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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's an ongoing debate here about BMX vs MTB for little kids (I'm talking 6yrs old here).

I bought my kid a 15 pound BMX bike 20" wheels with a hand brake and she loves it. It is so much better than a 25 pound MTB equivalent. She goes everywhere with it and it is so light hills aren't much of a problem.

IMO, the BMX is the no-brainer purchase in the 20" wheel options.
 

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Agree but keep in mind that a BMX Mini has a lot less components than a mtb of any brand or price plus don't know why little mtbs are so heavy.

My son first real bike was a Mini and he rode it everywhere, the only change to it was the gearing and shorter cranks.
 

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I agree with you at the 20" wheel level, and used to think the same for 24" until we discovered the Specialized HotRock 24" hardtails that weigh less than a similar-sized BMX bike with fat tires, but have working suspension and good components.

Swap off some heavy stuff, like the seat and post, and you can make great trail bikes out of BMX!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I agree -- I have no idea why the weight of the 24" BMX bikes really shoot up -- maybe they have to be heavier built for heavier riders. But yes, at 24" you're better off with the MTB.

At 20" there is no comparison -- the BMX is a much better bike than the MTB.

EBasil said:
I agree with you at the 20" wheel level, and used to think the same for 24" until we discovered the Specialized HotRock 24" hardtails that weigh less than a similar-sized BMX bike with fat tires, but have working suspension and good components.

Swap off some heavy stuff, like the seat and post, and you can make great trail bikes out of BMX!
 

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As above. My son is about to turn 8 and he's been riding a Mini since he was 4.5. Now its time for him to move up to a 24'' more to be able to keep up going up the steeper hills instead of getting off and pushing. Problem is finding resonable lightweight 24'' bikes here in New Zealand. Due to our smallish population, most importers only bring in the inexpensive line of their bikes.
 

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BMX bikes are heavy because they are made for stunt riding, railing, half pipes etc. I bought my son one some time ago and was quite surprised. It was made of what felt like solid steel. There are models out there for racing, and those are typically much lighter.
 

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My take on this "debate": It really depends.

My son, who is now 7, has had 7 bikes in the last 2-1/2 years. (Yes, I'm crazy. ;)) Almost half of them were various 20" BMX race bikes that he used during his racing "career". The first time I took him on a trail ride was on one of those bikes (an 11 lb. custom build), and it worked fairly well because this course was all flat except for a couple rollers, and reasonably smooth. His race gearing (42/15) was adequate for this type of ride. If that is the type of terrain your child will be riding on, a BMX mini racer is a fine choice, and is confidence inspiring due to its smaller size and lighter weight compared to a 20" MTB.

Last year, he wanted to start tackling some of the singletrack that I ride on. More technical terrain, and there are definitely some climbs (inclines up to 7%). Once your child starts taking on more challenging terrain like this, the gears and suspension are almost essential. Unfortunately, most 20" kids' MTBs are in the 25+ lb. range, which does make them a bit harder for little muscles to maneuver. So I built him a custom hardtail, got it down to 20 lbs. (I have another thread on that.) On the one major climb of this particular trail (4-5% for 1/2 mile), my son needs to be in his 34/32 gear to stand any chance of making it all the way up. But what a view that awaits him at the end...



By the way, speaking of 24s, I did build him a custom 24" BMX cruiser just a few months ago:



As spec'd, it would probably sell for US$900-1000. (Didn't I tell you I was crazy? I have industry connections that do mitigate the cost though.) The kicker is, it's not even used for BMX. I built it for his triathlon racing; it's a 12-lb build, and he handily beats a lot of older kids that are on bikes weighing over 2x more. So yes, you CAN build a 24" mini cruiser. But everything I said above about terrain and climbing still applies -- there is no way he would be able to handle our local singletrack on this bike.
 

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Sharing another 24" micro cruiser build. Sits at just under 13lbs now. I'm curious, what gearing ar you running for the tri's? My kiddo just did some crit racing and enjoyed it.
 

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I'm on a budget and the kids are only going to be on the bikes for a short period. The solution I came up with to help the kids cope with pushing the heavier bike was to find a
24" wheel with a cassette instead of a freewheel. The extra gearing was a tremendous help. With the freewheel you typically will only find one geared down to about 28 teeth or the mega-range that just had too big of a jump. With the cassette you can get down to 32 or 34 teeth. With the extra gears the kids are able to spin up a hill rather easily.
In the states you can pick up used 24" rear wheels on ebay fairly cheap, you just have to keep an eye out for them. Downhillers buy them for their bikes and then decide they don't like them or want something different.
 

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wycough said:
Sharing another 24" micro cruiser build. Sits at just under 13lbs now. I'm curious, what gearing ar you running for the tri's? My kiddo just did some crit racing and enjoyed it.
I think he was running 36/13 -- I was hoping he could run a higher ratio (especially considering it's a fairly flat course) but for some reason nothing higher seemed to work well for him. I think part of it was the geometry of this particular frame -- it was just too twitchy. In any case, I just sold that bike, and he is now finally on a proper road bike (Felt F24), getting used to it in preparation for next year.
 

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Gary Fisher Pre-Caliber SS is an excellent lightweight 20" MTB. It's amazing how much lighter it is than my 6 yr olds Diamondback viper Jr. The Viper rarely gets ridden now. He adjusted to handbrakes with no issues.
 
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