This is Domingo, a pretty average sized adult, and here’s me riding a 24” kids mountain bike. We’ll get back to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about kids bikes in general.
I know that pricey kids bikes are a tough sell for most parents. Kids grow really fast, and they change their interests from day to day. For $150 bucks, you can get them something that pedals around until they grow out of it. From what I can see, this is what most kids end up with. Given the reasons I mentioned, it’s hard to blame any parent for this, especially when you consider the other costs that come along with kids.
Some parents do see the value in spending a little more though. A nice kids bike will have better parts and a smoother ride, but I think that’s obvious to most people. “Good parts” isn’t a good enough selling point for most parents, but I think the weight of the bike should be.
At 6 years old, I weighed about 45 pounds, but the weight of this cheap 20” kids bike is 36 pounds. Now let’s say you weigh 160. How would you fare on a 130 pound bike? How well could you stop it, or maneuver it? That’s about what this bike would feel like to a 6 year old.
Even if they have the strength to pedal and climb hills with it, let’s also consider the brakes and shifters. You hear that? That’s a little kid shifting gears. Kids learn real quick, but their hands aren’t very strong. A well designed kids bike will not only be to scale with their weight, but also use parts that are refined enough for little hands. These kids were all able to hold a decent pace on Saturday, partially because they’re all bad asses, but also because they have decent bikes.
So with those points made, let’s have some fun. We have here, two nice kids bikes that I’ll be giving away later this afternoon. Before that, my sister and I are going to take them out on some easy trails to see how they ride. I assembled both of these earlier this week, knowing that we’d be doing this, so I made sure they were both tuned up from top to bottom.
The plan was to go easy on these bikes, but I was having a little too much fun on what felt like a 24” dirt jumper. Lucky for this bike, there were no jumps around.
I decided to take a chance and see if I could bunny hop the hardtail on to this picnic table. The lower bench was no problem but the top part looked pretty scary. Keep in mind that this also means dropping off the other side—all 155 pounds of me. Both bikes left the trailhead in perfect working order, ready for more abuse from the kids.
And abuse them they did… From hard shifting, to crashes, to direct impacts on the chainrings, these bikes held up to exactly the kind of abuse you could expect from kids. If you want see more about this event or these bikes, check the description for a link to my previous video.
So nobody expects you to get a $3000 carbon race bike for your kid, but getting a better bike with kid friendly components will ensure that they get a fun and enjoyable introduction to mountain biking. At the very least, do it for yourself. After all, the faster they go the more fun it’ll be for you to follow them.