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Kevin S 06-05-09 10:39 PM

Wheels for 14 y.o. Daughter
My daughter has outgrown her mom's old Schwinn Stardust and we would like to get her a decent bike without breaking the bank (4th child).
She's 14 y.o., about 5'1". She likes mountain bike style handlebars. A Trek MTB we tried was a bit too small with the 16" frame, but another style bike with 18" frame was a bit too large. A Realm Province was a great fit, but can't add full fenders due to the front suspension.
She's been riding around the neighborhood with me for a couple of years -- about 4 to 5 miles each ride, but would like to do more.
Riding would be 90% road with occasional trail (Blankets Creek Trail for those in our area).
Budget is about $200 for the bike and any needed repairs.
I'm thinking used hybrid or MTB without suspension as we want to put on full fenders to make it an all-weather bike. Fenders and accessories would be added as she can afford them (so not part of the $200). Can you provide recommendations on where to find a good used bike and what to look for.

Kevin S.

deraltekluge 06-06-09 02:13 AM

At her height of 5' 1", I'd think that a 16" mountain bike would be too big for her, not too small.

BigBlueToe 06-06-09 09:28 AM

I think $200 might be difficult for a good bike. I've bought a couple of nice, older mountain bikes on Ebay. After much looking, I ended up spending about $250 for one, and $300 for the other. I did a bit of repair on both and they're now excellent-quality bikes that should last for many years.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Make sure your daughter is 100% behind any bike-buying decision. If she doesn't love it she probably won't ride it, at least if she's anything like my daughter.

It sounds like your daughter already has the riding bug, which is good. If she likes mountain style bikes, look for a used bike on Ebay. I recommend buying a complete bike, rather than a frame. I've bought 3 frames and built them up. I've ended with bikes I really like, but I spent considerably more than when I bought a complete bike.

Of the two complete bikes I bought off Ebay, one was an old rigid Rockhopper that needed pedals and new brakes. I also put a rack and bar-ends on it. When I finished I had spent about $330. The other was a newer Rockhopper with suspension forks. It needed a new Gripshift. When I finished with it I sold it to a girl on the block for $230. I don't know how well the suspension forks worked, but they moved when she bounced them, so she was happy. I doubt if she'll ever ride it anywhere except around the neighborhood.

My 19-year-old daughter wanted a bike to ride to school when she went away to college. She rejected a mountain bike or a road bike - she'd been there and done both when growing up and had developed a distaste for both. We ended up getting a Trek "comfort bike" with a step-through frame, suspension forks (only good for cushioning bumps in the pavement), a suspension seatpost, and a huge, cushiony saddle. She put a big basket on the front for her books and she loves it! She thinks its "really cute", which is probably at the top of her list of priorities.

I approved it because it has a lightweight aluminum frame and 21 speeds. With her loathing of hills, I'm glad she didn't get a heavy, single-speed beach cruiser.

She rides it so I'm happy.

Good luck, and I hope your daughter continues to ride with you as she gets older.

Kevin S 06-06-09 02:23 PM

Thanks. I know that this may take awhile. The good news is that bike bug bit her hard. She's willing to wait if it means a better bike.
I'm checking Craig's List now and have seen two bikes for me :innocent:, but none for her yet.

Kevin S.

Kevin S 06-06-09 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by deraltekluge (Post 9051910)
At her height of 5' 1", I'd think that a 16" mountain bike would be too big for her, not too small.

By the numbers, I would have thought so, but this is a reputable LBS (FreeFlite in Marietta, GA) and she looked perfect to a bit squashed on the 16". (This being my 4th child, I know better than to buy perfect fit when they are 14 years old.)

Kevin S.

Crank57 06-11-09 11:02 PM

I picked up a nice Giant Cypress small frame for about $200 on ebay last year for a friend of mine. She is 5'-2" and it worked well for her. I got one for myself in a medium frame. I see them pretty often as used bikes. The Cypress does have front suspension, but I put full fenders and a rear rack on mine with no problems at all.

cyclezen 06-12-09 09:19 AM


Originally Posted by Kevin S (Post 9053683)
By the numbers, I would have thought so, but this is a reputable LBS (FreeFlite in Marietta, GA) and she looked perfect to a bit squashed on the 16". (This being my 4th child, I know better than to buy perfect fit when they are 14 years old.)
Kevin S.

Kev, 16" or larger is really too big. The LBS is wrong. flat out.
At 5'1" a 15 might even be a bit big. and at 14, unless she's real unusual, she's about done with most growth. She's prolly gonna hate her parents... (genetics, ya know), but if she hits 5' 3", I;d be surprised...
and then she would still easily fit a 15"
Proper bike fit is not something a lot of shops do.

OK here's a consideration...
Gary Fisher - a great brand from those days (prolly about 1990)
solid cro-mo steel frame - which will be much more comfortable than ALU from that era
Shimano BioPace cranks -these are Bullitproof, I know I have a set from '88, still get daily use on my commuter, original rings have about 20,000 miles and going strong.
BB needs checking, they go south sometimes, but a replacement sealed sq taper BB is common and inexpensive.
Shifters and brakes are prolly Exage, solid stuff, nothin special, but solid
this would be an easy upgrade to new V-Brake for Front (rear don;t matter much) if you ever decide to, but for mostly street, the older u-brake can easily hold modern brake pads and be very capable stoppers.
$125 listed, offer $100 - get a new saddle that fits her, fenders and still have money in the bank for 'upgrades' as you need them

CONS - oldstyle headset/fork/stem combo - plenty around for replacement, 'just not the latest and greatest'
7 spd shifters & oldstyle freewheel - NOT CASSETTE - means if you want to go to a newer index system (9-speed) you'd have to replace the shifters, chain and freewheel (Shimano 9speed freewheels can be easily had for around $30)

Things to check on this and all bikes

headset, wheels/hubs/rims/tires, wheels are a major consideration, look for play at the hub and if the rims are badly out of true, they may not be worth salvaging, which would drop the bike price below $50, since a decent wheelset is at least $100 and often more, depending on how astute a shopper you can be.
shifters for consistent shifting
BB for 'play', may need replacement - new SQ Taper sealed BB - around $30 + install if you don;t do it.
get a chain length checker (anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on where you buy), if the chain is badly stretched then you'll likely need a new freewheel as well...
any possible damage to frame from front end collisions - this Gary Fisher, from the pics, looks fine, actually the frame seems incredibly clean for a 20 yr old bike - compared to mine :)
cables may need replacement on any older bike, but maybe not... depends...

my guess is there's prolly just a few things which need adjustment

Overall a nice bike and an opportunity for you and daughter to get familiar with simple bike repairs (which is about 95% of everything which ever has to be done with a bike).

This one is worth goin to see and kickin the tire
If nice I'd offer $90 and settle on $100....


do the 'up size' thing/punishment to your daughter....
only thing I hold against my Mom is that she insisted on buying size 12 boots for when as I 'grew', well I never got over size 10.5, but my feet sure hurt a lot during those years.
Get her the RIGHT size - don;t be a cheap skate!!!!
and a 15 will prolly be just fine....

Kevin S 06-13-09 07:58 PM

Thank you for the very helpful suggestions. In fact, I'm saving them for reference the next time I buy a bike. Regarding my daughter, we bought a new Diamondback Clarity last Sunday. My older daughter works at a sporting goods store that has a family discount evening each year. That brought the price of the Clarity within our reach. The birthday girl kicked in some $ to get this particular bike. Won't be much for trails, but she loves it on the road -- and I'm going to have to get in better shape to stay ahead of her.

Again, thanks for the detailed suggestions as we are now both in the N+1 camp.

Kevin S.

stringbreaker 06-13-09 10:00 PM

Isn't it a general rule to post a picture of any new bike purchased ? :) In C+V Easthill would be on the rampage by now. :)

Kevin S 07-03-09 08:29 AM


Originally Posted by stringbreaker (Post 9097497)
Isn't it a general rule to post a picture of any new bike purchased ? :) In C+V Easthill would be on the rampage by now. :)

Absolutely! Better late then never.

NOS88 07-03-09 08:47 AM

Looks like one happy rider!

stringbreaker 07-03-09 09:54 AM


Originally Posted by Kevin S (Post 9212907)

Its great to see our kids enjoying some of the things we do. Great bike and a happy looking daughter. Is there a way to put fenders on that bike or a rack?

Kevin S 07-05-09 02:23 PM

Yes, after daughter saves up some more money :)
She says her first purchase will be a kickstand

Kevin S 07-05-09 02:26 PM

Ouch!!! She just said the extra weight of the kickstand would make our downhill "races" more even :cry:

AndrewP 07-05-09 04:15 PM

My daighter (38) bought a Giant Cypress on Ebayand Whe I visited it went easily without too much yo-yo on the front suspension. If you dont mind renewing parts an early 90s MTB with the rigid fork would be good, fitted with 1.5" slick tires.

zacster 07-05-09 10:03 PM

My 12 year old daughter can beat me up the hill now in Prospect Park. In fact, she beats almost everyone up the hill now in the park. It finally clicked with her that she has all these gears on her 27 speed road bike (pun intended). And when she gets to the top she isn't winded like I am. Her bike is a Specialized Dolce Vita road bike with 105 9speed and a triple in a 44cm frame. The frame is tiny, but it has 700c wheels.

She says she took it up between 17 and 19mph the last time. I've done it faster in a burst, but I tried today and didn't make it when I pushed 20. The hill isn't long or steep, just longer than you think it will be, and I've been riding this damn hill for almost 50 years. It separates the real racers from the wannabees during the early morning races but it isn't like climbing the alps.

cyclezen 07-06-09 12:32 PM


Originally Posted by Kevin S (Post 9222282)
Yes, after daughter saves up some more money :)
She says her first purchase will be a kickstand

nice stuff, Kevin! a very nice lookin machina
course she'll 'customize' it however she wants...
a nice rear rack does as good a job in protecting the bike (when you lean it somewhere) and has the added function of carrying stuff - like books to and from the Library...
and without a kickstand, you have to think 2x about where you're gonna put the bike when you get somewhere, which brings up the thought of "how am I gonna secure the bike?", so maybe a nice quality coil bike lock might be a great 2nd purchase, especially iff'n she wants to keep this bike for a bit.
Sadly, even in our my corner of cycling paradise, bike theft is almost an hourly thing. I read about stolen bikes every day on our version of CL, and imagine these owners are as depressed as I would be if my bike was stolen.

great smile though!
may she have a lifetime of great rides on this and all future 'magic carpets' she rides on.

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