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Looking for a road bike for my son

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Looking for a road bike for my son

Old 09-30-08, 09:11 AM
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fiataccompli 
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Looking for a road bike for my son

Hi folks. I searched the forum and didn't find much *recent* info, so I figured it was fair to ask....

I'm looking for a road bike for my son who's 10 yrs old & EAGERLY will ride any bike we have any time, any where, etc. etc....in other words, he's bike-crazy & I want to encourage/guide him (plus, steer his interest away from a motorized dirt bike...but that's another story). On his 24"-wheeled Rockhopper, he easily puts in 20 miles (or more) keeping up with me and my wife (riding on the slow side on road bikes), but I'd like to see him try a road bike & see the difference. We've looked at a few of the new 24" wheel offerings...I think a Specialized and a new Felt24.

I'm sure many folks here have gone through this and I'd like to hear some pointers, advice on where to look & what to look for, or what is the current "bargain du jour" in youth road bikes.

We generally ride steel-framed, older bikes & my preference is usually something along the lines of building something customized. That said, it seems like a small-framed cool vintage lugged steel frame that would fit him isn't an easy find. So aluminum is OK with us. Winning the next TDF isn't in the cards for us, just looking for a nice, quick, agile ride that's very respectable in non-competitive settings. I have seriously considered modifying his Rockhopper with drop bars, road tires, etc., but combining that and changing the gearing puts the price tag at the point where I feel like i should be able to find a decent used bike...or close enough that I would prefer to find another one since he actually enjoys the "ATB" aspect of his bike anyway.

Thanks in advance for any pointers, particular models to look for, etc.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:34 AM
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I like Felt...the f24 seems nice. Its around 750$ right? I would say you arent gonna do much better unless you get him a bike from Dicks or Sports Authority or something. I mean, if your son really loves cycling already...the F24 is proably the best way to actually introduce him to the sport.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:44 AM
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Oh....I forgot to mention this picky detail: I'm a cheapskate.....sorta kidding when i say that, but sorta not. Owning & having built/bought very nice bikes for less puts my perspective in a strange skew. That said, I also realize that $750 on a bike that will call for very little additional cost is a better value than half that for one that will continually need parts replaced & tweaked and may always be a slug to ride even in perfect tune. Ideally, I'll find a slightly used bike like this for half the money. Since kids like to jump bikes off curbs & stuff (well, OK, so do I, but not road bikes), the used market is a little scary (especially when there seem to be no steel-framed options out there).
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Old 09-30-08, 09:52 AM
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Yeah, I haven't found much of a used market for these yet. For new bikes, this is probably the best bargain:
(sorry, had to deep-link, so no headers or sidebars) https://www.chucksbikes.com/store/cbpihta.htm
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Old 09-30-08, 09:55 AM
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Many top brands make a "junior" road bike with smaller wheels to fit smaller riders. The only catch is you will probably have to order the bike instead of test riding them. Specialized and Giant come to mind.

How tall is your son? Here's a bike kit that should fit average size 10 year olds. *edit* Waterrockets beat me to it and I couldn't get the link right anyway. If he's taller than average, you might want to look into 650c (~26") wheels. The one WR linked has 24" wheels, and a full size road bike has 700c (~27").
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Old 09-30-08, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by fiataccompli View Post
Oh....I forgot to mention this picky detail: I'm a cheapskate.....
I'll toss in my $.02 (since I have an 11 year old son, for whom I just purchased a road bike).

When he wanted to get a road bike (he has a MTB) I had a hard time justifying $$$$ for a child who's growing (a lot!). Getting a frame that he'd be right for, but not outgrow in 2 months was an issue. So I kept searching CL and theBay looking for deals.

We ended up with a 70s era Motobecane (50cm) in good condition. Paid $100 for it, plus about $100 more to have the LBS do a thorough safety check/tune up, new tape, spd pedals (so he can use his MTB shoes) and a new seat.

Right now he's very happy with it.... but prefers his MTB and the trails. We do in-town rides on the roadbikes, and he's done some group rides (and was able to keep up, unlike the time we tried on MTB). All in all, he's got a solid roadbike that he can grown with for at least a few years, and I'm not freaking out if he damages it because it didn't cost too much.

YMMV.

Tim
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Old 09-30-08, 12:01 PM
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Actually, one possibility is to get slicks for the MTB, and just buy a new cockpit with drop bars, stem, and ebay brifters. If you do it right, you could probably get everything for under $100. ($15 aluminum bars, $10 stem, $6 tape, Sora brifters $40...).

The result will be a pretty heavy bike, but unless you're hitting real mountains a lot, it won't make much difference. It will allow him to get lower and more aero, and the tires will be a huge improvement over knobbies.
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Old 09-30-08, 01:48 PM
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gearing is the only issue. I've got plenty of spares to put whatever style drop bars he would want & any number of shifter configurations...but I'd want larger chainrings or smaller rear gears (or...both)....really the only holdup on that is that he loses his ATB bike & it's been a great bike (hand-me-down from his brother...great case-in-point for buying "real" bikes for kids vs. dept. store junk).

He's on the short side of average for his age, so the 24" wheeled bikes have perfect proportions for him. That said, he'll hop on a 56cm road bike & ride it with one leg sticking through the frame if I let him! (he has, but as a rule, i don't).

I rescued a JCPenney Free Spirit 24" road bike (I guess that was the last era when there was a market large enough to make these, eh?) from the metal recycling bin at work a month or so ago & have seriously thought about grafting a collection of real bike parts to that POS frame...at least it's got appropriately-sized chainrings and the price was ok (not great..it's enough of a POS that I really should have been paid for my efforts to lift it into my truck)...I was hoping for something at least a bit better than crimped rear dropouts & a built-in kickstand...so, for now the JCP-10 is just sitting there.

luckily, in a year or so he should be ready for my wife's current road bike...which, by then, she will have moved up from....so, I'm just looking for something that will work for a couple of years maximum, but will have some value left either to build a new bike or simply resell at that point.
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Old 09-30-08, 02:51 PM
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The worst thing about spending 750 bucks on a "real" youth road bike is that he will *certainly* outgrow it, and it will need to be replaced. That being said....you can obviously sell it when the time is right but im not sure what the residual value would be (not usually that great for bikes anyways).
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Old 09-30-08, 03:07 PM
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maybe some of the women's specific bikes.
650's and smaller brifters, ect.
I know they are usually pink or purple but I see them often for sale on CL and ebay.

I saw plenty of 48 and 49 cm bikes when I was looking for a used bike for a friend.
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