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Hey, where's Perry?
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 8 and 9 year olds have outgrown their 20 inch generic bikes. My wife and I are uncertain which direction to take them in for replacement / upgrades. One the one hand, we are disappointed with the quality in the big box stores, including dedicated sporting goods stores like Sports Authority and such. On the other, we are shocked at the prices we're being quoted at the various LBS's, which seem to want to start the conversation at $350 and move up from there. 2 questions:

1. I searched and could not find a similar discussion. Surely this has come up before. Can anyone point me to a relevant thread, or am I missing it?

2. I am looking for an aluminum-framed 24" bike (frame size around 15 inches) with minimal to no suspension. After having done some research, I am convinced that weight is a primary consideration. Where we live, and the riding we do as a family (mostly MUT's that have pavement and crushed limestone) don't require suspensions that justify the weight penalty. Any recommendations at or around $200? (I'm buying 2, after all, so price does matter.)

I had a third question, but it escaped me. I'll be back if I think of it. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
 

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As one in a similar situation, my suggestion for kids bikes is to see if there are any "sports swaps" in your area. Kids grow out of bicycles quickly, and it's often possible to find kids bikes in great condition, having been bought new and then used by maybe 1 or 2 kids for a couple of years, at these events. If your local school doesn't hold a sports swap, see if a local charity or church does.

Second, less desirable, option is Craigslist for the same reason -- lots of parents need to get ride of bikes their kids have outgrown.
 

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Squirrel Hunter
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BMX Cruiser

How about a BMX cruiser? Get used race bikes now that it is the end of the season. Change out the tires to match their riding styles/terrain (slicks?). Change the gearing for cruising on the flats. Get a decent saddle. These will be way lighter than the big box wannabe mountain bikes where even when the gears work it does not really matter. They can beat the crap out of them and keep on riding. Suitable off road and on the trails.
 

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banned from the museum
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Most BMX bikes do not have "real" saddles. Also, they tend to have monstrously long cranks. Just something to be aware of. Good deals can be had on slightly used cruisers though.
 

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Hey, where's Perry?
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone for your responses. What spurred this thread was my observation that every manufacturer of reasonable size (except maybe Cannondale... if they have one, it isn't clear to me) seems to have their own answer to what I am looking for. A sampling (and for some of you in my boat, maybe this is a shopping list for you to get started with):

  • Giant MTX 225
  • Kona Hula
  • K2 Twixter
  • Fuji Sandblaster
  • Trek MT 200
  • Haro Flightline
  • Specialized Hotrock
  • Felt Q.24
  • Marin Bayview Trail

Of course, this list leaves out other candidates from brands like Schwinn, Raleigh, Diamondback, ubiquitous Huffy (perish the thought), Pacific and numerous others that are probably rebadged versions of other current or discontinued bikes. And the problem I have as a parent is that there doesn't seem to be much differentiation between each of these. Well, that's one problem... the other is that when I actually come across these bikes in the various LBS's here in the far west Chicago burbs, the prices are MSRP + double-digit %.

At this point, I am in a tough spot... there seems a world of difference between the $99 Walmart bikes we can get and the name brand bikes cited (partially) above. I don't want to buy crap for the kids because I want them to enjoy being on their bikes. But spending the kind of money to get them an entry level name brand bike is sort of out of the question at the moment. It may be that we end up trying to win the Craigslist lottery, as was suggested a couple of times here.

Couple questions on your responses:

Keeping up with Junior - "BMX Cruiser" is a new term for me. I'll have to look that up.

Biknben - I figured aluminum was as strong as steel. Am I wrong?
 

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Redline made a 24" conquest last year.

Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly spoke fairly highly of it, though he swapped out the cranks with some much lighter but nigh-unfindable ones- TA cyclotourists in a 145 length...
 

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waterproof*
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Check out the GMC Denali 24's that Amazon carries. My kids are on a pair of those; they are "big box" type bikes but still of slightly higher quality than the wally world stuff.
 

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second star to the right
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mine are 10,11 and 13. My solution worked through the LBS, and involved buying used 13 inch aluminum mt bikes, and trading them in as they grew up. The BMX bikes weren't as popular as the mt. bikes, and didn't last long. The younger two are still on 13" bikes, and the older is on a 18" frame now. I have bought and sold through craigslist and ebay, and found it to be too much hassle for kids bikes unless they are within a couple of miles. The oldest one traded in her almost mint 13" for $150 towards her new 18" - a trek 4300 for a 3700. SInce I have bought a few bikes from them, i get a good deal and I take the kids there every couple of months after school to get the bikes sized - this store has free lifetime adjustments if you buy there. Once the oldest hits about 14 we are thinking about a road specific bike. She is 5'8" and still growing. This store happens to stock treks - I would rec. any aluminum mt. bike. IMHO the steel ones are too heavy. FWIW The aluminum trek 3700 was priced around $330. We also get helmets and lights(lots) and stuff there - I think it is a win/win. My kids friends have the box store bikes - They are the ones I ned up fixing prior to kid rides.
 

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Hey, where's Perry?
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Creakyknees said:
Check out the GMC Denali 24's that Amazon carries. My kids are on a pair of those; they are "big box" type bikes but still of slightly higher quality than the wally world stuff.
Yeah, I saw that. If it were simply up to me, we'd get two of these and be done with it. I like the idea of a kid's intro road bike, and as I said before, we don't ride anywhere that requires a rough-and-tumble MTB. My son could be talked into one, but Amazon doesn't seem to have the boy's version anymore. My daughter wants a more upright riding position.
 

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turtle killer.
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My 8 and 9 year olds both have 24" hotrocks. One got one for Christmas, so naturally the other needed an identical (but different) one for her birthday... They both really like them. Weight wise, they're OK. You could easily lighten them up by upgrading components if you so chose to. Both are 2x7 twist shifts, and the girls operate them easily enough.
 

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"El Bwana"
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If you have a junior racing team in your area keep an eye on their website/forum. At the beginning of the season many parents are trying to sell a bike.
 

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Cheese is my copilot
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There is an entire forum on MTBR devoted to riding with kids. Worth your time to search it.

http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=151

The 24" Hotrock mentioned by dysfunction is a popular solution. Replace the bar and seatpost for a pretty significant weight savings.

My son had the Giant 225. The Hotrock would have been a better choice.
 

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Hey, where's Perry?
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
wooglin said:
There is an entire forum on MTBR devoted to riding with kids. Worth your time to search it.

http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=151

The 24" Hotrock mentioned by dysfunction is a popular solution. Replace the bar and seatpost for a pretty significant weight savings.

My son had the Giant 225. The Hotrock would have been a better choice.
The Kona Hula gets a lot of love there too, it seems.
 

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check craigslist
i picked up a great giant ocr3 for 100 bucks for my son (8yrs old)
look at the wsd models the geo is alittle more forgiving
 

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I bought both of my boys Specialized hotrocks that were barely used off of Craigslist. They have been great bikes and only paid $80 and $100.
 

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Hey, where's Perry?
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Update here, FWIW. Hunted down a few Craigslist ads. Craigslist should be a fertile environment for us, living in the west Chicago suburbs. But the few we've seen personally have either been mislabled (20 inch, not 24 as advertised) or in worse shape than was advertised. I'll keep looking on Craigslist for the next few days, but our initial experiences have been a little disappointing.

What I really, really want to do is shell out the $300x2 or so for a new, entry-level name brand bike, along the lines of those I mentioned earlier. But I am the only one. Neither my wife nor the two kids who will be riding the bikes care one way or another. In fact, looks (and in particular, color) apparently mean more to them than I anticipated, and they have a strong preference for some of the cheaper, heavier bikes we've seen at the big box stores. So at this point, it seems most likely we're going to get some closeout bikes at Sports Authority or something similar.
 

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In the end, get them what they want or they will be much less likely to ride the bike. You have to have a baseline but concede where you can so they will actually use what you buy them.
 
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