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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I've been looking for a 20" "mountain bike" for my 7yo daughter. What are my options? So far I've found the following ($MSRP):
Specialized Hotrock w/ Front Suspension - $370
Specialized Hotrock Rigid - $350
Gary Fischer - Precaliber - $320
Marin - Hidden Canyon - $350
Giant 2012 XTC Jr - $330
Giant Areva 20 - $320
GT Stomper - $295
GT Scamp - $295
Scott Scale - $380
Scott Contessa - $330
Raleigh Rowdy -?
Jamis X.20 - $280
Kona Maken - ?
Fuji Sandblaster - $
KHS - Raptor - $219
Trek MT 60 - ?
IBEX Alpine 320 - $380

Here is my criteria:
* At least a 6 speed grip shift.
* Lighter than heavier, so AL frame (but I'm not rich enough to go weight weenie)
* Front Shock is preferred if it's going to do something (my kid is super-light so I'm not sure if it will act like a rigid)
* Changeable Stem

Thanks in advance and I apologize if this topic has been posted to death... I suck at searches. I'm hoping to get some recommendations and hopefully I'll be able to find a deal on craigslist.

*Updated list
 

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A number of people here have had good luck with the Marin Hidden Canyon. I picked one up a few weeks ago on Craigslist for $75.

Just a note on suspension forks for 20" bikes, it seems most of them don't do much except add weight. The fork on the Marin is very stiff, I can barely make it deflect, and I weigh 185.

My 6-y/o son is currently riding a Giant MTX 125 from about 2003. It's rigid 1x7, and he hammers it on the single track. I have done some judicious upgrades on it; carbon handlebar I picked up off CL for $25, some lighter wheels I happened upon by coincidence. It weighs 24 pounds, which isn't too bad for a kids' bike. The Marin weighs about the same with a suspension fork. (He'll be getting the Marin for Christmas).

Good luck!
 

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Wēk Sôs
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There's the GT Scamp 20 as well. Haro Flightline is another.

I find the forks work well enough for the kids, but there are lemons now and then. The progressive ramp is very high due to it being such short travel. I've not had problems getting any of them to move by leaning on it. There are a few on the floors that do not budge, but I think they were bad. I do find RST forks to work a bit easier than SR Suntour. My kid's bikes have RST 200K (Hotrock 20) and SR Suntour M2025 (GT Scamp 20). I can gauge travel with a zip tie and/or marks on the fork, and there is quite a bit of movement on the trails. That said, if you believe it doesn't do anything, then get a bike with a rigid fork. The forks are simple spring forks, and you might be able to find a lighter rate spring. I'm not too sure on that though.

The bikes are fairly easy to get a bit below 25lb. Both my kid's bikes are a bit under 25lb with basic mods. My son's bike is probably a bit lighter as I did more work on it, and it is also under 25lb with a double chainring crank and a heavy BB. Not so easy to go to 20lb. The Giant XTC Jr 20/Giant Areva 20 is probably one of the lightest with a rigid fork.
 

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Thanks for starting this thread. My 5 1/2 year old (tall for her age) Is ready to move on from her 16inch trek float. The Float is an amazing bike to teach a kid how to ride with no training wheels. I can't say enough good things about it.

Im now looking for something really light weight that has at least 6 speeds, and a 20 inch rim. Bikes that are half the childs weight gotta be tough to push. We don't ride bikes that are half our weight.
 

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rebmem rbtm
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Plenty of quality bikes on your list.

I also prefer a rigid bike at this level. My oldest is on an unsuspended Giant 125 and is learning how to pull the front wheel up over obstacles and keep rolling. This is a valuable skill for mtb and easier to do with a lighter front end.

I had to check myself with the upgrade-itis though. After I bought some pedals for 30 bucks that saved half a pound over the ones that came with the bike, I found myself going crazy searching for more parts (like I always do with my own bikes).
 

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I thought I'd mention my experience as well.

I picked the Marin for the 14 speeds, but I found my son hated the grip shift. I replaced it with a trigger, much better, but a child this age doesn't have the finger/hand strength to shift a FD from the small ring to the large, so all the time searching for a 20 inch FD bike with 7 speeds was a waste of time.

I will say the suspension fork depends on what you're child will end up doing. His isn't really stiff and he's jumping off those black skateboard ramps you see kids with, so he's actually bottoming out his when he lands. If I didn't think he'd would be jumping, I'd go rigid.
 

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I'm in the same boat - looking for a 20" MTB for my 6 year old son. He's currently riding a 20" Specialized Hotrock coaster, but definitely needs gears to help him with the hills.

I've looked at many of the bikes on your list and have narrowed things down to the 20" Specialized Hotrock 6 speed and the 20" Marin Hidden Canyon. I also looked at the 20" Giant XTC JR, but my son really wants a front "suspension" and the 20" Giant has a rigid fork.

Good luck with your search. Let us know what you buy.
 

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Team Martin
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My oldest son started out on a Jamis X.20 (6-speed) when he was 6 & really grew w/ the bike. After a couple of seasons of riding it was evident that he had outgrown the Jamis skill wise so he graduated to a Scott Scale Jr. 24. That being said, the Jamis was great (albeit, heavy) for a first MTB but I believe we're gonna go w/ another Scott whenever our 5 yr old son moves up from his Redline Pitboss 16. For the money, the Scott Scale 20 & 24 are great little bikes which seem to be better spec'd than some of the other bikes in this category. Just my 0.02.

Good luck w/ your purchase!
 

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so is a 20" bike the best for kids... say 8-9 years old? My wife and I are on the hunt for bikes and I'd like to get some for my boys as well. Their BMX bikes don't do to well on the trails.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Anyone figure out the lightest 20 inch bike with at least 6 gears. They all look to be about 25 lbs.
Similarly, I would like to know what a reasonable weight is. Is 25 lbs the standard?

BTW, I've been updating the list on the original post as suggestions come in.
 

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so is a 20" bike the best for kids... say 8-9 years old? My wife and I are on the hunt for bikes and I'd like to get some for my boys as well. Their BMX bikes don't do to well on the trails.
Kids vary too much in size to say X fit 8-9 year olds. My son has been on a 20inch while he was 8-9, but he's small for his age. Looking at other kids his age, they'd be on 24s.

Take them to a shop and see what they fit.
 

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I have a Giant MTX125 for my 6yo, and he loves it! It is rigid, but I think that is good at this age, lighter bike and he will learn better I think, besides, he has to pay his does.

I got it from craigslist for 75 bucks.
 

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One thing to consider, a 26" bike at those prices is bottom of the line. The main differences between a 20" and 26" are a frame and wheel size which equates to just a lb or two of material. You'll have to spend quite a bit of money to drop the weight substantially.

I bought a 2 year old Precaliber for our 5 year old son for $85 off craigslist in perfect shape. The fork was super stiff like all of them, but after taking the plastic cap out and cutting off half the threads to relieve some tension it does actually move while he's riding, so that's an idea to help a little.
 

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Wēk Sôs
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Anyone figure out the lightest 20 inch bike with at least 6 gears. They all look to be about 25 lbs.
Look for a rigid fork. The Giant XTC Jr. 20 is around 23lbs, IIRC.

Similarly, I would like to know what a reasonable weight is. Is 25 lbs the standard?

BTW, I've been updating the list on the original post as suggestions come in.
26-27lbs seem to be the norm, in stock form. Bulk of the weight in tires and heavier bits, and can be reduced to 25lbs with minor cost (stem, handlebar, tires, tubes, seatpost, and seat). To get under, in my experience, requires things like new wheels, bottom bracket, cranks, etc. and gets much more expensive.
 

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We bought our daughter a KHS Raptor when she was 8. :thumbsup:

It's a great bike and weighs in at 26 lbs., but feels really light. It also takes alot of abuse. We took it to the local mountain (swamp) bike trails and other than the really steep technical hills, she was able to get through it well.

She loved it and only recently outgrew the bike. Now I'm prepping it for our youngest.
 

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We got our 7 y/o a Scott scale 20Jr, it weights around 24 lbs. He loves it! Shocks are not great but at his age he wants shocks like his dad.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
craigslist has been a bust for 3 weeks plus. The only thing I've found has been older bikes that are on the heavier side (26 lbs) with quill stems. I was hoping to find something closer to 25 lbs without a quill type stem so I could more easily find different size stems. I started another thread and it appears that several disagree with ruling out bikes with quill stems, but I couldn't find small stems that easily. Sigh....
 

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:cool:
so is a 20" bike the best for kids... say 8-9 years old? My wife and I are on the hunt for bikes and I'd like to get some for my boys as well. Their BMX bikes don't do to well on the trails.
My son will be 8 in Nov and is on a 24". He's tall, though.
 
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