed can go quite well(and keep up) when powered by a young one. (oh to have that energy again)
Reco, he has a single-speed, and doesn't do well on it. He's light years behind his older step-sisters, who are normally not that much stronger than he is. I know part of it is the 16" wheels, which must turn more to go as far, but part of it is genuinely that we live in a very hilly area. On flat trails, he can do 5 or more miles in a go, which is pretty good for his age. But his step-sister, at just a couple years older with a geared bike, was doing more like 10 two years ago. Since he's about as strong now as she was then, I think having gears would help him. He's pretty smart, and learns easily, so learning to shift through a few gears and when to do it wouldn't be that hard for him. I don't think he needs 21 gears. Five or so would be more than enough. Most geared 20" bikes are 6-7 speed, but they all have derailleurs. I can teach him to be pretty good with it, but obviously an internally geared hub would be easier to take care of and less prone to destruction if accidentally dropped.

Can I get him what he wants for the price I can pay? Yeah, but I'd rather give that money to someone other than a giant manufacturer, that's all.

His energy is boundless, but in our neighborhood, having a heavy, overbuilt single-speed bike is just plain nuts. We have monster hills.
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Old 06-19-11, 01:46 AM
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Snarky, if you go with single speed, the trick is to stay away from the heavy over built. The more bmx race styles can be quite lite and great riders that he will want to enjoy for years to come. I rode mine til 16, and my oldest rode his til 17. My youngest (18) still prefers the 20" bmx. Another thing to consider is a derailer with bash guard. They can be quite helpful in protecting the derailer. The internal gear would be great, but as far as I know you would have to do a custom wheel, and in the event of wheel damage, another custom to replace. The 5-6-7 speeds are pretty easy to come by used or new. It has been my experience raising two boys that they tend to learn from their friends about tricks (jumps, bunnyhops, kickouts, etc) and the wheels feel the pain. I really wish I was done with this move, as building a bike for a young one is very fun, and there are SO many options when you have the tools and ability to build from scratch.

Last edited by Reco Very; 06-19-11 at 01:47 AM. Reason: late night spelling lol
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Old 06-19-11, 04:05 AM
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If there is one thing this world needs, it would be a decent bike for kids. IGH hub with brake and no suspension. I fix up a few kids bikes but there is so little to work with on most finds.
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Old 06-19-11, 05:32 AM
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I just worked on one of the Trek's you had listed above as your second choice and can tell you it is built better then a Wallmart brand bike but buying one on line it would need to be set up right before he could ride it.

I have built some custom kids bikes in the past for my Nephews and friends to ride with adults and being able to keep up wasn't a problem when I was done. One of the best one's I built was a kids Specialized BMX/MTB that I made a mini MTB out of it by using parts from a full size Trek MTB and getting rid of the kids Cranks and installing a full size triple on it. I replaced the grip shifters with the Treks rapid fire shifters along with the brakes & levers. This frame had a high BB so crank strike wasn't an issue. I have some pics below of it.

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Before.

After.


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Old 06-19-11, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
It's pretty easy to find a standard POS 20" pseudo- BMX for ten bucks, plus or minus ten bucks. Rebuild the rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer AW, replace the handlebar with a flat MTB bar and you're good to go. Add 20" Wald fenders and it'll even look fairly vintage. That's what my kids had, and the one I built for my daughter has lasted several years (she's now 12, and I'm working on its replacement; she has put hundreds of miles on that thing, over 50 in a day at least three times, and it's still a POS).
+1

Although there were literally a billion 20" 3-speed banana bikes made in the 70's and 80's. I'm sure a donor wheel could be found much more economically than building one around a donor hub from a larger bicycle.

If starting from scratch around a donor hub then something with an internal brake would be much better from a maintenance standpoint as well as safety. A 2-speed kickback hub or SA 3-speed with drum brakes. Front drum brakes would also make maintenance almost zero while giving excellent braking -too bad that front brake hubs are not as common/cheap used. .

A 20" bike can be extended through-out childhood and into the teens with simple/cheap mods. Heck, they can be modified for adult use as well. Many adults ride 20's...
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Old 06-19-11, 07:22 AM
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Snarky, this is what you need.

https://cgi.ebay.com/20-Piedrahita-Ki...item20ba6789ea

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Old 06-19-11, 07:25 AM
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At $900 it's such a bargain she could buy 2! One to keep in the bike shop getting re-adjusted while the other bike is being ridden.
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Old 06-19-11, 07:53 AM
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Not really cheap or quick but ...

1. 20" BMX bike
2. 20" Stingray 5 speed wheel https://compare.ebay.com/like/1605948...=sbar&_lwgsi=y
3. Derailleur with claw, cable guides and shift lever


I bought my at the time 7-year-old the nickel-plated Mongoose I wanted as a kid.

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Old 06-19-11, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by iab
Not really cheap or quick but ...

1. 20" BMX bike
2. 20" Stingray 5 speed wheel https://compare.ebay.com/like/1605948...=sbar&_lwgsi=y
3. Derailleur with claw, cable guides and shift lever


I bought my at the time 7-year-old the nickel-plated Mongoose I wanted as a kid.
Or buy a 3-speed coaster-brake hub and build into the wheel. That BMX bike has a brake already on it so a regular coaster 3-speed would be fine and much cheaper.
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Old 06-19-11, 08:27 AM
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I recommend checking out the Specialized Hotrock 20". The derailleur version is about $300. After comparing this with the equivalent Treks, we ended up buying the Specialized for our daughter, who is six. It's lighter, has better parts (more of them aluminum than the Trek), and seems to be of better quality overall. We got ours used on CL for $150, and it was in close to new condition. They come in both boys' and girls' versions.

That said, I have to vote on my friend's son's bike as about the coolest retro kids' bike out there. He built it up himself:



And I think he likes riding the bike more than his son does:

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Old 06-19-11, 08:35 AM
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Another option to look into is folding bikes. Some are proportioned for larger people (such as the Downtube 8H that I ride; not recommended for kids) but others are proportioned for juvenile riders. For example: Kent (yes, I know, Kent is a purveyor of junk) has a 16" wheel magnesium frame folding bike that weighs surprisingly little (22 lbs?), comes with a three speed Shimano hub, and last I checked was normally about $150 but can turn up on sale for under $100 with free shipping from Amazon. If you get one of these I strongly recommend disassembling almost everything and reassembling with grease in the threads; the factory doesn't do this. That done, you have a versatile little bike that will last a person until they're nearly full sized.
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Old 06-19-11, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Another option to look into is folding bikes. Some are proportioned for larger people (such as the Downtube 8H that I ride; not recommended for kids) but others are proportioned for juvenile riders. For example: Kent (yes, I know, Kent is a purveyor of junk) has a 16" wheel magnesium frame folding bike that weighs surprisingly little (22 lbs?), comes with a three speed Shimano hub, and last I checked was normally about $150 but can turn up on sale for under $100 with free shipping from Amazon. If you get one of these I strongly recommend disassembling almost everything and reassembling with grease in the threads; the factory doesn't do this. That done, you have a versatile little bike that will last a person until they're nearly full sized.
+1 I wish I had done this with my big girls and it's my plan for toddler girl when she gets bigger.
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Old 06-19-11, 05:00 PM
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Sigh. After much discussion at home, it has become clear that what my son wants is the green version of the one from Performance Bikes. He has no desire for anything else. I'm going to start with that, take him to see it, and then if he doesn't like it, we can work up to the Trek.

Still, I maintain that he needs a better bike than that.

I may take him to try out some BMX single-speeds first, so he can feel what those are like too. Great idea on that.
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Old 06-20-11, 02:33 PM
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What's wrong with the Performance bike?

I can build a bike for your son if that's still something you're thinking about.
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