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You need to get over your weight issue. Kids have been lugging 30lb bikes since kids were riding bikes. Weight is important but its not a huge deal since kids blow past the 24in size too fast. Remember its near their teenage years. Also when we're talking weight, dropping sprung weight or mass isn't nearly as important as unsprung weight/mass.

I think it depends on the riding you are doing. Chairlifting up and riding down, weight might not matter so much.

Using the same bike to climb? 4-5 pounds makes a huge difference to me, and I am a full grown 165 pound adult. Now imagine your 80 pound kid. My 31.5 pound 150mm travel bike sucks compared to my 120mm trail bike that weights 27 pounds.

Kids shouldn't have to suffer on heavy bikes for 2-3 years because they outgrow them so fast. Also, define fast. My son was on a 24" for about 3 years on 24" wheel size. He developed some pretty awesome riding skills and rode some distances many adults still talk about - I'm not so sure either would have happened if he was on a 28-30 pound bike. YMMV.
Obviously it depends on the actual riding but ...
Remember its near their teenage years. My kid got his 1st 24 at 6 .... whatever way you look at that its a long ways off teenage years.

Either way ... I agree I can feel the difference climbing of 4-5 lbs and different geo... but I think a lot of this depends how fit the kid is and practice. My now 8yr old's FS is 4-5lbs heavier than his XC bike... and yes it makes a difference especially either racing XC or 3000' climbs on a 20 mile day....HOWEVER .. he can still do that 3000' climb in the FS... but it takes longer. HOWEVER ... I honestly believe he'd never have got to that stage starting off on the heavier bike... the fact he has the light XC and he was able to get into both the specific physical fitness and mental place where he knows it's possible is largely (I believe) down to starting doing this on a 20lb bike.

When I stick on the DH wheels & tires the bike is WAY heavier... but also draggier and its all rotating weight... there is a much bigger difference adding the wheel weight to the point we go far slower and far less distance.
 

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I agree I can feel the difference climbing of 4-5 lbs and different geo... but I think a lot of this depends how fit the kid is and practice.

When I stick on the DH wheels & tires the bike is WAY heavier... but also draggier and its all rotating weight... there is a much bigger difference adding the wheel weight to the point we go far slower and far less distance.
That brings up a funny story I have. I built my kid a set of plus wheels for his 26er FS build. I then made him ride those while I built up a set of race wheels. He was obviously slower but he was able to slay the slopes. He's got a big hill race coming up so the week before i switched wheels during training. He came home with a big grin and said he beat his previous PB by 3 minutes. The previous PB was done on his old xc hard tail. Oh and the weight loss was 2lbs in the wheelset complete with tires.
 

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A cool bike dad lowered the price on his outgrown Lil Shredder 24" Phenom yesterday to 1100 bucks. I was his 20th call in 3 hours, but I was willing to drive 90 minutes from Bellingham to Seattle to pick it up. At 3 foot 11 and 3/4s, I'm jumping the gun a little on a 24" for my 8 year-old son, but he's beyond ready for back suspension and more than the inch of travel he's getting out of the suntour fork on his Hotrock 20". He slayed the cul-de-sac on it yesterday. I'll post again when we've had a chance to hit some real trails. FWIW, the bike looks and feels awesome. Well under 30 pounds, slack head angle, real, functional suspension, 1x, etc.
That's awesome!

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