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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My son just purchased a new mountain bike for himself (actually he saved half the money and I matched him for the other half). We research the most rideable overall bike in his size and ended up with a 13.5 inch Specialized HotRock A1-FS. Even the smallest 26" bike is still too large for him right now.



BTW, The options out there for high-end kids bikes are pretty poor. I would think that some smart company would try to cash-in on this market, but maybe they just don't think that there are aren't enough <10 year olds riding real trails to make it profitable?? It seems like a missed opportunity to me.

The A1 frame is definitely the highlight of this bike. I haven't taken everything apart and weighed it or any individual parts yet, but just by feel it is in a whole different class than the non-A1 frame that comes with some of the cheaper versions of the HotRock. The components attached to the frame aren't exactly awe-inspiring though. They are about what you would expect to find on a ~$330 bike. . . serviceable, but kinda HEAVY.

This thing is beefy. I can cruise around on it with zero flex in anything, although it is a bit small for me (6'1", 180 pounds). :) I can understand that the tendency is to want to overbuild a kids bike, but wouldn't it be possible to get away with much lighter-weight components since they do not have to take the same level of force as from a heavy adult rider. On the other hand, some kids don't take care of there belongings very well. I am betting that the adsurdly thick bars on this bike were put there by Specialized specifically to counteract those kids (not mine!) who consistently drop their bikes sideways onto concrete. :nono:

Since this bike is being used by such a light rider, I am expecting that lowering the overall weight is likely to be even more noticeable than normal. We're talking about a 63 pound rider. . . It would be like an adult riding around on a 70+ pound bike! I'm looking for suggestions on component upgrades. Of course, there are some special considerations:

1. Component Size: This is the big problem. Most full-size parts will simply not work here. Some parts are not impossible. . . seat posts and bars can be cut to the proper length, extra short stems are available, etc. Some parts are a little more difficult. . . cranks, fork, derailers, etc.

2. Price: This is a kids bike after all. I'll do what I can, but I am not ready to lay down huge bucks on this project. . . I am expecting to spend a few hundred dollars over the next couple of years. Then he outgrows it and passes it on to one of his younger siblings and we can start on a new build. ;) I'd like to take care of the easy stuff first: the bars, the stem, the seat post, maybe the wheelset? Bang-for-the-buck is important.

Thanks.
 

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I'm interested in hearing some of the replies, as my son has that exact same bike (except the 11.5in). I haven't put a tremendous amount of thought into it, but I've noticed that:

The QR seat clamp could go in favor of a regular clamp.
The bar/stem looks beefy as heck...and heavy.
The seatpost could be changed out, or at least trimmed down.

As we all know, the first order of business should be rotating weight, but something tells me that this isn't going to be cheap. Somehow, I don't think there's a large demand for 24" lightweight wheels and tires, and if someone does have them, they'll want a king's ransom for them.
 

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DoctorJD said:
As we all know, the first order of business should be rotating weight, but something tells me that this isn't going to be cheap. Somehow, I don't think there's a large demand for 24" lightweight wheels and tires, and if someone does have them, they'll want a king's ransom for them.
Shouldn't be too hard if you're willing to roll your own. Searching out some lightweight hubs, some DB spokes, and then some rims. Toughest part will be the rims and tires. For tubes you should be able to go with some smaller ones (1" instead of 1.5-2.0, or 2.0-2.5's).

Good luck,

JmZ
 

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Best bet for tires

I built up a custom steel 24" bike for my son a few years ago and went through everything that you are doing now. I could not find any kevlar beaded 24" tires. Your best bet is some lightly knobbed BMX tires. The 24" Specialized Mt Baldys were about 530 grams each and really worked well for my son and they were on clearance for a long time on Specialized's website for $10.00. Kenda also has some offerings that are pretty light. Go with a lightweight BMX tube and that is about as light as you are going to get. Finding light spokes is tough as Revolutions do not go down that short. I ended up finding some short 14/15s that worked. Rims are also tough. I think the Sun Rhyno Lites are about as good as you can get and they are not that light.

Shimano used to make the XT crank in 165mm, so I went with that. Definitely hit the bar,post and stem as light as you can.
 

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Excellent thread!

... at just the right time! I've just finished trimming the weight on my 11 year old daughter's Scott Racing Jr 24. I've managed to reduce the weight by an estimated 1.93 lbs, but wanted to find out if there were still room for further reduction.

Scott has a 22 lbs 24" bike (http://www.scottusa.com/category.php?UID=623). Looking at the specs, it seems that Cheng Shin Tire (CST) makes a kevlar beaded 1.95" 24in tyre.

Good tip on the bmx componentry.

A more general question: what is the weight-weenie shifter of choice these days? I mean regular shifters (twist or trigger), not bar-cons with Pauls or Suntour XC-Pros etc. I've lost touch a little on weightweenism recently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I did compare the Specialized A1-FS and a Scott 24 inch bike side-by-side and the Scott was noticeably heavier. . . but I was probably comparing to the Voltage Jr 24 which is an overall beefier bike. I can't remember now. Looking at the specs, the Scale Jr 24 looks like it is a good match for the A1-FS.

That Scott RC JR looks like an excellent setup. . . at ~$1200 they were able to get by with a lot less compromise on the components. In fact looking at the details of their build is very interesting.

Wheels: I only count 20 spokes on the front and 24 spokes on the rear. Smart. . . smaller wheels carrying less weight = needs less spokes.

Tires: 66TPI Kevlar. . . nice.

Derailleurs: Pretty much the same thing you would expect to see on a full size bike in this price range. . . LX front, XT rear. That full size rear derailleur looks like it is hanging down pretty low though.

Shifters: LX trigger. Again, normal for a full size bike in this price range. I'm not sure how easily small hands would be able to reach the triggers. It's probably fine though.

Brakes: Rim brakes. Lighter than disc and likely to provide more than enough stopping power for extra small riders. I don't even see disc brake tabs on the Scott frame (the A1-FS frame does have them BTW although they are unlikely to ever be used).

Cranks/BB: Looks like they went with a light-weight ISIS setup. The cranks seem a bit long to me for a kids bike (165mm), but most kids are pretty flexible. I'm doubt that the extra 0.5cm over the 160mm cranks on the Specialized A1-FS would really make any difference in the real world. . . but then again, I already thought that 160mm cranks were pushing it. For comparison, the Scott Scale Jr 24 has 152mm cranks.

Pedals: Shimano PD-520. Clipless pedals on a kids bike!?! Are they smoking crack? . . . Actually, this makes perfect sense. The kind of kid that is going to be riding around on a $1200 XC rig is likely to be perfectly comfortable riding clipless. I know my own son has been begging me to try clipless (I don't think he is ready quite yet and his feet grow too fast :) . . . maybe in 6 months). For me, this underlines the fact that they designed this bike for serious riding and not just casual cruising around the neighborhood.

Cassette: XT 11-32. Full 9 gears vs. the 7 gears on the Scale Jr 24 and A1-FS. No compromise here, but I question the need for 32 teeth in the rear. On a 24" bike, that seems like a it would be a very low gear. The Scale Jr 24 has 11-28 and the A1-FS has 14-28. As a side note, the 14 teeth on the A1-FS seem a little weird to me too. . .is this supposed to be some kind of speed-limiting safety feature or something?

Fork: Spinner Grind 2 70mm. The only specs I can find online for this fork make it look pretty heavy. . . although considering the low overall weight of this bike I am probably just not looking in the right place. 70mm of travel seems about right for this bike. The Scale Jr 24 and A1-FS both use the RST Capa C7 and have 50mm.



 

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Since they are 24" wheels you can go down to 1 1/8 rims, tires and tubes. Maxxis, IRC and Intense make tires and tubes. The rims you can get Sun or some there BMX rim maker. You should be able to get just about any spoke that you like, you'll just have to have them cut to fit, TI spokes are common on BMX bikes. The only problem might be that 24X1 1/8 rims are different size than 24X1.5.

For bars if you need a shorter stem you can go to BMX parts also, FSA makes a short stem 45mm and 60mm that are 1" or 1 1/8. You can also get bars for those, Answer makes some Carbon and Crupi makes some in Aluminum.

If you're looking to drop weight from the seat and seatpost, THE makes some small seats that are bonded to the post. They are light and small, small being the only draw back, but a kid with padded shorts might be comfy on one. My kid has not complained about his.

BMX racers use clipless pedals all the time. My 6 year old has been on a set of Shimano for over a year. I let most of the tenstion out and cut away the sole where the pedal hit it. That made them easy to get in and out of. Answer makes some nice clipless shoes down to a size 2. Though I have seen other kids with soccer shoes made to work:nono:
 

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thefeast said:
My son just purchased a new mountain bike for himself (actually he saved half the money and I matched him for the other half). We research the most rideable overall bike in his size and ended up with a 13.5 inch Specialized HotRock A1-FS. Even the smallest 26" bike is still too large for him right now.



BTW, The options out there for high-end kids bikes are pretty poor. I would think that some smart company would try to cash-in on this market, but maybe they just don't think that there are aren't enough <10 year olds riding real trails to make it profitable?? It seems like a missed opportunity to me.

The A1 frame is definitely the highlight of this bike. I haven't taken everything apart and weighed it or any individual parts yet, but just by feel it is in a whole different class than the non-A1 frame that comes with some of the cheaper versions of the HotRock. The components attached to the frame aren't exactly awe-inspiring though. They are about what you would expect to find on a ~$330 bike. . . serviceable, but kinda HEAVY.

This thing is beefy. I can cruise around on it with zero flex in anything, although it is a bit small for me (6'1", 180 pounds). :) I can understand that the tendency is to want to overbuild a kids bike, but wouldn't it be possible to get away with much lighter-weight components since they do not have to take the same level of force as from a heavy adult rider. On the other hand, some kids don't take care of there belongings very well. I am betting that the adsurdly thick bars on this bike were put there by Specialized specifically to counteract those kids (not mine!) who consistently drop their bikes sideways onto concrete. :nono:

Since this bike is being used by such a light rider, I am expecting that lowering the overall weight is likely to be even more noticeable than normal. We're talking about a 63 pound rider. . . It would be like an adult riding around on a 70+ pound bike! I'm looking for suggestions on component upgrades. Of course, there are some special considerations:

1. Component Size: This is the big problem. Most full-size parts will simply not work here. Some parts are not impossible. . . seat posts and bars can be cut to the proper length, extra short stems are available, etc. Some parts are a little more difficult. . . cranks, fork, derailers, etc.

2. Price: This is a kids bike after all. I'll do what I can, but I am not ready to lay down huge bucks on this project. . . I am expecting to spend a few hundred dollars over the next couple of years. Then he outgrows it and passes it on to one of his younger siblings and we can start on a new build. ;) I'd like to take care of the easy stuff first: the bars, the stem, the seat post, maybe the wheelset? Bang-for-the-buck is important.

Thanks.
Aside from the frame this Specialized is basically discount store components on a decent frame at bike store pricing. For what your going to pay for upgrades to attempt to drop five pounds you'd have been better off returning it and buying up. I built up a 10 yr old NOS 24" wheel GT Zaskar frame for my daughter and by the time I was done I had about 450 into it. Front suspension at 22 lbs. When she out grows it I won't sell it for less than 5-600. The frame is rare enough let alone the spec at this weight. Component size has very little to do with it. Proper fit is what's important. I used Deore LX shifter/brake levers because they offered the best/most adjustment in hand reach. Cranks should be shortened. Little kids shouldn't be spinning big circles

Elizabeth's GT Zaskar 24" Wheel ATB
Frame GT Zaskar 12.5" x 24" wheel 7005 Aluminum w/repl derailleur hanger
Fork Ballistic EX-500 A Aluminum Elastomer 24" w/alloy droputs outs
Headset DiaCompe 1-1/8" Alloy Aheadset Black
Stem GT Chromoly 1-1/8" x 70mm x 22mm Black w/internal clamp
Handlebar Ritchey Pro Comp 2014 alloy silver 25.4 clamp cut to 510mm
Grips GT Mini BMX with flange removed
Brakes Tektro 952A Alloy V-Brakes w/alloy noodle and micro adjust
Brake Levers ST-M570 Shimano Deore LX Dual Control 2 finger Servo Wave levers w/RapidFire M9 Shifter
Brake Cables Shimano 1.5mm stainless w/lined housing
Saddle/Seat Bontrager race lite
Seat Post Kalloy Uno 7000 allloy 26.8 x 300mm purple anodized
Seat Clamp GT Lightweight collar w/solid pin
Rims Ritchey WCS Vantage Pro 24x1.5" Hard Ano 28 hole w/PV hole
Hubs Shimano Deore HB-510-L Frt; Parallax design 100mm OLN BLK 28H Shimano Deore FH-M510-L Rear; Parallax design 135mm OLN 8/9 28H
Spokes Wheelsmith 14g DB SS Frt: 28 hole Rear: 28 hole 2 cross
Tires Maxxis Holy Roller 24x1.75 black skinwall
Rim Tape Pedros mid width cotton
Crank Shimano Deore FC-M460 165mm W/Dual SIS HG 44/32/22T 104/64mm Bottom Bracket Shimano BB-UN72 Sealed cartridge 73x110mm
Chain Shimano CN-HG53 Super narrow
Cassette CS-HG90-M9 11-32 Super Narrow 9spd Ni-plated 358g
Frt Derailleur Shimano Deore XT FD-M750 Dual SIS Bottom Pull Top Swing 31.8 Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XT RD-M750 SGS Mera 9 SIS
Shifter ST-M570 Shimano Deore LX Dual Control 2 finger Servo Wave levers w/RapidFire Shifter 3x9speed w/1.2mm stainless innerwire
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I guess it depends on what you consider to be "discount store components". They are similar to any bike in this price range. . . Trek 3900, Specialized HardRock, Fuji Nevada, etc. I wouldn't hesitate to ride any of these bikes on a real trail, something I would NOT recommend with a WalMart bike. When I think of discount store mountain bikes I think of chrome plated 40 pound mild-steel monsters.

Are there any sources for quality 24" framesets? Where did you find and how much did you spend on the GT frameset?
 

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thefeast:

Just to report back on the Spinner Grind shocks. I took them off my daughter's bike to weigh them: they're 4.7lbs! (Remember this is 06 Scott Racing Jr, which is the next model down, comparable to the 07 Scale JR 24). Steel steerer. Might be steel upper tubes too.

I have half a mind to cut open the crown of a SID Race, install the lowers onto my Judy SL crown, drop the stanchions 3/4" and run a BB7 front disc. Might save 2lbs right there, while upgrading to front discs at the same time.

Or I could install my IRD Explorer Ti rigid forks, which has adjustable brake bosses and which would handle a 24" wheel easily. The only thing is that they're rigid!

A note on the rims: most of the BMX rims I saw were 36 hole-versions.

The only decent tyres I could info on were the Specialized Spanky -- unfortunately the Specialized store does not sell outside the US. I'm trying to get my LBS to order replacement tyres from Scott. Hopefully they can get the kevlar-beaded CST ones. Incidentally, CST makes Maxxis tyres, but the Maxxis site didn't seem to have any info on kevlar beaded 24" tyres.
 

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Clipless on jr. bikes

I set my 9 year old daughter up with clipless pedals last year. I used some Ritchey(Wellgo) pedals with the tension all the way down and worn cleats. For shoes, we found size 36 (~US3.5) Sidi Rampa's on Ebay for $20. This year she needed new shoes, so we bought her another pair of Rampa's in size 38. I think the seller was ediscountbike.com. You'd be hard pressed to find sneakers for $20, let alone Sidi clipless shoes.

Morgan Styer
Gettysburg, PA
 

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thefeast said:
I guess it depends on what you consider to be "discount store components". They are similar to any bike in this price range. . . Trek 3900, Specialized HardRock, Fuji Nevada, etc. I wouldn't hesitate to ride any of these bikes on a real trail, something I would NOT recommend with a WalMart bike. When I think of discount store mountain bikes I think of chrome plated 40 pound mild-steel monsters.

Are there any sources for quality 24" framesets? Where did you find and how much did you spend on the GT frameset?
Picked up the frame NOS off eBay. Have seen one other complete one like it listed since
I bought this one. I paid 150 with the aluminum suspension fork. Built wheels with NOS 28 hole Ritchey rims and bought most of the rest off ebay on weekday closing auctions. Took about three weeks to buy all the parts but it was a winter project. Altus derailleurs are really nothing but relabeled Tourney parts (hence my discount store comment). There are aluminum framed bikes very similar to this specialized spec selling for hundreds less though. Buying one of them and lightning up seat posts, wheels, bars, stems and saddle probably would have saved you money.
 

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Im also looking to buy a 24" MTB or my 9 year old younger brother. I just got myself an Intense 5.5 and he has a 16" Haro piece of junk. I was thinking of getting him a Trek MT 240 or the Gary Fisher equivalent. They seem to be quality pieces of equipment at around $400 and I would probably install my Thomson Stem, Kalloy 27.2mm Seatpost (lighter) and 06' Easton EC70 Flat bars, along w/superlight tubes and Deore Rapidfire shifters. This should shave about 2-3lbs off of the already 25lb bke which shouldn't cost me more than $100 for the listed upgrades I have yet to replace on my previous build. Any suggestions on other 24" MTB'S in the $400-$700 range? + Has anyone seen or worked with the Specialized Hotrock FSR 24"?
 

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Same boat.

Hiya,

I'm in the same boat, I recently got a Kona Hula 24" bike for my son. This one:
http://www.konaworld.com/bikes/2k7/HULA/index.html
it's a 12" frame like the specialized.

Looks real similar to the specialized you got. I looked at tires, saw Kenda is coming out with the small block 8 in a 24" https://www.bti-usa.com/item.asp?item=KN1181&searchtype=&itemsearch=&showSec=0&filter=
But it's not in stock, also steel bead, but lighter than a lot of the stuff out there I imagine, and it's a mtb tread, not the hybrid treads that come on most of these.

The bummer is that these all come with 7 speed (besides the $1200 scott), so I can't use my old 8 or 9 speed stuff on it without replacing most of the drivetrain. One option that hasn't been mentioned but is a bit of a PIA, is you could rebuild the stock wheels with 8/9 speed hubs, then you if you have a XT rear der, laying around, maybe some shifters you could upgrade the whole drivertrain relatively cheap. Save some weight and improve shifting, plus it would give him Q/R wheels, stock is bolt-on for this bike. Doesn't help with rotating weight, but I have a set of 8sp XTR lever/shifters that would work great on his bike, and the reach is shorter than the levers that are on there stock.

Since I have some parts laying around that seems like it might be the most cost-effective upgrade for me. Switching to 8 speed hubs that is. I can't find 24" rims that would be any lighter anywhere. The only CR-18s I can find are 36 hole, but I can't find them for sale in the US anywhere, and BTI doesn't even stock them...

Otherwise, this is a really nice bike as is, and he really loves it. One of the other big advantage of this 12" frame over a department store bike, besides being relatively light aluminum, is the sizing. The 24" department store bikes were much bigger, more than 2 1/2" higher for standover, 2" longer top tube, etc. So he wouldn't have even been able to fit on a department store 24" bike for at least 2 more years. By then I could get him on an x-small 26" wheeled bike like I have my daughter on (I was able to build up a HARO Werk SSX frame into a sweet 18 lb singlespeed for her using my old race bike parts, like Avid Ti brakes and Sid SL fork, sweet). He's 8, btw. So really a department store bike isn't even an option since they only come in one size, they're made more for a kid that's about 11-15, till they can fit on the one size fits all adult size department store bike :)

I find it funny sometimes when someone tells me about a new bike they got, and I ask what size, and they say it's a 26"! Because that's how department stores label them. There was a guy at my wife's work who had bought one to commute on and he's 6'4", he looked like a circus clown on it. I got him to take it back and go to a bike store and get one that fits. Didn't cost that much more, and he's really happy with it, rides to work now.

You're definitely better off with the specialized than the department store brand, even if a few of the components are similar, just because of fit and build quality. My son had been riding a department store 20" bike that we got as a gift. The rear wheel just seized up when we were out riding one day. I was able to set up the Kona at the same seat height, could've gone even lower, would've been 2 1/2" higher on a department store 24" bike. The seats on the department store bikes are usually really sad too.

I'll be watching this to see if anyone can find any good 24" wheels.
 

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DLd said:
Hiya,

I'm in the same boat, I recently got a Kona Hula 24" bike for my son. This one:
http://www.konaworld.com/bikes/2k7/HULA/index.html
it's a 12" frame like the specialized.

Looks real similar to the specialized you got. I looked at tires, saw Kenda is coming out with the small block 8 in a 24" https://www.bti-usa.com/item.asp?item=KN1181&searchtype=&itemsearch=&showSec=0&filter=
But it's not in stock, also steel bead, but lighter than a lot of the stuff out there I imagine, and it's a mtb tread, not the hybrid treads that come on most of these.

The bummer is that these all come with 7 speed (besides the $1200 scott), so I can't use my old 8 or 9 speed stuff on it without replacing most of the drivetrain. One option that hasn't been mentioned but is a bit of a PIA, is you could rebuild the stock wheels with 8/9 speed hubs, then you if you have a XT rear der, laying around, maybe some shifters you could upgrade the whole drivertrain relatively cheap. Save some weight and improve shifting, plus it would give him Q/R wheels, stock is bolt-on for this bike. Doesn't help with rotating weight, but I have a set of 8sp XTR lever/shifters that would work great on his bike, and the reach is shorter than the levers that are on there stock.

Since I have some parts laying around that seems like it might be the most cost-effective upgrade for me. Switching to 8 speed hubs that is. I can't find 24" rims that would be any lighter anywhere. The only CR-18s I can find are 36 hole, but I can't find them for sale in the US anywhere, and BTI doesn't even stock them...

Otherwise, this is a really nice bike as is, and he really loves it. One of the other big advantage of this 12" frame over a department store bike, besides being relatively light aluminum, is the sizing. The 24" department store bikes were much bigger, more than 2 1/2" higher for standover, 2" longer top tube, etc. So he wouldn't have even been able to fit on a department store 24" bike for at least 2 more years. By then I could get him on an x-small 26" wheeled bike like I have my daughter on (I was able to build up a HARO Werk SSX frame into a sweet 18 lb singlespeed for her using my old race bike parts, like Avid Ti brakes and Sid SL fork, sweet). He's 8, btw. So really a department store bike isn't even an option since they only come in one size, they're made more for a kid that's about 11-15, till they can fit on the one size fits all adult size department store bike :)

I find it funny sometimes when someone tells me about a new bike they got, and I ask what size, and they say it's a 26"! Because that's how department stores label them. There was a guy at my wife's work who had bought one to commute on and he's 6'4", he looked like a circus clown on it. I got him to take it back and go to a bike store and get one that fits. Didn't cost that much more, and he's really happy with it, rides to work now.

You're definitely better off with the specialized than the department store brand, even if a few of the components are similar, just because of fit and build quality. My son had been riding a department store 20" bike that we got as a gift. The rear wheel just seized up when we were out riding one day. I was able to set up the Kona at the same seat height, could've gone even lower, would've been 2 1/2" higher on a department store 24" bike. The seats on the department store bikes are usually really sad too.

I'll be watching this to see if anyone can find any good 24" wheels.
I built NOS Ritchey WCS Vantage Comps in 28 hole that I picked up from FirstFlightBikes. You can pick up Deore hubs in 28 hole from bikepartsusa for about 37 a pair and have wheels that will take 8 or 9 speed for under or around a hundred bucks if you can lace them on your own. The Deore LX 9 speed brake shift lever combo has the best reach adjsutment for small hands of anything out there. If looking for a complete bike Ibex has always had an upscale 24" wheel bike in their line also at a pretty decent price. This link goes to a decent upscale kids bike. http://www.ibexbikes.com/Bikes/ALP-440K-Details.html
$329 for an Alivio/Deore equipped bike is certainly a better deal than an Altus equipped Specialized at $309.

Regarding tires don't forget to think "outside the box". There are dozens of 24x1.50 to 24 x2.0 tires that are ridden by thousands of kids that race BMX cruisers. Lighter weight kids don't need the buoyancy there parents need either and can probably get away with a 24x1.5 or 1.75 tire just fine. Some of these tires are available in lighter Kevlar versions also. Dans Competition stocks most everything available. Frankford BMX probably has them all too. Tioga Comp III's and Comp X's how many of us grew up riding and racing on them? One thought on upgrading those 7 speed bikes....How are they spaced in the rear 130mm or 135mm? Might be tough getting an 8 or 9 speed wheel on those frames and keep a decent chainline.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Regarding the HotRock FSR:
Yes, I had a chance to see and my son did a test-ride around the parking lot with the FSR. We liked the suspension, but for nearly twice the price of the FS with otherwise identical components. . . it just doesn't have the same bang-for-the-buck. IMHO, the extra $300 is probably better spent on other upgrades. Even if the price is not considered, there is added weight and the potential for pedal-bob, etc. It sure would have been nice to see how it actually performs out on a trail though. Having full suspension (just like his big brother's bike) could also be an important consideration.

Regarding department store bike frames:
Yes, in recent years many inexpensive kids bikes have become available with aluminum frames, but the difference in quality between a cheapo aluminum frame and a nice one is huge. In the case of the A1-FS, the frame itself is worth the purchase price to me. Like I said in my first post, the frame really is the highlight of this bike. The fact that it comes as part of a complete build makes me even happier. It means that my son will have something to ride right away, and I can figure out the upgrades as we go along.

gm1230126, I understand that you are saying it would be possible to upgrade a department store bike to the same weight as the A1-FS for less total money. You are probably right, but I think that the final result would be an overall inferior bike. In this case, I am following the strategy of finding the best frame for the money and then upgrading everything else as appropriate.

The derailleurs are actually pretty far down on my list of things to upgrade. I just don't see the point, but maybe there is something I am overlooking in this department?

Here are the things at the top of my list so far:
Bars (easy)
Stem (easy)
Seatpost (easy)
Tires (maybe. . . the existing tires aren't *too* bad)
Egg Beaters and Shoes (easy, but $$)
Wheelset ($$)
Fork (if I can find or build a good replacement)
 

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thefeast said:
Regarding the HotRock FSR:
Yes, I had a chance to see and my son did a test-ride around the parking lot with the FSR. We liked the suspension, but for nearly twice the price of the FS with otherwise identical components. . . it just doesn't have the same bang-for-the-buck. IMHO, the extra $300 is probably better spent on other upgrades. Even if the price is not considered, there is added weight and the potential for pedal-bob, etc. It sure would have been nice to see how it actually performs out on a trail though. Having full suspension (just like his big brother's bike) could also be an important consideration.

Regarding department store bike frames:
Yes, in recent years many inexpensive kids bikes have become available with aluminum frames, but the difference in quality between a cheapo aluminum frame and a nice one is huge. In the case of the A1-FS, the frame itself is worth the purchase price to me. Like I said in my first post, the frame really is the highlight of this bike. The fact that it comes as part of a complete build makes me even happier. It means that my son will have something to ride right away, and I can figure out the upgrades as we go along.

gm1230126, I understand that you are saying it would be possible to upgrade a department store bike to the same weight as the A1-FS for less total money. You are probably right, but I think that the final result would be an overall inferior bike. In this case, I am following the strategy of finding the best frame for the money and then upgrading everything else as appropriate.

The derailleurs are actually pretty far down on my list of things to upgrade. I just don't see the point, but maybe there is something I am overlooking in this department?

Here are the things at the top of my list so far:
Bars (easy)
Stem (easy)
Seatpost (easy)
Tires (maybe. . . the existing tires aren't *too* bad)
Egg Beaters and Shoes (easy, but $$)
Wheelset ($$)
Fork (if I can find or build a good replacement)
Feast, your original post was about saving weight on a 24" wheel bike and you aren't going to be saving much weight at all on the bar, stem and seat post since those are all alloy to begin with. That leaves Tires, wheelset and fork. There just aren't many 24" wheel suspension forks out there. You might be able to save a bit on the wheel set by going to a NOS 7spd freehub in the rear and adding a 7speed cassette on a lighter rim if you can find one or go to 28 hole rims. Most 24" tires are solid black and heavy. You can save on tires by going to a skinwall, all black skinwall, kevlar folder or narrower in width. A lot of the weight in this bike is in the lower end drive train parts. Let's face it the crank, derailleurs, chain and shifters are tankish and all could be lighter and save more weight than you'll save on the seat post stem and handlebar.
 

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thefeast said:
Regarding the HotRock FSR:
Yes, I had a chance to see and my son did a test-ride around the parking lot with the FSR. We liked the suspension, but for nearly twice the price of the FS with otherwise identical components. . . it just doesn't have the same bang-for-the-buck. IMHO, the extra $300 is probably better spent on other upgrades. Even if the price is not considered, there is added weight and the potential for pedal-bob, etc. It sure would have been nice to see how it actually performs out on a trail though. Having full suspension (just like his big brother's bike) could also be an important consideration.

Regarding department store bike frames:
Yes, in recent years many inexpensive kids bikes have become available with aluminum frames, but the difference in quality between a cheapo aluminum frame and a nice one is huge. In the case of the A1-FS, the frame itself is worth the purchase price to me. Like I said in my first post, the frame really is the highlight of this bike. The fact that it comes as part of a complete build makes me even happier. It means that my son will have something to ride right away, and I can figure out the upgrades as we go along.

gm1230126, I understand that you are saying it would be possible to upgrade a department store bike to the same weight as the A1-FS for less total money. You are probably right, but I think that the final result would be an overall inferior bike. In this case, I am following the strategy of finding the best frame for the money and then upgrading everything else as appropriate.

The derailleurs are actually pretty far down on my list of things to upgrade. I just don't see the point, but maybe there is something I am overlooking in this department?

Here are the things at the top of my list so far:
Bars (easy)
Stem (easy)
Seatpost (easy)
Tires (maybe. . . the existing tires aren't *too* bad)
Egg Beaters and Shoes (easy, but $$)
Wheelset ($$)
Fork (if I can find or build a good replacement)
Feast, your original post was about saving weight on a 24" wheel bike and you aren't going to be saving much weight at all on the bar, stem and seat post since those are all alloy to begin with. That leaves Tires, wheelset and fork. There just aren't many 24" wheel suspension forks out there. You might be able to save a bit on the wheel set by going to a NOS 7spd freehub in the rear and adding a 7speed cassette on a lighter rim if you can find one or go to 28 hole rims. Most 24" tires are solid black and heavy. You can save on tires by going to a skinwall, all black skinwall, kevlar folder or narrower in width. A lot of the weight in this bike is in the lower end drive train parts. Let's face it the crank, derailleurs, chain and shifters are tankish and all could be lighter and save more weight than you'll save on the seat post stem and handlebar.
 

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On my daughter's Scott, I saved almost 200g on the handlebars alone! I'll post the details of the weight savings once I get the chance. The other area where gobs of weight was saved was the front derailleur, believe it or not.
 
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