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  1. #1
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    Why do 'kids' bikes suck? (aka anyone selling a decent 24"/26")

    Partial rant, partial ISO thread.

    I don't understand why kids get gypped when it comes to decent or better bikes? I could be missing something, but if you aren't willing to spend the $1500+ for the Ripcord, Hawk Hill Jr. or more for the Trailcraft bikes, you are left with a lot of bikes that look like Wal-Mart specials, or mediocre specced hardtails.

    Has anyone had any luck with kid bike hacks? Older frames with switched out parts/wheelsets, etc?

    Jamis makes this bike for around $1,000- https://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/dakarx26.html which I thought about getting and putting a 24" wheelset on for the time being...seems like a small change, but hopefully wouldn't be enough to affect BB height/pedal strikes, geo too much? Any thoughts?

    I've got 4 kids, and am shopping for a bike for my youngest daughters (9) that she can ride for hopefully 2/3 years, then pass along to my youngest son (5 now).

    My kids are stoked on riding and I want to get them on some decent rigs ASAP. I attached a picture of our latest "Bootleg Jr." bike ride...we try and head out every couple weeks as a group. They love it!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    "I just got back from the Psych ward...OBVIOUSLY i am sane!"

  2. #2
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    Been there. Kid’s bikes suck because it’s such a small market, not many people want a light weight kids bike. You have the best strategy, I gave our daughter’s bikes away, and they’re still being ridden. I didn’t do your specific hack, but I got the lightest tires I could, I took everything off of them that wasn’t needed, made the tires tubeless, etc.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
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  3. #3
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    Yep. It's either spend $1000+ or spend $500...then spend $500 in upgrades. I ended up getting my daughter a Cleary Meercat.

    She likes it b/c it's "pretty" and "has gears." It's fine for a beginner. I really like the internal gearing as every time she lays it down on the drive side (despite me constantly yelling about it). I don't have to deal with a bend hangar or derailleur.

    But, that hub must weight 726 pounds...it is a tank!!!! As she progresses, I'll get an air fork, and prolly a GX group set and convert it to normal shifting.

    But, for the neighborhood and gravel rail-trails she rides now, it's fine.

    For OP: she's a big 7...and, since I got her the blue one, I'll pass it on to hear younger brother once he's old enough.
    It makes perfect sense...until you think about it.

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  4. #4
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    Not surprised that these lousy Romani are gypping kids now. Prolly can't even get them to give you a decent price for the kid anymore.
    If we're gonna wear uniforms, we should all wear somethin' different!

  5. #5
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    I bought a used ripcord gram and pieced it together. It was about the same price as a stock build but way nicer. It’s like 22 pounds.

    Just bought a maxwell for the other kid.

    These are re-sellable, and tend to hold their value so in reality you’re only paying about half the actual cost.

    Building up some stand 24” wheels with super light spokes and Chinese hubs is about a $ 300 investment,lift tires converted to tubeless another $80.

    I bought an old Sid for cheap and had it tuned for a 60 pound kid.

    Expensive yes. Worth it? Yes. I just kept my old bike and put the funds toward the kids


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  6. #6
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    Hows that add up in dollars spent per hours used? A kid's going to outgrow a bike in 6 months to a year depending on other things. This is kind of like spending an additional $500 on boot fitting for a 10 year old.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  7. #7
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    I'm leaning towards the Ripcord (I ride a '18 Smuggler)....I just wish it would accept a 26" tire (but then again, at that point, my youngest will be ready for it), the resale on these is great for sure. The ones I've found used are nearly the same price as new.
    "I just got back from the Psych ward...OBVIOUSLY i am sane!"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    Hows that add up in dollars spent per hours used? A kid's going to outgrow a bike in 6 months to a year depending on other things. This is kind of like spending an additional $500 on boot fitting for a 10 year old.
    It doesn’t add up. You don’t do that weird addition with kids. WTF
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
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  9. #9
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    Norco makes great kids bikes in just about every wheel size you can imagine. They make a 24” with great stand over, hydraulic disc brakes, a suspension fork that actually kinda works, a 1x drivetrain, and comes with 2.6” tires for about $600.

    There are some adult-like full suspension bikes with 24” and 26” wheels for $1500-$2000 (as you mentioned.)

    edit: and I think they run a 26” fork in that bike to gain clearance for the 2.6” tire, so you could potentially reverse mullet it and put a 26” wheel up front and take it WC racing.

  10. #10
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    Last time I checked sub $1000 adult bikes were shit too. I am a cheap ass but the prices on nice kids bikes seem pretty reasonable given the volumes sold. Spawn and Prevelo make nice bikes for less than trailcraft, I am shopping for a 16" for my almost 3yo and it's expensive for a little guy but if I get a riding partner it's worth it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jong Lafitte View Post
    Not surprised that these lousy Romani are gypping kids now. Prolly can't even get them to give you a decent price for the kid anymore.
    At least the kids aren't getting jewed.

    Oh - and in response to the OP's question - it's mainly because kids DGAF. Clunker bike vs. blingy bike - kids (generally speaking) could give 2-shits about the details.

    We could learn a thing or two from kids.


  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorCalPWDR View Post
    Partial rant, partial ISO thread.

    I don't understand why kids get gypped when it comes to decent or better bikes? I could be missing something, but if you aren't willing to spend the $1500+ for the Ripcord, Hawk Hill Jr. or more for the Trailcraft bikes, you are left with a lot of bikes that look like Wal-Mart specials, or mediocre specced hardtails.
    Great pic.

    Trust me, I feel you. But, this basically mirrors the adult bike market. Look through what Specialized/Trek/Giant offer. Bare minimum to get into a decent adult hardtail is $1k, and more like $1.5k for something truly non-sucky (air suspension, entry-level hydro brakes, Deore/NX 1x10/11). Adult FS is a $2k minimum, and closer to $3k if you want to get above Deore/NX/Recon/etc. level parts. Now put those same parts on frames you'll sell fewer of, re-tune the suspension for lightweight riders, and try to somehow shed some weight cheaply. Considering that, it seems reasonable that quality kids bikes cost what they do.

    I've tried to get Spawn to sell me a frame and they won't do it. The frame cost built into the their pricing covers their cost to produce it and no more. All of their margin comes from markup on wholesale components. Flow (https://www.flowkidsbikes.com/) has been making bikes for 3 years now and the owner still works a day job full-time and has yet to make a profit. I highly doubt Transition makes any real money on the Ripcord. Probably the same for the Trance Jr/Fuel Jr/Hawk Hill Jr. Specialized probably makes some money on the Riprock line, but those things suck for the price.

    If you think things are bad now, you should have seen what the kids bike landscape looked like just 5 years ago. Not that it's great now, but Lil Shredder was the only one in the game for a decade or more. It's going to get a lot better in the next year. Reliable sources have told me that at least six big companies are redesigning their kids lineups to use the new Manitou/Hayes stuff that just launched at Sea Otter. You may have noticed that all the 24" bikes out there now use 26" forks. Prior to the new Manitou forks no major manufacturers made 20"/24" suspension forks. Don't even get me started on the tire choices available....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    Oh - and in response to the OP's question - it's mainly because kids DGAF. Clunker bike vs. blingy bike - kids (generally speaking) could give 2-shits about the details.
    I've watched multiple kids go from barely able to ride to shredding instantaneously thanks to a better bike. Doesn't have to be murdered out, just have decent geometry and not weigh 2/3's of their body weight.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    Hows that add up in dollars spent per hours used? A kid's going to outgrow a bike in 6 months to a year depending on other things. This is kind of like spending an additional $500 on boot fitting for a 10 year old.
    He has a reliable and fairly priced disposal channel for his kids' used bikes.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    It doesn’t add up. You don’t do that weird addition with kids. WTF
    Thank you! I had to re-read that post multiple times. I couldn't figure it out so just I let it be...
    "I just got back from the Psych ward...OBVIOUSLY i am sane!"

  16. #16
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    Been through this one too.
    When you look at bike weight as percentage of body weight it sucks for kids.
    What I've done is buy decent functional but used bikes (spesh, trek etc.) and selectively upgraded.
    IIRC the steel handlebar and stem on specialized 24" hotrock weighed ~ 760 grams, replaced with ebay generics weighing 200g for about $25.
    Swapped the crap suntour coil sprung fork for an RST air (2150g ---> 1650g, ~$135 and got a fork that actually worked) .
    Tires is another place to save fair bit of weight.
    Also Alu cranks/chainrings instead of steel, $35 on fleabay.

    Thread drift:
    When I get my shit together I was going to list some of these bits for sale - if someone is looking for stuff for a 24" wheel bike send a PM.
    I got lightweight schwalbe rocket rons new in box that i never got around to installing.
    The RST air fork I was going to pull off before sending bike to consignment store .
    Might have cranks and bars too.

  17. #17
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    NorCal-

    Be glad you're not in the personal hell I'm currently in trying to figure out a long-travel 24" for a kid who will likely be faster than me by the end of the year. I can get suspension, wheels, dropper and cockpit for free, but it's a near-useless sponsorship since there are literally 4 choices >100 mm travel, 3 of those companies won't sell a frameset, and the one that will uses a 135 mm rear end and 27.2 seat tube. Serenity now!

  18. #18
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    I feel the OP's pain. I have no wrenching skills (and little free time to learn about components and learn the skills) so the notion of buying bikes and then swapping out components for my kiddo just doesn't work for me. I want/need to buy complete bikes that are good to go. And the quality of the bike does matter, my kiddo went from a boat anchor 16" Trek to a 16" Spawn and her biking improved dramatically, immediately. She's now on a 20" Spawn and I'm slowly looking for a 24" complete bike for her to transition to (she's not quite ready for 24" but she wants to get one, and if she's not yet ready she will be soon).

    If don't stumble across one, I may just (eventually) buy one from Commencal, they seem to have the best full retail price on a decent bike.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
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  19. #19
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    Was looking at upgrading my daughters bike (Spec hardrock, but it's older with v brakes) and got a headache trying to find the specs on a few of the components to figure out if it's worth it.

  20. #20
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    Timely thread,

    Look into Opus bikes too. They seem to have a good variety of quality kids bikes. I just managed to score a barely used Recon for $150. I'm impressed with the components and weight.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorCalPWDR View Post
    Has anyone had any luck with kid bike hacks? Older frames with switched out parts/wheelsets, etc?
    Forgot to address this. XS 26 frames with 24s can work, though they tend to be hard to find. Those bikes tended to not have super low BBs, and you should be running 140ish cranks which mitigates the lower BB. Trailcraft, Spawn and Flow all sell some pretty good ones. Some people on MTBR have had pretty good luck with Tideace carbon frames from Aliexpress.

    Quote Originally Posted by grskier View Post
    Was looking at upgrading my daughters bike (Spec hardrock, but it's older with v brakes) and got a headache trying to find the specs on a few of the components to figure out if it's worth it.
    Unless you get the frame for free, upgrading kids bikes is a false economy. Ask me how I know....

  22. #22
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    I spend money on footbeds, fitting and heaters for my kids boots as well by the way. 9 yr old has over a hundred days, 8 year old has over 80.
    If you want your kids to enjoy the sports you enjoy and want them to do it with you it’s worth it.


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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by grskier View Post
    Was looking at upgrading my daughters bike (Spec hardrock, but it's older with v brakes) and got a headache trying to find the specs on a few of the components to figure out if it's worth it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    Unless you get the frame for free, upgrading kids bikes is a false economy. Ask me how I know....
    Don't really agree with this.

    Yes you can get carried away and that's a money pit. Trying to change v-brake bike to disc brakes was a path i rejected early for example. A new 1x drivetrain was also out of the question.

    But there's plenty you can do easily and very inexpensively that makes a huge difference in weight and rideability.

    Start with a magnet, if a part is steel see if you can replace it with alloy part cheaply.
    Kickstands weigh about a pound, remove it and teach your kid to lay bike down with derailleur up.
    See my earlier post for a couple of other ideas and go down the rabbit hole on MTBR forums if you want to go mad.

    Take a couple of pounds off a kids bike and they'll want to ride more often and further and that makes for a happier Dad.

  24. #24
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    It certainly depends a lot on what bike you're starting with and how nice you want it to end up. But, even modest upgrades similar to what you made can easily start pushing the total investment close to $500, especially if someone needs shop help installing them. Whereas, a $1k Spawn Yama Jama gets you better suspension, great tires, a real MTB drivetrain and hydro discs out of the box, and it will re-sell for $500 easy. A lot of cheap kids bikes also have whack geometry and no amount of money can fix that.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    It certainly depends a lot on what bike you're starting with and how nice you want it to end up.
    For sure.
    For the amount we ride (singletrack probably once a week) where we ride (western co) and where we are on the aggression scale (more cruiser than ripper) we’re happy with a $200 bike + $200 in upgrades that make the bike “good enough” and “capable enough”
    If my kids were more aggressive rippers or rode a lot more like yours perhaps we would have gone a much different route.

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