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Discussion Starter #1
Its tough to find a 24" bike at this price range. Buddy's kid needs a new bike and he doesn't want to up to the Vitus hardtail. He also doesn't want a road/gravel bike. No coil fork non-sense or plus tires.

So far in my limited search it looks like the Rigid Trek Precaliber is a solid option for 350$.
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/...recaliber/precaliber-24-8-speed-boys/p/28126/

I like the GT Stomper Prime rigid (has disk brake bosses etc) but they only make the Stomper Ace in 24" and that has the junky/heavy coil fork. Precaliber looks similar to Prime but in 24" and the tires look pretty decent and are +plus sized either. Uggh...it does have 152mm cranks unfortunately.

Is there anything else that competes in this range?

Raleigh Reduex bike is interesting. It has mechanical disk brakes. Tires are slicks tho. 50$ for a pair of Crown Vee Gems
 

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I bought a used Giant XTC 24 JR for my kid. It was like 3 years old and in a good shape. I payed like 120 USD. Now it's broken after a crash and I am happy I didn't buy a new one....
 

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https://www.raleighusa.com/kids/9-12-years/lily24-r142

Any kid would be lucky to have any of the raleigh 24's. this one above comes with MTB tires.
Just got the Raleigh Rowdy 24 for my 8 year old - the "boy" version of the one linked to - great bike for the price.

Pros - Rigid, normal 2" tires (not fat/plus size, not too narrow, good size for multi-use), weighs in out of the box at 22lbs, nice blue/black color theme, has a proper bottle mount in the frame, comes with decent nylon flat pedals (similar to Chesters). 1x7 Shimano Altus/Revo is easy for him to operate and works as intended, no complaints there.

Cons - Comes with solid axles instead of QRs, and comes with with some cheese ball off brand tires - both of these quibbles are very easily remedied though. It also has v-brakes, but for an 8 year old and the vast majority of the riding he will do with this bike, I think that is fine. 7 speed freewheel limits gearing options for upgrades, but so far my son is fine with the gearing range, and we have a couple hills around our neighborhood. If it becomes a problem, I will probably just put on a smaller chainring.

My son just turned 8, and he loves his new bike! He is about 5'2", and the bike just fits him with the seat all the way down, so I think he will be good to go for about 2 more years with this bike. I got it from Expert Voice for a little over $300 delivered to my door; it can also be found on Amazon/other online retailers for a little more, but less than the $350 budget cap for sure.

At 22lbs, this bike is pretty easily the lightest budget bike, next step up is the Vitus. Similar weight, just a few nicer components, which may or may not actually make a difference for the kid. All in all, great bike for the money.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Just got the Raleigh Rowdy 24 for my 8 year old - the "boy" version of the one linked to - great bike for the price.

Pros - Rigid, normal 2" tires (not fat/plus size, not too narrow, good size for multi-use), weighs in out of the box at 22lbs, nice blue/black color theme, has a proper bottle mount in the frame, comes with decent nylon flat pedals (similar to Chesters). 1x7 Shimano Altus/Revo is easy for him to operate and works as intended, no complaints there.

Cons - Comes with solid axles instead of QRs, and comes with with some cheese ball off brand tires - both of these quibbles are very easily remedied though. It also has v-brakes, but for an 8 year old and the vast majority of the riding he will do with this bike, I think that is fine. 7 speed freewheel limits gearing options for upgrades, but so far my son is fine with the gearing range, and we have a couple hills around our neighborhood. If it becomes a problem, I will probably just put on a smaller chainring.

My son just turned 8, and he loves his new bike! He is about 5'2", and the bike just fits him with the seat all the way down, so I think he will be good to go for about 2 more years with this bike. I got it from Expert Voice for a little over $300 delivered to my door; it can also be found on Amazon/other online retailers for a little more, but less than the $350 budget cap for sure.

At 22lbs, this bike is pretty easily the lightest budget bike, next step up is the Vitus. Similar weight, just a few nicer components, which may or may not actually make a difference for the kid. All in all, great bike for the money.
Thank you, that's helpful as its difficult to really get a feel for the budget bikes being that the descriptions are often poor/limited.

fyi I assume your kid is 4'2" not 5'2" right?
 

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Oh, oof, yes, he is 4'2", sorry, haha. It was early! Happy to help with the details - feel free to ask if you have any specific questions about it.
 

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Just as an update - finally got my 8 year old out onto some trails on his new Rowdy 24. He had a great ride! We did about 5 miles on some pretty tame trails - nothing too technical or steep, perfect for a first timer to get a feel for shifting/braking/turning on dirt. All went well with both boy and bike.

I did upgrade the front axle to a QR vice the bolt on - I figured if I am gonna be putting this bike on fork mount roof rack, I should make it easier on myself. Easy upgrade, kit from Amazon came with a front and rear axle and QRs for about $12. Not the highest quality QRs, but a hollow steel axle is a hollow steel axle, and the old bearing races threaded right on to make the switch super easy. I haven't done the rear axle yet, but next time I take the wheel off I will switch it out.

All in all, both my son and I are really happy with this bike.
 
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