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Kid's Road Bikes--- finally!

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Kid's Road Bikes--- finally!

Old 05-30-20, 05:43 PM
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Kid's Road Bikes--- finally!

So I've been on a search for real(ish) road bike for my two daughters, 7 and 9. They have really liked riding, but their mountain bikes are just heavy and twitchy for the longer road rides we've been doing --- longest being about about 15 miles so far! Finding something with a low enough standover that isn't just garbage was really hard-- I was at the point of looking for early 90's mtb's to convert to drop bars..... But I finally found decent bikes!

One is a late 80's Centurion Ironman, built around the Georgena Terry design of a 24" front wheel and a regular 700c wheel in back. The standover is about 28.5", just tolerable for my (tall) 9 year-old. I found it for $75 from a bike store which was moving locations and trying to clear used bike inventory. The bike for the 7 year-old was a harder problem--- there are some decent bikes built around 24" wheels, but they were never made in huge numbers, and the ones I saw on craigslist within a 4 hour drive radius were all asking $300 and up....

Then I just got lucky: a guy in my town posted an Orbea Euskaltel copy junior road bike-- the perfect bike, for $100! I nearly broke my fingers I texted him so fast.... but I got it, and it's perfect!

I've already added interrupt brake levers to one bike, and will do the other when the parts arrive... Other changes were to put a triple crank on the Centurion--- it came with a 48-42 ring combination, which was just weird! Why would you not put a decent easy gear on a bike designed for smaller riders--- and they did, with the smaller big ring... why not the little ring? But I found a Bianchi OEM triple at 165mm length, and I swapped the 52 it came with for the 48 from the Shimano 105 crank on the Centurion, and now my daughter will have 48/40/30 at her disposal.

The Orbea is pretty neat--- a lot of kids bikes are actually heavier than you'd expect, but this bike comes in nicely at 23 lbs. I have some short reach 105 brake calipers I may swap in for the no-name brakes on there, which are pretty lousy--- but otherwise the bike is very fast and functional.

The real fun was test-riding each bike--- a 5'11" guy zooming around on tiny bikes!

Both girls have ridden them twice now, and are having a blast:

Real road bikes! So cool....
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Old 06-02-20, 09:20 AM
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Wow, your 9yo can competently handle the gearing decisions of a triple and also use downtube shifters? Keep her at it because thats some serious talent that could be developed if she enjoys the sport.
A lot of adults dont understand the gearing options of a triple and a lot more fear using downtube shifters due to having their hands off the bars. A 9yo doing both is impressive.

I just switched my 9yo's bike to a 1x9 to eliminate the need for trying to figure out what gearing combo to be in at any given time since the original 3 ring crank was too much.
I look forward to her riding fast enough to benefit from a road bike's positioning.
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Old 06-07-20, 08:57 PM
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Well I don't know about talent--- she definitely likes riding bikes though! And I figure that is enough. I offered to put some brifters on the bike but she said "no I want to learn to do it the right way!" (Little does she know that hardly anyone tolerates downtube shifters anymore.) She figured out the triple chainrings on her MTB at first--- she hardly uses the big ring on either bike, so I may just remove them to save weight. She also knows that the little chainring is the bailout gear for the serious hills... and again that is probably enough for her to know for now!

I just want her to enjoy riding-- she'll figure out everything else as she goes along.

Just like we all did.


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Old 06-08-20, 07:00 AM
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That's a pretty slick setup you've got with those bikes. My daughter (now 13) still rides her 24" single speed cruiser, but we also don't have many hills and she just rides to have some slow speed fun on the bike trails. Her bike at 9 was a very old banana seated chopper style girls bike from the late 70's that I rebuilt. It had some creaks and squeaks but she loved it with the rainbow paint and little basket up front for whatever she thought to carry that day. And I'm always surprise at how far she can ride those bikes. The first time she took the chopper out, she rode 12 miles in one go!
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Old 06-11-20, 10:20 PM
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In my rafter bicycle archives, is a 24 inch Schwinn Varsity, complete with chrome fenders. Someday it will get ridden again.
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Old 06-12-20, 05:25 AM
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Great work!
It is hard finding bikes in these sizes! About a year ago I got a Terry Symmetry, the well-known model with the 24" front wheel.
Full Campy! I kept telling him his bike was way better than mine! It was ridden by the (short) wife of a road bike enthusiast, and so was in great shape.
They are great bikes, and a great find for kids in that size range. He has loved it and has really taken to riding road really well. It really is a nice ride, even for me at 5' 10".

He is outgrowing it now, and I am going through the challenge of looking for a bike in the next general size up, for people who are a bit over 5 foot (like a 49 to 51). His younger brother is not as much into road riding but mountain biking - but will get the Terry as a hand-me-down. When he has outgrown the Terry, I will be able to sell it for more than I bought it for.

The downside with the Terry has been: I put a Panaracer Pasela on the front - the original was very worn - but this tire was almost impossible to remove for flats. [My son is a good rider but it took him a while to figure out 1. that he should not go up curbs, and 2. that if he does he should pop-a-wheelie which is hard on a road bike.] I replaced it with a narrow mountain bike style tire that is really like a cyclocross tire. Much easier to change, and suits his desire to ride a bit more rough than the typical road bike riding. Across fields, up curbs, and so on.

It is also a hassle to have to have two road tube sizes. [Plus tubes for the 24" and 26" wheel mountain bikes in the family.]

I agree that the triple is an idea that takes a while to sink in. He will end up on the small ring in front, and crossed up at times- it does not occur to him to get into middle ring to keep from crossing up chain.
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Old 08-08-20, 03:09 PM
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My son is 6... I never considered a road bike for him so early. How is your younger one doing on that bike?
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Old 08-17-20, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by apeg View Post
My son is 6... I never considered a road bike for him so early. How is your younger one doing on that bike?
Mine was doing fine on a road bike at 6, you can try finding a rare redline conquest 20, I'm hopeful my youngest will ride the one I have but he doesn't seem remotely interested in riding anything. It's a decent bike with a flat bar and 20X 1 3/8 tires and is designed for road and cross.
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Old 08-18-20, 09:43 AM
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Both my daughters are doing OK on these road bikes after a few outings in a flat parking lot to get used to the handling differences from their mountain bikes.

The only issues seem to be hand size and strength for braking/shifting on the brifters. Both sets of brifters are supposed to be short reach, but it's still a stretch for their fingers out to the levers, especially for the younger one. I've installed interrupt levers on both bikes so they can ride on the tops and brake comfortably, but that's not a very stable position for steering the bike on fast downhills....Additionally the lever throw for shifting is pretty long for kids with small hands...

They both really love how much faster the bikes are than their mtb's, for sure! We did 20 miles the other day, and both girls did fine....

Wish "real" road bikes were easier to find--- mountain bikes are fine for trails, but they are unnecessarily heavy and uncomfortable for longer rides on the road.

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Old 08-18-20, 01:07 PM
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Last summer, I got my daughter a Scott Speedster Jr24 road bike. It was pre-owned but it excellent condition. The first mod I did to improve handling, comfort, shifting and aesthetics was removing the 8spd Sora shifters and secondary brake levers. I installed Claris 2K shifters and the reach adjustment feature made a world of a difference. My daughter was 9yrs old last summer and she had no issues shifting/braking from the tops and even on the handlebar drops.
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Old 08-20-20, 05:55 AM
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Those are nice looking bikes. Glad they’re working out as you hoped.
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Old 09-21-20, 06:10 PM
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This is awesome. I have kids in that age range and they just have mountain bikes so we can hit the trails together so I don’t do any road riding with family, other than around the neighborhood.
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Old 09-22-20, 06:04 PM
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Man, what neat bikes! You've done a great job.

I never even thought about looking for road bikes for my kids. As it turns out, my son has a new Prevelo Alpha 4 arriving tomorrow via FedEx. 24" wheels, 1x8 gearing.

My daughter has a Woom 4 showing up in late October or early November. 20" wheels, 1x7 gearing.

I'm hoping we can build up to 20+ miles pretty soon. Right now, they both have done a few rides in the 10-13 mile range. These new bikes will make the rides remarkably easier for them, I expect

Congrats again!
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Old 10-16-20, 07:41 AM
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O man you got SOOO LUCKY!!!
I am looking for my 6yr old (who is as tall as an 8-9yr old so her bigger size helps in looking for a bike) but as you said, it's mostly garbage, no decent bike.
We have been going out for road rides every other week, and she can only do 10miles. I ride behind her (coasting) and see her constantly pedaling on her Huffy one-speed bike, and I feel really bad. (Last ride we had last weekend, she barely lasted 9miles).
She likes biking but it's at a point we need to get a better bike for her. However the caveat is, the color also must be right. I hope to still get her a cutesy girly bike that she will love.
Thank you for sharing your experiences, the details on the bikes. I immediately started to look up Centurion and Orbea!
Wish me luck!!
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Old 10-16-20, 08:15 AM
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I got lucky, my 9y/o literally started riding without training wheels in March on his 20" trek, and he was too big for it. At the time, he wanted to get a road bike like I have, and was prepared to buy new but a club mate had a 24" felt his son was outgrowing so I was able to get it for $250. A bit high considering it's from 2004 (and has the older style Sora shifters) but kid road bikes on the used market are pretty rare so it was a totally fair price considering the scarcity and new prices.

I was hoping the road bike would unlock a love of cycling for my son, but after a few rides he was over it and never asks to ride. So nowadays due to being at home most of the time I make him ride as his PE. Yesterday we averaged 13.2mph for our hour ride, not bad for a kid who doesn't like cycling. At this point, his health and getting adequate exercise is more important than any future resentment due to my making him ride 60mins a day lol
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