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Mountain bike for my 6-7 year old son

jaybo1973jaybo1973 Posts: 301
Hi all

My son has finally got to an age where he can ride well and is ready for a 20" wheel bike. Now at is age, do you think a decathlon £120 hard trail is good enough? He loves the look of it. There is the full suspension for not much more, but from my knowledge, cheap full suspension leads to problems, even on kids bikes. So without spending hundreds, what would you guys recommended? My daughter will soon need one to, so I don't have a huge budget.

Many thanks

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  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,868
    Top Dollar bikes are Islabikes then reducing in price frogbikes, merida, decathlon. All do good VFM bikes. Don't bother with suspension or bike stands just added weight.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    Yes, I'd go for the lightest bike you can afford - which will be rigid - and put the largest volume tyres that will fit on it. You won't have much choice in a 24" wheel but when they are big enough for a 26" you have lots. Tyres give some cushioning especially if you resist the urge to pump them up too high!
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  • jaybo1973jaybo1973 Posts: 301
    We saw a 2nd hand Raleigh fader for sale on our street yesterday. Good value, but rear suspension. I'll not bother. As said, there isn't much choice in 20". It's not like he is going to be doing anything serious at this age, so I reckon the decathlon range are good enough
  • brianbeebrianbee Posts: 330
    Hi all

    My son has finally got to an age where he can ride well and is ready for a 20" wheel bike. Now at is age, do you think a decathlon £120 hard trail is good enough?

    Good enough for what ? it rather depends what you and your Sons expectations are ? The majority of kids bikes seem to live in sheds for months at a time with a few summer Sundays doing two laps of the park or at most used for scooting round the neighborhood on. Its more than good enough for that. If on the other hand you expect him to do tri weekly 10 mile runs over harsh terrain with a stop watch running,. then it may be a bit out of its depth

    That said my niece does weekly 5 miles off road runs on a bike I purchased for 25 quid on gum tree and it and she copes very well
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    Hi all

    My son has finally got to an age where he can ride well and is ready for a 20" wheel bike. Now at is age, do you think a decathlon £120 hard trail is good enough? He loves the look of it. There is the full suspension for not much more, but from my knowledge, cheap full suspension leads to problems, even on kids bikes. So without spending hundreds, what would you guys recommended? My daughter will soon need one to, so I don't have a huge budget.

    Many thanks
    I would recommend no suspension at all. Weight saving will be worth more for a 7yr old than a bit of cheap poorly damped bounciness at the front end.

    Islabikes hold their value so well that if you take care of them the total cost of the bike is not much at all after you have sold it on.
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  • brianbeebrianbee Posts: 330
    Hi all

    My son has finally got to an age where he can ride well and is ready for a 20" wheel bike. Now at is age, do you think a decathlon £120 hard trail is good enough? He loves the look of it. There is the full suspension for not much more, but from my knowledge, cheap full suspension leads to problems, even on kids bikes. So without spending hundreds, what would you guys recommended? My daughter will soon need one to, so I don't have a huge budget.

    Many thanks
    I would recommend no suspension at all. Weight saving will be worth more for a 7yr old than a bit of cheap poorly damped bounciness at the front end.

    Islabikes hold their value so well that if you take care of them the total cost of the bike is not much at all after you have sold it on.

    I was off a similar mind over suspension, until I bough my niece a front suspension bike and realized that the extra weight is somewhat offset by its ability to bounce up high kerbs which would over wise be throwing her over the handle bars. though it is by any standard poor suspension, it does soak up quite big single hits that would overwise cause her difficulty.

    The standard advice on here of ''''buy an isla bike'' to any question on what bike for a kid, has the slight ''middle class'' assumption that the parent in question has 400 quid or so to invest on the grounds that they may get most of it back at some point in the future, If the kid doesnt wreck It and if its not pinched both of which are quite likely to happen.

    As a question how do you take a kid mountain biking and not sustain quite a lot of bangs bumps and scrapes to the bike, its rather the point of the exercise

    It reminds me of those kids( now adults) that have immaculate still in box toys, its rather sad that they never got the fun of playing with them

    Better a cheap bike they can enjoy than an expensive one they need to consider the resale value of ?
  • While I agree that some Islabikes that you see for sale look as though they have never been used, I can personally attest to the fact that they also make sense where they are going to get a harder life. I have 3 boys and they all started with the same Cnoc 14, with the eldest being on a Luath 26 cyclocross bike now. They all race and, when not racing, love to get out on the bikes so they are all scratched and chipped (the bikes, not the kids). More importantly, I've needed to buy replacement mech hangers (1 plus a spare), saddles (1) and brake levers (2) - amongst smaller items - and all have been easily available at a reasonable price from Islabikes. Furthermore, I've seen several well used examples for sale (though not usually on ebay) and, while not getting top dollar, they certainly still make good money - and for good reason as, if looked after, they are still great bikes even if not 100% cosmetically.

    Despite being the default suggestion here, they aren't the right answer for everyone but, as a cyclist who wants to encourage my children in what has become a shared passion and who wants to maintain those bikes when necessary, they get the thumbs up from me, even if they are going to end up looking "pre-loved" in the end!

    _
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,640
    Better a cheap bike they can enjoy than an expensive one they need to consider the resale value of ?
    True. But the point of an Islabike is that a kid will actually enjoy it more because it's just nicer to ride: lighter weight, better proportions, easier brakes and gears. True they're expensive, and after a long period where there wasn't really any competition, some other bikes are now starting to give them a run for their money. But the resale value is pretty high whatever state they're in. I don't know how many get stolen, but is it that common?
    Talking about common, as for the idea that it's middle class to spend £400 on something (the Beinn 20 is actually 330), have you seen the average Joe's TV and phone these days?
  • brianbeebrianbee Posts: 330
    While I agree that some Islabikes that you see for sale look as though they have never been used, I can personally attest to the fact that they also make sense where they are going to get a harder life. I have 3 boys and they all started with the same Cnoc 14, with the eldest being on a Luath 26 cyclocross bike now. They all race and, when not racing, love to get out on the bikes so they are all scratched and chipped (the bikes, not the kids). More importantly, I've needed to buy replacement mech hangers (1 plus a spare), saddles (1) and brake levers (2) - amongst smaller items - and all have been easily available at a reasonable price from Islabikes. Furthermore, I've seen several well used examples for sale (though not usually on ebay) and, while not getting top dollar, they certainly still make good money - and for good reason as, if looked after, they are still great bikes even if not 100% cosmetically.

    Despite being the default suggestion here, they aren't the right answer for everyone but, as a cyclist who wants to encourage my children in what has become a shared passion and who wants to maintain those bikes when necessary, they get the thumbs up from me, even if they are going to end up looking "pre-loved" in the end!

    _

    My brotherinlaw makes much the same case that his merc saves him money in the long run, however as I dont have 40k knocking about, this infomation is of no use to myself

    And so it is with the ISLA bike issue. If a parent of modest means wishes to buy their kid a bike there is no point telling them how it would benefit them to buy a 400 quid bike when their budget is 120

    Your last paragraph stuck in my throat somewhat, It seems to be suggesting that those who dont buy the big buck item arnt encouraging their kids into cycling, when the fact they are buying any bike would show other wise. Just because you dont have a lot of money to spend doesn't mean the kids are less cherished. Or indeed that the child will get less enjoyment out of the cycle or will in some way be put off cycling for life.
  • Your last paragraph stuck in my throat somewhat, It seems to be suggesting that those who dont buy the big buck item arnt encouraging their kids into cycling, when the fact they are buying any bike would show other wise. Just because you dont have a lot of money to spend doesn't mean the kids are less cherished. Or indeed that the child will get less enjoyment out of the cycle or will in some way be put off cycling for life.

    I'm afraid that you've read more into my comments than I intended to convey. I have a couple of friends that send their kids to public school; as I am not able to do the same, does that mean that I love my kids less or don't wish for the to be as successful? No!

    I was only trying to respond to your implication that Islabikes are only appropriate if you're going to treat them with kid gloves. The Islabikes that we've had have led a hard life but, in my opinion, still represent value for money as the resale is still pretty good and the spare parts, when necessary, are available and reasonably priced.

    I fully agree that any bike is better than no bike (I learned to cycle on cheap, reconditioned bikes from the LBS) and I understand that not everyone can afford or justify the initial outlay on even a second hand Islabike. My comment was not intended as a slur on those people.

    _
  • brianbeebrianbee Posts: 330

    I was only trying to respond to your implication that Islabikes are only appropriate if you're going to treat them with kid gloves.

    _
    But that is not what I was implying, I was rebutting the oft quoted justification that you '' should buy an isla bike because you will get most of your money back IF you look after them'' That only being true if the bike is treated with ''kid gloves'' as you phrase it, not used for fun as I see it.

    My friend who after much cajoling from my self and his son, finally put his hand in his pocket and bought the lad a ( half) decent bike. The lad (circa 12 yo) destroyed it in 6 months, he was doing wheelies, skids stoppies bunny hops etal. With lots of spills.. My mate was furious with him, ''he will not get another if he cant look after it'', he ranted, ( he seemed to hold me responsible for encouraging reckless ridding)

    He would have been far happier if the kid had seldom played on the bike and it was sat gleaming in the garage( with resale value). He couldnt see that 300 quid was a good investment for the amount of fun the kid had had or that if he had spent 400 quid like I told him, the bike may well have survived a bit longer

    If the claimed justification for buying an isla bike was they will stand much more abuse and MAY last 12 months or more, of childhood fun, then I might buy into it. But the '' don't let your kid use it properly and you will get a good resale value is a self defeating argument. As if you wont let them do anything ''reckless on it in case it gets damaged,, a cheap one will last just as well
  • Steve-XcTSteve-XcT Posts: 267
    Daz555 wrote:
    I would recommend no suspension at all. Weight saving will be worth more for a 7yr old than a bit of cheap poorly damped bounciness at the front end.

    Rock Shock SID's were pretty decent (I'd not call them cheap poorly damped) and at a pinch can be made to fit a 24" wheel which 7yr olds are about ready to move into... (I certainly would prefer a pair hurtling down a technical trail than no suspension ?) Indeed a few weeks ago I gave my kid a push up a steep bit of firetrail (end of the day) and locked my forks and shortly after we descended a fairly tame red .... and at first I was clinging on until I remembered to unlock the forks!! (And mine are only 100mm travel XC) (Less of an issue with my XT M780 one finger than his brakes)

    Of course, not everyone has an old pair of 26" forks hanging about ... but it also seems that the newer 24" specific air forks compare very favourably from those that have done both with 60-63mm and adjustable with a pump as they get heavier.

    The Frog also seems to have VERY long rear triangle with the Ilsa slightly better for offroad.
    If you take images of a Frog 62, Beinn 20 and an adult MTB you'll see a huge difference in geometry and I compared with a out and out XC (with a longer than average rear triangle a Giant XTC 29er) and a 7yr old on a 24 is like a 29er for an adult.

    The point here being that Frog looks very hard to manual and the Isla not much better meaning when your kid is doing 30mph down a technical trail with roots and rocks those two look like good candidates for a very messy hospital visit.
    It really depends what you ride and what you want to walk.
    So in other words cheap nasty spring forks... yes just extra weight... but the newer air forks do seem pretty decent and this by people that have compared them to using 26" SID's .

    Obviously the Frog (as the extreme) has a good climbing geometry but it seems to me the trade-off is walking DOWN the technical descents or at best crawling along. If you ride mainly firetrails and non-technical then obviously that's fine.

    If however you ride mainly red and above (like we do) then I'd prefer a shorter rear triangle and stick some F1rst 24" on or the Spinner Grind Air (£70 new) or even (shudder) the Suntour 24 Air LO....???
  • Daz555 wrote:
    I would recommend no suspension at all. Weight saving will be worth more for a 7yr old than a bit of cheap poorly damped bounciness at the front end.

    Having now got the right front suspension on a £250 bike it is fantastic on single track.

    6.5 yr old on a 24" with RST F1rst Air ... He's tall and skinny so he is OK on the 24" Cannondale Race with shortened cranks.
    Saddle is currently right down... but 6 months time ....

    I tuned the air pressure whilst we were out on the trails and he's getting 75% travel and a little sticktion due to the low pressure (and possibly being new) that will disappear as he gains weight and needs slightly more pressure.
  • 97th choice97th choice Posts: 2,305
    Just hit the button on a Raleigh Performance 20 for my 6 year old son. on paper it is as light as an isla bike but only cost me £199.
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  • Steve-XcTSteve-XcT Posts: 267
    Just hit the button on a Raleigh Performance 20 for my 6 year old son. on paper it is as light as an isla bike but only cost me £199.

    Its also got a lot of scope for getting lighter as well if you decide to do so.

    I used to buy into the Isla thing... but when it comes down to it you are mostly buying a frame and a set of components that can be upgraded.

    We got a Pinnacle Ash 20 when he was nearly 6.... but he was able to move onto a 24" by 6 1/2 so he only got 9 months out of it.... He got very heavily into single track in those 9 months which is why we went to the 24" and decent suspension forks a bit earlier than planned.

    So that said my experience is if you are going to upgrade do it ASAP.... so they get the use.

    If your doing steep hills you might want to change the freewheel (Tredz lists it as a cassette but I doubt it is) to a megadrive size like a Shimano TZ-31 (£10 or less). (you can decide 7 sp or 8 sp and if you go 8sp change the shifters at the same time.

    OR go the whole hog and get a complete new back wheel with a cassette hub! These are used on folding bikes so actually not so hard to get hold of as with 24" wheels!

    I found the Shimano Tourney fragile (as well as heavy) and in retrospect the most sensible thing would have been to get a 20" rear wheel with cassette as soon as possible!

    His new 24er has a XT M780 Shadow+ rear mech and XT Shifters and XT cassette... but if you went the "whole hog" route you'd also need a front chainwheel for a 10sp chain.

    A slightly less extreme upgrade would be to go for an older 9 speed set up where the chain size will work with the existing chainwheel.

    Either of these eBay has lots of used stuff from people upgrading to 11sp. (I paid £15 or something for the used rear XT Shadow+ rear mech)

    Either of these and for under £300 (including your existing purchase) you would come in with a lighter than Isla and better components as well!
    As for resale .... you can just keep any stuff you take off and put it back before you sell and transfer to their next bike!
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