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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 5yo daughter and 7yo son and I want to get them onto some decent mountain bikes by the first of the year/early spring. Some quick background:

My boy is 4'3" and is currently on a 24in hardtail that is is just getting big enough for. He's a very good rider for his age and pretty aggressive with strong legs.

My daughter is 3'9" and fits well on her 20in bike, but should be big enough for a 24in next spring. She has a lot of skill, but commitment and attitude vary day to day. Pedaling is not her favorite (she would rather ride her dirt bike).

Riding conditions would range from ski areas, jump parks, to rocky trails with lots of pedaling steep hills (Grand junction, co).

For my son he is dead set on a full suspension which right now would be a big bennifit. I am considering the two following bikes:



Can anyone offer feedback on these two bikes?

My initial reaction is the YT is better with the Manitou fork and rock shock vs the Xfusion on the Marin, but I have no real basis for that. I do like that the Marin can be upgraded to 26in wheels so he can stay on it longer.

For my daughter I am torn between also getting her a FS or keeping her on a hard tail. I say this because it seems the trailcraft/spawn hardtails are 4-5lb lighter than the above FS bikes. I think the easier pedaling bike would really help her on the trails and keep her attitude positive, but this may be a very short lived bennifit as she gets older?

Any comments about this would be appreciated.

For her I would either get the same above 24in FS bike as my son, or a trailcraft or spawn hardtail. If I went hardtail, which is the better bike?



Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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Hey so yeah good to check in on bikes. Here's my opinions at least

1- Hard pass on the bikes that "grow" as they don't grow, the fitment sucks and only the wheel size changes. Only Flow bike has a workable idea for this but no longer in business.

2- The 24" Full Suspension: you definitely want a bike with the Hayes/Manitou/Sunringle/Protaper gear on it. Its a MASSIVE upgrade. I just did a full service on one of our JUnit forks and was able to get full rebuild kids, manuals to service and support too. They are incredible. So...which bike to buy. Just order the YT Primus 24" today. Its due to ship around Jan/Feb/Mar 2022 and is only 1999$ still. All of the other JUnit FS bikes are now like 3100-3400$. Its insane. That Primus was an AMAZING value 2 yrs ago, its a legendary value today. The geo is dialed (unlike the marin), the spec is nice (aside from the NX and longer cranks), wheels are great, tires are great, suspension is great, brakes aren't great. It looks sick in person too. There is no other bike that comes close anywhere near this price point anymore. They should be selling it for 3k$, no idea how they aren't. I like Norco's FS 1 (not their lower build btw, they gimp the fork with crappy airspring) but its like 3300$ now instead of 2500$. Just go with the YT, he's just getting into fitting it too. My son is on a custom Clash 24" and is still ripping it at 4'9" and is still to small for 27.5 (we try them often).

3- 20" Hardtail: I'd stick with the hardtail for sure (unless she's an uber grom already...which few are that young). Hardtails give kids a lot of feedback that helps them learn and the bike is lighter. What they need is an aggressive hardtail more than a FS typically (again unless they are really riding at a high speed/level/bike parks constantly). Both my kids rode/ride the Spawn yama jama 20" HT. Its a nice bike but the geometry is fairly XC with that 68d HTA and the fork is kind of divey. It's led to more OTB that I'm positive were related to the bike. When I upgraded the fork and slacked it out to closer to 66d, the OTB's went away instantly for my 6yro. Kids don't need to suffer through XC/DJ headtube angles if they are shredding downhill, its not that hard for them to get hurt or worse yet, steal their confidence. Remember on a hardtail the HTA isn't static, under sag/chunder that 68d HTA is quickly 69-70d hence the OTB's. Prevelo figured this out and have dialed geometry (66d HTA). They have the same less than ideal fork that Spawn/Trail craft use tho. Orbea Lafeirry makes a 20" hardtail with light wheels, tires, 66d HTA and a JUnit fork but I don't think you can get them in the USA. Its as close to the ideal HT as I've seen. Nukeproof Cub Scout Race has a pretty nice hardtail with JUnit fork on it, tho the wheels looked pretty heavy and in our testing...heavy wheels have a significant impact on performance. Maybe they are nice tho. Cranks are a proper 127mm too. The red is pretty. HTA is 66.5 (nice).

I'm sure there are some other options out there but do what you can in these areas:
1- Dialed geometry (Commencal/YT 24" have dialed geometry...notice the rear-end length isn't long so kids can learn critical skills easier)
2- Proper crank length - 140mm for 24"/127mm-ish for 20" lower is better than longer. Few/no advantages to long cranks, zero for kids. You can swap cranks for about 100-120$ if they are too long.
3- JUnit fork is a must if you are spending the money. Its just lightyears beyond the other stuff, custom tuned, fairly light, very serviceable and the performance is really really good. Nice damper, really nice dual chamber airspring. Its good.
4- Decent wheels that aren't heavy. You'd want wheels that are light. Tires can be meaty like DHF/DHR2 combo, but the wheels shouldn't be tanks. The Sunringle Duroc wheels are like 1670g and as heavy as I'd want to go. Our custom Stans Crests 32h are 1300g, but not as wide and burly...but have held up so well to serious freeride abuse. Rotational weight has a big impact. People get hung up on frame weight, which is silly, its rotational and unsprung weight that is instantly noticeable. Custom wheels are about 500-700$.
 

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I don't know the policy around here for this, but if you look in the portland oregon area craigslist and search FSR there is a kid sized 24" specialized full suspension. with shipping you'd save $1400 or so . . .
There is saving money and then there is throwing away money. Considering the original post, that bike on CL looks more like the later.
 

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There is saving money and then there is throwing away money. Considering the original post, that bike on CL looks more like the later.
if the wheels are round, the frame and fork sound, you could replace every single component and pay shipping and be $1000 ahead. Not sure how that is throwing away money. I don't care, it's not my for sale.
 

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if the wheels are round, the frame and fork sound, you could replace every single component and pay shipping and be $1000 ahead. Not sure how that is throwing away money. I don't care, it's not my for sale.
Regardless of what you spent or upgraded on that bike it still wouldn't the caliber of the bikes the OP is considering. There are just too many "antiquated" aspects to that FSR to bring it up to the same level. There are times where older CL finds are ideal and times where they aren't. This is one of those times where they aren't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Appreciate the heads up on the 26in Specialized.

I'm not opposed to looking into that, but I question how good that bike would be compared to one of the bikes I listed (ie modern geo). Coming off a 2016 trek remedy to a 21 SJ Evo I can attest to how much geo effect riding ability. I'd love to give my kids that same experience.

Also, not sure I would ever buy something sight unseen on CL. A bike forum from an established member yes, buy CL Id feel lucky if I got a Walmart mongoose that rolled.
 

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if you want a new bike for any reason, you should definitely get one. We're in a anonymous forum on the internet. Helpful strangers at best. Mean well but many valid opinion, all likely right from a certain POV.

My experience with kids bikes (i've owned something like 11 of them) is that they outgrow them quickly, ride them how their personality dictates, and are much more affected by the bike color and weight than anything else on how much they like them. I'm also older, and had no trouble having serious fun on an MTB in the 90s, a bike with such poor angles and outdated suspension and small tires no one could possible bunny hop a log, take jumps, or even balance on it today. I don't worship at the temple of modern geometry, though I'm willing to be converted if the whole thing was taken as an integrative solution, instead of a point in time. I've seen lots of the very best ideas come and go. G3 is just another. I think there are other more important factors in this age group. Weight primarily. It looks right to them. Cost too, so you can get the stuff they need as they grow and ride.
 

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My kids care about dropper posts and easy rolling tires more than weight, with rim/tire weight being an exception. For sizing, My 10 year old wants to move up from her Xs 27.5/26 Mullet to a Sm 29er. She's 4'9". 27" inseam. Our usual trails only have patches of tech with lots of it being mostly buff sidehill. We tend to not get airborne, though the girls did do some jumping when they were younger. For reference, if we went to a bike park, we'd prolly stick to blues and greens and would likely do some voluntary climbing. Here she is last year at 4'6" on a 12" 29er:

1943804


Her Xs mullet is a 14" frame. She was riding that at 4'5". I got a sweet deal on the Stan's 26+ rear wheel. And a decent deal on the front wheel to match.

I wrote this about her older sister 2 years ago, "She's 4'8" and prefers a Small 29x2.6 versus the Xs 27.5x2.8s." She's been on the small for 2 years and will be a couple more years until medium, probably. She just hit 5' and seems peeps around 5'4" or 5'5" prefer to jump up to medium. This is all on Gen 1 Salsa Timberjacks.

1943807


Kids do indeed grow fast. The type of riding dictates wheel size a bit. And technically my kids are still in 24" wheeled range. But the only 24" they've ridden this last year was for a bit of DJ, and they both said it felt tiny. Each jump to larger wheels saw an increase in their ability to ride longer and over rougher terrain. Like flipping a switch.

I know my perspective is a bit beyond the scope of your questions, but I'm a YUGE fan of short seat tube, biggest wheels as possible for kids.
 

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For hardtails, stock bikes are getting better, but it's still pretty hard to beat going fully custom.

My son's enjoyed his Cujo 24. 145mm Junit fork up front changes it from a mild rigid 24+ into a hardcore hardtail with a 64 degree HTA (unsagged).

Unlike most kids bikes, the BB is so absurdly low on the Cujo that it actually winds up in a "normal" spot with the longer fork.

I've also become pretty convinced that the Cane Creek Viscoset is one of the top upgrades you can make on a kids bike -- the damping makes it a lot easier to not get jarred around by rocks & roots and helps to prevent wheel wobble when they start going faster downhill.
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That is something we work on every ride. He is usually more interested in looking for birds, bugs, and lizards than watching the trail! Our trails are pretty rocky and he gets bounced around a bit on the 20"+ tires. It is has been pretty hot lately so we have not been on the trails as much. He'll be ready to attack once it cools off a bit. I wish our new locale had a place like the boise bike park. It was easy to get him on the bike and work on skills there.
 
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