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Old 07-14-09, 02:49 PM   #1
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Advice on bike for 8 year old girl

Hi all:

Been a few years since I posted....I used to be active in the Commuting forum. Still biking but not too much posting!

So my daughter is 8 and has clearly outgrown her 16 incher. We did a little bike shopping at the weekend and it looks like a 20 incher is all she can manage for now. I'm not sure I can convince my wife to go second-hand/craigslist so my question is more along the lines of where to get the new bike and is any one clearly better than the other. We've looked at 3 places in DC.

Revolution Cycles: They have a single-geared Trek MT20for $219 and a multi-geared bike Trek MT 60 for $310. My daughter has expressed a stong preference for a geared bike. Also Revolution has a new program for kids where you get "up to 50%" off the price of a replacement bike within 3 years with a trade-in. Seems like a nice program although there also seems like a lot of wiggle room in the "up to 50% off".

Performance: Here we're looking at a Performance Scout for $200 and a GT Scamp for $260. Performance may also have some type of 'trade-in' deal going on.

REI: Novara Duster for $269.

So assuming we buy new we're essentially looking at a slightly more than $100 spread. Any input on the relative merits of these different bikes would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-14-09, 07:55 PM   #2
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There is not much difference in quality at the 20" size. You can get slightly better components on some bikes vs. others but in the end, the kids at 8 are not riding enough to warrant significant upgrades. I think the only justification for spending more on a bike for a kid that age is if they are the oddity and really bike a lot or they have siblings that will inherit the bike.

I'd recommend deciding if she is ready for gears or not. Her bike should at least have a hand brake backup if you go with a coaster brake. I would also recommend a bike with a rigid fork. Kids shocks for the most part are heavy and junk. Make sure the bike fits her (obviously you have done that part). That also includes crank length, handgrip size, reach to the bars and brake levers. Also make sure that they are able to adequately finger reach the lever and that the lever is not too stiff. Don't go for anything other than a 3 piece crank. Ride the bike yourself and check the pedals. I don't think I have ridden a single 12" or 16" and many 20" that have bent pedal axles. Sometimes, the shop can't even find a set of pedals that are not bent. Somewhat minor, but you are buying new and can expect some quality control for a $300+ cheaped out kids bike.

The weights of these bikes are pretty bad, often more than a decent adult road bike.

If you want to spend the money, Kona makes some nicer kids bikes. Heavy, but better made than most others. I really like the Islabikes out of the UK but they are not distributed here yet as far as I know. All else equal on the others in terms of fit, then I'd flip a coin or go where you'd rather spend your money. Of course if she likes it, it will probably be ridden more .

If you can get a used one, I'd definitely recommend that route. No reason to spend alot on a bike that will likely see <1k miles of use.
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Old 07-17-09, 01:43 PM   #3
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My daughter is 9 and she's way too big for her MT20 (and she's average to a little short for her age), which was a really good bike. We just got her a MT200 which is pretty much the same thing except it has 24" wheels and a grip shifter. I successfully convinced her that shock forks are not good for her type of riding, and none of the shocks on kids' bikes are really any good anyway. So maybe revisit the 24" size.

Last edited by DiabloScott; 07-17-09 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 08-07-09, 12:47 PM   #4
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Trek is great. We have rented them numerous times and they are solid. I also recommend the Marin Hidden Canyon, which my son has ridden for 1.5 years. Excellent bike.
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Old 08-09-09, 12:07 PM   #5
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My 10 year old is very "petite" (as she like to put it) for her age and has been riding a 20" Huffy single speed kids bike for years. I have a Trek Soho Single and really like the low maintenance and simplicity of single speed bikes so I've been resistant to upgrading her to a multi-speed. Her puppy dog eyes finally got to me though and we just ordered an MT200. As it's a speed, it only had a rear dérailleur - so hopefully that will reduce some of the maintenance as she gets more comfortable working with the multi speeds. On the other hand, with the 200 having 24" wheels, it should at least get her through middle school before her next upgrade.
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Old 09-10-09, 06:45 AM   #6
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I just bought a Fuji Ace 20 on clearance for $259. Happened yesterday. Now the boy has his own fleet of bikes.
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