Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bike Dilemma

Ten year old son Ian is just about ready for a new bike. His current 24" wheel Specialized Hotrock is a tad small now. It's been a great bike that he's ridden for 2 years with many fun rides, two Indie Series, and a few 'cross races thrown in.

For the dough, around $350, we've gotten our use out of it. Plus, it's still worth something to sell used. Deduct that from the original cost and we're talking cheap fun and a lifetime of memories.

He's still riding it, but I need to score him something else in the next few months. Being the single paycheck family of four, money is tight - so I can't throw down big bucks for the replacement. There's also other non-bike items on the bill list at the moment - like the almost ready to explode CV joints on my car. Joy.

Getting a super trick bike also may be a waste, since he could outgrow it pretty quick. Still, considering he races and rides a little more then the average 10 year old, need something decent. I've had him straddle a few new 26" wheel bikes over the last few weeks. Bikes with 14" or 15" frames are still too big, partly due to 100 mm travel forks now being the norm. Jacks the front of the bike up a bit, increasing the stand over height. At this point, something with an 80 mm fork would be better.

I've been batting around a few ideas...

One idea is to get me a new bike (heh, heh), then pick up a frame (new or used) for Ian - then transfer my '04 Fox fork and 11 year old XTR parts over to him. That would be a sweet bike for a 10 year old, no?

For this to work, need a frame with v brake mounts, since that's what I'm running. Scoring me a new (cool frame, XT, XTR level) mountain bike is also out of the picture - just too expensive. I've been cruising eBay and Craigslist daily for something used. There's a huge amount of clean used bikes out there.

I've also considered grabbing something off Bikes Direct, since the prices are insane. If the frame sucked, the parts kit alone is worth the price. When it comes down to it, this probably won't fly - 'cause we're still talking $1500 - $1900 or so. Motobecane may not be on the what's cool list, but a full XTR bike with Rockshox SID for $1800 is an amazing deal.

On to some other ideas.....

Here's Ian's current steed. The stem is 3 cm longer then stock. Since this pic was taken, the seat post has been jacked up another inch or so. I measured Ian the other day and he's almost 4' 11", he'll be standing 5 feet tall in no time. This frame is labeled as 11", but measures 12" to the top of the seat clamp. It also has a pretty short top tube - under 20 inches.

As mentioned, I've been watching Craigslist and eBay daily. I've seen a few local 13" frame mountain bikes advertised, but all have been 30 pound lower end bikes. That's not gonna work. I did spot a new (in box) 14" 2008 Klein Attitude with Deore kit and Rockshox fork on eBay. This was a no bid sale, buy now at $799 (retail was $1500+), that would have been perfect. Explaining that $850 (with shipping) is a deal for this, didn't fly with non-riding wife when discussing a "kids bike". I agree, a little out the range, but damn - that would have been cool.

Time for more options......

This NOS 14" Klein frame is currently up for bid on eBay. I've been watching the bidding, lots of action, and price is still under $200 (with no reserve). A few days left on the action, I'll jump in at the end and try to score it - unless the price rises to stupid levels.

I'm also considering this frame from Performance. The smallest size looks good fit wise, under 4 pounds, disk and v brake mounts, all for $119. Not as trick as the little Klein, but a killer deal and totally cool for a 10 year old.

I've also considered the Carver Mini, a really cool frame. It can use 24" or 26" wheels, or a combo of both to create a mini 69'er. Amazingly, there was a new frame listed on eBay last week, with no bids. When I checked the sizing however, I think he'd outgrow this too fast. The seat tube is 12", the same size as his current bike. Too bad, this would have been fun to build up.

If I score Ian a frame, will look for a used suspension fork to pair it up with, pirate some parts from his current Specialized, then see what I have in the garage to build up a decent bike. I'll also keep my eye on eBay and Craigslist for other deals. I'll get something going for sure. Frame, complete bike - something.

During this process, I may sell off a few classics in the garage for some extra dough. My '88 Ibis Trials Comp will be put on the action block. My '91 Yo Eddy - maybe. It's cool having those bikes around, but I don't ride them - but do ride my more modern bikes. We'll see. If anyone out there in Internet Land has something that would suit Ian, let me know.

Maybe a Brinks truck will crash into the house while I'm waiting and weighing out the options. Then I'll march down to a local shop, like uBRDO, and order a new Yeti for Ian and I. In matching colors, of course. Yes, a trip to Dream Land can be entertaining at times.

Over and out.


  1. This is a great problem to have. Sometimes it seems like deliberating over these details is the best part of bike ownership. I want to remind you of the following Rule:

    "The correct number of bikes to own is n+1 where n is the number currently owned. This equation can be rewritten as s-1 where s is the number of bikes that would result in separation from your partner."

    Selling off his old ride in this case makes lots of sense, but it doesn't hurt to start training him on undestanding the Rule for when he starts spending his own money on this stuff.

    More rules at the Velominati.

  2. Yeah, looking at the options and details is fun. It was a bit more fun years ago with dual incomes and some extra cash. Full XTR? Of course. Fox fork? Sure. Trick frame? Granted.

    Then again, no kids back then - so we were missing that cool aspect. Plus riding with your kids is way cooler then a trick frame or 9 speed XTR.

    As far as him assisting in the payment department, it's been mentioned and he understands that. At 10 years old, he's not quite pulling in the big dough yet...

    I also just edited and added a few things to this post. I originally typed this up stupid fast without double checking it.

    Frank - thanks for stopping by. Anyone reading this, be sure to check out Frank's cool blog - Velominati.

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  4. et me start off by saying that it is nice that you and your son can do the biking thing together. Neither of my boy's never got into biking with me or on their own. The youngest one did do 5 trips with his Boy Scout Troop on the C&O Canal and he would say that was the best scout activity that he did.

    While in Scouting I never did purchase them the best gear or anything like that because I knew they would not take care of it or use it to it's fullest.

    If you asked me today what is their hobby or passion is, I could not tell you! They are 21 & 18 years old.

    One of the things you are up against is fining that small 14" bike that when built will not be sub 30lbs. I know women are also looking for the small higher end frames too. It's just hard to put the money to a kids bike like you would do for yourself.

    The Access frame might be the best bet. No matter what you do as long as he has a bike that fits he will be happy.

    Here might be a good learning point for the young man. Since he is not a child actor bring in the big bucks, how about cleaning out the old toys that he does not play with and sell them. Back when I was a kid I was into scale model building. I wanted my models to look like the ones on the box. That was going to take an airbrush and compressor. I sold all my old toys at the flea market one weekend and make $75. I think it paid for the airbrush but not the compressor. So if it is something he wants this is a way for him to help out and he will have ownership of that bike. He helped pay for it. I also think that if you do a frame and the two of you build it up I think he will remember that for a long time.

    That's my two cents, let me check out Franks blog.

  5. awww, yes, the bike buying choice. I Must say been there 2 dozen times in the last 30 years either for me, spouse, or kids. But after excersing caution, any purchase was always very appreciated, very used and never regretted.

  6. Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate you guys checking out my blog.

    I'm lucky that Ian likes to ride and race, there's no pushing from me at all. It's something we do together and I'd hope he keeps some fun memories from all this. When we hit the woods together, it's awesome. Mountain biking rocks for father/son time.

    He's also currently really into other sports as well - plays basketball in a league, also likes to throw the football around and wants to play baseball in the spring. He also used to be the chess nut - played in lots of tournaments. That interest has seemed to pass. Chess whiz I'm not, but he could kick my ass since 1st grade or so. Seriously. Oh yeah, he digs the Geocaching scene as well.

    Me, being weirdo non-mainstream sports dad (I joke with him about that), finds all this amusing, but support him 100%. I play hoops with him in the yard and toss the football, kick the soccer ball around, etc. We've also been playing street hockey - that I do like.

    If he told me tomorrow he had enough of bikes, I'd understand and wouldn't force the issue. So far, don't think that's the case. He also gets a kick out of racing and as you all know, racing hurts - you gotta wanna do it.

    Pre kids, when I had the dough, had no problem dumping large bills on expensive bikes. I think they're worth every cent and compared against other sports/activities/lifestyles/obsessions - actually pretty cheap in the long run. Trust me, if funds were available, I'd get him a super trick mountain and 'cross bike right now - along with dad.

    I was hoping to find a clean, used high end XC race bike from the '90s or so. Small frame, v-brakes, 80mm fork, maybe 24 pounds. So far, nothing. I've seen many used bikes I'd buy in a second for him, 'cept the frames are too big.

    What I'll probably wind up doing is getting that Performance frame, then maybe a complete used bike off Craigslist for the fork and parts. Noticed a '96 Specialized today on Craiglist for $200, big frame, but a good parts donor.

    This way, my still ridable Cannondale remains my main mountain bike and I keep my vintage bikes around - like the Yo Eddy.

    Still, the idea of picking up that Motobecane XTR/SID hardtail off Bikes Direct for $1800 is there. I could sell off some stuff to score that, then trickle my Cannondale parts to Ian's new Performance frame. If the Motobecane frame sucked or didn't fit correctly, moving that new XTR kit to another frame down the road would still be a deal.

    There's also the possibility of getting a new bike from Bikes Direct for Ian. Something in the $500 range. I'm all for supporting the local shop, but the pricing on the BD site is amazing, and when it comes down to $500 - $1500 (or so) production bikes - they're all pretty damn similar.

    We have talked about him donating some of his money towards this cause. He understands that. He's a great kid - he really is. Same with my daughter.

    But hey, I'm a little biased in that opinion - like all parents.....

  7. Excellent that your son rides (you know how I feel about this already).

    I like the Motobecane XTR idea... as well as the uber-cool mini Klein.

    But then again, talking to me about purchasing another bike is like shooting fish in a barrel!

    Keep us informed of your final decision.

  8. I watched the eBay action on the Klein frame this morning. I threw a few bids in, but stopped at $200. It eventually sold for $256 - more then I want to pay (for this project anyway).

    I'm still looking, will get something worked out eventually.

  9. Great conversation. The discipline on eBay is the key, easy to get carried away.

    Not having kids (yet), I can only imagine how much cooler the kids are than the XTR!

  10. Oh, and thanks for the shout-out!

  11. Oh yeah, it be easy to over bid for something on eBay. Both my kids were watching me on the Klein auction - "Keep bidding!" - like it was a contest.

    I had a feeling that frame bidding would take off in the last few minutes and yeah, it did. NOS Klein frames are hard to come by.

    Riding with your kids is cooler then XTR. But, being kind of a gear head, it's tough at times making do with older gear - especially if you really dig the stuff like I do. Still, no comparison on what's more important.

    I met some old pals for lunch today and they showed me their latest rides - tricked out Triumph and Ducati. Being the recovering motorcycle nut, man - I do miss that stuff. Years ago, had at least one or two motorcycles in the garage - in addition to trick bicycle stuff.

    All that is on hold for now. Gotta do what you gotta do.....

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