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Bipolar roller
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been looking at getting my 6 year old a better bike for this summer. He currently has a 16" Royal Baby that weighs in around 25lbs and a 16" hand-me-down GT that probably weighs about the same or a little more.

These bikes are way too heavy and I am pretty mad at myself for being suckered into buying that Royal Baby at 25 fn lbs. I really should have done more research before buying as there is no reason to have a bike for my 6 year old that weighs more then my steel bikes from the early 90's.

So, I started looking around at different kids bikes to try and sus out the heavily marketed "crappy" kids bikes from the actual "quality" kids bikes and found this cool web site that does great side by side comparisons of different size kids bikes with weights included.

https://www.twowheelingtots.com

I am currently looking at Pelli Reddi 20", clearly Owl 20" and the Guardian 20". These all come in under 20lbs

Now, it obviously doesn't have all kids bike brands, so what quality kids bikes are missing from this site that might be something to consider?

Are there any other 20" bikes under 20lbs I should consider?

Together, we mainly ride mello singletrack xc trails in the park across from our house and at the Truckee pump track/bike park.

Thanks!
 

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Hola! Don't sweat it, we all have bought a crappy bike or two. Now my problem is that I bought the wrong bike ENTIRELY because of that crappy twowheelingtots website that does zero to take in effect what kind of riding you are hoping to do (MTB!) and more importantly critical Skill Development. They focus solely on sitting and pedaling and light weight bikes. Which do nothing for kids except make for a boring Neighborhood cruiser. Lame.

What kind of riding are you trying to do? Find a bike like Trailcraft makes but cheaper. Prevelo, Spawn too. Their airfork are second to none in this size.

Rei Coop makes a nice 20" plus bike... And while I don't like plus bikes, it's only 320$ and you could swap tires. You want disk brakes, preferably hydraulic. That's a no brainer for kids and safety when riding trails. I think that bike has mech disk brakes. Not ideal but at least you can upgrade.

Don't freak out about weight so much that you buy a bike that isn't capable. 21 to 23lbs for a hardtail is fine enough.
Just like adult bikes you can drop cash and go light, that's where the Trailcraft bike comes in at 19lbs I think. I've seen plenty of Dads buy Islabikes which are nice roadie bikes for kids, but it's still just a road bike. Then they are out on the trails with razor thin tires and it's crash city. Even worse when they show up at the BMX parks for day camps. The coaches immediately get them a rental. Consider the riding you are doing and consider the bike you would want for yourself.

A BMX is the ideal neighborhood bike BTW. Skills development through the roof. Perfect for the Pumptrack. I'd find a cheap used BMX for sure for 100$ and then figure out whatever trail Hardtail you are going to use. Cult Juvenile or Fit Misfit are nice options in 16" (the sizing is smaller for BMX BTW). Don't underestimate the kid either, I've seen plenty of kids go from barely riding to RIPPING Pumptracks and small jump lines in a matter of months. They just develop so fast at this age if you are really riding with them.

Oh the Norco Charger 20" is VERY cool for a cheaper option than Spawn/TC stuff. Nice little bike! Note that often an expensive bike can actually cost less in the long run. The components hold up better for sure but more importantly the used bike market for those quality bikes I mentioned is often rabid. It's the opposite of adult bikes. You can get great resale value for sure if you buy something high quality/high function.
 

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Bipolar roller
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks svinyard! Really appreciate the insight.

Most the riding we do is mtb trails in North Lake Tahoe, bike park/pump track and maybe some bike paths for when my wife wants to ride too, so things like a sus fork and disc brakes will be total overkill. Just good old singletracks and bike park for the most part. Not going to do DH at NorthStar with him or slam thru a rock garden a high speed or anything.

I took a look at trailcraft, spawn and prevelo. Trailcraft and spawn have very poor options not offering 20” bikes with a rigid fork or rim brakes. The spawn Kotori looked pretty good, but sold out and doesn’t look like there’s a rigid fork option. All three are way too expensive for the poor selection of options. I don’t have a problem paying for quality, but do have a problem with very limited components. Prevelo looked better, but no single speed option and that derailleur hanging that low will not last long on the singletrack trails where we ride.

Really glad you pointed out REI as they seem to have not only a good selection, but bikes that offer smart durable kid options like rim brakes and rigid forks. I also really like the cleary owl 20” 3 speed as I have seen many a kid rip the local pump track on those bikes.

Also, the more I look at guardian bikes the better I like, but don’t know how I feel about their “sure stop” braking system. Anyone have experience with this?
 

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Thanks svinyard! Really appreciate the insight.

Most the riding we do is mtb trails in North Lake Tahoe, bike park/pump track and maybe some bike paths for when my wife wants to ride too, so things like a sus fork and disc brakes will be total overkill. Just good old singletracks and bike park for the most part. Not going to do DH at NorthStar with him or slam thru a rock garden a high speed or anything.

I took a look at trailcraft, spawn and prevelo. Trailcraft and spawn have very poor options not offering 20" bikes with a rigid fork or rim brakes. The spawn Kotori looked pretty good, but sold out and doesn't look like there's a rigid fork option. All three are way too expensive for the poor selection of options. I don't have a problem paying for quality, but do have a problem with very limited components. Prevelo looked better, but no single speed option and that derailleur hanging that low will not last long on the singletrack trails where we ride.

Really glad you pointed out REI as they seem to have not only a good selection, but bikes that offer smart durable kid options like rim brakes and rigid forks. I also really like the cleary owl 20" 3 speed as I have seen many a kid rip the local pump track on those bikes.

Also, the more I look at guardian bikes the better I like, but don't know how I feel about their "sure stop" braking system. Anyone have experience with this?
Flow Bikes is local to you I believe and another option. Are you looking for rim brakes and a rigid fork specifically? Most companies that focus on higher end tend to stick for what sells - suspension forks and disc brakes. Woom and Cleary make some nice bikes (with rim brakes and rigid forks) but I'm not sure I would call them "bike park capable" per say like Flow, Trailcraft, Prevelo, Spawn, etc.. If you are trying to stay in the $500 range, then the rigid fork and rim brakes makes sense. Hard to build a light bike with a suspension fork. It can be done but it gets very expensive very fast.

Trek made a rigid 19 pound bike that was a killer deal and spec. Name escapes me, but it was rigid, v-brakes, etc. and probably on the used market in numbers. Trek "upgraded" the model by adding 4 pounds in the wheels/tires.
 

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Ive had a version of the Owl. Rigid with rim brakes and small block8 tires. It was the least durable bike we've had (frame was fine) but you just hit the limit to easily and those kind of components arent built to last. The bikes are like late 90'a rigid mtb that we used to ride too. Steep with long-ish backends. Sure we shredded those but the geometry sucks. You wouldn't want to ride one of those today.

-Single track is legit around Tahoe. My 4yro has regularly found the limit of his rim brakes (7yro is on a Spawn).Especially on downhill switchbacks. Maybe you are on the really mellow flat stuff, but kids advance lightening fast, especially if they are pumping the Pumptrack and doing it right. Disk brakes open up so many trails. We just got a new 6mile, max 5% grade green trail. Awesome kid shuttle but sketchy without disk brakes for little hands. Great development opportunity and way to get miles in via Mom shuttle. I assume you guys have similar stuff.

-Rim brakes suck. As a Dad you are stuck adjusting the damn things non-stop and because the lever pull is so short, the wheels have to constantly be in perfect true to avoid brake rub or poor brake performance. Even worse in wet weather. The least durable component I've had to mess with. Always needs work and the plastic stuff brakes down so fast etc. Disk brakes have been bullet proof for us.

-Derailleurs are awesome and work with 20" in a short cage. If you are riding mellow enough stuff for a rigid single speed with small tires...you have nothing to worry about other than the kid laying it over. Derailleur hangers are cheap. Decent 11-36 (still very limited) will open up trails that have some mellow climbs. You'll get more miles and have more options. Even mellow single track has climbs.

While rigid is OK for a while, it only takes one cased jump at the park to open your eyes on needing a fork. Also these 20" wheels have the worst rollover possible and an air fork helps with some of that and keeping them upright and going fast and not bouncing around as much. Even little stuff deflects a little 20" wheel easily. Fork keeps the traction higher.

Now if you really are just doing the super duper mellow stuff (boring) then any of those neighborhood cruisers will work. But since you are riding the Pumptrack etc (pumping hopefully) you could see REALLY rapid development. Then you'll be stuck again with a limited bike with limited resell value. Regardless that Norco is about the price of an IPad, but a much better investment and it'll add miles and more importantly confidence to your rides.

This was my Kindergarter (last year). He didn't do ANY of this before we had the bike (not that it was the bike making it all happen). If we had gone for a cheaper option, who knows what it would have looked like. We'd prob be buying a second bike. Never a bad idea to invest in a capable hardtail. I mean its just a simple hardtail, not like it's a 180mm travel sled or anything. Still a rough ride for the kids.
 

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Trek made a rigid 19 pound bike that was a killer deal and spec. Name escapes me, but it was rigid, v-brakes, etc. and probably on the used market in numbers. Trek "upgraded" the model by adding 4 pounds in the wheels/tires.
You're probably referring to the Trek Superfly 20. We have one and made a few changes to it:

- installed brood maxtion 20x2.2 tires, for better grip and improved confort due to higher volume
- replaced the crank with a shorter Spawn 127mm crank with 30T chainring
- relaced the rear wheel with a cassette compatible hub to get better gearing options. The original hub had a freewheel...
- installed a SRAM 9 speed 11-36 cassette
- changed the 6 speed twist shifter for a 9 speed trigger shifter
- installed a short cage rear derailler for better clearance

I have 3 sons and we've had the bike for 5 years. There weren't as many good options back then, otherwise I would of started with something better. Nonetheless, it has held up well and is a fine bike for mellow trails and the pump track, but I would look elsewhere for anything more serious.
 

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Bipolar roller
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone. Really appreciate the insight.

I guess I am coming from how I grew up learning to ride bikes and ride mtb. No suspension, no disc brakes. I am also a big believer in simple is better and want my kids to learn the basics really well before moving on to doing the type of riding where disc brakes and suspension is a necessity.

As for rim brakes, v-brakes work very well, need little adjustment, much less hand strength needed as cantis and are also light. But, if the quality kids bikes all come with disc, then not that big of a deal, plus probably safer in the long run. Really don’t want the complication of a sus fork for a variety of reasons, but also want my kids to learn the skills needed to ride without suspension. Learning to properly unweighted the front wheel then the rear when going over obstacles and how to bunny hop without the aid of loading suspension I feel is very important to master.

I also see Commencal have some pretty sweet 20” options with no sus forks. Not sure if anyone has experience with that brand, I know Commencal is a legit mtb brand.

Either way, definitely going to be looking into more capable bikes with proven solid components than some that I have lister so far.
 

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Does Orbea still do the MX20? That's a solid rigid. The other thing with the MX line is that the headtube can accept an internal pressed in cup to raise the stack height/slacken the front end a touch while running the same original fork. Tire clearance with them is plentiful, the chainstays are on the short side too, which is good.

Plus, it looks like there are finally some decent suspension options coming along, namely new ones from Manitou, so that would be an upgrade that could be done later if you decided to do it.

Edit...here's a link to it.

https://www.orbea.com/us-en/bicycles/kids/mx-kids/cat/mx-20-team-disc

The geo on these bikes is pretty well placed where they can handle having a longer fork put in without janking up everything else about the bike. (HA, SA and BB height/drop).

I wouldn't shy away from discs per say. The MX's come with Shimano 395/396 brakes and they've got great feel to them. The rotors are steel pigs but the hubs are centerlock and these can be upgraded pretty easily. My son has the MX24 Team Disc and while I upgraded the brakes to XT's, there was nothing wrong with the 396's.
 

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As for rim brakes, v-brakes work very well, need little adjustment, much less hand strength needed as cantis and are also light. But, if the quality kids bikes all come with disc, then not that big of a deal, plus probably safer in the long run. Really don't want the complication of a sus fork for a variety of reasons, but also want my kids to learn the skills needed to ride without suspension. Learning to properly unweighted the front wheel then the rear when going over obstacles and how to bunny hop without the aid of loading suspension I feel is very important to master.

I also see Commencal have some pretty sweet 20" options with no sus forks. Not sure if anyone has experience with that brand, I know Commencal is a legit mtb brand.
It's great that you are dialed into the skill side. That's the good stuff!! First of all fun for the kids to do; and second, turns them into legit mtb kids fast.... which means they are riding adult blue trails and hit features like you would. It's a blast to be off the bunny hill if we can use ski analogy.

So to develop those skills, DEFINITELY get solid geometry. Trailcraft geometry (Spawn too) is spot on for this. I'd like slacker HTA at 66d but the backend is where it counts. These long silly mtb make it super hard to learn to bunny hop and do little manuals and hold the front end on a jump etc. Checkout the 20" chainstay length on the upper tier bikes and definitely don't compromise much there. In the end tho, all of the best riding kids start on a BMX bike. My kids struggled with a bunny hop for a while. When we got him the used BMX, he did it in about an hour. There is no question that the BMX side is the right tool for the job for most of these early skills. Go watch videos of the best grom of all time, Harry Schofield. It's all BMX. Now at like 10yro he is doing 60ft back flips on a Spawn bike at Nitro Circus. It's cheap and easy and you are already riding the Pumptrack. Gamechanger for sure. Also you can lockout the fork if you want it rigid. It doesn't hold a kid back from anything. You could also air it up firm like a DJ too. Highly recommended.

Notice the Commencal Ramones rigid. They kind of suck and it's a heavy brand. They have heavy wheels and plus tires and the backend is really long. My buddy bought a giant bike with that very similar geometry and he's had to sell it now after watching his kid struggle on the Pumptrack with that long backend and trying to lift the wheel too. He went and bought a Yama Jama and Prevelo and now his kids are on the mtb team. Now the new Commencal Clash 20 and 24 and have prob the best geo I've seen for a kids FS. They've learned their lesson. Check out the chainstay length for those =). It's dialed. It's just a kids version of a modern adult bike. That's how you can tell it's appropriate. If an adult would buy it (if it was bigger) then it's going to be relatively great.

The problem is kids rim brakes is that they aren't very nice like on a high end road bike. It takes a lot of torque for them to sqeeze the damn things. Especially when your kid is going 20mph down some singletrack goodness. You won't want that. Hell imagine them trying to one finger with it lol. It's bad. My oldest easily one fingers his brakes (sometimes two) on his Spawn. His coaches really focus on that because of the safety of little kids with limited grip riding legit terrain. It would be a nightmare on V brakes. You gotta just get some hydraulic disk brakes. It's night and day.

Also Vitus makes a kids 20" bike for 370$ that has disks. It's plus tires and mechanical brakes but it's cheap and could be upgraded. The HTA is nice and slack for a trail bike too. Watching your kid go OTB on small stuff will leave you begging for a slacker hta fast, especially on a rigid. Those 20" hangup on anything. Good luck.

Vitus 20" - 370$
Vee Crown Gem tires - 50$
Suntour Airfork 20" - 110$
Cheap Tektro Hydraulics - 80$

Around 600$ and that bike would rip. Vitus is killing it on value, particularly in the 24/26in with the Nucleus but that 20" isn't a bad starting point as the geometry is fairly dialed iirc. Even our Spawn is stuck with 68d hta which sucks on a hardtail as it steepens fast deeper in travel from braking or hitting stuff. 66 would be nice. Heck even 65 with 80mm of travel would be good as the bikes are so short anyways. I think the Vitus is 66.
 

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Boy Svinyard, you sure have reinvented yourself.

From a guy that really had no idea about bikes just a year ago, to someone that sounds like a seasoned veteran, and is telling other parents that 68-69 degree head angles are bad, is just bad form.

Slow down buddy. Not every trail is a lift served one. And not everyone needs a bike for fear that they may be on a down hill every now and then.

You are going over board on your advice and it's gotten worse since last year.

To your credit, some of what you say is spot on (bmx bikes being good for handling development being one), but much of it is marketing regurgitation which is misleading all who read it and haven't the knowledge or experience to question what you say.

I, on the other hand do, and after coming back to this site after riding pow all winter, I'm having a hard time reading the utter BS you are broadcasting...unchecked.
 

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Boy Svinyard, you sure have reinvented yourself.

From a guy that really had no idea about bikes just a year ago, to someone that sounds like a seasoned veteran, and is telling other parents that 68-69 degree head angles are bad, is just bad form.

Slow down buddy. Not every trail is a lift served one. And not everyone needs a bike for fear that they may be on a down hill every now and then.

You are going over board on your advice and it's gotten worse since last year.

To your credit, some of what you say is spot on (bmx bikes being good for handling development being one), but much of it is marketing regurgitation which is misleading all who read it and haven't the knowledge or experience to question what you say.

I, on the other hand do, and after coming back to this site after riding pow all winter, I'm having a hard time reading the utter BS you are broadcasting...unchecked.
I misread your comment earlier. While I'm happy to take a seat and will take your advice, I'm not sure it's BS is it? Most if it came from guys like yourself or just general industry stuff.

A 68-69d HTA is far from idea on a hardtail with 20" wheels. We ride that and its sketchy when it compresses combined with the little wheels. Hang ups happen and turn into OTB. Plus there is not much downside to going to a 66s hta for that bike. My 4yro rides a 69d and it's twitchy. A 66d rigid he rode was more stable in general, which is more of a priority for most kids I think that are riding mtb trails (we love our Yoji as a skill bike tho).

Marketing wise id say it's the opposite. Everyone says kids need to be on plus bikes and whatever else the lbs has. I don't think that's the case in what I'm relaying. Anyways, clearly I've run my mouth and that's never a great thing. Cheers
 

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Ha! Yeah, me thinks that if next year the industry and marketing bro brahs tell you that we should be laying down on bikes like Tron and be fully choppered out, you'll be saying 66 degrees is stupid steep and unsafe. Meanwhile, people that haven't gotten the memo are still smoking the droves of riders that think they're buying skill by running down the ol' rabbit hole, and riding more bike than they'll ever be able to remotely use, on anywhere USA mundane IMBA sanitization to boot.

I'm just saying this is getting crazy.
 

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From what I can tell, marketing says 63d HTA on a long travel hardtail. I'm way off that. We have a friend of a friend who is a paraplegic from a slow speed OTB on flat ground. She was apparently a hell of a rider too. It doesn't take much sometimes I guess. A 66d HTA hardtail on tiny 20" wheels seems reasonable to me when given the choice. I've seen it work well lately with Prevelo's and that was a rigid...so why not since we have choices?

Both my kids are on 68d & 69d HTA. My perspective only comes from that and their crashes/successes. My kids have gotten hung-up on small stuff that I don't even notice with those little wheels and flopped over the top. OTB are super scary man when its your kindergartner, any little bit to help with that in a positive in my opinion.
 

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My son rode rocky tech on his 20" that had a (gasp) about a 71+ HA. He rode drops, roots, descents. Did he put the bike down? Yup. Is that part of riding? Double yup. And the bike didn't get hung up on anything because of the head angle.

This sounds to me like either an over worried parent, or a kid that is riding above what they can negotiate because he/she is just not ready (may or may not ever be ready for it). Another thing your getting hung up statement brings to mind is what the kid riders positioning on the bike was. What my son was riding on 20" wheels (with SB8's, a rigid fork and a 71+ HA) would have been worthy of hanging up a 29er, and he did just fine. He didn't even have a dropper (in whispered scared tone....The Horrorrrrrrr) Aimed for that stuff in fact.

My point is that very often ones lack of ability will lead them to believe that they need all sorts of things in order to do what many, many have done well before them, on lesser. When they look around and see nothing but fellow koolaid dirinkers, it just reinforces the belief.

Sorry about your friend. That is truly terrible. But it doesn't have to do with the bike.
 

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And oh...I missed this one...long travel hardtail??? That goes together about as well as Pornstar priest. Just makes zero sense. A 63 HA ain't helping, and that's only that because they wouldn't be able to fit the stupid thing on bike with out it being a chopper. (Or make it one of these equally ridiculous looking and riding bikes that have nosebleed stack heights and and relatively steep front ends...pretty much like all the 24's that people are wedging 27.5 forks on to.

Just because you can....you know the rest.
 

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And oh...I missed this one...long travel hardtail??? That goes together about as well as Pornstar priest. Just makes zero sense. A 63 HA ain't helping, and that's only that because they wouldn't be able to fit the stupid thing on bike with out it being a chopper. (Or make it one of these equally ridiculous looking and riding bikes that have nosebleed stack heights and and relatively steep front ends...pretty much like all the 24's that people are wedging 27.5 forks on to.

Just because you can....you know the rest.
I've never ridden one, but apparently the steep HTA on the long travel hardtail is due to the fact that as it compresses, the HTA steepens quite a bit, unlike a FS bike. So a 63d, under sag becomes 64d or whatever and on bigger chunder (BC stuff) it gets to like 65d. Sounds a little crazy but maybe it works for the flannel bros that pass me on those hardtails. Personally as a 6-4 guy, I can't get enough stack.
 

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I'd like slacker HTA at 66d but the backend is where it counts. These long silly mtb make it super hard to learn to bunny hop and do little manuals and hold the front end on a jump etc.
Personally I prefer a HTA in the 68 degree area, my own bikes that are in the 66 or slacker (and most recently Transition Sentinel) quite frankly, climb like poop and wander all over the place.

I think pushing the long tt/slack hta/short cs has gone too far with adult bikes personally.
A 65 or 66 degree HTA is stable and works OK at speed if you are railing desents 80% of the time but most kids are doing just as much climbing as descending, unless you are a park focused rider. On top of that, to see these bikes spec'd with 800-1000 gram Minions further numbs my mind for 24 and 26" "trail" bikes. I'm in Denver (5,200 feet) and to ask a kid to ride a 28-30 pound 66 degree hta bike with 800g+ tires up 2,000 feet for 90 minutes to ride 20 minutes back down is just silly. OK rant off. ;)
 

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Here's the rigid spawn: https://spawncycles.com/raiju-20

My oldest is currently on the older version (savage 1.0) and it's been great. I've slowly upgraded it over time as her riding has progressed. Great bike. It really is amazing how well these high end kid bikes hold their value. I recently sold my daughters spawn banshee in just a few days for just slightly less then it cost new.
 

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Personally I prefer a HTA in the 68 degree area, my own bikes that are in the 66 or slacker (and most recently Transition Sentinel) quite frankly, climb like poop and wander all over the place.

I think pushing the long tt/slack hta/short cs has gone too far with adult bikes personally.
A 65 or 66 degree HTA is stable and works OK at speed if you are railing desents 80% of the time but most kids are doing just as much climbing as descending, unless you are a park focused rider. On top of that, to see these bikes spec'd with 800-1000 gram Minions further numbs my mind for 24 and 26" "trail" bikes. I'm in Denver (5,200 feet) and to ask a kid to ride a 28-30 pound 66 degree hta bike with 800g+ tires up 2,000 feet for 90 minutes to ride 20 minutes back down is just silly. OK rant off. ;)
On the money GSJ. It's gone full nuts. I don't think anyone is really thinking anymore, and they're just sliding down a vaselined slope. These bike designs don't make a lick of sense for probably 95% percent of anyone riding them. But, I think the mindset is that if a little was good, a lot more is better. And you end up chasing designs that the echo chambers in industry then convince Joe rider he must have.

It's time for some smelling salts and a firm slap.
 

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Here's the rigid spawn: https://spawncycles.com/raiju-20

My oldest is currently on the older version (savage 1.0) and it's been great. I've slowly upgraded it over time as her riding has progressed. Great bike. It really is amazing how well these high end kid bikes hold their value. I recently sold my daughters spawn banshee in just a few days for just slightly less then it cost new.
Can't beat that. It's like you rented it for a few bucks.
 
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