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Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?(20 posts)

Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?JML
Jun 22, 2003 7:53 PM
My 14-year-old is at the point where he's grown enough to need a new bike, and we're not going to be able to get him both a mountain bike and road bike (he and I are not willing to compromise that much on quality, nor is my wife going to let us spend over $800). He's still growing, but already tall enough to ride a 52 or 54 cm road bike, or a 15" hardtail mountain bike, depending on the top tube length (which scares me, as I ride a 52.5 cm 3Rensho and a 15" Jamis Dragon). He's been riding a BMX bike, but can climb exceptionally well, and we live where he can ride on- and off-road.
We were thinking of buying an entry-level cyclocross bike, as a weird compromise, given that it might be pretty good for both on- and off-road use, perhaps needing only tire changes for special purposes, and give him enough taste of different riding styles to see what he really wants to do as he continues to get taller and stronger.

What do you think?
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?triangleforge
Jun 23, 2003 5:25 AM
Sounds like a fantastic idea. ('Course, you wouldn't expect devotees of a cyclocross board to tell you otherwise, would you?) A couple of thoughts:

-- Surly's Crosscheck is a solid, inexpensive bike and designed to take larger than normal 700c tires (I'm not sure if it can handle the big 2" 29'er MTB tires, but close). Depending on the technical level of the trails he'll be doing, that could be a real bonus.

-- in that price range, consider looking at used bikes. $800 can buy a whole lot of used cyclocross bike, if you know what you're looking for. It's a third bike or an impulse buy for a lot of people, so they tend to show up for sale pretty frequently. That, and you'll see a flush of them on the market, nearly new, after the first couple of races of the Fall, as people figure out just how much cyclocross racing really hurts!

-- Used framesets can go for pretty cheap, and you can use the balance of your budget to spec good components that can come off of this frame when he outgrows it and go onto another one -- in fact, if you've got some inkling as to whether he'd like to go more toward road or dirt when he outgrows this bike, you can slant the component mix in that direction.

Cheers & Good luck!
I was a teenager once, and . . .ElvisMerckx
Jun 23, 2003 9:09 AM
. . . I hated it when my parents 'compromised' on my behalf. All of my friends raced BMX, but I REALLY wanted to race road bikes. My parents kept pushing BMX, because that was what the other kids raced. Three expensive compromises later, I finally got my road racing bike. Bottomline: Buy the kid what he wants, not what you think he'll want.
my takemarcoxxx
Jun 23, 2003 9:27 AM
i would get a good mtn bike hardtail. let the kid get into mtn bike racing and even cyclocross racing(you can use a mtn bike) i did this with my kid at this age. we did all the local mtn bike cx races. He even was second in the state in our cyclocross series too. I also found out it is hard to do both mtn and road biking. Got to pick one of the two for now, let him get a job and buy a road bike later.
my kid now 19, can not race any more, got screwed by a chronic inter ear condition.
good day,
If we're talking racingtriangleforge
Jun 23, 2003 11:13 AM
In racing, there's no substitute for the real thing. But if we're talking about a bike that will keep up in a wide range of circumstances, I still think a 'cross bike is a great option.

If he's at all interested in group riding on the road, it's going to be extremely frustrating on a MTB w/ suspension fork & 26" tires, even if they're skinny slicks. The nice thing about a 'cross bike is that you can really do most everything short of technical mountain biking just with a tire swap. One of my teammates won the women's beginner road series last year (Mid-Atlantic region) on a seriously beat up Jamis 'cross bike, and I routinely take mine out to the local MTB hangout & do not-so-technical mountain bike races on it.

I do agree with Elvis, however; the key is what the young'un in question really wants. Once your're past basic transportation, the best bike in the world will gather dust if it's not playing a role in a dream or two.

how about 26" and 700c on the same bikebk19
Jun 23, 2003 11:51 AM
This may not work with all mtb's, but you could get him a disc equipped hardtail mtb, and then have a 700c disc wheelset made to be used when riding offroad. IIRC, Cannondale offered something like this a few years ago (the Bad Boy I think), as it gave you the opportunity to use one bike for both needs. Not all frames/forks will have the vertical clearance to make this work, but it couldn't hurt. Try going to your LBS, explain what you are trying to do, and they will probably let you try slipping a 700c front wheel onto an mtb to check the clearance.

I haven't seen this done, only suggested as an option. If anyone else can chime in to add any personal, or even second hand, experience would be great.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?DustBowl
Jun 23, 2003 1:38 PM
I agree with leaving it up to him. That being said, if he is just riding for pleasure than a hardtail mtb with slicks would work just fine for riding on the road. Kids could usually care less about average speed so this may not even be viewed as a compromise to him. My guess is that a mtn. bike would be more versitle but it depends on what his friends are doing. I think that most kids would prefer a mtn. bike. Not too many kids spend much time on the road.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?atpjunkie
Jun 23, 2003 6:34 PM
I just have visions of a kid doing dirt jumps and wheelie drops on a cx bike. I would have destroyed a crosser at that age. If he wants to go seriously offroad get an MTB, if he's more road oriented get a cx.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?HWTrider
Jun 23, 2003 7:05 PM
I think a cross bike is a good idea: however, most kids are rough and tumble and like to test their limits. Unless
your son finds pleasure riding in a double pace line and road racing he probably would have more fun jumping and dropping off in the dirt with a decent hardtail. A cross bike would allow him off road adventures, but he wouldn't be able to do a lot of the technical stuff his friends might be doing on their MTBs.

The bottom line is get the kid what he wants. The fact that he wants to ride is the most important thing.

Good luck!
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?JML
Jun 23, 2003 8:11 PM
Thanks to all!

My son is neither a BMX trixter nor an off-road in-the-woods thrasher. He's ridden that BMX bike as if it were a road bike most of the time; we bought it four years ago when he was too short for anything other than a half-way decent BMX bike or a truly crummy kid's mountain bike. Heck, he has old Campy semi-platform pedals and toe clips on the BMX bike! He also enjoys riding on a hardpack bike path, where we don't worry about SUVs and minivans, but isn't really the type who is going to do the kind of riding that true mountain bikes are made for. What he keeps looking at, and dreaming about, are pro road racing bikes; he would like to think he's going look like a Cat. I racer with unlimited sponsorship (ah, to be young again!). Whether he'd actually commit to something like that is another question. Plus he is very cognizant of the weight of mountain bikes and their poor behavior on the road, and he's got enough smarts to see the differences in components, and what an extra four pounds and fat tires do to me when climbing on my mountain bike versus my road bike, even when the road bike's lowest gear is 41 x 24. Plus he's careful enough, mature enough, and interested enough in maintenance, to make me not worry about him destroying something by totally negligent conduct. And I know well the problems of making these decisions for him, but I don't want him to make really stupid choices (esp. with my money!). Being a parent isn't easy, I guess.

Given what we've seen and the responses to this posting here and on the road and mountain forums, it seems he is focusing on working towards a cross bike (perhaps used) with Shimano 105-level componentry, realizing it fits well with the kind of riding he's likely to do for the next few years, at the start of high school, and where we live.

Other than the pure road bikes he's seen, and which are way out of the realm of possibility or reason, he likes the way some neat cross bikes look. He's also kind of intrigued by the fact that he knows almost no kids with anything other than clunker mountain bikes that never really see off-road use, and that this kind of bike would be faster on road and lighter than anything any of them have.

My problem is going to keep him focused on something he (and I) can afford for him at this point, given that he's still growing. Hopefully will want more bikes later on when his height is set, and if he rides this one on road well enough to want more, then we can talk about the next one in a few years.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?JML
Jun 23, 2003 8:31 PM
I forgot to add that the one stock bike he thinks looks the coolest of all is the Cannondale cross bike with disc brakes. But what he would really like is an Independent frameset from Wissahickon Cyclery, which is near to us, and then get serious picking out components. HAH! Like father, like son. I keep telling him I didn't get my dream bike until I was 30, although I wanted a handbuilt lugged frame and Campy NR/SR grouppo from the time I was 14.
if he dreams of being a roadieatpjunkie
Jun 23, 2003 9:01 PM
get the crosser. check ebay and more the classifieds here. for around 800 bucks you can get a bike w / Ultegra or XT/XTR. Just let him know the limitations. Hell, get one for yourself, buy some cross videos and do this as a family. I'm sure if you share in his passion it will be easier keeping him and yourself motivated.
You can have father son grudge matches when it gets rainy. I hope my girl has your sons bike lust when she's old enough.
second thoughtsmarcoxxx
Jun 24, 2003 4:41 AM
If he has not really been into bmx or mtn biking, then why not an entry level road bike? Also I kept my kid ongoing interest in biking by entering him in cycling competitions. It had a huge impact on his life actually. He was not into team sports at school so cycling worked out well for him. We need more kids going into cycling competitions, plus it hopefully will help him avoid the bad junk in our culture today.

re: Wissahickon cyclery and a used bike for your sonralbert
Jun 24, 2003 5:14 AM
Hi. I'm also in the philly area and use wissahickon cyclery regularly--ask drew, the shop owner (the guy with the glasses) if he's planning on getting rid of his cross bike from last year. i know he did this last year and i see his frame riding around with a new owner periodically. drew's not too tall and might have a gem waiting to find its way to your son. (i've got him by about 3 inches so i had to buy new). also, check if they still have the used carrera (yellow and black) in the front window that they've been trying to sell consignment-style.

good luck and happy riding!
re: Wissahickon cyclery and a used bike for your sonclimbo
Jun 24, 2003 5:36 AM
Drew was riding Monoc's last year, very different to the IF, still nice looking bikes though. Good point though, there are always cross bikes on sale somewhere.
re: Wissahickon cyclery and a used bike for your sonJML
Jun 24, 2003 12:17 PM
Drew is the best! He's the ONLY guy around here I trust to do any work on my own bikes (if it's something I can't do). He built up my Jamis Dragon a few years ago, changed several components on my son's bike, and we're going in there this week or next to see what's available.
Just a thought...OffRoadTourer
Jun 24, 2003 8:03 PM
If you're still not entirely certain what you want, have you considered the Surly Karate Monkey? This frame really gets the creative juices flowing.

It is probably one of the most adaptable designs at a reasonable price. It can be run as a road/crosser, a tourer, a 29er mountain bike, a single-speed, with disc or cantilever brakes, in any combination you wish. Being a quality CroMo frame it should last for years. Not sure it would necessarily fit the $800 budget when built up, but you'd be covering a lot of bases.
Compromising is hardsnwbdrhoon
Jun 25, 2003 6:00 PM
Which does he like more? Compromising sucks...

My girlfriend says MTB.

I say 29" MTB. Rolls like a road bike... Geometry like a mountain bike... Hell, you can even put drop bars on it without much compromise.

Cross is still too much of a "weird" bike, esp. for a teen trying to find his way through his world.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?JML
Jun 27, 2003 9:56 AM
Just in case you're interested, the new #1 on his list is the Fuji Cross. We saw one, that had been sold, and he fell for it so hard that he then called every store within an hour's drive to see if they had the bike in his size. Next step: test ride!

Damn, but that's one awfully pretty bike and a great deal; below 20 pounds and a very nice component selection.

Thanks again.
re: Cyclocross bike as a compromise choice for a teen?HWTrider
Jun 27, 2003 7:31 PM
Check Jay's Pedal Power in Philly. I believe it is in northern liberty section. I think he is still a Fuji dealer.
There is nothing like riding a cross bike in Valley green!