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16" child bike with gears and disc brakes

Old 04-14-16, 05:25 PM
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g33weq
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16" child bike with gears and disc brakes

Hello folks!

I have a 4.5 year old son who has a knack for riding and is already very advanced with his 14" bike. He's also quite tall for his age so I was thinking of soon getting him a new 16" and was looking for a bike with gears.

I came across an offer from some bike manufacturer from China for this 16" fat bike:


It's supposed to have a Shimano RS35 and TZ31.

What's your opinion on the potential of such a bike being a good choice?
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Old 04-14-16, 05:36 PM
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Hand brakes.

Does your son have the dexterity and grip strength to operate hand brakes?
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Old 04-14-16, 05:46 PM
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Is that a FAT bike? 16x3" tires? How much does it weigh? 30 pounds?

One problem is that many kid's bikes are just way too heavy.

I agree that coaster brakes are probably easier to use than hand brakes, but the kids can be quick learners. There are internal gear hubs with coaster brakes. But, not cheap.

Jump to a small 20" bike?
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Old 04-14-16, 06:54 PM
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Yes, it's fat and indeed almost 30 pounds. But I think that being able to shift to a lower gear would make easier to climb with them uphill than with no gears on a much lighter 14"...
20" seems unrealistic at least for another year
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Old 04-14-16, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Hand brakes.

Does your son have the dexterity and grip strength to operate hand brakes?
Given the ratio of rotor to wheel size, I don't think it would take much strength to stop that thing, at least if the brakes are half way functional to start with.
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Old 04-14-16, 11:38 PM
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You can try it.

I'm not a fat biker...

I put a fat tire on my cargo bike. One thing I dislike about it is that it pushed the Q-Factor on the crankset very wide which I believe throws my whole crank stroke off. I certainly wouldn't wish it on a kid half my size. Assuming 16x3, that is what Schwinn put on its small OCC, and they aren't real big tires. However, that bike is probably also about the same size as a typical 20" bike.

I put my nephew on a 24" road bike at age 8. By 10 or so, he is already outgrowing the bike, and ready to move to 650c. At age 9, he did borrow a neighbor's 24" MTB, and was fine on it.

At 8-9, my nephew can understand shifting more or less, but has a lot of troubles using the Fuji paddle shifters. I can't get him to shift while pedalling. He always shifts while stopped, then pedals. He also had a lot of troubles with enough strength to use the grip shifters on the 24" MTB.

On the other hand, at age 10-12, my niece has done just fine with stem shifters, and is already learning how to trim them to get rid of the rattling sounds. Unfortunately she hasn't had enough riding practice, and doesn't like taking one hand off the steering to signal.

Anyway, I'm thinking your 4 1/2 yr old kid may have a lot of troubles with the grip shifters. And the bike may be a bit on the large size, but he'll grow into it.

Personally, if it was me, I'd find a $20, 16" or 18" bike (possibly with dual rim/pedal brakes), and use that for another year or two, then migrate to a standard 20" BMX with gears and brakes.

The FAT bike won't do anything other than the cool factor. And, a 4 or 5 yr old will be cool enough just being on the bicycle with DAD.
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Old 04-15-16, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Given the ratio of rotor to wheel size, I don't think it would take much strength to stop that thing, at least if the brakes are half way functional to start with.
Still a long reach for small hands. I'm not convinced that's a safe design for a small kid's bike.
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Old 04-15-16, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Hand brakes.

Does your son have the dexterity and grip strength to operate hand brakes?
Frankly, I think it takes much more dexterity to operate a coaster brake than a hand brake. I've seen beginners who have trouble grasping the idea of pedaling backwards to stop. Children know instinctively how to grasp objects with their hands and brake levers aren't that difficult for them to understand nor to use.

Originally Posted by g33weq View Post
Yes, it's fat and indeed almost 30 pounds. But I think that being able to shift to a lower gear would make easier to climb with them uphill than with no gears on a much lighter 14"...
20" seems unrealistic at least for another year
He'll need the ability to shift to a lower gear given that weight. At 4 and a half, your son probably doesn't weigh much more than 30 lbs. Why saddle the poor kid with a bike that is equal to his body weight and then say "Climb that hill, boy!". Would you ride a bicycle that weighs the same as you do? Would you even be happy with a bike that weighs 30 lb? The answer that all of us would give is a resounding "NO!" and yet we ask our children to ride bikes that are incredibly heavy and wonder why they don't want to ride. Here's an experiment for you: go get a motorcycle. Attach pedals to it but leave everything just as it is. Now go ride it up a hill...any hill...and think about how you'd like to do that all day long. The hand brakes and disc brakes are not what you should be concerned about. Look for something that doesn't have 10 lb wheels on it and something that weighs less than your average Abrahms tank.
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Old 04-15-16, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Frankly, I think it takes much more dexterity to operate a coaster brake than a hand brake. I've seen beginners who have trouble grasping the idea of pedaling backwards to stop. Children know instinctively how to grasp objects with their hands and brake levers aren't that difficult for them to understand nor to use.

We're going to disagree on that part. My experience selling kids bikes is they instinctively want to pedal backwards to stop. Watched a few kids panic on their first ride with a hand brake bike. - Retro



He'll need the ability to shift to a lower gear given that weight. At 4 and a half, your son probably doesn't weigh much more than 30 lbs. Why saddle the poor kid with a bike that is equal to his body weight and then say "Climb that hill, boy!". Would you ride a bicycle that weighs the same as you do? Would you even be happy with a bike that weighs 30 lb? The answer that all of us would give is a resounding "NO!" and yet we ask our children to ride bikes that are incredibly heavy and wonder why they don't want to ride. Here's an experiment for you: go get a motorcycle. Attach pedals to it but leave everything just as it is. Now go ride it up a hill...any hill...and think about how you'd like to do that all day long. The hand brakes and disc brakes are not what you should be concerned about. Look for something that doesn't have 10 lb wheels on it and something that weighs less than your average Abrahms tank.
Strongly agree with you on this part. People want to buy their kid a better than WalMart bike so they look for one that has a lot of add on features on a water pipe frame. There has to be a way to build an affordable kids bike that weighs less than 20 pounds.
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Old 04-15-16, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by g33weq View Post
Hello folks!

I have a 4.5 year old son who has a knack for riding and is already very advanced with his 14" bike. He's also quite tall for his age so I was thinking of soon getting him a new 16" and was looking for a bike with gears.

I came across an offer from some bike manufacturer from China for this 16" fat bike:


It's supposed to have a Shimano RS35 and TZ31.

What's your opinion on the potential of such a bike being a good choice?
Personally, I'd never buy that bike for any kid that I know. As people said above, hand brakes are hard for kids. However, that's not the only problem. The problem is that kids hand brakes are CRAP. They have smaller levers which are closer to the bars, so less leverage and less movement. Which means they're generally hard to use. If you do want a more advanced kids bike, buy a nice name brand one. Cheap ones will be nothing but trouble.

Especially this heap..., trying to cash in on the fat bike "craze", probably doesn't even work correctly, bike.

If you want a quality bike for your kid, buy a quality bike. Haro makes very nice kids bikes that probably have decent hand brakes that work correctly. You won't find many 16" bikes with gears, however there do exist 18" bikes that may be a better bet. Your kid will appreciate a nice, single speed bike much more than a heavy "fat" bike with gears that doesn't work.

I've ridden over 200 kids bikes in the last year, trust me on this.

Then again, it's your money. If you want to spend it on this bike, go ahead, I just think it's a bad idea.

I think you're probably similar to my sister, who has a 2 year old. She bought her kid her first bike the other day and honestly, I told her to buy her whatever cheap bike she wanted on amazon. The kid will never remember it, she'll outgrow it in a few months, and kids that age don't really pedal that much anyway. More of a "coast down hills" type of thing. When they get old enough to start remembering things, then buy them a bike that'll get them interested in biking.
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Old 04-15-16, 06:06 PM
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I have a kids bike with cantis and they are a pain in the rear to adjust. I can not get a solid adjustment to make them easy and functional for him to use.

It is lucking equipped with a coaster brake.

That being said, he at 4 knew how to use the hand brakes and they just didn't work well.

At 5.5 he is almost ready to use gears, but the reasonable choices are slim. I am not willing to spend a small fortune to get a bike he will outgrow in a year.
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Old 04-16-16, 05:12 AM
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I like that you can flatten the rear tire and wipe out your rear derailleur at the same time.
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Old 04-16-16, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
I like that you can flatten the rear tire and wipe out your rear derailleur at the same time.
Kids never get flats...
Nor are they ever tempted to RIDE ON A FLAT.

I will say that I have several hundred hard miles on my 20 x 4.25 without a flat, and don't carry a spare for it, just a patch kit.

I did have a blowout on my 16x3 once, due to old rubber, before I started running moped tires.

But, with a single front chainring and not too wide range gearing, that bike could probably use a short cage derailleur. Is that photo with the chain on the largest rear cog, and the derailleur is hardly pulled forward? Does it drag on the smallest cog?

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Old 04-16-16, 10:00 AM
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Try the "Recreation and Family" subforum. Lots of people post there about buying bikes for kids.
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Old 04-16-16, 03:55 PM
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If I were getting a "serious" 16" bike for a child, I'd most likely look for something lightweight like this (not recommending this specific bike - just something in this category and weight range). I think weight might be more important than having multiple gears at this age.

https://www.rei.com/product/898874/e...kids-bike-2016
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Old 04-16-16, 04:05 PM
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I was wondering if rather than considering kid's bikes as disposable, there would be a market opportunity for rentals/leases, in which case there would be an opportunity to build nice multi-speed IGH coaster wheeled bikes. Lease them for a couple years, trade them in for the next size up, and the old ones would get refurbed and sent out again and again.

Hopefully with some expectation of care for the equipment.
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Old 04-16-16, 04:10 PM
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Most premium kid bikes these days have V brakes at both ends that are perfectly adequate. Gears on bikes smaller than 20in wheels do seem pretty rare though. I guess if you were ambitious you could figure something out with a gear hub.
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Old 04-16-16, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I was wondering if rather than considering kid's bikes as disposable, there would be a market opportunity for rentals/leases, in which case there would be an opportunity to build nice multi-speed IGH coaster wheeled bikes. Lease them for a couple years, trade them in for the next size up, and the old ones would get refurbed and sent out again and again.

Hopefully with some expectation of care for the equipment.
Woom has a trade-in program but I don't know if anyone is using it or if they've done anything with the trade-ins
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Old 04-16-16, 04:13 PM
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Oh, you might also consider something like a Trail Gator.

Trail-Gator Child Bike Tow Bar

To allow both independent riding, and longer hauls. There others available too. See discussion here. http://www.bikeforums.net/recreation...hing-else.html

It appears as if the Follow Me Tandem is somewhat sturdier.

FollowMe tandem coupling
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