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Kids bike question: SS or gears for a 5 year old?(17 posts)

Kids bike question: SS or gears for a 5 year old?bigskulls
Dec 18, 2003 7:52 AM
my 5-year old wants a new bike "with HAND BRAKES, dad." Looking to get a 20 inch bike that he can grow into. Is it better to get a geared bike, or should I leave it at SS? SS would obviously be simpler, but geared would help him up hills. He's been riding a two-wheeler for a full summer season.
SRAM gript shiftpitt83
Dec 18, 2003 8:03 AM
IMHO: Those are simple enough to figure out how they work. If you get into levers or such, that could frustrate him.

That is, of course, if you can fit the cluster and are buying a "flat bar" bike.
It IS About the BikeKeeping up with Junior
Dec 18, 2003 8:16 AM
Depends on what type of riding he is doing and ultimately a fashion decision. He wants brakes like Dad, not because he needs them but because he thinks they will make him fast like you.

If he is hitting the sidewalks, alleys and streets with the kids in the neighborhood then find the style all the rest of the kids ride. You can look out the window and determine if it is BMX or mountain bike. An alternative would be to cruise your local WalMart, Target, ToysRUs, etc. bike department and stand around for 10 minutes and see what desparate parents are buying. Then go to your LBS and pick up a quality version.

If the plan is to ride the trails with dad then you need to get whatever you are riding. If you ride a SS then go with a BMX, but if you are a gearie then get the mountain bike.

Now if speed is his interest then consider BMX mini frame made for the little kids. These things are light and fast, some even come with sewups. Get the right size cog and he will blow away his buddies and maybe even you in a sprint.

Be careful getting too big of a bike for him to "grow" into. If it is too much of a stretch maybe you just buy a set of brakes and bolt them onto his current bike. Not cool to open for Christmas but he did ask for Hand Brakes. Also look at the shifters and brakes and make sure they will work for his small hands.

I ride on the road 95% of the time and have found that having a Single Speed mountain bike is great. I am never shifting into the wrong gear and can give my full attention to the trail, picking my line. You might find that a single speed works best for him, one less thing to think about.

Remember for kids It IS About the Bike. Put him on what his peers (or you) are riding.
target/walmart/kmart bikesColnagoFE
Dec 18, 2003 10:49 AM
I have bought most of my kids bikes at the LBS, but recently picked up a cheapo for the 8 year old at Costco. I believe it is a Magna under another name, but darned if I could find a lot to fault it for at the price point I paid for it. Had a SRAM gripshift, low-end Shimano components, crappy suspension fork, but workable-- and decent AL frame. It "looked cool" as well. I bought it and took it home and reassembled most of it. After adjusting everything it seems like a decent bike--at least something that I won't care so much about if he trashes it. That said...the condition it was in when I bought it was not good. Everything was loose and not adjusted properly. If you would have riddden it "as is" you might be in for some problems.
re: Kids bike question: SS or gears for a 5 year old?Mariowannabe
Dec 18, 2003 8:17 AM
SS - I got my seven year old a SS BMX bike with handbrakes. He likes it. I think gears are a bit much for a little kid to comprehend/use well. (And I ride my SS with him, which he thinks is cool!)
2nd the ssdzrider
Dec 18, 2003 8:27 AM
Kids are tougher than they are smart. Given time they turn every bike into a single speed and ride it anyway. We didn't give our boys gears til they were about seven or eight. Their favorite bike at that age was one we got for $3.00 at a tag sale and spent hours cleaning tar off it.
I agree completely...PEDDLEFOOT
Dec 18, 2003 8:30 AM
...a 5year old should stay with a SS BMX.For the type of riding a 5 year old is capable of the extra gears are'nt going to make that much difference.Plus the BMX will probably be lighter and easier to handle.
I too like the SRAM optionMarketing Dept
Dec 18, 2003 8:28 AM
Picked up a sweet _ _ _ _ _ from Walmart, front suspension, v-brakes and shimano deraileurs and cool blue/black paint job for...$35.00.

Remember, he is 5 so he most likely won't be racing on the circut, not at least until he is 7 anyway, so stay away from paying out too much. It will be out grown in quite possibly a year or so.

Do make sure he thinks he is cool as that is much more a factor than speed and being light weight. My 20" Huffy weighs in at 28lbs.

I also bought him a cycle computer and a nice cateye light(cost more than the bike). He loves riding after dark with Dad, BIG FUN!!!!
Bang for Buck53T
Dec 18, 2003 8:34 AM
I can't say enough about my son's Harro Mirra 360. It is full fleged freestyle BMX bike, but with 16" wheels. This thing is bomb-proof. No gears, but it does have hand brakes. It's just a black bike to most of the kids, but evey now and then a true BMX'r will recognize that my son has more bike than he should (BMX elitists?).

Best part: $200 out the door.
Specialized Hot RockMg1
Dec 18, 2003 2:03 PM
I picked up a 16" for my 4.8 yr old daughter for $140. Single speed, coaster brake. She is petite, and the top tube was shorter than any other 16" bike I found, so she isn't stretched out. She can ride it like nobody's business, no training wheels.

Neighbors thought I was nuts; for the $ spent and for letting her ride w/o training wheels. They still won't let their 6 yr old son ride w/o training wheels. I tried helping him out but the parents are so damn paranoid that he freaks every time he gets on the bike.

As for the $, it will go through my 3 kids, a nephew that is still in the oven, then I'll bet it brings $50 on Ebay.
Single SpeedGregory Taylor
Dec 18, 2003 9:02 AM
Sounds like he's got the riding thing down, so I'd do the following:

Buy a cheap-ish BMX-style single speed bike with a coaster brake. Liberate a set of handbrakes from a cheap trash-pile bike, and put them on the new ride. He has the hand brakes to play with, and a coaster brake for when he "forgets" about the hand brakes.

My neighbor's kids have a couple of "Next" brand bikes set up just like that -- purchased straight out of Walmart or wherever. Those bikes are an atrocity, but the kids ride them.

As for gears, we gave my kid a Trek mountain bike when he was 6 or so...he had the handbrakes down after a few biffs. Gears took longer, even with the SRAM shifter. He would just put it in a gear and forget it. Most of the kids in the neighborhood who have geared bikes do the same thing, if they don't surgically remove the rear derailleur by banging it on a curb or tree. My son is now on a killer "street-style" BMX bike that he bought with his own money...
re: Kids bike question: SS or gears for a 5 year old?ORdirtydown
Dec 18, 2003 9:21 AM
I am putting my plug in for the Redline Pitboss 16". You can choose coaster brakes and it still comes with hand brakes. I couldn't stand seeing my kids riding the department store piece of crap when I was riding 4 excellent bikes.

Riding a ss will make them better riders. I ride a ss and it has improved my climbing power and my spinning speed. It has also improved my technical handling. My son struggles on longer hills. I continue to encourage him to go farther. I am also teaching him how to stand for more power.

If we go out together, I ride my ss. I even have the trail-a-bike attached to a seatpost for a quick change over. I take him out on longer ss road rides on the trail-a-bike. We both have to work hard to get up steep hills. We really have fun descending at high speeds.
Another option for a geared bikeinnergel
Dec 18, 2003 9:43 AM
You can buy a geared bike and have your lbs lock out the deraillers so he can't shift. I just did this exact thing for my daughter's new Giant Sedona with a grip shift. It's a 21 speed. They locked the front to the middle chainring, and limited the rear to the middle 2-3 cogs. This gives her the look of a geared bike like Daddy, but keeps the frustration of shifting to a minimum. As she learns to ride better, you can always loosen up the deraillers and let them shift through a few more gears.

Just another possibility.
I made the mistake of getting a bike that is a bit too bigkilimanjaro
Dec 18, 2003 11:03 AM
For my 5yrd old. I bought a 20" Trek BMX bike with coaster and rear hand brake at a rumage sale for $50. In retrospect I overpaid by $30 but the mom was smart and made me haggle with her 13 year old. Just couldn't do it.

The bike is too heavy and big for my son even though he loves it. He get tired pushing it up hills and the stand over is a bit tight for him now. I keep telling myself that in six months everything will be fine and this will only make him a stronger cyclist.

I really wish I spent the money on a Redline pitboss I saw at the LBS on sale for about $160. I beleive they list for $180 or so. It is light with handbrakes front and rear. The 20" wheels are a lot narrower than regular BMX 20" wheels which I am sure contributed to the lightness. It was envident during my son's test ride that it was much easier for him to handle. I think that pitboss is easyly more than three times the bike a Target 20" bike is at one third the price. The only reason we did not get it is we were not sure if the son is really interested in riding (he is) and we did not want to worry about someone stealing it when he ride to park or to school next year.

By the way I would like advice for installing a front hand brake. The fork looks like it is drilled around the crown to take a brake. What should I be looking for when checking E-bay or scavaging local sources. Eventaully I think it will be a cool project to build him a lighter (read narrower) rear wheel without coaster brakes. Any suggestion on that will be appreciated as well.
He needs one of these!!853
Dec 18, 2003 11:19 AM
A Mini BMX racing bike.
And when he gets the hang of it, you can take him to your local BMX track to do some fun racing!
They weigh in at 15lbs(and could be made lighter), and is made for somebody his age.
This is what I will be getting my son, when he gets a little older.
He needs one of these!!kilimanjaro
Dec 18, 2003 12:50 PM
I think the pictured bike is the Redline Pitboss Jr that I was referring too. Great buy under $200 in my humble opinion.
No, it's the proline mini853
Dec 18, 2003 2:41 PM
The pitboss has 16" wheels, and looks like a scaled down BMX bike. The mini uses the larger 20"wheels w/ a scaled down frame. But they both look like they would be about the same size. I think you need 20" wheels to race BMX.