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24" Road bike for my 7yo daughter, shifter problem advice

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24" Road bike for my 7yo daughter, shifter problem advice

Old 06-03-12, 03:56 PM
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hesspaul
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24" Road bike for my 7yo daughter, shifter problem advice

First, I know people ask similar questions here FREQUENTLY so I hope you'll be tolerant. I couldn't find anything close enough in searching back threads for what I need.

My 7 yo daughter went up to 20" wheel single speed just a year ago, but she has really taken to biking going first 4 then 7 then several 18 mile trips. Now she's asking to go on what would be some full day 60 mile trips this summer so she needs to upgrade a geared bike. She's on the small side for her age, so I'm hopeful a 24" bike will last multiple years and (if not girly) be able to be handed down to her younger brother when his time comes.

My problem: We tried out a Specialized 24" from a local bike shop on a several mile ride, and she could upshift but was not strong enough to downshift using the twisty rubber gear shifters (shimano revoshift). Maybe her hands are too small, or maybe it really is a strength issue I don't know. I am trying to look for alternatives but everything else I look at for that age seems to be mountain bikes. The one or two places that have road bikes all have that same kind of shift gear and they look at me a little crazy when I ask if I should try to find levers or other kinds of shift mechanisms for her.

I really want to encourage her biking enthusiasm ... Am I crazy to look for a different kind of shifter that might have leverage etc in it? Should I just keep letting her try out the shimano and hope it's just a knack for her to figure out how to be able to shift? Any other ideas or leads on bikes to try out for her?

I am not looking to custom build a bike both due to time and skill. I'm also not too up on bikes and what is available; I bought my first bike ever in 1984 and it's the only thing I ever used, although it is pretty well used!

Thanks in advance for any patient and helpful advice. I've been to a local bike shop and been looking through REI/Target/Sports Authority type places on line and so far nothing is very encouraging, although I plan to take her to more places as soon as we can find time and my outlook on this might get a lot better.
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Old 06-03-12, 04:09 PM
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MichaelW
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What about hub gears. 3, 5,7 or 8 speed, they all have controls with very little resistance.
Giant sell the Areva 3 in some regions.
In the UK Islabikes sell lightweight, high quality bikes mainly bought by club members.
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Old 06-03-12, 04:30 PM
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It's most likely a strength issue. Can you find a way to add length to the shifter to give her better leverage? A machine shop might help you rig up some extension that could be removed when she got older.
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Old 06-03-12, 04:40 PM
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Twist grip shifters are a PITA, my wife has problems with them too, small hands are a huge part of the problem.

Couple of suggestions, check out folders, it is something our daughter can ride for years to come. I have swapped a couple of bikes from grip shifters to thumb or bar end shifters. Not easy but it can be done. I also second looking for something with and IGH, in many cases there are alternate shifters available.

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Old 06-03-12, 05:02 PM
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bar end shifters even on the end of sweptback bars is good ,
for small hands because you can use the whole hand, to pull the lever up.
Sturmey archer 3 and 5 speeds offer 3 types of levers, grip, thumb and bar end..
thumb shifters too, can be turned like a faucet on the sink,with the whole hand.
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Old 06-03-12, 05:32 PM
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Is it a seven-speed bike? SRAM makes 3x7 trigger shifters:

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...8&category=773

You'd need to buy a corresponding SRAM derailleur:

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...54&category=72

Less than $50, and you'd have it. (There's actually a cheaper derailleur, but I'd spend the $23 myself).

If the bike is eight-speed, then you can buy some Shimano 8-speed triggers and keep your same derailleur.

Whatever shop you buy the bike from should easily be able to source the parts and put them on for you. I'm surprised they wouldn't jump to do that for you, since you did ask about it.

FWIW, I have yet to see one kid try one of my bikes having trigger shifters and then be glad his own bike has grip shifters. Those cheap grip shifters just spoil it for a lot of young people out there.
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Old 06-03-12, 06:53 PM
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this is hard, you want your child to be comfortable with a bike so you both can ride more. we experienced the same with our sons. when our youngest was 8 we got him an extra small specialized ladies model vita - he liked the reddish color, the bike fit him pretty well and he could use both twist shifters. he rode a lot with us, important to note - the riding was at his pace and skill level. we did some multi day sagged trips of around 650 km, they went ok - again to echo - these were at his pace. we also were very cautious about where we rode, while we talked a lot about traffic rules, how to ride and practiced a lot - a child will be such - every now and then he would dart in some unanticipated direction. in hindsight perhaps should have considered a light weight folding bike like the xootr swift - the vita worked well, but the number of gears and shifting was more complex than he really needed. He was able to ride it for two seasons, then moved to a small road bike with 650 wheels- which also lasted two seasons. His current bike is a late 80's vintage Japanese road bike in a blazing red color, it has down tube shifters - which he has mastered pretty well. Have our fifth annual tour with him planned to start in early july. - still pretty much at his pace and interest level - his riding skills however are better than most adults.
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Old 06-03-12, 06:56 PM
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+1 for bar end shifters.
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Old 06-03-12, 10:19 PM
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If the bike in question has gripshifters, then it must be using a flatbar handlebar; thus bar end shifters are out of the question. Just replace the gripshifters with common mtb rapidfire shifter pods. Only possible hangup, is that such shifters are going to be for 7speed and up; if the current gripshifters are 6speed(cheapo) you'll need to either get a 7speed freewheel on the bike, or use thumbshifters.
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Old 06-03-12, 10:32 PM
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How about SRAM triggers (Rocket, Attack, X-7 etc.) They have one lever for upshifts & another for downshifts, both activated with the thumb using a push action. Keep in mind that whatever bike you get, you can swap out the shifters (Ask the bike shop about derailleur compatibility. SRAM Attack triggers work with Shimano).

BTW Shimano triggers are not the same, but they might work also. One lever is pushed with the thumb, one is pulled with the other fingers.
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Old 06-04-12, 05:44 AM
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I got a cheap bike with twist shifters for my son for Christmas. No matter what I did I couldn't get it to shift 100% of the time, after hours of working on it. It was used, so I was sapping out components, etc. After a while I decided it was as good as it would get. I knew it was hard to shift but figured he'd be fine once he was moving.

Last weekend I put on thumb shifters. He likes it much better so far. I thought it would be harder to get the concept without the numbers, but it was no good when he couldn't shift.
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Old 06-04-12, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by hesspaul View Post
We tried out a Specialized 24" from a local bike shop on a several mile ride, and she could upshift but was not strong enough to downshift using the twisty rubber gear shifters (shimano revoshift). The one or two places that have road bikes all have that same kind of shift gear and they look at me a little crazy when I ask if I should try to find levers or other kinds of shift mechanisms for her.
What do the handlebars look like? What kind of derailleurs and brakes does the bike have?

Everything on a bike works together so, when you change one thing, you often find yourself having to change something else. Depending on a lot of things the cheapest and easiest course might be to switch to Shimano "Rapid Fire" shifters.
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Old 06-06-12, 07:30 AM
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hesspaul
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Thanks everyone for your tips! We're going to try to find a shop that can customize things for us, and (armed with all your great advice) discuss ideas with them.
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Old 06-06-12, 07:24 PM
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Just get a Trek KDR-1000, Fuji Ace, or a Cannondale SuperX 44cm. All of those are easy to shift. You can also get small road bikes at bikesdirect.com.
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